How to strike a win-win deal with Iran

Reza Marashi and Trita Parsi write: The United States and its allies are now preparing for the home stretch in their nuclear negotiations with Iran. And, as they approach the finish line, it will be critical for insightful voices to help the Obama administration parse through difficult issues that remain on the negotiating table.

Kenneth Pollack – a top Clinton administration official and senior fellow at the Brookings Institution – recently took to the pages of the New York Times to do exactly that. He correctly notes in his op-ed that a comprehensive deal verifiably ensuring the peaceful nature of Iran’s nuclear program will be enormously beneficial.

Ken is our friend and one of the sharpest minds working in Washington today. That’s why we hope to use his New York Times op-ed as a launching pad for a broader dialogue about what the details of a comprehensive nuclear deal with Iran should look like.

He rightly points out three critical issues that will make or break our negotiations with Iran: inspections of Iranian nuclear facilities; creating mechanisms to ensure Iran doesn’t cheat; and the duration of a final deal. However, we believe the contours recommended in his op-ed would risk creating such an imbalance in the deal that it would incentivize the Iranians to cheat, and by that turn a diplomatic win into an embarrassing fiasco.

On the issue of intrusive inspections, we agree: For a mutually-agreed upon time period, any final nuclear deal with Iran will have to include one of the most comprehensive inspections regime in history.

But pushing for the type of inspections we had in Iraq – a constant, indefinite and undefined International Atomic Energy Agency presence – doesn’t pass the feasibility litmus test and contradicts what has already been agreed upon in November: Once the final deal expires and Iran has successfully alleviated the international community’s concerns about its program, Tehran will become a normal Non-proliferation Treaty state, meaning there will be no limitations imposed on its nuclear program beyond what all other NPT states have to accept. [Continue reading…]

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