Iran nuclear deal is a worthwhile bet
The nuclear framework deal struck with Iran this Thursday has been at once lauded for the comprehensiveness of concessions earned by the West, as well as criticized for its lack of addressing ballistic missile capabilities, Iran’s sponsorship of destabilizing and terroristic activities, and its rhetoric on the annihilation of Israel.
If Iran seeks peaceful development, it will be able to unleash its human capital and become a full participant in the world economy. If it decides not to pursue peaceful development, it may also complete its ascendancy as the region’s top Shiite power and spread its influence, commit crimes such as have been reportedly carried out by Shiite militia and further sponsor Hamas to attack Israel. The repressive nature of its political structures could also remain in place. A case in point is China, which has reaped the fruits of international integration to grow richer and much more powerful, but has thus far blocked the people’s calls for democracy and even tightened the lid on dissent under the leadership of Xi Jinping. The totality of a nation’s conduct is ambiguous.
On Saturday, the U.S. already rejected Israel’s demands for recognition by Iran as part of any nuclear agreement. Israeli PM Benjamin Netanyahu has argued that the deal “threatens Israel’s survival” and “paves Iran’s path to the bomb.”
For Taiwan, the same desire could be said of our relationship with mainland China. Wouldn’t it be great to insist on recognition of Taiwan’s right to exist as a precursor to deals? In this regard, Israel has had the luxury of the P5+1 protecting its right to exist. However, Taiwan has no such luxury to demand recognition of its sovereignty, and Taiwan has continued to deal with a neighbor who claims to own it.
Liberating the economic potential of a people undoubtedly carries risks. It is impossible to track the flow of money once it is injected into the economy and collected in the form of taxes. If the government of Iran continues to sponsor mischief, it is indeed a culprit of terror, but the world does not have the wherewithal to dictate how Iran spends its money.
In that sense, the concern is valid because all aspects of the country are strengthened once sanctions are lifted, including military force that can be used for threatening other countries.
Under the framework between Iran and the P5+1, Iran would not shut any of its nuclear plants, but only the Natanz facility can continue to enrich nuclear fuel. Weaponsgrade plutonium would be off the table; the Arak reactor is converted to exclude such specifications. The Fordow facility will be converted so that it no longer enriches uranium, for a period of 15 years. It would become a nuclear physics research center.
Of the 19,000 centrifuges Iran currently has, around a third would be allowed to remain operational, with 5,060 enriching uranium, and these would be the first-generation IR-1 models. All newer models will be mothballed for at least 10 years.
Uranium would not be enriched beyond 3.67 percent purity for 15 years; Iran’s current stock of 10,000 kg of lowenriched uranium (that of 3.67 percent purity) will be cut to 300 kg for 10 years, and new facilities for enriching uranium will not be built for 15 years.
International Atomic Energy Agency inspectors have the power to visit nuclear mines and mills for 25 years, and centrifuge production facilities for 20 years.
One very strong source of argument is that if the overarching goal is to make the world free of nuclear weapons, the arc of the past 12 years of sanctions has not been able to prevent 164 centrifuges back then spinning up to 19,000 today. Commentators have looked back with remorse that there was no deal back then, such that it became impossible to pare back Iran’s numbers to as low as they were. It is a valid point, and the chance to offset Iran’s centrifuges by two-thirds is the best possibility when confronted with the trajectory of expanding centrifuges in the face of sanctions.
Obama put it well when he said in a Rose Garden speech that if Iran were to be bombed, the eventual result would still mean going back to the negotiating table, with the additional burdens of a bloody and costly war that would be extremely unlikely to remake the country. In other words, ingrained hostility would seep through generations.