In the weeks before the Iran deal, a bipartisan group of policy experts–including several former Obama administration officials–issued an open letter stating that the negotiations “may fall short of meeting the administration’s own standard of a “good” agreement.” They laid out five criteria for a deal to meet, and White House spokesman Josh Earnest promised the deal would meet them. After the deal was done, the White House issued talking points along those lines, which Democrats are citing widely. Unfortunately, these talking points are false.
As Breitbart News explained last week, the Iran deal fails to meet any of the five conditions laid down by the Washington Institute. Here is that analysis–updated with excerpted responses from the White House, and the reason those responses still fail to meet the five-point test.
1. Monitoring and verification.
Breitbart: 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.
White House: The deal provides “timely and effective” access for IAEA inspectors, including “daily access to Iran’s primary nuclear sites” (the “24/7” monitoring Obama officials have touted) and the supply chain for nuclear materials. As for nuclear sites that are not yet known, “the IAEA will be able to request access under the Additional Protocol (AP).” Military sites will be covered by the AP.
Breitbart response: The “daily” or “24/7” access is still subject to Iranian management, and will bar U.S. inspectors from participating. Note that the White House has no effective response to the question of unknown or military sites–the IAEA can “request access” but nothing more. That is especially troubling, given that Iran has hidden sites in the past. Also, the AP has to be approved by the Iranian parliament.
2. Possible military dimensions.
Breitbart: 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.
White House: “Iran has agreed to address all of the outstanding issues with regards to PMD in a comprehensive and time-limited manner,” which includes the Parchin military base, to which there will be “appropriate access.” Sanctions relief depends on compliance.
Breitbart response: This is a vague and unenforceable commitment, one that is laughable on its face. Iran will pretend to reveal just enough to allow the Obama administration to claim success. UN sanctions will be rolled back long before Iran complies with this provision.
3. Advanced centrifuges.
Breitbart: 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.
White House: The Iran deal “establishes strict limits on advanced centrifuge R&D, testing, and deployment in the first 10 years, and, after the initial decade, Iran must abide by its enrichment and R&D plan submitted to the IAEA under the Additional Protocol [AP].”
Breitbart response: As indicated above, the AP must still be approved by the Iranian parliament. Iran has violated such agreements before. Notably, the White House does not claim that the deal prevents a rapid upgrade in enrichment capacity after the agreement expires.
4. Sanctions relief.
Breitbart: 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.”
White House: Aside from some small amount of immediate sanctions relief, sanctions will only be lifted once Iran has complied with the deal. Moreover, “U.S. sanctions imposed for non-nuclear reasons will remain in effect and will continue to be vigorously enforced.”
Breitbart response: These are false promises. The U.S. has already agreed to the steady removal of some non-nuclear sanctions. And if the sanctions regime is as fragile as Obama says, there is no way the world will maintain it if Iran complies only partly with the deal.
5. Consequences of violations.
Breitbart: 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.
White House: “The deal will allow any member of the P5+1 to unilaterally snap back UN sanctions if there is a violation for the initial 10 years….Put simply, neither Iran, Russia, nor China–or all 3 together–could block the snapback of these sanctions.” There is also a military option as a last resort; the White House claims that the deal “puts us in a better position” to use it, “if necessary, in the future.”
Breitbart response: A “unilateral” request to snap back sanctions has to be approved by a committee that includes Iran. Moreover, as the Washington Institute’s Robert Satloff notes, re-imposing sanctions frees Iran from the deal, making any “snap-back” extremely unlikely. The idea that the U.S. will be better able to use a military option in the future, once Iran has obtained more and better weapons, is a joke.
So, to summarize: the Iran deal fails to provide information about unknown nuclear sites, or adequate monitoring of military sites. It offers only vague and unenforceable commitments on possible military dimensions (PMDs). It does not prevent, advanced centrifuge research, and does not prevent that research from accelerating after ten years. The deal adds relief from an arms embargo and ballistic missile sanctions–concessions that were unthinkable just a few weeks ago. And the “snap-back” provisions are simply not a serious means of enforcement.