Iran may be prepared to accept a deal that would greatly lengthen the time it would need to “break out” to acquire nuclear weapons. But it clearly isn’t going to completely surrender that option forever.
Hawks have much invested in the belief that force is the only useful tool in countering adversaries and that Obama is a naive appeaser. It would be a huge embarrassment if diplomatic pressure and hard bargaining by the administration produced a deal putting nukes beyond Iran’s reach indefinitely.
Such an accord would also shelve the option of attacking Iran, a longtime dream of neoconservatives. Before the Iraq invasion, a British official quipped, “Everyone wants to go to Baghdad. Real men want to go to Tehran.” Former U.N. Ambassador John Bolton insists an attack by Israel “is the only way to avoid Tehran’s otherwise inevitable march to nuclear weapons.”
In truth, there is a plausible deal that would stop that march—and give us plenty of time to act should it ever resume. If what the critics really want to do is close the road to a peaceful outcome, though, they’ve got the right idea.