At Foreign Affairs, Kenneth Pollack makes the best case possible for the Iran nuclear deal: while imperfect, it is merely an interim deal that will establish trust as a basis for a more comprehensive deal going forward. If that is so, the deal has already failed. Iran has now complained loudly about the Obama administration’s spin on the terms of the deal, suggesting that the White House is lying, and insisting on its own interpretation.
In other words, there is no trust–there is simply the Iranian expectation that sanctions will soon be removed completely and that the regime has only paused its nuclear enrichment program to legitimize it, not to take it down. The Obama administration is so desperate for the deal to work that it will likely bend towards Iran’s interpretation of the terms, breaking its own commitments and leaving Israel and Saudi Arabia in the cold.
It is worth noting that while Pollack is probably the country’s foremost expert on the Iran issue, and once backed a war in Iraq (hence the media excitement about his enthusiasm for the Iran deal), he is committed to a policy of “containment” on Iran–one to which the Obama administration is now heading. It is no small wonder that if you generally oppose a military option, and think a nuclear Iran can be contained, you may like the deal.
But if you think in terms of the UN Security Council resolutions as a starting point, and acknowledge that sanctions, once lifted, are unlikely to be restored, and note that the regime has not ceased its anti-American and anti-Israel madness in recent days, then this is a bad deal indeed. And if the best argument for the deal is that it is meant to build trust between the parties, it is already a failure, since the regime knows with whom it is dealing.