The New Iran Treaty


#1

Its seems to be a thing, I’m personally very pleased to see this matter get sorted, I think personally Iran has the potential to be a modern nation without the usual Middle East crap that plagues the region.

Anyway, I’d like to hear from the hive mind what their thoughts are.

Let the ranting commence.


#2

All this Greek drama has taken away all my energy to be informed on politics this past weeks.

What’s the deal, specifically? What does it allow, what doesn’t it allow? What does Isarael think (since they are going to be the ones more strongly against the deal, they will point out the worst parts of it)?

On a gut reaction level, without reading the deal, I think any overture with Iran is a good thing, since despite some totalitarian aspects of the regime, it’s a healthy society considering their surroundings (I mean, it could be much worse). There has been a lot of talk on Iran’s ability to move towards a more open, less theocratic system. It seems lack of tension with the West and the improved economy this might bring could provide the necessary push to bring it into full modern state standard (I don’t expect full-on laification, just a toning down of the more repressive aspects. That would be enough, not all modern societies need to adhere to exactly the same ideals,just to the basics).


#3

Israel is going batshit. Unified opposition among all parties- which never happens in Israel. Saudis and Neocons also going batshit. All of them want the US to fight their wars.

Personally, I think it’s a risk worth taking, but we need to be willing to enforce it by any means necessary if Iran doesn’t live up to its end.


#4

Iran is almost certainly just going to use this as a way to buy time to develop a nuclear weapon. I’m pretty sure we’re just being played for suckers.


#5

What makes you say that? After the iraq WMD debacle I take the smoking gun arguments with a grain of salt.

Granted, there are questions about Iran’s nuclear program, but very little real evidence that is not questionable itself. Increased controls (because I assume the deal includes these?) should make the situation even clearer. For Iran’s geopolitical needs, a pseudo-allied position with the US (a non-intervention sort of arrangement) might be more positive towards its long term stability than developing nuclear weapons. I think they gain a lot from this deal and might want to considered not botching it?.


#6

Well if there was one thing the War of Terror showed us, it is that if you are in any way likely to be in America’s scopes at some point, you really need to get yourself some nuclear weapons.

So yes i’m sure Iran will still go ahead with all that (as will all the other countries that feel the heel coming), but i suppose it is quite a major breakthrough in terms of middle eastern diplomacy, and who knows, maybe winning the hearts and minds of Iran is not such a bad thing for less extremism in the middle east in general?

I’m pretty 50/50 on the news, it has some good aspects, but also some down sides, on balance it may be a better course of action than simply another war (although that is of course good for business, if not moral of your army and public)?


#7

Iran is going to develop a nuke whether we want it to or not, if they choose to do so. The focus should not be on trying to prevent what I think is unpreventable, but rather should be on convincing Iran that such a course is not profitable, and that abstaining is profitable. With India and Pakistan–two nations we definitely did not want to have the bomb either, and frankly Pakistan scares me a lot more than Iran in this context–we’ve focused on making it damn clear to both parties that now that they have their toys, they can’t actually play with them. As far as I can tell, the rest of the nuclear community has worked pretty hard to make sure Pakistan and India develop decent means of securing and controlling their nukes, an approach that would probably work with Iran if absolutely necessary.

I’d rather not have any more nuclear weapons floating around and Tehran sure has been somewhat erratic, too much so for my tastes to entrust them with nukes, but I also think focusing on non-proliferation in the traditional sense is fruitless. After Osirak, everyone with a clandestine program buried it deep, so there’s very little chance the Israelis, or even the US, could really eliminate with force the Iranian program. It’s pretty likely too that the Israeli attack on Iraq actually pushed Saddam into researching WMDs, rather than stopping him. I doubt force against Iran in this case would do anything less, considering that the main reason Tehran wants nukes isn’t to attack Israel–which would be suicide, and these guys aren’t IS–but to deter what they see as threats from us. An attack on Iran would simply solidify the hardliners’ hold and justify for the moderates a view of the US and Israel as existential threats.

There are real reasons to be wary of Tehran’s role in the region, and their good faith in any agreement. But we signed agreements with the Soviets, who weren’t exactly choir boys either and could, unlike Iran, actually wipe us off the map. I would love to see secret talks with Iran to use this deal as leverage to rein in the Shia activists that are exacerbating the situation in places like Yemen and push the Iranian-backed militias in Iraq to be more conciliatory.

