New from Pew. And before anyone starts claiming that this means there’s a shot at blocking the deal in Congress, let me gently remind you that the support of just 38 percent of the Senate would be more than enough to ensure that the nuke agreement takes effect. You can thank Bob Corker and Mitch McConnell’s “failure theater” Republican caucus for that.
Do note: It’s not just the Iranians whom Americans distrust. It’s the competence of international nuclear inspectors and intel agencies too. Remember that the next time Obama starts mumbling about verification.
The only demographic measured in which a majority trusts Iran to comply is — surprise — liberal Democrats at 55 percent. They’re also the only group in which a majority believes that the agreement will help improve America’s relationship with Iran. That’s glaringly incorrect, as the next president will learn only too well, but it’s the sort of thing you tell yourself if you’re convinced that even terrible diplomacy leading to a nuclear Iran is better than another U.S. intervention in the Middle East. The numbers are better for Obama when people are asked if they trust the verification protocols that have been put in place — but they shouldn’t be. Here’s former IAEA nuke inspector Olli Heinonen on the 24-day window Iran will have under the agreement to comply when inspectors demand access to a suspected weapons site:
“Much of this equipment is very easy to move,” Heinonen said. “So you can take it out over the night … and then there is this dispute settlement time which is 24 days—you will use that to sanitize the place, make new floors, new tiles on the wall, paint the ceiling and take out the ventilation.”
A large-scale enrichment plant would not be easily scrubbed in 24 days, but smaller covert facilities that are used toward the end of the nuclear weapons process can be hidden or sanitized in 24 days, he said.
“You can compare it to your home,” Heinonen said. “This [nuclear] equipment can be taken out in one or two nights. How long will it take for you to renovate your home? It doesn’t take three weeks.”
What happens if Iran is caught cheating anyway and refuses to stop? Probably nothing says law prof Stephen Carter, unless the cheating is egregious. The only punitive mechanism under the deal is “snapback sanctions,” a serious step that won’t be imposed lightly. Minor cheating will therefore almost certainly be tolerated in the name of avoiding having to impose those sanctions. Remember that too the next time you’re blithely assured by our leaders that Team Verification is on the case.
Wait a sec — haven’t other polls showed majority support for an Iran deal? In fact, wasn’t there a major poll released just yesterday that found 56 percent in favor? Indeed there was. That was the ABC/WaPo poll. But Pew is way ahead of you on that: They compared their own poll question, which simply asked respondents if they’d heard about the Iran deal and whether they approve, with the question WaPo asked. Go figure that when you pitch the deal in its dreamiest terms that people like the idea:
Iran gets sanctions relief in return for giving up the bomb, inspectors are on the case to make sure they comply, and sanctions are reimposed if they don’t. That’s pure dreamscape. Back in reality, Iran hasn’t agreed not to produce nuclear weapons. They promised not to produce bomb-grade material for 10 years, at which point they can do what they want. Inspectors will try to make them comply, but as Heinonen explained, there are major loopholes. And per Carter, sanctions are unlikely to be slapped back on Iran absent flagrant cheating pointing directly at bomb development. What would WaPo’s numbers have looked like if they framed the deal in terms of those hard facts? Better yet, what would Obama’s job approval on handling Iran look like? He was at 35/52(!) on that in yesterday’s otherwise flattering WaPo poll. If people knew what he and Kerry had actually agreed to, he might be south of 20 percent.
In lieu of an exit question, here’s a nice story about the Saudis threatening to build a nuclear bomb of their own if Iran gets caught building one in secret. That’s a completely foreseeable consequence of President Nuclear Zero’s sellout here. Oh, and here’s a legal analysis of the nuclear agreement itself that concludes Congress’s Corker-approved ratification process is almost certainly unconstitutional. This is a treaty, and treaties require two-thirds approval of the Senate, not simple majorities in both houses. If America still cared about constitutional governance, that would be a major problem for Obama. Maybe some enterprising conservatives in Congress will organize a lawsuit and try to get SCOTUS to nullify the Iran deal since their colleagues lack the balls to do it themselves.