January 14, 2014

Another Step ‘Forward’ for Iranian Deal

Meet the new nuclear agreement, same as the old one.

“Nuclear Accord with Iran Advances.” So said the front page of Monday’s Washington Post. The Post reported, “Iran and six world powers took a significant and hard-won step toward nuclear rapprochement on Sunday,” which sounds like good news for once. But alas, someone forgot to give the Iranians their talking points, and as usual they strayed from the feel-good script.

One of the sticking points in the recent deal – indeed, the sticking point in any deal with the rogue nation – is whether Iran can or cannot enrich uranium under the terms of the Non-Proliferation Treaty. As long as Iran is able to enrich uranium, it will always have a viable pathway to producing nuclear weapons in quantity.

Deputy Foreign Minister Abbas Araqchi left no room for doubt on Iran’s position: “We will in no way, never, dismantle our [nuclear] centrifuges.” Muhammad Asafari, a senior member of Iran’s Majlis (their legislative body), offered equally unhelpful remarks: “If the U.S. Congress approves any [more] sanctions against the Islamic Republic of Iran, we [the Majlis] will accelerate the approval of a bill which requires the government to enrich uranium to the 60% grade.” Another senior member of the Majlis, Mansouri Arani, couldn’t resist a dig at arch-enemy Israel: “Today, the Zionist regime has suffered the greatest loss from these agreements, as its propaganda against Iran will be ineffective from now on.” Although likely unintentional, Arani spoke the truth in this case as Israel’s freedom of action will be limited while the Iran deal is in force.

Expect Iran to continue this kind of belligerent posturing during the six months the deal is in force, with the clock starting on Jan. 20. And if you think this sounds unhelpful to the diplomatic process, wait for what Iran says when it comes time to hammer out the follow-on deal that was, after all, the reason for the interim deal.

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