For much of this summer, Washington has indulged in a vitriolic debate regarding the Iran deal, but all this cacophony should not obscure the very unsettling discussion of the deal that is taking place inside Iran. Since the announcement of the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), Iranian officials have stressed their commitment to industrialize their nuclear program, insisted the accord can be violated on the margins with impunity and that none of their military installations will be inspected.
While contentious in America, the agreement has been greeted with triumphalist rhetoric in Iran. President Hasan Rouhani noted last week, “There is no one in the world today to say that Iran went into a war with the six great powers of the world and was not successful.”
Beyond the verification system, the notion that the JCPOA can be enforced in all incidences has generated its own share of claims. In his presentation of the agreement to the parliament, Foreign Minister Javad Zarif assured the deputies that “the sanctions can be re-imposed on Iran only in case of serious violation of its obligations and not in case of small-scale violations.” The history of arms control certainly affirms Zarif’s judgment, since the international community often becomes so invested in the perpetuation of any agreement that it ignores technical breaches. The problem is that overtime the cumulative impact of incremental violations can be quite substantial.
As Washington descents into its heated debate, its Islamist adversary seems at ease with an accord that meets all of its essential technological imperatives. Today, Iran is in command of a legitimized nuclear program that in few years, with this deal, will be on a cusp of a remarkable surge.
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