In his speech to the U.S. Congress, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu effectively made the case that the emerging nuclear deal with Iran is a “very bad deal.” But we would say that’s actually a polite understatement; Netanyahu didn’t go far enough. This is a dangerous deal — not only for Israel but for the entire region, the U.S. and the world.
According to media reports, Iran would reduce the number of centrifuges in operation to about 6,000 and its capacity to “breakout” of its treaty obligations and develop a bomb’s worth of weapons-grade uranium would be set back to one year.
Let’s say for the sake of argument that one year is enough time to respond to an Iranian rush to a bomb and we can live with that. Sounds good, right? After all, their current breakout capacity is about two months. We’re told that Iran’s nuclear program is being rolled back to the point that it will no longer pose an imminent danger to the security of America and its allies. So where’s the problem?
The biggest problem with the proposed deal is the “sunset clause” embedded within it. Netanyahu made this very clear in his speech. And it’s important to note this problem did not originate in the current negotiations. It was one of the several major faults of the interim accord agreed to with Iran in November 2013 called the Joint Plan of Action (JPOA). Those flaws could now become enshrined in a permanent agreement.
Our organization, United Against Nuclear Iran (UANI), warned about these poison pills as soon as the JPOA was signed. Saving the worst for last, the single most dangerous part of the JPOA is in its final sentence, which reads: “Following successful implementation of the final step of the comprehensive solution for its full duration, the Iranian nuclear program will be treated in the same manner as that of any non-nuclear state party to the NPT [Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty].”
Think about the significance of this. In exchange for a temporary rollback of its nuclear program for maybe 10 years, Iran would get virtually full relief from economic sanctions, including the lifting of the European oil embargo and sanctions on Iran’s Central Bank. The heads of European companies who are already lining up to get back into Iran would then be fighting over airplane tickets to Tehran.
The only real sanctions remaining in place would be those that U.S. Congress imposed on Iran for its support of terrorism and human rights abuses. For the rest of the world, it would be back to business as usual. Think of how this would immediately bolster the Iranian regime’s nefarious, non-nuclear activities, such as its state sponsorship of terrorism and quest for regional dominance. The relief from sanctions and financial rewards would go to strengthening its militant proxies and its Revolutionary Guard advisers throughout the region.
Will this help bring peace to the Middle East? How will this make our world a safer place? But it gets even worse.
Another major fault of the JPOA is that Iran’s ballistic missile program will not be touched. It’s reportedly been dropped as part of negotiations. Iran already has missiles that can reach America’s Arab allies and Israel and European capitals, and now it’s working on developing Intercontinental Ballistic Missiles (ICBMs) that will be able to reach the U.S. In other words, if this deal is signed, Iran will get relief from sanctions and a reward for developing a threat to the American homeland.
If the agreement will only last for 10 years, then Iran will emerge with the freedom to produce hundreds of thousands of centrifuges. Iran would then have the ability to enrich enough uranium for a bomb in a matter of weeks, if not days — and no one would have grounds to deny Iran such nuclear “development.” Any kind of intervention could only come when Iran moves to making a nuclear weapon, a decision that Iran’s Supreme Leader could make on a whim. And then it would be too late.
The proposed deal is essentially trading short-term concessions on Iran’s dangerous nuclear program for acquiescence to Iran’s dangerous non-nuclear activities — terrorism and its quest for regional domination. So in the end Iran can have it all: nuclear weapons capability, terrorism and regional hegemony. We would then have a true nightmare scenario on our hands.
In his speech to Congress, Prime Minster Netanyahu was understating the threat. This is not a bad deal. It’s a very dangerous deal. We all deserve better.
The authors work for the non-partisan advocacy group, United Against Nuclear Iran (UANI). Bob Feferman is Outreach Coordinator and Matan Shamir is Director of Research and Projects.