If you like your nuclear weapons program, you can keep your nuclear weapons program

The Washington Post reports:

A deal that would give Iran limited relief from economic sanctions in exchange for a temporary freeze of some of its nuclear activities was near completion late Thursday, and Secretary of State John F. Kerry was preparing to fly to Geneva on Friday morning for a likely announcement.

As Jonathan Tobin reminds us, this deal is contrary to what the Obama administration promised when it entered into negotiations:

The president and Secretary of State John Kerry promised that there would be no move to dismantle the economic sanctions that had been implemented against the Islamist regime for anything short of an agreement that would end Tehran’s nuclear threat.

The “temporary freeze of some of [Iran's] nuclear activities” that Kerry apparently has negotiated comes nowhere close to ending Iran’s nuclear threat. Yet, sanctions will be cut back.

Here is what Iran will not do pursuant to the agreement. It will not permanently stop its uranium enrichment, close its Arak and Fordo nuclear facilities, or ship its already 3.5 percent–enriched uranium outside of the country.

Moreover, says Benjamin Weinthal, “there is no definitive method of verification to ensure that Iran’s clerical regime — a notoriously deceptive group — will comply with an agreement.” The West’s easing of economic sanctions will be verifiable; Iran’s “temporary freeze” will be extremely difficult to verify. Recall our experience with North Korea.

Finally, the “freeze,” if any, will be temporary. Iran could “unfreeze” its program at any time. A comprehensive sanctions regime, on the other hand, will be exceedingly difficult to restore. I agree with Tobin that once sanctions start to unravel, it is difficult to see how they will be put back into place, especially after various governments have assured their people that diplomacy is working.

This latest instance of American fecklessness leaves Israel high and dry. (It is no surprise that Catherine Ashton, the anti-Israel EU foreign policy chief, has a central role in the negotiations). Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu has denounced the agreement as “a monumental mistake.” Prudence suggests, if not demands, that Israel launch its own attack on Iran’s nuclear capacity.

But the agreement makes it all but impossible, as a practical matter, for Israel to do so. The pressure from the U.S. and others to “give peace a chance” will be overwhelming.

The agreement, then, looks like a huge coup for Iran. The Mullahs get an easing of sanctions, retain their capacity to go nuclear in short order, and minimize the likelihood of that capacity being set back by an Israeli attack.

Russia and Syria already have stolen the Obama administration’s pants. Now Iran is about to do so.

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