By Nehad Ismail
The landmark Iran nuclear agreement reached on Tuesday is said to allow U.N. inspectors to press for visits to Iran’s military sites as part of their monitoring duties – a compromise between Washington and Tehran.
But access at will to any site would not necessarily be granted and even if so, could be delayed, a condition that critics of the deal are sure to seize on as possibly giving Tehran time to cover any sign of non-compliance with its commitments.
Meanwhile on Friday July 10th 2015 whilst the nuclear talks were taking place tens of thousands of protesters in Tehran and cities across Iran Friday chanted “Death to America” in the Islamic republic’s annual Quds (Jerusalem) Day of Demonstration.
Some analysts believe Iran is the winner. The US negotiating team has been the weakest link giving away more and more concessions whilst the Iranian team remained stubbornly firm. The Iranians were aware of the fact that both President Obama and his secretary of State John Kerry were desperate to sign a deal. In June news leaked that Obama had written letters to Iranian President Rouhani virtually begging him to sign a deal. Both Obama and Kerry are desperately seeking some kind of foreign policy success.
The Iranian leaders will celebrate by announcing to their people that the world super powers have acknowledged Iran’s right to become a nuclear power. Obama’s advisors will tell him that such rhetoric is for local consumption. But this doesn’t alter the fact that Iran will squeeze more and more concessions from a weak US President. Obama’s weakness was starkly reflected in his refusal to take a tough stance against the Assad regime which is Iran’s ally and client. According to Washington sources Obama was afraid any action against the Syrian regime would alienate Iran and derail the nuclear talks.
The Iranians have failed to provide satisfactory answers to several questions:
In March the IAEA asked about the possible military dimensions (PMDs) of their nuclear program. Iran refused to answer. No clear answer has been given in the recent talks either.
According to latest reports Iran has NOT agreed to allow unfettered, unlimited access and intrusive inspection of suspected sites military and non-military without prior consultations. Iran had said it would implement the Additional Protocol (AP) of the nuclear Non Proliferation Treaty (NPT), but the supreme leader had balked at its implications, declaring inspections of military sites a red line.
Critics of the nuclear deal such as John Bolton former US Ambassador to the UN warn of Iranian concealment, cheating, delay and obstruction to defeat whatever is agreed in writing. Bolton even dismisses the “snapback” mechanism to revive economic sanctions as questionable and will be subject to endless disputes and delays.
The Economist (Tuesday July 14th) referred to “worrying differences between the detailed American account of what had been agreed and the far vaguer public interpretation of the accord by the Iranians. These were subsequently amplified by statements about “red lines” by Iran’s supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, in which he appeared to reject key provisions of Lausanne, particularly those relating to inspection of suspicious sites”.
However the Financial Times cautiously welcomed the deal: “Iran has accepted unprecedented international control and surveillance over its nuclear programme as well as cuts in its uranium stocks and in the number of centrifuges. Yes, it might cheat. But the terms imposed by the US and the other members of the P5+1 group of leading powers will not make that easy”.
Many in the Middle East including Saudi Arabia and Israel think that Iran will at some point in future become a nuclear threshold state, as a result of the P5+1 agreement. The lifting of sanctions will embolden Iran to escalate its funding to its proxies and continue its strategy of sponsoring and supporting terrorism. As far as the Middle East is concerned Obama’s speech celebrating the deal has not impressed or reassured the allies. Obama just repeated what he has been saying for the last two years.
I end with a tweet from Mathew Van Dyke the American documentary film maker:
‘The IranDeal is a Faustian bargain. Lifting sanctions helps Iran tighten grip on Iraq and Syria, funds terrorism, fuels Russia arms sales”.