Pascal Boniface hails the global agreement over Iran’s nuclear problem by pretending that it eliminates all outstanding issues and leaves the world an undeniably better place. None of that is true, which is why his analysis is so full of holes and, in the end, completely off-base.
In fact, the agreement is only a six-month deal that sidesteps the thorniest issues. So, it’s not, as he calls it, “a victory by those who sought a diplomatic solution,” nor does it “head off” one of two scenarios that Russia and China supposedly most wanted to avoid: “Iran retaining its ability to build a nuclear weapon.”
With this agreement, Boniface proclaims, President Obama “has accomplished what none of his predecessors have in 34 years.” Well, yes, but perhaps that’s because none of his predecessors would have signed a deal that significantly eases the burden of economic sanctions on Tehran while allowing it to continue making nuclear progress, giving international nuclear inspectors only limited access to its nuclear sites, and not forcing it to roll back any element of its nuclear program.
In his most telling paragraph, Boniface writes, “Iran also emerges a winner in the deal. The easing of sanctions will allow its economy to recover and enable it to increase its power in the region. Iran will retain the right to enrich uranium as allowed by the Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT), but only below a certain level to preclude weapons-grade enrichment.”
Put more accurately, the deal undercuts the sanctions system that forced Tehran to negotiate in the first place. Now, with $7bn in sanctions relief, Iran’s economy will begin to recover, trade and investment with the West will resume, and public pressure on the regime at home will ease. That will embolden Tehran to continue its terror sponsorship and its efforts to de-stabilise other governments in the region.
Meanwhile, Iran can continue enriching uranium at low levels (boosting the stockpiles that it can convert to weapons-grade levels in the future); keep all its centrifuges in place; and maintain any secret nuclear work outside of the Natanz and Fordo sites.
By easing the economic pressure on Iran without securing any roll-back of its nuclear progress, the six-month agreement makes it far less likely that Tehran will feel compelled to ever sign a permanent agreement that would guarantee it has truly renounced its desire for nuclear weaponry.
Thus, contrary to Boniface’s contentions, the six-month agreement is less “historic” than destructive.
Former communications director for Vice President Al Gore, now a senior fellow at the American Foreign Policy Council and author of Sound the Trumpet: The United States and Human Rights Promotion.