Senior admin official: On second thought, "anytime, anywhere inspections" for Iran were never realistic

A nice detail from the JPost’s write-up of today’s grand sellout. Turns out “snap inspections” are actually “nearly-a-month’s-notice inspections.”

Negotiators failed to meet the standard of achieving “anytime, anywhere” access that several members of the United States Congress had demanded as a part of any nuclear deal. Instead, in the event Iran objects to an IAEA request for access to a specific site, a “clock” will begin that grants the two sides 14 days to negotiate.

If that period expires without any resolution reached directly between Iran and the IAEA, the Joint Commission would have seven days to advise them on a way forward. Iran would then have three days to comply with the commission’s final advice, bringing the total time on the clock to 24 days

“We don’t think that ‘anytime, anywhere’ inspections are feasible,” the official said. “It’s just not something that happens anywhere in the world.”

All you need to do to make sense of this deal is believe, as the White House obviously does, that attacking Iran’s enrichment facilities would be a worse outcome than Iran building a bomb. That’s it. The great shining “achievement” of the deal isn’t that it eliminates Iran’s program — it doesn’t — but that it removes any remaining domestic pressure on Obama to further escalate with Iran, either by sanctions or military strike, to stop it. The eternal argument against attacking Iran’s program is that virtually no one believes the attack would completely destroy all of the country’s nuclear infrastructure, just damage enough of it to set Tehran back 10 years or so. But … that’s exactly what today’s deal does. It’s not a permanent fix. By its own terms and Obama’s admission, after 12 years of compliance, Iran will be able to introduce advanced centrifuges and reduce its “breakout” time to nearly nothing, making it a full “nuclear threshold” state.

In an interview with NPR in April, Mr. Obama said that in “year 13, 14, 15” of the agreement, the breakout time might shrink “almost down to zero,” as Iran is expected to develop and use advanced centrifuges then…

The official asserted that the reduction in the breakout time would be gradual because Iran’s stockpile of less enriched uranium would be limited for 15 years. But after that period, Iran could have a substantial enrichment capability.

“It is going to be a gradual decline,” the official said. “At the end of, say, 15 years, we are not going to know what that is.”

An attack would achieve little except to buy the west time. Today’s deal … achieves little except to buy the west time, except Iran also gets many billions of dollars in economic stimulus via sanctions relief plus an influx of arms and ballistic missile technology when the UN embargoes on those are lifted within the next eight years plus, most importantly, the blessing of the international community once Iran begins enriching again at the end of the deal. What will the argument against Iran’s program be circa 2030 when they decide to install state-of-the-art centrifuges capable of producing enough enriched uranium for a bomb in days or even hours? We’re signing a deal today that allows them to do that. With this, the west formally endorses Iran as a nuclear state — just not in the near term, when President Precious rather than one of his successors would have to deal with the consequences.

So Obama’s a big winner today. Now he doesn’t have to think about this for the next 18 months, unless Iran is so stupid as to risk getting caught cheating before he leaves office in 2017. Iran, obviously, is the biggest winner. Kerry’s a winner in that he’ll now surely get a Nobel and a “legacy,” if not quite the one he’s expecting. The big losers are the Sunnis of the Middle East, who’ll need to scramble to counter an Iran that’s suddenly flush with cash and will have easier access to weapons by the end of the decade, and the American public, which will have an even worse headache from Iran’s nuclear program to deal with before the 2028 election than it has now.

Via the Free Beacon, here’s CNN anchor Jim Sciutto marveling that if you’d told the White House these would be the terms of the final deal a few years ago, they … wouldn’t have been too happy. Go figure. Two questions to ponder now. One: What’s the argument against giving, say, Saudi Arabia this exact same nuclear timeline — 10 years of no, or low, enrichment followed by the right to enrich their brains out with the international community’s blessing? The grand irony of this capitulation is that Obama, a guy who campaigned against nuclear proliferation, is effectively removing the taboo against new nuclear states. If you want to build a bomb, that’s fine, but you need to do it gradually, on the west’s schedule. Two: Obama and Kerry have no choice now but to aggressively pursue a grand bargain with Iran, right? The only way to neutralize an Iranian bomb after this is to make them so friendly to the west that they wouldn’t think of using it. And the clock is ticking on that given the near certainty that (a) a Republican will return to the White House sometime before 2028, when the deal will be winding down, and (b) that Republican will be far less inclined towards detente with Iran than Obama is. If Obama wants to bind the hands of his successors (or at least make it much harder for them to start a new cold war with Tehran), he needs to strike that grand bargain himself. Can’t wait to see the magic beans we get as part of that deal.