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Wednesday, July 15, 2015

The Iran Deal and the Obama Legacy

Love it or hate it, the deal with Iran to end international sanctions in exchange for more oversight of its nuclear program is happening.  This is truly a legacy issue for the Obama administration.

Mighty Whig has nothing good to say about Obama's domestic agenda and its dubious accomplishments.  But on foreign policy, dare we say that this administration has actually, uh, led?  We could have sanctioned Iran forever with no change in the status quo.  Instead Obama and Kerry took a bold gamble.

All great foreign policy ventures entail risk.

When I read over the details, the risk was worth taking.  Full compliance will take years, and international oversight has increased.  If Iran cheats, it loses.  Both sides stand to gain something important--better security, more respect.

This deal could close a chapter in our four-decade-long mutual hate society with Iran.   It goes back to the 1979-1980 hostage crisis, which Carter and his foreign policy team turned into a 444-day national drama.  The next steps should be reestablishing full diplomatic relations.

Obama's foreign policy is shaping up rather well as his presidency comes to an end.  No more US open-ended commitments in peripheral wars like Afghanistan and Iraq, a flexible, pragmatic Middle East policy, reinforcing our Asian allies, and opening up to Cuba. 

Here's Stratfor's take on the agreement.  It's sensible:

First, let's get the timeline straight. There is a very strategic line in the introduction of the deal that states that the agreement "will produce the comprehensive lifting of all UNSC (U.N. Security Council) sanctions as well as multilateral and national sanctions related to Iran's nuclear program."
The U.S. Congress will have 60 days to review the deal. If the legislature rejects it, the president will veto the congressional decision, and there probably will not be enough votes in Congress to override the veto. Meanwhile, in the coming days, the United Nations will pass a resolution endorsing the agreement. Ninety days from that point, the agreement can be formally adopted. Before the deal is formally implemented, the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) will submit a report due by Dec. 15 that verifies Iran has come clean on outstanding issues related to its nuclear program. The IAEA will also have to verify that Iran has implemented the nuclear-related measures of the agreement.
From that point, Iran will enter the eight-year implementation period during which the IAEA will closely monitor its limited nuclear activity for civilian purposes and any suspected nuclear sites. When the deal is officially implemented, the United Nations will pass a resolution terminating nuclear-related sanctions on Iran (including an arms embargo), and the European Union will terminate its nuclear-related sanctions on Iran.  
Unable to get Congress to budge on lifting sanctions anytime soon, the U.S. president will terminate executive orders related to Iran's nuclear program and will stop enforcing sanctions codified in U.S. law. Only when the IAEA concludes that Iran's nuclear program remains peaceful — which could come after eight years of testing Iran's compliance — will the U.S. administration seek legislation to formally terminate sanctions. Even then, it will be up to Congress to comply.
What this means is implementation of the deal could be delayed until early 2016, and only then will the world see a tangible impact from the roughly 40 million to 50 million barrels of oil Iran has in storage and the roughly 300,000 barrels per day in additional exports Iran could add to current stockpiles within a few months of implementation....
For the United States, the Iranian nuclear deal is a step toward a much more agile foreign policy for the Middle East — one in which it leans on native powers to manage regional burdens rather than being at the center of every conflict that arises.

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