Adam J. Szubin writes: As one of the architects of a 10-year sanctions campaign against Iran under Presidents George W. Bush and Barack Obama, and the Treasury Department official charged with delivering sanctions relief pursuant to the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), I find the debate over the 2015 Iran deal somewhat baffling. Iran and its proxies are threatening our allies and interests across the Middle East, from Syria to Lebanon and Yemen to Iraq. Why would we risk letting Iran out of its nuclear shackles now?
I know the threat Iran poses and understand certain misgivings about the agreement. While the deal prohibits Iran from pursuing a nuclear weapon forever, its restrictions on uranium enrichment for civil purposes begin to ease in a decade, sooner than any Iran-skeptic would like.
In its central elements, though, the deal is strong. Iran has been stripped of 98 percent of its enriched uranium, pushing it far from nuclear breakout. Its heavy-water reactor has been permanently disabled. And a far-reaching inspections regime allows scores of International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) inspectors to scrutinize any site where they have reason to suspect cheating. If this doesn’t sound like much, remember that in 2010, we faced a country with 50 times more enriched material than it has today, 17,000 centrifuges churning out more material every month, a heavy-water reactor under construction and no IAEA inspectors on the ground. No wonder senior Israeli military and intelligence experts have expressed anxiety about the deal collapsing. [Continue reading…]