Late last month, several Middle East policy experts–including prominent former Obama administration officials–warned that negotiations with Iran were heading in the wrong direction. “The agreement will not prevent Iran from having a nuclear weapons capability,” they said, and warned that the terms would “fall short of meeting the administration’s own standard of a ‘good’ agreement.” They suggested that any Iran deal would have to cover five crucial elements–each of which, they suggested, were lacking in the emerging terms of the agreement.
The former Obama advisers included David Petraeus, Dennis B. Ross, Robert Einhort, Gary Samore, James Cartwright, and Norman Eisen.
In response, White House spokesperson Josh Earnest insisted that the five principles outlined by Obama’s former advisers were “broadly consistent with the kinds of principles that the President himself has established.” Yet the final Iran deal falls short on each of those five.
1. Monitoring and verification. The former Obama advisers said that “Iran must not be able to deny or delay timely access to any site anywhere in the country that the inspectors need to visit in order to carry out their responsibilities,” including military sites. However, the Iran deal allows Iran to delay inspections through a complex arbitration process, and allows extremely limited access to military sites.
2. Possible military dimensions. The Iran deal, the former advisers said, should include information about “Iran’s past and any ongoing nuclear weaponization activities…before any significant sanctions relief.” However, Iran is now only expected to offer vague information.
3. Advanced centrifuges. The advisers said: “The agreement must establish strict limits on advanced centrifuge R&D, testing, and deployment in the first ten years, and preclude the rapid technical upgrade and expansion of Iran’s enrichment capacity after the initial ten-year period.” The deal, however, allows Iran to continue research on advanced centrifuges that could enrich uranium at the deal’s expiration.
4. Sanctions relief. The final Iran deal will see UN Security Council sanctions lifted immediately, and will later lift embargoes on arms and ballistic missiles. That violates what Obama’s former advisers suggested: “Relief must be based on Iran’s performance of its obligations. Suspension or lifting of the most significant sanctions must not occur until the IAEA confirms that Iran has taken the key steps required to come into compliance with the agreement. Non-nuclear sanctions…must remain in effect and be vigorously enforced.”
5. Consequences of violations. Obama’s former advisers insisted: “The agreement must include a timely and effective mechanism to re-impose sanctions automatically if Iran is found to be in violation of the agreement.” They added that the consequences of violations must be made clear. The final Iran deal achieves none of that, beyond vague assurances of “snap-back” mechanisms that simply do not exist.
The Iran deal fails each of Obama’s purported principles for an agreement, and Earnest’s reassurance turns out to have been a complete lie.