Why the Iran Nuke Deal will wobble…

At the beginning of the 1970’s TV western series ‘Alias Smith and Jones’, the outlaws Hannibal Heyes and Kid Curry are offered amnesty if they stay out of trouble for a while, but in the meantime – they’ll still be wanted. Heyes asks ‘That’s a good deal?”

Conservatives in Iran and the USA are now asking the same question as the details emerge about the nuclear deal thrashed out in Lausanne last week.

Each regards the other as the outlaw, each regards the deal as favourable to the other, and each will do their best to derail it in the run up to the Jun 30th deadline to finalise details, and indeed afterwards.

From what we know it is hard to see the deal as anything other than favourable to Iran. Because of this, the dire state of Iran’s economy, and President Obama’s keenness to score at least one major foreign policy success, the likelihood is that the deal can be done but it is far from certain, and there will be several bumps along the way.

From the Iranian side at the moment there is little the hawks can do. Officials close to the man who matters – Supreme Leader Ayatollah Khamenei – have been queuing up to praise the deal. Among them were the interim Tehran Friday Prayer Leader Ayatollah Emami Kashani. He’s normally a ‘Death to America/Israel/Country of choice’ type of Ayatollah, but he described the deal as ‘fundamental and excellent’.

On Thursday President Hassan Rouhani claimed that the worlds biggest power had retreated from Iranian resistance amid headlines on the government’s website along the lines of ‘True victory in nuclear talks’.

So it’s all systems go for the June deal, followed by the ‘grand bargain’ between the USA and Iran, which would leave the regime as the dominant power in the Middle East.

The bumps lie in what was not in the provisional agreement. Some are likely to turn into barriers.

The timing of when sanctions are lifted has still to be thrashed out. The Iranians say it would be immediately; this was not in the details released by the Americans. Ayatollah Khamenei said this week “Sanctions must be terminated on the day of the deal’, to which White House spokesman Josh Earnest responded “It has never been our position that all of the sanctions be removed from day one. Equally problamatic there is no mention of inspecting the Parchin military facility, which is almost certainly part of Iran’s nuclear project but to which Iran refuses access. The interim deal does not specify the duration of a final agreement.

The American text repeatedly uses the words such as ‘shall’ and ‘will’, in Farsi the same sentences include words such as ‘could’ and ‘may’. All these issues need to worked out and both sides warn ‘nothing is agreed until everything is agreed’.

On Capitol Hill the hawks are setting up more bumps on the road. Most Republicans, and a fair number of Democrats, are unhappy that Obama is conducting foreign policy without their oversight.

We can expect a vote on a bill (possibly next week) ensuring congress has to review any deal. A new sanctions bill is also being readied. Obama can ignore Congress and use his power of veto, the hawks can respond by attempting to get enough votes to make a resolution veto proof.

If all else fails, the hawks will fall back on trying to persuade the Republican Presidential candidates to oppose the deal. Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker has already declared that if he makes it to the White House he will undo the deal ‘on day one’.

In Tehran the hawks are waiting to pounce. The Editor of the conservative newspaper Kayhan, Hossein Shariatmadari said Iran has ‘saddled its horses’ and ‘delivered the reins’ to the Americans, or to put it another way – ‘That’s a good deal?”

From an article originally published in the UK newspaper – ‘The Jewish Chronicle.’

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