When the Iran nuclear deal was being debated, much attention was paid to the question whether Iran would cheat on the agreement. My position was that they likely would, but they certainly didn’t have to. Iran got what it wanted up front–relief from sanctions and something like $1 billion. Having gotten what they wanted, Iran’s rulers could simply walk away from the agreement at whatever time they chose.
Iran’s President, Hassan Rouhani, made this point bluntly yesterday, while addressing Parliament:
Iranian President Hassan Rouhani warned that if the US discards the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) between Tehran and the world powers, Iran will be able to revive all the nuclear capabilities that had developed before the start of the nuclear talks in November 2013.
“The new US statesmen should know that the failed experience of sanctions and force brought their previous administrations to the negotiating table and if they are inclined to get back to those experiences, Iran would certainly return in a short time — not a week or a month but within hours — to a situation more advanced than before the start of negotiations,” President Rouhani said, addressing the parliament in Tehran on Tuesday.
So if Iran can, at will, resume a nuclear weapons development status more advanced than when the agreement was entered into “within hours,” what did we buy for $1 billion and relief of sanctions that caused serious problems for the mullahs? Little or nothing.
Of course, it is possible that Rouhani is bluffing, but I see no reason to believe that. This is the eventuality that many foresaw when the ineffective “joint plan of action” was being debated.