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There Is No Iran Deal: West, Iran Differ Sharply over Terms

The United Nations Security Council voted 15-0 on Monday to pass Resolution 2231, which endorses the Iran nuclear deal–“the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action [JCPOA] signed in Vienna by the five permanent members of the Council, plus Germany, the European Union and Iran.” However, there are already sharp disagreements between Iran and the rest of the world as to what that deal actually means.

Iran’s Foreign Ministry claims, for example, that the deal does not actually cover its ballistic missile program, as advertised. Restrictions on ballistic missiles are to be ended after eight years, according to the JCPOA. However, Iran says, according to the Times of Israel, that the UN Security C0uncil resolution and the deal do not apply to its own missiles because they “have not been conceived to carry nuclear weapons.”

Similarly, there is confusion as to whether the deal prevents Iran from accelerating its nuclear program after the deal expires, or whether that is just an option. Such (voluntary) restrictions would have to be approved under the Additional Protocol to the Non-Proliferation Treaty, which the Iranian parliament is supposed to ratify, but there is no deadline for it to do so; it could wait until deal expires, in theory.

Alan Dershowitz, who has worked on UN resolutions on the Middle East, suggests there may not have been a “meeting of the minds” on the Iran deal at all: “Is it a postponement for an uncertain number of years — 8, 10, 13, 14, 15 — of Iran’s ability to develop a nuclear weapon? Or is it an assurance that ‘Iran will not be able to develop a nuclear weapon?'”

These differences go far beyond the usual disputes over the precise interpretations of terms in an agreement. There seems to be a wide gulf between Iran and the West about what, in fact, is covered by the agreement. Other areas of confusion in the deal include access for international inspectors to Iranian military sites, which the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps apparently is refusing to accept or allow.

It will be hard to enforce a deal that is not, in fact, an agreement.

 

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