On July 14, 2015, the United States, United Kingdom, France, Russia, China, and Germany—the so-called P5+1—signed a nuclear deal with Iran. Known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action or JCPOA, President Obama stated that the deal makes the world "safer and more secure". Congress is set to vote on the deal on September 17, and while it is not expected to pass because of the Republican majority in both houses, a Presidential veto would require at least forty-four House and thirteen Senate Democrats to oppose the measure. So far, twelve House Democrats and two Senate Democrats have declared their opposition. Twenty of the thirty-four Senate Democrats necessary to sustain a veto have voiced their support for the deal, while less than sixty House Democrats have declared their support for the agreement. Whether Congress disapproves the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action or not, the accord is a bad deal an a diplomatic capitulation to Iran.
The goal of negotiations for Western powers was to prevent Iran from ever acquiring nuclear weapons. This goal has not been achieved. In the first ten years after the accord, Iran is allowed to maintain 5060 working IR-1 centrifuges at its Natanz site. Other centrifuges will not be dismantled, but rather will be stored at the Natanz facility. During this time, Iran will be conducting uranium enrichment research and development with its IR-4, IR-5, IR-6, and IR-8 centrifuges. After eight-and-a-half years, Iran will be conducting such research with thirty IR-6 and IR-8 centrifuges. For fifteen years, Iran will be allowed to enrich uranium at the Natanz facility at 3.67%. Instead of dismantling its Fordow uranium enrichment site, Iran will convert it to a nuclear, physics, and technology center.
Still, this center will be allowed to maintain 1044 additional IR-1 centrifuges Instead of having to take apart its Arak heavy water reactor, Iran will modernize it and convert it into a research and isotope production center, all with assistance from Western powers. The limit on building future heavy water reactors lasts only fifteen years, as does the time cap on constructing nuclear fuel reprocessing capabilities. Worse than keeping in place Iran's uranium enrichment infrastructure and limiting its activities for only a short amount of time is bad enough. Yet, there are vague provisions in the JCPOA which mandate that western powers assist Iran in maintaining its 'civil' nuclear program and defend it when necessary? This implies that if US allies such as Israel or Saudi Arabia were to attempt to strike Iran's nuclear infrastructure, the United States and Europe will be obligated to defend Iran against such attacks.
The JCPOA's inspections provisions are disastrous. Iran is given an advance warning and twenty-four days before it must let inspectors visit its nuclear sites if a suspected violation occurs. This gives Iran plenty of time to destroy evidence of any of its illicit activities, or at the very least stall any effort to investigate possible violations. Moreover, inspectors will not be of American nationality, since only countries with diplomatic relations with Iran will be able to send inspectors to Iranian nuclear sites. This means that countries which have more invested in Iran—and therefore have less interest in punishing the country for possible violations of the deal (or even revealing these infractions) will be the ones sending inspectors to Iranian military sites.
Most disturbingly, an investigation by the Associated Press (AP) has published the terms of a secret deal between the IAEA and Iran—a document Secretary of State John Kerry said he has not even seen. This investigation has revealed that Iran will be inspecting its Parchin site, where the US and Europe suspect Iran has conducted ballistic missile and nuclear testing. Additionally, Iran will be using its own testing equipment in 'inspecting' Parchin. The Obama Administration has not denied this report. Trusting a country which has evaded inspections and violated agreements for twenty years with such lenient inspection policies—if they can even be called inspections—is just stupid.
On Implementation Day, the time when the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) confirms (with its nonexistent inspection program) Iran has fulfilled certain terms in the deal, all sanctions, with the exception of a very limited few to do with human rights and Iran's terror sponsorship will be lifted. Iran will get more than $100 billion in released money and all UN Security Council Resolutions against Iran and imposing sanctions on the Islamic Republic will be terminated. The JCPOA lists the various Iranian entities—the list goes on for more than sixty pages—against which sanctions will be lifted. The deal does contain a snap-back provision, in which the UN Security Council can vote on whether to continue terminating sanctions on Iran. Vetoing such a resolution (a power that Russia, China, Great Britain, France, and the United States have) would supposedly lead to the reimposition of sanctions.
To digress for a moment, the European economic situation is unstable at best. Germany and several other European Union members will be bailing out Greece (which will most likely not pay back its debt). Back to the Iran deal: as soon as Europe will be entangled economically with Iran, it will not want to (or, even if it did, be able to) reimpose sanctions on the Islamic Republic. Russia and China would be even less likely to reimpose sanctions (Russia is already planning on installing an upgraded anti-missile defense system in Iran, and the US and European sanctions against Russia means that it needs business). This means that even if the US vetoes a UN resolution on continuing sanctions relief for Iran, it will have a very difficult time actually doing this. (On a side note, one of the arguments the Obama Administration has used against re-imposing sanctions on Iran and trying to negotiate a better deal is that countries like Russia and China would never agree to this. What makes them think they will agree later?)
Then there are the provisions of the agreement that seemingly have nothing to do with nuclear weapons. Iran will be able to buy conventional weapons within five years and ballistic missiles (which, unlike enrichment of uranium, have no peaceful scapegoat) within eight-and-a-half years (which it will be able to with no problem from countries such as Russia and China). Nevertheless, when asked why Iran's sponsorship of terror—think Hamas and Hezbollah—, its human rights violations—think executions and Syrian President Bashar al-Assad massacre of his own people (which Iran is heavily involved in)—, or something like holding four Americans hostage are all not part of the JCPOA, the White House says the agreement only relates to Iran's nuclear activities. Then why are you letting Iran stock up on missiles which can be used to launch nuclear warheads or lifting sanctions on Iranian officials directly related to the country's terror activities, President Obama? Why are you releasing a hundred billion dollars—money that you know will fund terror and pose a danger to Israel's security?
Discussing whether a better deal is possible distracts from the main point. What is clear is that it is possible for the United States to keep its sanctions and not sign a bad deal with a country that has vowed to wipe Israel from the face of the earth and whose slogan is 'Death to America'. Agreeing to this accord with Iran would it make it extremely difficult for the US to use military action against Iran (which President Obama wrote off anyways in an interview with an Israeli TV channel), and if a different president was to judge Iran on a higher standard, the US would be seen as going back on its word. Signing an agreement that legitimizes the Iranian nuclear program, that is a boon to Iran's terror sponsorship, and that keeps innocent Americans as political prisoners shows that American strategy has does not have common or moral sense any longer. Signing the JCPOA is a clear abandonment of Israel and a moral tragedy for the United States.