So much spin is coming out of Lausanne, Switzerland that it will be a while before we really know what kind of nuclear deal was signed between the U.S., Iran, and the five other world powers who sat at the negotiations table. To be certain, both Iran and the Obama administration are calling this a victory, and both sides are accusing the other of misrepresenting the deal. Under normal circumstances, one could fairly easily place their faith in the American view of the deal, but we left normal circumstances behind a long time ago.
According to the Iranian foreign minister, his theocracy got everything they hoped to wrangle out of Secretary of State John Kerry. Specifically, they will be allowed to keep their centrifuges active and they will get immediate relief from the economic sanctions that formed the nucleus of the deal.
On these two points, there is little disagreement. The State Department released a fact sheet meant to provide a simple guide to the deal, and in it you can see for yourself that Iran will be allowed to keep their nuclear centrifuges spinning, many of which are located at the controversial Fordo facility. The State Department also confirms that Iran will benefit from sanctions relief, though the timetable on removing those sanctions is unclear.
In a speech from the Rose Garden, President Obama proudly proclaimed that if the Islamic Republic “cheats, the world will know.” Perhaps. But U.N. inspectors have been tossed out of the country before, and Iran may very well decide that they aren’t open to the kind of daily inspections the world community demands. If that happens, this framework could come crumbling down very quickly.
In the meantime, the U.S. has drawn deep divisions with our allies in Israel and Saudi Arabia, both of whom are noticeably shaken by the prospect of a nuclear-armed Iran. Israel has made explicit threats to use military action to wipe out any progress the country might make towards a bomb. Saudi Arabia has indicated that they will demand every concession given to Iran, up to and including their procurement of a nuclear weapon. In fact, on the latter point, many experts believe the Kingdom could easily buy one from Pakistan, levelling the playing field instantly and opening the Middle East up to a new kind of deadly chaos.
Deeply troubling is the fact that Iran may not have to explain the evidence U.N. inspectors turned up, demonstrating that the regime may have been working towards developing a nuclear bomb. This evidence formed the basis for U.N. sanctions, and it’s unclear whether or not Iran will be under any pressure to address this issue. The question of how U.N. inspectors will be able to ferret out other covert nuclear operations without an accounting of this evidence is one that the Obama administration needs to answer.
At the end of the day, we have extended our hand to welcome a rogue state onto the world stage. A state that Press Secretary Josh Earnest, on Thursday, acknowledged was a major supporter of terrorism and violator of human rights. To do it, we have turned our backs on our best Middle Eastern allies.
But hey, Obama gets to look like a hero for a few minutes. That’s worth it.