I think that Iranian officials have been pretty good sources of understanding the nature of the deal we have entered into with Iran. Among other things, in my view, they rightly crow that it’s a good deal for them and a bad deal for us. They claim victory.
By contrast, the Obama administration has misrepresented and obfuscated the nature of the deal from the git-go. In terms of understanding, they are an obstacle to be overcome.
Iranian negotiator Abbas Araqchi (or Aragchi) is the guy who recently disclosed the existence of the 30-page side deal (or “nonpaper”) we have yet to see. I wrote about the disclosure of the side deal in “A double secret deal with Iran.” Now Araqchi follows up with commentary that seems to me to comport with what is obvious from the face of the agreement. It’s not big news, but it’s helpful to understand the deal. Josh Rogin reports:
Iran’s top nuclear negotiator, Abbas Araghchi, said this week that if Iran decides to resume enriching uranium to levels prohibited by the new nuclear deal, it could begin to do so in one day’s time.
Araghchi spoke on Jan. 12 to the Islamic Republic of Iran Broadcasting Channel 2 following his return from Geneva, where he led the Iranian delegation to the negotiations with the P5+1 countries that resulted in an agreement to implement the Joint Plan of Action signed last November. The interim agreement goes into effect Jan. 20, giving both sides six months to reach a final deal over Iran’s nuclear program.
Critics of the deal, especially in Congress, want any final agreement to force Iran to stop enriching uranium altogether and dismantle its enrichment program. The interim agreement requires Iran to suspend the enrichment of uranium at 20 percent levels and downgrade their existing stockpile of highly-enriched uranium to lower levels. But Araghchi said in the interview that the enrichment suspension is quickly reversible if Iran decides to pull out of the agreement.
“We can return again to 20 percent enrichment in less than one day and we can convert the [nuclear] material again. Therefore the structure of our nuclear program is preserved,” said Araghchi, in a broadcast which was independently translated for The Daily Beast. “Whenever we feel the other side is not following through with its commitments, whenever we feel there are other motives involved, whenever—now, say, under pressure from Congress or something else—they take action against their commitments, say put in place new sanctions, we will immediately revert to the current status quo. And we will again continue our nuclear program in the form that it is today.”
“I can say definitively that the structure of our nuclear program will be exactly preserved. Nothing will be put aside, dismantled or halted. Everything will continue, enrichment will continue,” Araghchi said.
While Iran’s foreign minister made similar comments last year after a broad framework understanding was reached, the comments this week from Araghchi come after Iran agreed to a detailed—and still secret—implementation agreement with the United States and other great powers. The remarks also come as Congress considers new sanctions legislation against Iran.
On the other side of the equation, the undoing of the sanctions regime has already begun and its full force will never be restored. The deal might best be understood as a means of facilitating Iran’s acquisition of nuclear weapons.