Iran deal is riskier than meets the eye

Nuclear accord struck in Geneva takes high, unnecessary risks; rests on shaky foundations that could possibly lead to collapse of sanctions regime; Iran can be expected to spend next 6 month trying to divide int'l powers.

Geneva nuclear talks diplomats in line 370 (photo credit: REUTERS/Denis Balibouse)
Geneva nuclear talks diplomats in line 370
(photo credit: REUTERS/Denis Balibouse)
At first glance, the deal struck by Iran and the international community in Geneva is merely a first step toward a final arrangement, which, in theory, can force Iran to move back from the nuclear brink.
The Geneva deal appears to carry some welcome amendments, such as a cessation of Iranian work at the Arak heavy water reactor, the introduction of daily IAEA inspections at Iranian nuclear sites, and the neutralization of Iran’s stockpile of 20-percent enriched uranium.
But upon closer inspection, the deal, though better than the first draft floated this month, takes high and unnecessary risks, and rests on shaky foundations that might just end up collapsing, bringing international sanctions down with them.
The White House has provided assurances that the few sanctions eased in this deal can be restored, and vowed to keep the pressure on Iran, presenting the arrangement as a risk-free, six-month test of Iran’s true intentions.
But if the next round of diplomacy hits an impasse, it is far from certain that the international community or the US will rush to recognize the failure, or respond by adding more sanctions against Iran.
The biting sanctions that pushed Iranians to vote for President Hassan Rouhani, and which convinced Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei to negotiate more seriously, rest on an international coalition, itself made up of a wide range of countries that have diverging strategic, political and economic interests.
Iran can be expected to spend the next six months trying to divide this shaky coalition, and, aided by the lifting of some sanctions, will seek to whet the appetite of firms from around the world, to lure them back to do valuable business with it in the future.
Today it remains unclear how the White House would respond if the second stage of diplomacy with Iran fails. The US’s military deterrence is deflated, and the Obama administration’s credibility is too badly damaged in the region to cause either Riyadh or Jerusalem to trust the White House’s assurances.
A lack of firm international resolve in responding to failed talks would spell the beginning of the end of the sanctions regime, and leave Iran with its nuclear program intact.
The sanctions might crumble, but Iran would be left with all of its centrifuges in place, and an international recognition of its “right” to produce low-enriched uranium, which it obtained through Sunday’s Geneva deal.
In Jerusalem, there is one fundamental formula that trumps all others when it comes to Iran. If faced with two choices, either accepting an Iran with the bomb, or bombing Iran, Israel will always choose the latter.
A nuclear Iran, together with Iran’s trans-national terrorism and proxy networks, and the regional arms race that will surely follow, will be many times more dangerous to Israel’s well-being than an attack on Iranian nuclear sites.