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National Security

You Want it Bad, You'll Get it Bad

This weekend's deal will supposedly "freeze or roll back Iran's nuclear program." Not so fast.

Nov. 25, 2013

On Saturday, the six nations negotiating with Iran reached an interim agreement that will, allegedly, “freeze or roll back Iran’s nuclear program,” according to The Washington Post. A careful reading of the agreement tells a very different story.

This six-month agreement costs Iran nothing that cannot be easily reversed while loosening the Western sanctions that took years to put in place. And the deal is based on the notion of negotiating a follow-on deal more contentious than anything yet attempted. In other words, Iran pretends to play nice for six months, during which time it receives sanctions relief and the freeing of some frozen assets, and next summer we’ll be back to late 2006, trying to cobble together support for sanctions all over again.

Iran is required to abstain from further centrifuge installation – but not to cease centrifuge enrichment. Iran’s stockpile of 3.5% enriched uranium is frozen at its current level – but not diminished. Iran’s stockpile of 20% enriched uranium is halved, with one half merely reduced back to 5% enriched. Iran will cease construction of the Arak heavy water reactor – but not dismantle it (the facility is more than 90% finished). Iran will allow intrusive daily inspections of its nuclear facilities – but not Parchin. And when the agreement expires and the two sides come to a stalemate over the follow-on deal, Iran walks away with tens of billions of dollars back in its economy and with its oil industry once again exporting on a large scale. Remember that China has massive energy requirements and several existing energy cooperation deals with Iran as well as veto power over any future agreements.

Secretary of State John Kerry, displaying the same mastery of international affairs that once led him to call Syria “an essential player in bringing peace and stability to the region,” claimed with a straight face that Israel (and presumably everyone else) is safer now than it was before clinching the agreement. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu reacted, saying, “Today the world has become a much more dangerous place because the most dangerous regime in the world has taken a significant step toward attaining the most dangerous weapon in the world.” Our editorial standards board says we can’t print what Bibi’s private reaction likely was.

As we have said before, the Obama administration is so desperate to achieve a deal with Iran that it matters not what the details of that deal are. This deal greatly harms the sanctions regime that was put in place with enormous effort over a period of five years, while imposing only a six-month timeout on Iran. It leaves unresolved the issue of whether Iran can or cannot enrich uranium. And it does not dismantle a single facility or remove a single kilogram of uranium from Iran. Somewhere in the lower depths of hell, the late Ayatollah “Old Whiskers” Khomeini is probably smiling right now.

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