As for Israel, my patience has been eroded over the years. I grew up admiring Israel and still have a love for the people and the country; as a Jew myself, it’s one of those things that comes pretty naturally. But politically I’ve grown weary of the constant reduction of every event in the region to an alleged existential threat, and the insistence that the only acceptable security for Israel is the constant insecurity of every one else in the region. I also firmly believe the current government there is deliberately scare-mongering to deflect attention from the much more intractable and ultimately more crucial problems Israel has closer to home. Is Iran a threat? Sure, like most of the states in the region who would probably not be unhappy for bad things to happen to Israel. But the Iranians are probably more rational, ultimately, than the Sunni fanatics in Saudi and the Gulf, not to mention IS–which only has avoided confrontation with Israel I think because it has its hands full elsewhere.

That being said, I haven’t seen the specifics of this particular deal, but in the long run, Iran is going to be a key player in the region and if we want to “save” Iraq, we need Tehran.


#8

Possible, but they’re not NKorea. More importantly, they don’t have China covering their asses.


#9

Can you game that out in a bit more detail? There are provisions designed to avoid this. Inspections, snap-back sanctions, etc. Basically if the US feels that Iran is not holding up it’s end, the other treaty signatories are obligated to reimpose the sanctions.

Edit: Part of a Q&A with an arms-control analyst on Vox

Max Fisher: We did a post just rounding up tweets from arms control analysts on what they’re saying about the Iran deal, and it was really hard to find arms control analysts who seem to be critical of the deal on the non-proliferation merits. Maybe there are some we just missed, but it seems like the consensus was overwhelmingly positive, which was so interesting to me because it’s very different from the conversation among Middle East policy analysts, which is much more divided. Why do you think that is?

Jeffrey Lewis: If you are interested in the non-proliferation piece — how to say this. As a deal, this is what deals look like. Actually, they usually don’t look this good. So if you don’t know that…

When I read people saying, you know, “I can’t believe we’re making a deal with these morally dubious people,” I understand why a regional security specialist might feel that way.

But when you work in the arms control field, they’re all morally dubious people! These are people who are building nuclear weapons, there are no not-morally-dubious people involved. So, when you take that out of the equation, you end up just looking at, “Do these limits slow them down, are they verifiable, are we likely to catch them if they cheat, are we likely to have enough time to do anything.”


#10

I agree, and think this is critical. Israel’s long-term interests will be served better by becoming more friendly with the Shia (and anti-Islamist Sunni governments like Egypt’s) than the increasingly crazy and Wahhabist-influenced Sunni world. America seems to be starting a painful, gradual, and uneven realignment away from Saudi Arabia and its sympathizers; China has been showing some strains in its relationships with Pakistan and Turkey; and India has been catering less to the Sunni Middle East than ever. It’s fine if Israel wants to have a realpolitik attitude with the hostile countries that surround it, but it should at least think long-term like the other world powers.


#11

All excellent points, Mr. Wombat. I’ve spoken about Pakistani nukes in the past, and they likewise scare me much more than Iran. The country is home to countless extremists and can’t claim to be in control of vast swathes of its own territory. The world’s highest potential for loose nukes lies in Pakistan. Only North Korea’s erratic regime is more dangerous. Iranian possession of atomic weaponry would be far less worrisome, on a par with the arsenal of Israel itself. Dealing with them instead of antagonizing them makes much more sense. Deals have a good chance of working, while antagonism guarantees they’ll build a bomb if they really want to.


#12

The terms of the treaty, specifically the inspections regime, make it significantly less likely that Iran will develop nuclear weapons in the next 10 years. Without this treaty, it’s probably a certainty that Iran doubles down on the program.

I think the strident opposition to this will mostly come from people who either want the US to go to war with Iran (Israel, Neocons, Saudi) or people who reflexively reject anything Obama does, regardless of the substance of the matter (most of the Republican party). The actual terms of the agreement are much better than most people expected.


#13

Honestly, I don’t oppose the notion of the program… I just don’t believe it’s gonna work. I think it’s gonna be like North Korea, where we cut a deal, and then they secretly develop nuclear weapons anyway, and then one day test them, and then everyone’s like, “Oh, well fuck.”

I think Iran will secretly violate the agreement, and even in public will end up pushing its limits as much as possible… and since no one is gonna want a conflict, no one’s actually going to do much.

I honestly hope I’m wrong. I just don’t believe it’s gonna work.


#14

Maybe. But we don’t have UN inspectors on the ground in N Korea. We don’t have access to the whole nuclear weapon supply chain there, either.

