Iran nuke deal: The gift that doesn’t stop giving

All you never thought possible about the Iranian deal.

IRAN IS soaring to new heights after the deal. (photo credit: REUTERS)
IRAN IS soaring to new heights after the deal.
(photo credit: REUTERS)
The nuke deal with Iran is one of those gifts that just keeps on giving.
The JCPOA, or Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, the technical name, was signed with Iran in 2015. The deal was crafted under US president Barack Obama’s stewardship.
Officially the deal is between Iran and the P5+1, the five permanent members of the UN Security Council plus Germany.
Congress was so upset by the deal it passed a law requiring the US president to sign off and report to them every 90 days as to whether Iran was upholding its end of the deal. The signing is called certification. The president certifies that Iran is compliant with the deal.
So far President Donald Trump has signed off twice. The next certification is set for October.
As much as we hear from the White House and from Congress that Iran is violating the deal, evidence is proving otherwise. It appears that Iran is actually complying with the letter of the deal – even if not the spirit.
But everyone knows that contacts, especially international treaties, are about the letter, not the spirit.
American UN Ambassador Nikki Haley is on the record explaining the US position, but not predicting what President Trump will do. In a tightly scripted and very diplomatic presentation at the American Enterprise Institute, Haley said: “What I am saying is – should he decide to decertify, he has grounds to stand on.”
The ambassador went on to explain that Iran may be violating the spirit of the agreement when she said: “It’s very easy to just talk about compliance and the JCPOA, but there’s so much more to the story that we need to be looking at.”
In other words, the violations may not be obvious, but they are probably there.
Haley explained that Iran’s leaders are not nice people: “Everyone hoped the deal would make the Iranian government good people.”
Unfortunately for Haley and the administration, there is no provision in the JCPOA about being nice. She is correct, however, in pointing out that “[t]he entire world thinks the JCPOA is untouchable but it’s not!” If Trump decertifies the deal, he must, in clear terms, quantify and delineate before the House and Senate what Iran has or has not done. That may be very difficult to do.
According to the most recent report issued by the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), the sole international watchdog agency supervising Iran’s nuclear development, Iran is playing by the rules.
The IAEA delivered its third report on Iran since January and concluded that Iranians are in fact following both the spirit and the letter of the deal.
This is important news.
The White House can accuse Iran of violating the deal, but the only group qualified to actually determine whether Iran is or is not cooperating is the IAEA.
One of the biggest problems with the deal is that it does not include many of the items that upset the US and Israel. It does not, for example, include ballistic missiles and missile technology. At the time of the signing the argument went that there are numerous UN Security Council resolutions already in place, so why include redundancies in an agreement about nuclear issues.
The answer is simple. Iran is violating those Security Council resolutions – not the JCPOA.
And it is also skirting around the deal. There are many dual-use items that Iran is procuring through the deal that could be used for nuclear technology as well as for other purposes.
The deal only refers to dual uses for very specific technology.
It’s a bad deal – that hasn’t changed. But that does not mean that Iran is violating it.
It means that it is nearly impossible to clamp down on Iran as it is finding loopholes and end-a-rounding the spirit of the agreement.
Iran is adamant about adhering to the agreement and has threatened to show the US how easily it can break the deal if the US chooses to punish it. It has informed the world that it will only take five days to ramp up uranium production to 20% – enough to make a nuclear bomb. Official Iranian media quoted Ali Akbar Salehi, head of Iran’s atomic agency, saying: “If we make the determination, we are able to resume 20% enrichment in at most five days.” (The deal stipulated that Iran destroy or export its uranium that was enriched over 20%.) It is move, counter-move for Iran. Trump and Haley made their opinions known. Iran is saying think twice before you move forward and decide to cancel the deal on the grounds that we are in violation. Iran is putting the US on notice. Its message is clear: whatever you think is a violation will pale in comparison to what we will do if the US breaks the agreement.
Annulling the JCPOA is not as simple as ripping up the paper it was written on.
The author is a political commentator. He hosts the TV show Thinking Out Loud on JBS TV. Follow him on Twitter @MicahHalpern.