The JCPOA stands as one of the most technologically permissive arms-control agreements in history. All is not lost, however, and with sensible amendments the accord can be strengthened. The United States should return to the table and insist that after the expiration of the sunset clause, the P5+1 and Iran should vote on whether to extend the agreement for an additional 10 years. A majority vote every 10 years should determine the longevity of the agreement, not an arbitrary time-clock. Further, the JCPOA has usefully stressed that all of Iran’s spent fuel from its heavy-water reactor will be shipped out permanently. A similar step should be taken with Iran’s enriched uranium. The revised agreement should also limit Iran to the first-generation centrifuges and rely on “anytime, anywhere access.” These and other such measures could help forestall an Iranian bomb and stem the proliferation cascade in the Middle East that this agreement is likely to trigger.
At this late date, the only way that the agreement can be reopened and amended is for Congress to first reject it. At that time, the Obama administration or its successor can return to the table and confess that given the absence of a bipartisan foundation of support in the United States, key provisions of the agreement have to be reconsidered. At the end of such a process, the United States may yet be able to obtain a viable accord that reliably alters Iran’s nuclear trajectory.