Granted, to say the “deal” faces collapse is to imply that it was ever in a state of non-collapse. It’s perfectly sound to argue that the non-deal Iran “deal” has been a collapsed balloon from the beginning.
But it’s becoming even harder now to pretend that there’s any inflation in the balloon.
We learned last week that a secret “side deal” to the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) will allow Iran to zoom quickly to an accelerated enrichment capability, at the end of the JCPOA’s theoretical, decade-long hiatus. Obama and Kerry kept this side deal a secret from Congress as well as the American people – and lied in public about its provisions, by explicitly misleading the people on the end-state effects of the “deal,” which the side deal would undo.
On Tuesday, Rep. Pete Roskam (R-IL) said the new revelation invalidates the “deal.”
Revelations about fatal flaws in the nuclear deal invalidate the entire agreement, Roskam said.
“I don’t think there’s a way to have the nuclear deal actually limit Iran,” Roskam said. “I think it’s a false premise. I don’t think that the architecture is there for that.”
This development comes on top of Iran’s continued testing of intermediate-range ballistic missiles, violating the terms of the UN agreement made in 2015 to drop sanctions on Iran in exchange for compliance with the JCPOA.
In early July, the UN actually criticized Iran’s missile testing program as “not consistent with the constructive spirit” of the nuclear deal, which is unusually stringent and categorical language for the UN.
After Iran tested a new, 2,500-mile missile on 12 July, the U.S. House passed new sanctions against Iran for the persistent missile-testing violations. The Senate is now considering its own bill.
Meanwhile, the U.S. Treasury on 20 July designated three Al Qaeda operatives for terrorism sanctions – operatives who work out of Iran, one of them directly with the Iranian government.
So Iran isn’t taking all this unfettered sanctions activity lying down. If Iran is going to pretend to cooperate with the JCPOA’s nuclear-related provisions, the price will be the UN and the West turning a blind eye to Iran’s missile development and terrorism activities. If Iran’s JCPOA partners think they get to sanction missile development and terrorism, they’ve got another think coming.
Iranian media report this week that the country’s nuclear officials have been instructed to get ready to cease cooperating:
Top Iranian leaders have instructed the country’s atomic energy organization to prepare for the reopening of multiple nuclear sites that had been shuttered as part of last summer’s nuclear agreement.
Ali Larijani, the leader of Iran’s parliament, requested this week that the Iranian Atomic Energy Organization prepare a plan to reopen nuclear enrichment facilitates that had been shutdown as part of the effort to limit Tehran’s research into nuclear weapons technology, according to comments carried in Iran’s state-controlled media.
Adam Kredo notes Tehran’s displeasure with the UN. But the Iranians have a specific warning for the U.S.:
The Iranian leader further chided the United States for pursuing “diversionary actions” aimed at undermining the nuclear agreement.
“While regretting the U.N. secretary general’s move, the Majlis warn the U.S. administration, the House of Representatives, and the Senate that diversionary actions against the nuclear deal have reached a point where Iran has no other option but to retaliate,” he said.
To recap: in the space of eight days, while the U.S. tries to address the Iranian missile threat and Iran’s support to terrorism, it emerges that (a) the original “deal” won’t set Iran’s enrichment capacity back to a “year-to-a-bomb” level, as Obama said it would; and (b) Iran is already threatening to reactivate the enrichment infrastructure, whose partial “shuttering” is one of only a couple of tangible results to date of the JCPOA. (See this summary for a guide to the locations the Iranian report would be referring to; principally, certain facilities at Natanz and Fordo.)
Of course this is a negotiating tactic. Everything Iran does is a negotiating tactic. The point is what it’s a tactic for. The Iranian mullahs will keep threatening to officially undo the JCPOA, and require that we tolerate terrorism and missile development from them as the price, as long as they keep getting away with it.
But that said, it’s actively stupid to be complacent about what the Iranians really intend to do with their enrichment infrastructure.
Threatening to reactivate the offline centrifuges isn’t just a negotiating tactic. The Iranians have reported getting their first S-300 missiles this month as well. It won’t be long before their air defenses receive a game-changing upgrade – before they can in fact restart whatever enrichment they have shut down, and there won’t be much anyone can do about it. If they deploy the first batteries to protect the arc running from Qom to Natanz against an air threat from the west and south, the extra – improved – defense layer could be in place within weeks.
(I’d call it 8 weeks from now at the earliest, but probably a bit longer than that. The prospects in the U.S. election may or may not be a factor in the decision, at this point. American power is an inert quantity now, as regards the major muscle movements of geopolitics in the region.)
Terrorism, missile development, and enrichment at will. Obama’s JCPOA is not a “deal” that’s working, by any measure.