President Obama announced this morning that an agreement between six nations and Iran over that country’s nuclear program had finally been reached. The details are still being chewed over and analyzed by the relevant experts, but the “news” in the final deal mostly revolves around a delayed relaxation of a UN-imposed arms embargo on Iran, and a “snap-back” provision that could enable a majority of signatories (i.e., no Russia-China veto!) to reimpose sanctions if the Iranians evade the commitments they’ve made.
There’s also an arcane argument underway involving the likelihood that Iran’s “breakout time”–the time it would take to develop a nuclear weapon if the country suddenly decided to defy the world and go for broke–will gradually shrink from the one-year timeframe the deal would reportedly create years down the road.
In any event, the immediate reaction–especially of critics of the deal in Israel and here in the US–was not particularly nuanced. In his usually understated way, Bibi Netanyahu called the agreement “a mistake of historic proportions” and claimed it would make Iran “a terrorist nuclear superpower.” But Bibi has his own issues to deal with, since he now faces recriminations from those in Israel who argue that his aggressive posture towards the U.S. over the deal did not stop it, but did do lasting damage to Israel’s most important alliance.
Here at home virtually the entire Republican Party can be expected to assault the deal. Lindsey Graham opened the bidding with this brief jeremiad:
“If the initial reports regarding the details of this deal hold true, there’s no way as president of the United States I would honor this deal,” Graham said. “It’s incredibly dangerous for our national security, and it’s akin to declaring war on Sunni Arabs and Israel by the P5+1 because it ensures their primary antagonist Iran will become a nuclear power and allows them to rearm conventionally.”
Interesting he opened his comments by announcing he would refuse to comply with an international agreement that includes the UK, France, Germany, Russia, China and the EU. And Republicans call Obama “lawless.”
In any event, Obama made it clear this morning he would veto any attempt in Congress to upend the deal, and so it would take significant Democratic defections before a veto override attempt becomes realistic. It will be interesting to see if Netanyahu becomes even shriller–if possible–in an effort to put pressure on congressional Democrats to kill the deal, or cuts his losses at home and in the US by staying out of what would probably be a losing cause.