Iran Deal Buys Time: Now America’s Real Work Begins

Philipp C. Bleek
July 18, 2015

The following is an excerpt from an article originally published by the National Interest:
Iran Deal Buys Time: Now America’s Real Work Begins

Iran Deal Buys Time: John Kerry and Wendy Sherman

Secretary of State John Kerry & Undersecretary of State for Political Affairs Wendy Sherman celebrate after nuclear talks in Vienna (Photo: State Department/Public Domain)

Many proponents and skeptics of the Obama administration’s deal to constrain Iran’s nuclear efforts assess it in absolute terms, as either closing the door on Iranian nuclear weapons or paving the path toward their inevitable acquisition. But what the deal fundamentally does is buy time. Therefore, even more important than the nitty-gritty of the deal’s provisions is a strategy for using the time we are buying to best effect. And our past behavior in similar circumstances is less than reassuring.

The Iran deal buys time in several important ways. It slows, and in certain respects temporarily reverses, Iran’s steady march toward a latent nuclear weapons capability; that is, the ability to make the key ingredients for a bomb on short notice. For the next decade, it caps both the quantity and quality of Iran’s centrifuges. For the next 15 years, it severely limits how much uranium the country can possess. These and other provisions, some extending out to 25 years and some permanent, will be verified by an almost unprecedentedly intrusive inspection regime, which will also severely constrain Iran’s ability to make a near-term, undetected dash for the bomb.

So, for at least a decade and arguably significantly longer, we can breathe easier with the deal in place. But as constraints start to come off, we may find ourselves in a similar or even worse situation than the one that we have tried to negotiate our way out of. The situation may be worse because Iran can continue research and development, for example to improve its current relatively crude centrifuge technology, and put itself in a position to significantly bolster its capabilities as the deal’s strictures are relaxed.

Continue reading the full article at

Comments Are Closed