The Washington Post reports:
Iran agreed in principle to accept significant restrictions on its nuclear facilities for at least a decade and submit to international inspections under a framework deal announced Thursday after months of contentious negotiations with the United States and other world powers.
In return, international sanctions that have battered Iran’s economy would be lifted in phases if it meets its commitments, meaning it could take a year or less for relief from the penalties to kick in.
The framework agreement, a milestone in negotiations that began 12 years ago, is not a final deal. But it creates parameters for three more months of negotiations over technical details and some matters that remain unresolved. Any one of those issues could doom a comprehensive agreement. Among them is the pace at which sanctions will be suspended.
While it is not without risks, I think this a good thing.
Most people accept it is highly undesirable for the Government of Iran to have nuclear weapons. It would set off a regional arms race, and considering how often the Iranian Government has said it wants to wipe out Israel, why give them the means to do so (even if unlikely they would).
So how to stop them developing nuclear weapons? Basically through negotiations or through warfare. My preference is negotiations. Having the US (or Israel) bomb Iranian facilities would radicalise the Iranian population (which is very different to their theocratic overlords) and probably just encourage them more to develop such weapons (as no one bombs you once you have some).
So negotiations are the better alternative. The current President of Iran is more moderate than his predecessor, and there is a strange “enemy of my enemy is my ally” thing happening in Iraq and Syria with the Islamic State. If Iran can transition from a rogue state, to a slightly more mainstream state, that is a good thing – and a risk worth taking.
The devil will be in the details, and they have shunted those off for three more months.
The agreement includes almost all the restrictions on Iran’s nuclear facilities, laboratories, mines and mills that the United States had sought in recent months, although it initially aimed for even tougher restrictions.
But Iran would get several benefits that may make the deal more palatable to politicians and the public in Tehran. It would not have to close any of its three nuclear facilities, though it would be left with only one that would enrich uranium — at levels low enough to create fuel for power plants but not high enough to create weapons-grade uranium.
The limitations would produce a one-year “breakout” period, meaning it would take Iran a full year to build up enough material to build one nuclear warhead, compared with current estimates of two to three months, officials said.
Many sanctions initially would be suspended, rather than lifted permanently as Iran sought, so they could be “snapped back” into place if Iran was discovered to be cheating, the officials said.
Iran’s apparent acceptance of so many conditions sought by the United States could give the Obama administration a tool to fend off critics in Congress who want to impose new sanctions to wring more concessions from the Iranians. The White House fears such steps could scuttle the talks and prompt Tehran to resume its nuclear program at full tilt.
It does look like Iran have made significant concessions. Again, this is a deal worth pursuing. The alternative of military action against Iran is a very unpleasant and unpredictable option.