A presumptive deal between the United States and Iran to curb the Iranian nuclear program in exchange for an easing of sanctions is regarded in the White House as a breakthrough, cutting the Gordian knot between intractability and persistence. Yet before the acclamation begins a cautionary note is warranted.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu recently said, “I believe that adopting them [the deal proposals] is a mistake of historic proportions.” There is much to suggest that he is right.
For one thing, perhaps most notably, Iran retains the capability of making nuclear weapons. The deal – described as unfolding – merely freezes the most advanced aspects of its nuclear program, including the production of near-weapons-grade fuel. With uranium enriched at the twenty-percent level as is presently the case, Iran can probably produce six Hiroshima like atom bombs today. Moreover, it possesses the missiles to deliver them over a 1000 kilometer distance.
Second, Iranian leaders have been known to lie. The assurances offered in the past have disappeared like soap bubbles. After all, negotiations of one kind or another have been going on for decades. Prime Minister Rouhani, in his previous role, was the chief Iranian negotiator at a diplomatic table with American and European representatives. Despite his pleasant smile and moderate demeanor, he is a jihadist who is eager to promote Iran’s imperial agenda and that political position is enhanced by the possession of nuclear weapons.
Third, although this deal is the first phase in what is presumed to be a step-by-step process, verification procedures are obscure. It has been established from Intelligence sources that Iran has several projects deeply hidden underground on heavy-water nuclear production and centrifuges. Even if one or two are “frozen” to satisfy IAEA inspectors, how can one be sure other facilities aren’t operating at full tilt?