The news broke fairly late in the evening (3 AM in Geneva) and was quickly being trumpeted by the media and the Obama administration. A deal had been struck with Iran to “limit” their nuclear program in exchange for billions of dollars in relief from sanctions. We’ll let the Washington Post start the crowing.
Iran and six major powers agreed early Sunday on a historic deal that freezes key parts of Iran’s nuclear program in exchange for temporary relief on some economic sanctions.
The agreement, sealed at a 3 a.m. signing ceremony in Geneva’s Palace of Nations, requires Iran to halt or scale back parts of its nuclear infrastructure, the first such pause in more than a decade.
Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif hailed the deal, which was reached after four days of hard bargaining, including an eleventh-hour intervention by Secretary of State John F. Kerry and foreign ministers from Europe, Russia and China.
When you dig into the details of this arrangement, there’s a lot of frosting and not much cake. First of all, this is not a permanent agreement in any way shape or form. It’s a six month “arrangement” which Iran could simply walk away from at the end (or at any point, really) after receiving a massive fiscal injection in the form of sanction relief. It is also simply a “suspension” of certain enrichment activities, with no dismantling of any of Iran’s facilities. The entire show can be started back up at any time. There’s additional transparency, with more inspectors allowed into additional facilities, which is good, but much like the suspension of enrichment this can be terminated any moment Iran decides not to honor the deal. (As they have done numerous times in the past.) The deal also allegedly limits the level of uranium enrichment the Iranians can reach, but that’s the same bone we’ve been chewing on for years. And finally, we have the Iranians on every cable channel doing an end zone dance saying this is “formal recognition” of their right to enrich uranium, while Kerry and his team are saying the opposite. It’s hard to imagine how solid any “deal” can be when the two sides are announcing essentially 180 degree opposite conclusions on basic terminology.
Israel was having none of it, as Netanyahu made clear almost immediately.
Israel’s prime minister harshly condemned the international community’s nuclear deal with Iran on Sunday, calling it a “historic mistake” and saying he was not bound by the agreement.
Speaking to his Cabinet, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said the world had become a “more dangerous place” as a result of the deal and reiterated a long-standing threat to use military action against Iran if needed, declaring that Israel “has the right and the duty to defend itself by itself.” …
“What was reached last night in Geneva is not a historic agreement, it is a historic mistake,” Netanyahu said. “Today the world became a much more dangerous place because the most dangerous regime in the world made a significant step in obtaining the most dangerous weapons in the world.”
Voicing what he called Israel’s right to self-defense, he said, “I want to clarify that Israel will not let Iran develop nuclear military capability.”
Daniel Pipes at The Corner describes it as nothing less than A Foreign-Policy Disaster.
But the American goal for the accord was that the Iranians not “advance their program” of building a uranium nuclear bomb (and perhaps a plutonium bomb too); the apparent deal exactly permits such advancement, plus sanctions relief to Tehran worth about $9 billion.
This wretched deal offers one of those rare occasions when comparison with Neville Chamberlain in Munich in 1938 is valid. An overeager Western government, blind to the evil cunning of the regime it so much wants to work with, appeases it with concessions that will come back to haunt it. Geneva and Nov. 24 will be remembered along with Munich and Sep. 29.
For an opposing view, Doug Mataconis at Outside the Beltway isn’t ready to reflexively dismiss the deal and sees reasons for optimism.
There are plenty of reasons to be skeptical about this deal, and about whether the Iranians will both comply with its terms and negotiate in good faith toward a longer term agreement. However, at first glance this seems to me to be a good step in the right direction, and a far better alternative than the idea that the only way to deal with Iran is to become more and more bellicose to the point where military action would seem to be our only option. As Winston Churchill once said, “To jaw-jaw is always better than to war-war.” So, while it’s far too early to say that we’ve averted an eventual path toward war, there at least seems to be some hope that we have. Since this is only a temporary deal, why not at least give diplomacy a chance?
There’s nothing wrong with continuing to talk to Iran regarding their nuclear program. In fact, for all Western nations it’s pretty much a requirement, as we are honor bound to seek a diplomatic resolution to problems before resorting to a military one. But when signing off on “deals” we need to at least show some concrete progress. There is nothing here which can’t be reversed in the blink of an eye in terms of what Iran is “giving up” while there will be no taking back the economic – and public relations – windfall the Iranians will reap from it. I’m not sure if the world is any more dangerous as a result of this, as both Pipes and Netanyahu infer, but it’s certainly difficult to see how it’s any less dangerous, either. Iran has great cause to celebrate from this one, but I don’t see why anyone else should be doing any dancing. If there was any victory for the West here, it was just a chance for John Kerry to put a feather in his cap for being involved in getting a relatively toothless piece of paper signed.