Both Western and Iranian leaders have hailed the accord struck recently in Lausanne between the P5+1 group and Iran on the issue of that country’s nuclear program. US President Barack Obama claims this agreement permanently closes any path to nuclear weapons for Iran.
Such an optimistic assessment of the agreement is not warranted, however. While this is a preliminary accord and many details remain to be fleshed out, one can already see from the White House’s own so-called “fact sheet” that the provisions of the agreement leave Iran multiple paths to nuclear weapon acquisition. Specifically, the agreement:
- Allows Iran to maintain over 6,100 nuclear centrifuges, enough to enrich a quantity of uranium sufficient for a nuclear warhead within a timeframe of months, not years. Even if the other 13,000 centrifuges are decommissioned, that doesn’t solve the problem at all.
- Allows Iran to keep those other 13,000 centrifuges in storage – with no control over how these will be used and no way of preventing Iran from re-using these.
- Does not require Iran to close any of its nuclear sites, and allows the Islamic Republic to continue producing heavy water at Arak.
- Allows Iran to retain a 300 kg stockpile of enriched uranium – more than enough for one nuclear warhead if it were enriched further to a 90% degree.
- Allows Iran to continue all of its nuclear research programs.
- Does not limit Iran’s ballistic missile development, testing, production, and deployment in any way.
In addition, this agreement does not require Iran to cease supporting terrorist organizations.
Or, as the Washington Post’s editorial board has recently written:
“The “key parameters” for an agreement on Iran’s nuclear program released yesterday fall well short of the goals originally set by the Obama administration.
• 1) None of Iran’s nuclear facilities — including the Fordow center buried under a mountain — will be closed.
• 2) Not one of the country’s 19,000 centrifuges will be dismantled.
• 3) Tehran’s existing stockpile of enriched uranium will be “reduced” but not necessarily shipped out of the country.
• 4) In effect, Iran’s nuclear infrastructure will remain intact, though some of it will be mothballed for 10 years.
• 5) When the accord lapses, the Islamic republic will instantly become a threshold nuclear state.
• 6) The UN resolutions call for Iran to suspend the enrichment of uranium. Instead, enrichment will continue with 5,000 centrifuges for a decade, and all restraints on it will end in 15 years.
• 7) That’s a long way from the standard set by President Obama in 2012 when he declared that “the deal we’ll accept” with Iran “is that they end their nuclear program” and “abide by the U.N. resolutions that have been in place.”
• 9) The proposed accord will provide Iran a huge economic boost that will allow it to wage more aggressively the wars it is already fighting or sponsoring across the region. They are even removing sanctions that have nothing to do with nuclear weapons.
• 10) The President has ignored the US Congress.
Obama and Secretary of State John F. Kerry emphasized that many details need to be worked out in talks with Iran between now and the end of June.
We hope they will make as much effort to engage in good faith with skeptical allies and domestic critics in Congress as he has with the Iranian regime.”
In short, this agreement will certainly not live up to the Obama administration’s promise. Contrary to its claims, it permits Iran to retain a path to nuclear weapons development.