The Iran Nuclear Negotiations: U.S. Concession After U.S. Concession


The Obama Administration is negotiating a bad deal in the Iran nuclear negotiations. It has violated every rule of good negotiating practice, making concession after concession on both major and minor issues. With each abandoned red line—whether enrichment, ballistic missiles, verification, or sanctions relief—the Administration has resorted to twisted logic and intellectually disingenuous explanations to justify its concessions. A good deal would deny Iran a nuclear weapons capability, prevent Iran from building a nuclear weapon in a short amount of time, extend the breakout time, be verifiable, include phased relief of sanctions and guaranteed snap-back provisions. The Administration’s proposed deal fails on all counts.

Delivered July 7, 2015

Since the Joint Plan of Action (JPOA) was announced in November 2013, the outcome was clear: Iran would be recognized and accepted as a nuclear weapons threshold state. Of course, Iran’s ballistic missile force—the largest in the region—would not be limited in any way. These were explicit concessions acknowledged by the White House, but explained away in the most convoluted fashion.

No longer would Iran be compelled to abandon its enrichment program. It would only be constrained so as to extend the breakout time for the mullahs to build the bomb that they could then deliver by ballistic missile. And even these constraints would be removed after the agreement expires.

Yes, the Iranians will agree to certain conditions, such as not building buildings that they have never intended to build. Instead of no enrichment, Iran will be limited to operating 5 or 6 thousand centrifuges under the agreement, but they will also be allowed to maintain in storage thousands of other machines that could be brought on line relatively quickly. And R&D and designing ever more advanced centrifuges will go on.

Yes, it is better that these centrifuges are not going to be connected during the tenure of the agreement, but that doesn’t make this a good deal. In fact, this is unquestionably a bad deal. And this important distinction sometimes gets lost in the rhetoric.

So what are the metrics to judge the outcome—to judge whether this is a good or bad deal. I think they are straightforward. Here are five:

  1. Does the agreement deny Iran a nuclear weapons capability—the longstanding declared goal of the United States and the international community?
  2. Does the agreement, once the constraints expire, prevent Iran from building a nuclear weapon in a short amount of time?
  3. Does the agreement extend the breakout time in a meaningful way?
  4. Is the agreement effectively verifiable?
  5. And is there a meaningful phased relief of sanctions and are there guaranteed snap-back provisions?

The answer to each of these questions is NO—a reality that is becoming apparent across party lines.

So how did we get into this mess? The answer is clear:

  • The Administration has violated every rule of good negotiating practice—the basic tenets of negotiating 101.
  • Instead of increasing pressure on Tehran through more sanctions, they relieved sanctions to, in their words, keep Iran at the table, but it was these very sanctions that brought them to the table.
  • Instead of making clear to Iran that Iran needed an agreement more than we, the Administration has demonstrated just the opposite: that it is desperate for an agreement—a desperation that Iran’s negotiators have exploited to the fullest, as seen today with Iran’s last minute insistence on ending the arms embargo.
  • Instead of insisting that a deadline actually means a deadline, the Administration has allowed Iran to squeeze further concessions each time the latest deadline approaches and passes.
  • Most important, instead of holding the line on those key issues that would determine whether the agreement is good or bad—whether it advances our security interests or undermines them—the Administration made concession after concession.

Full article: The Iran Nuclear Negotiations: U.S. Concession After U.S. Concession (The Heritage Foundation)

Comments are closed.