Tuesday, July 14, 2015

Iran Deal Thoughts

Before the terms of the deal were announced there were a few things I was worried about. These fears have been mostly alleviated though there are still a few concerns over the timing of some aspects of the deal. Most importantly it looks as though the White House's JCPOA released in April was nearly 100% accurate, despite outrage from the Iranians, who at the time insisted that the US reneged on terms. The key difference here in my opinion, is the arms embargo being lifted.

As I previously noted, the JCPOA from the White House was fairly clear in stating that ballistic missile, terror and human rights sanctions would remain. This is more or less accurate, though the ballistic missile embargo is to be removed before 8 years after the adoption date of the deal. We have no idea what the world will be like in 8 years, so this is not the worst result, considering these restrictions will remain in the near future. If we do need to re-implement sanctions, we have up to 8 years to figure it out.

Another key difference between the April framework and the agreement today is that the IAEA will have DAILY access to Natanz-the facility where enrichment will continue. The earlier document stated 'regular' access, so daily is probably the best possible permutation.

Other aspects I found to be interesting regarding the deal:

  1. 4 (and a bit of a 5th) of Obama's 9 executive orders sanctioning Iran will be removed. The 4 that remain are related to human rights issues, and Iran's support for Syria. Despite some commentators saying otherwise (https://twitter.com/BenWeinthal/status/620877350746652672), certain technologies including surveillance equipment will continue to be sanctioned. 
  2. Iran will address ALL possible military dimensions within 3 months (some parts in 1 month), while the IAEA has an additional 2 months (5 from tomorrow) to verify.
  3. 'Adoption Day' will be approximately 90 days after the 'Finalization Day' and is the starting point for other timed clauses.
  4. If there is a general dispute this is sent to an 'advisory board' made up of the 8 parties (P5+1 and EU and Iran). Each party has 1 vote. The dispute has 15/15/5 day periods at the end of which a dissatisfied party can walk. 
  5. As stated in the original JCPOA from the White House, there will be 25 years of monitoring and surveillance of uranium ore production in Iran.
  6. If Iran does not wish to give access to a site there is a 14 day period for resolution. If this is not resolved, an additional 7 days are allowed for 'committee' discussion and a further 3 days for implementation. 
  7. Iran will establish a 'Nuclear Safety Centre', but appears as though they will NOT be joining the Convention on Nuclear Safety. The previous Iranian ambassador to the UN claimed in January 2013 that they would, so this is very disappointing, but establishing the Centre is better than nothing. 
  8. Many individuals and institutions are removed from nuclear sanctions lists. However, the individual who has posted the Iran Deal text to DocumentCloud (this same one is distributed by major media sources) somehow managed to delete the section headers so the precise details of this are unclear at this point.

Overall the deal looks pretty good (most of the 'good' things that I noted before are still there), and importantly, the White House's JCPOA was (mostly) accurate. I was very worried that even further capitulations would be made, but they appear to have stood firm on nearly every issue (embargoes are a bit of an exception). I am worried about the dispute resolution time frame, and the very short time period that is given to resolve the PMDs is quite troubling. On the other hand, this short amount of time *could* force Iran to act quickly and to get this taken care of. This will work if the United States is willing to walk away if Iran fails to act in good faith. If they are not, then this is a horrible set of clauses and could cause irrepreable damage to the US and its foreign policy.

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