How Iran Describes the Nuclear Deal

Throughout the negotiation process, Iran’s government has been more forthright and more reliable in characterizing the parties’ interim agreements than the Obama administration. So it is worth noting what the Iranians say the deal entails. This is from FARS, Iran’s news agency:

Iran’s President Hassan Rouhani said his country has achieved all its four goals in the agreement that his foreign minister Zarif signed with the six world powers in Vienna on Tuesday.

President Rouhani said his nation started talks with the world powers in a bid to remove all sanctions while maintaining its nuclear program and nuclear progress as two main goals.

All sanctions, including the financial, banking, energy, insurance, transportation, precious metals and even arms and proliferation sanctions will be, not suspended, but terminated according to the Tuesday agreement as soon as the deal comes into force, he said, adding that Iran will only be placed under certain limited arms deal restrictions for five years.

Meantime, Iran will inject gas into its highly advanced IR8 centrifuge machines, continue its nuclear research and development, and keep its Arak Heavy Water Facility and Fordo and Natanz enrichment plants under the agreement, he said, elaborating on Iran’s gains.

Another goal, Rouhani said, was taking Iran off Chapter Seven of the UN Charter, “and we did it”.

More details on the deal:

The agreement, the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), will be presented to the United Nations Security Council (UNSC), which will adopt a resolution in seven to 10 days making the JCPOA an official document.

Based on the agreement, which has been concluded with due regard for Iran’s red lines, the world powers recognize Iran’s civilian nuclear program, including the country’s right to the complete nuclear cycle.

The UNSC sanctions against the Islamic Republic, including all economic and financial bans, will be lifted at once under a mutually agreed framework and through a new UN resolution.

None of the Iranian nuclear facilities will be dismantled or decomissioned.

Furthermore, nuclear research and development activities on all types of centrifuges, including advanced IR-6 and IR-8 machines, will continue.

The nuclear-related economic and financial restrictions imposed by the United States and the European Union (EU) targeting the Iranian banking, financial, oil, gas, petrochemical, trade, insurance and transport sectors will at once be annulled with the beginning of the implementation of the agreement.

The arms embargo imposed against the Islamic Republic will be annulled and replaced with certain restrictions, which themselves will be entirely removed after a period of five years.

Additionally, tens of billions of dollars in Iranian revenue frozen in foreign banks will be unblocked.

I have now read the agreement in its entirety–you, too, can read it here–and I think the Iranians’ description is accurate. I also agree with what Paul wrote earlier today.

Some aspects of the agreement are technical and can’t be well understood without knowledge of nuclear engineering or the history of various sanctions that have been imposed. But those details are immaterial. Loopholes could make the agreement slightly worse, but no technical interpretation can save it.

The mullahs may cheat on the agreement, or they may not. They may decide to walk away from the agreement at some point and openly develop nuclear weapons, or they may not. It makes very little difference. There are no undertakings in the agreement that go beyond 10 years (in most instances) or 15 years (in a few). The Ayatollah takes the long view: ten or fifteen years are nothing. In the meantime, what does Iran get?

First, and most important, it gets in excess of $100 billion in currently-frozen assets. This will happen in the near future, on or about the agreement’s Implementation Date. I think this prospect is what is making Iran’s leaders so jubilant. With that money, they can step up their support for allies in Syria, Yemen and Iraq, and their support for terrorism everywhere. (By way of perspective, the entire United States military budget for the current fiscal year is only $560 billion.) To the extent that they spend some of it at home, it will help cement their position domestically.

Second, the agreement grants Iran international legitimacy. Since the revolution of 1979 and the seizure of America’s embassy in Tehran, Iran has been treated as a rogue state. Under the agreement, that status comes to an end. Investment in Iran will be permitted and likely will flourish. Sanctions will be removed and Iran’s nuclear program will not only be tolerated, it will be explicitly recognized and to some degree supported by the international community. The agreement contemplates that upon implementation, “the Iranian nuclear programme will be treated in the same manner as that of any other non-nuclear-weapon state party to the NPT [non-proliferation treaty].” It is hard to overstate how important this legitimacy is to the regime.

The third benefit to Iran’s rulers is perhaps the most important, and is closely linked to the first two. The agreement guarantees that, at least for the foreseeable future, the mullahs will remain in power. Realistically, the only way Iran could be denied a nuclear arsenal in the long term is through regime change. Early in the Obama administration, that seemed like a plausible scenario, but the administration declined to aid, or even encourage, anti-regime forces when such support might have made a difference. Now, with the mullahs both flush with cash and blessed with international legitimacy, their grip on power is probably stronger than ever. Nuclear weapons will follow, sooner or later, at a time of the regime’s choosing. And in the meantime, Iran’s ability to make mischief in the Middle East and around the world (e.g., through its newfound alliance with Venezuela) has been greatly enhanced.