However you slice it, this agreement makes it more difficult for Iran to develop nukes. It also makes it less attractive, as many of the benefits to them (final lifting of sanctions and arms embargo) are years away and require the UN to certify that they’re clean. Without this agreement, they probably have nukes in a year. The people claiming that this guarantees Iran nuclear weapons are presuming that the right answer is war. No, thanks.


#15

Well… we DID… There were UN weapons inspectors in NK prior to their development of nuclear weapons. North Korea basically gave them the run-around for years while developing weapons under their noses.


#16

Well put.

Iran is going to develop a nuke whether we want it to or not, if they choose to do so.

That’s my conclusion. And I think our troubles with Iran are a historical legacy.


#17

I’m tired of reading the statements and retorts from Republicans or Netanyaho on Iran. Should implement some type of Netanyahu or Ted Cruz quote filter in my browser.

On a positive note, my Iranian friend is pleased and excited about finally getting the economy off the ground. Unlike North Korea and I suppose much of the world, Iran may realize some of its potential to be a safe, strong economy where westerners go to see amazing sights and spend money. Leadership is severely lacking and excessively conservative, but fortunately not quite blind enough to miss the fact that the people are getting sick of them, and probably downright angry if they didn’t make the agreement.


#18

Last night I listened to 4 experts on the subject discuss the deal on the Newshourhttp://www.pbs.org/newshour/bb/will-iran-nuclear-agreement-work/ subject discuss the deal. The experts were former CIA Director James Woolsey, Dennis Ross, a former Middle East peace envoy, former National Security Advisor Sandy Berger and retired Gen. Michael Hayden, also a former CIA director.
Three out of the four opposed the deal. The two guy Berger (pro), and Hayden (con) were pretty partisan, Woolsey and Ross were pretty balanced.

I then went and read the text of the snap back provision which seem to be a matter of much debate.

I think the reality is pretty far from both sides talking points. The good news is does seem likely to keep Iran from getting the bomb from 10 to 15 years. Although they have plenty of opportunity to cheat. In particular, the Obama claim that inspections are 24x7 is pretty much BS. All four men agreed that if the Iran doesn’t want inspectors to go to a place it is several weeks if not several month before they can get inspector into a place which is plenty of time for them to hide/destroy what ever they are doing.

The snap back provision do have a fair amount of teeth to them, and while it is true that neither Russia or China can veto the sanctions it is by no means certain we can re-impose them either. The 8 member joint committee consists of the 5 UN Security members, Germany, an EU rep and Iran. Obviously Iran will oppose anything and naturally China and Russia will side with Iran. This means that US, France, Britain, German, and who ever is the EU king for a day have to unanimously agree that Iran is cheating. The good news is once the Joint Commission brings something to the Security council the default vote is the sanctions will be re-imposed. Of course just because sanctions are re-imposed it doesn’t necessarily means that will be effective. I find it highly unlikely that if China and Russia oppose the sanctions they will actively stop Russian or Chinese companies from violating them.

Before the rise of ISIS, I would have said it is better to continue to keep the sanctions in place. Either eventually the young people rise up and replace the regime, or the regime decide that they sanctions are so crippling that is better to give up nuclear weapons than risk a revolt among the people. Unfortunately, I am no longer convinced that revolt in Iran wouldn’t lead to worse regime like ISIS.


#19

Short term the deal strengthens Iran and Assad in Syria. A lot of concern among Syrian Rebels and Lebanon because Iran will have a lot more cash to spend on Syria. Will lead to more conflict in ME as cash and weapons increase Iran and the proxy war. Npr has middle eastern folks either jubilant or depressed depending on religion in Lebanon. Most excited about deal are western experts Syria and of course Iran that just won a huge victory.

Longer term is the more unknown. Be interested to see what Saudis do. Big bet that younger Iranians moderate the state.

Not thrilled at how Administration prett clearly moved goalposts to achieve deal and gave up on inspections.

I think snap back sanctions are unlikely because those in favor of this deal will not want to invoke them. What are odds someone says Iran has badly violated deal that I endorsed. Therefore I have changed my mind and want sanctions.


#20

Ross likes to call Israelis his people.

He’s certainly entitled to feel whatever loyalties he likes, but I think he conflates what’s good for Israel with what’s good for the United States.

We’re very fond of the westernized youth of Tehran, but I don’t know if the speak for their generation - let alone their country. Youth movements also tend to be fairly radical.

I think snap back sanctions are unlikely because those in favor of this deal will not want to invoke them. What are odds someone says Iran has badly violated deal that I endorsed. Therefore I have changed my mind and want sanctions.

Agreed.