Ambassador Eacho on the Iran Nuclear Deal

William Eacho (Ambassador to Austria, 2009-2013)

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The Iran deal deserves our support. It is clearly in the best interests of the United States, as well as countries in the region, to see Iran move in a direction which reduces their stockpile of enriched uranium and the reduces the risk that they might choose to develop a bomb. This deal does just that. It is not perfect, nor foolproof, but it offers the best chance we have to avoid a regional nuclear arms race.

The deal is quite strong, and quite specific. For example, Iran is required to accept inspectors from any country with whom they share diplomatic relations—countries like Switzerland and Austria, and now the United Kingdom. It also obligates Iran to observe the Additional Protocol of the Non-Proliferation Treaty, a much stronger inspections regime.

Alternatively, rejecting the deal leads to one of two outcomes:

First, if Iran approves the deal, the other 5 countries who negotiated it could simply move forward to implement it without us. The US looks irrelevant and incompetent, the deal proceeds and we have no further role. The President promises to honor parts of it anyway, but we don’t sign it and Congress keeps its weakened sanctions regime in place.

Alternatively, and more likely, Iran also rejects the deal, and the deal is dead. There then will be no chance at all to negotiate a better deal. The global sanctions regime will crumble, and Iran will keep its stockpile of enriched uranium and other aspects of its nuclear program intact. To suggest that somehow we could strengthen sanctions further, with help from our partners, and negotiate a better deal, is pure fantasy. Russia and China will abandon the existing sanctions regime and it will fall apart, leaving us with weak unilateral sanctions.

How could that lead to a better outcome?

Clearly, we and our allies are far better off with the deal, and Congress should support it.
If Iran complies, we are all better off. Given the political unpopularity of the sanctions regime in Iran, they may well comply. If they cheat, the sanctions “snap back”, putting us in a far stronger position, working with the global community, with Iran’s stockpiles of enriched uranium largely eliminated. We would be far better off in that position (if they decide to cheat) than where we are today.

Congress should put prudence over politics and support the deal.

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