Nuke Deal Done: Did Iran Get the Best of Us?

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Ten years ago, it would have seemed unthinkable that we would entertain the notion of signing a nuclear deal with the Islamic Republic of Iran. But after the election of Barack Obama, America’s foreign policy went from one of recognizing and punishing rogue states to one of naive diplomacy and endless apologies. That policy has led us to this point, where we have agreed to lift economic sanctions against Iran in exchange for some promises. Obama is hailing this as a landmark victory for national and international security, but is it? Or did Iran, as they are claiming, get everything they wanted?

The deal is not quite signed, sealed, and delivered. That won’t happen until June, after all involved parties have had a chance to let their countries get a look at the details. From what we know, however, we can make some assumptions about the final contours of the agreement. According to a fact sheet from the State Department and inside sources, we know that Iran gets to pursue nuclear power with the full support and recognition of the international community. It should be noted that this is exactly the opposite of what Obama intended at the outset of the talks, so we can go ahead and chalk that up as an administration failure.

We also know that Iran will be permitted to keep running more than 6,000 centrifuges, 5,000 of which are enriching uranium. At the start of the talks, the U.S. had hoped to cut this number down to the 1,500 range, so this too represents a major concession on Obama’s part.

We do not know yet the nature of any “sunset” provisions. We’ve heard numbers ranging from 10 to 25 years, and Secretary of State John Kerry went as far as to say there were no sunset dates at all. For their part, Iran merely says that the limitations on their nuclear program will be in place for “a period of time.” It is also not clear when sanctions will be lifted, though both parties seem to agree that they will disappear sooner rather than later.

There are certainly reasons to be concerned. Iran has already dismissed Kerry’s fact sheet as “spin,” telling the world that the U.S. is eager to pretend they negotiated a better deal than they really brokered. Whether that’s just propaganda meant to satisfy Iranian hardliners or the truth remains to be seen, but it’s a sign of how little trust there is between the U.S. and Iran. And without trust, this deal is worth little more than the paper its printed on.