As recently as Sunday it looked as though the Iran nuclear deal was falling apart. We lived through two 24-hour extensions and finally got news that we would, in fact, see a deal.
Today, President Obama and John Kerry told us exactly what’s in this deal that the representatives of the P5+1, the group consisting of the United States, the United Kingdom, China, France, Russia, and Germany, have been struggling to hash out with a hostile Iran.
We must keep in mind that they framework for the deal isn’t set in stone – there will be two more months of negotiations before we see dry ink on the page. But that doesn’t change the fact that the very use of the word “deal” seems disingenuous.
This agreement provided just enough sleight of hand for the Obama national security team to move the goalposts and declare a victory.
The deal permits Iran to still maintain hundreds and hundreds of centrifuges churning out uranium that with modifications can be used in a nuclear weapon. These centrifuges produce such a high volume of uranium as to be laughably more than could conceivably be used in a peaceful nuclear program.
In return, the entire international community has announced a cessation of sanctions.
In short, Iran got exactly what it wanted.
In his remarks, Obama said that America has three choices: first, we can set back the Iranian nuclear program a few years by bombing Iran’s nuclear facilities (and start a new Middle East war in the process); second, pull out of negotiations entirely and essentially allow the Iranian nuclear program to progress; or third, we can reach a robust and verifiable deal that peacefully prevents Iran from obtaining a viable nuclear weapon.
The president isn’t wrong, but he is intentionally misleading his audience. The third option, a favorable deal, is obviously the only desirable outcome. But a good deal is not what was unveiled today in Switzerland.
Instead, we were presented with a bungled mess of overeager diplomacy. Seemingly the very definition of half a loaf, the nuclear deal compromises in all the worst ways, and allows the Iranians to maintain a substantial nuclear enrichment capacity.
Even worse, all of this is only the framework for the deal. It remains to be seen how much the Iranians will manage to water down their end of the bargain over the next several months.
In his eagerness to achieve a deal and play peacemaker, President Obama opted to accept a deal that doesn’t provide regional stability, may just make the region less stable, and that certainly doesn’t make Americans safer.