Today, a verdict was reached on the Iran Nuclear Deal, but this rather raises a question, not of whether Iran will abide by the deal, but whether the U.S. will.
According to an article published in Politico this morning, Obama will need to rally at least 34 Senators in the Republican-majority Senate in order to get Congressional approval. Lindsey Graham released a statement declaring the Nuclear Deal “… a possible death sentence for Israel,” and Israeli Prime Minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, said it was a “Historical Mistake.” But are these really, well-founded fears about an Iran that sought nuclear weapons under a different government, or is this because of a legitimate loop-hole in the treaty?
The answer is largely mistrust of Iran, and the emphasis over some entirely speculative, irrelevant loopholes in the treaty that do not explicitly pertain to nuclear weapons:
Firstly, this is not an agreement founded on trust, and Iran will not reap the benefits of the deal immediately. There are measures taken to ensure that the sanctions can be readily placed back on Iran should their compliance with the deal falter. Given that the sanctions has made it difficult for Iran to function economically, they have a high incentive to comply with the deal word for word. Furthermore, the deal is founded above all on verification and gradual procedure, as exemplified in Article 10 of The Preamble and General Provisions:
“The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) will be requested to monitor and verify the voluntary nuclear-related measures… The IAEA will be requested to provide regular updates to the Board of Governors, and… to the UN Security Council.”
Secondly, and according to The Centre for Strategic & International Studies, the likelihood that the treaty has over Iran not acquiring nuclear weapons is considered likely. This is for three main logistical reasons in Iran’s weapons-grade plutonium pathway towards a bomb. Plutonium is a bi-product of nuclear fission from Uranium, which was underway in the past from the Arak heavy water reactor. Now, under the treaty, the Arak heavy-water reactor is put out of use in that regard. This was the only heavy-water reactor in Iran, which differentiates from the light-water reactor in Bushehr, because the latter does not use weapons-grade enriched Uranium. In other words, the existence of the light-water reactor should not be used as an argument as it contributes to a peaceful nuclear energy programme. On addition to the threat arising from heavy-water reactors, which can be used to produce weapons-grade plutonium, the deal ensures that there is no building of such reactors for 15 years. It should also be stated that the grant for inspection of facilities to the International Atomic Energy Association (IAEA) is indefinite in the deal. Lastly, the amount of enriched uranium in Iran will be reduced by 98%, while keeping enrichment to 3.67%, the maximum required for nuclear energy, but not enough for the purposes of nuclear weapons.
On the possible loopholes, this mainly concerns the ambiguity of access to military sites, which does not happen automatically with ‘The Additional Protocol’. There is also some vagueness, according to the Centre for Strategic & International Studies, in regards to the extent of which Iran is limited in the agreement towards Research and Development of centrifuges, as well as other types of enrichment.
In summary, the Iran Nuclear Deal does provide for a logistical framework in which Iran’s nuclear capabilities are significantly reduced for the foreseeable future. On the other hand, the agreement is not perfect, but few things are as such in negotiations. It is more important to establish this comprehensive deal, as it will lay the bedrock for future negotiations regarding Iran’s nuclear energy policy.