Iran Nuclear Deal: Breakthrough or Bust?

Political bloggers and arms control experts weigh in on the significance of the uranium enrichment deal

This article is from the archive of our partner .

Iran has agreed to a draft of a key nuclear deal in which the country will export the majority of its uranium to Russia, where it will be enriched for use as fuel in medical research. How significant a win is this in the fight to keep Iran from a nuclear bomb?

  • 'Major Diplomatic Victory for Obama'  "This would," writes security issues journalist Spencer Ackerman on his Attackerman blog, "represent the first time that anyone has succeeded in putting time back on the Iranian nuclear clock."

  • Good News, Probably  Over at Mother Jones, Kevin Drum's response is somewhat more measured: "It's a positive step," he admits. "On the other hand, Iran's ability to enrich LEU into weapons grade uranium is a little fuzzy right now, so it's possible that this costs them nothing at all."
  • Doesn't Accomplish Much  U.S. government arms control consultant Joshua Pollack is still less optimistic. "This is a modest step forward," he says in Wired, "at best." He quotes a source saying the deal buys a mere seven to ten months. Plus, he points out, "[t]his bargain ... will be touted in Tehran as a victory ... That’s the political context in which these talks operate," and any future talks as well. "Actually reaching a grand bargain on all the issues dividing Iran and the West would deprive the Islamic revolution of any substance; forget it."
  • The Deal Tells Us Something  The talks in Geneva earlier this month, Michael Singh argues in Foreign Policy, "can be considered a diplomatic purchase of information." How so? The former National Security Council member explains that "[t]he United States, by offering to remove Iran's low-enriched uranium and turn it into the raw material required to make medical isotopes, is testing Iran's claim of peaceable intent and the Obama administration's hopes for engagement." But one possible cost of the deal, he says, "is that it risks demoralizing Iran's ascendant political opposition by bolstering the regime at a time when its legitimacy at home appears to be waning."
  • Better to Have Russia or France Pay "I worry about the specifics of financing here," says The American Prospect's Dylan Matthews. "One of the main reasons," he writes, that the the Agreed Framework [with North Korea] collapsed in 2002 was because the Republican Congress refused to adequately fund the construction of nuclear reactors in North Korea, a key American obligation under the agreement." What if this were to happen with the Iran deal? "[I]t would seriously undermine the administration's ability to negotiate a broader deal. After all, what incentive would Iran have to make a deal when America politically cannot hold up its end of the bargain?"
This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.