A “First Step” Deal
The nuclear deal with Iran centers on 4 basic principles:
- 6 months: Instead of reaching for a long term deal, the negotiators opted for a more realistic short/mid-term deal of 6 months. This time period should be enough to appraise Tehran’s level of commitment to convince the world that its program is peaceful.
- Increased transparency: Unlike his predecessor, President Rouhani understands the need for transparency in an atmosphere of distrust. IAEA inspectors will be allowed access to Tehran’s nuclear facilities and designs in an effort to hunt for clues for a military option to its nuclear program.
- Paused development: Tehran will pause all aspect of its program which are suspect – Uranium enrichment to 20%, the heavy water plant at Arak, increased centrifuges etc… – as well as depleting its current 20% enriched Uranium stockpile.
- $7 Billion: Tehran will receive a $7 Billion relief from sanctions. Although most of the sanctions will still be upheld, these $7 Billion mean a lot to Rouhani who promised the Iranian voters that he will have sanctions lifted.
Both sides seem to view the deal as temporary: President Obama called the deal an “important first step” while foreign minister Zarif viewed it as a part of the “process of attempting to restore confidence.”
Optimist, Skeptics and Paranoids
The deal is touted by its makers and the Western media as a positive breakthrough. Most of the reactions are optimistic bordering on skeptical optimism partly due to the fact that the deal can be nullified if Tehran transgresses on any of its concessions.
And yet, skeptics are quick to point out that even with these concessions, there are still many outstanding issues between Tehran and the IAEA and that if Tehran still wants to develop a bomb, Iran is large enough to continue to do so clandestinely. These skeptics would probably with Senator Kirk (R – Ill.) that Tehran’s concessions are only “cosmetic” and that its suspect nuclear program is neither “frozen” nor decreased.
These same skeptics are the first to shout out that Zarif’s deal under the auspices of Rouhani’s promise to change might not receive the required support back home by the Revolutionary Guards and by Supreme Leader Khamenei himself. The fact that only a few days ago, Khamenei deemed the US “the leader of arrogance” and Israel “the unclean rabid dog” is in stark juxtaposition to the positive energy achieved in Geneva.
The Double-Edged Sword of Time
The concessions by both sides seem reasonable enough and exemplify positive steps by both sides but the burning question remains the time span: Are six months enough or too long?
Six months should be enough time for the IAEA inspectors to get a better understanding of the scope of Tehran’s nuclear program and to pick up on any suspicious activities that they can identify. On the other hand, six months is also enough time for Tehran to continue on its hidden path to a nuclear bomb if such activity is kept secret.
Will the six months of this deal benefit the West, Tehran or both? It really depends what the intentions of the Iranians are all along.
We”ll find out in 6 months.