Aug. 26, 2015
How to Put Some Teeth into the Nuclear Deal with Iran – Dennis Ross and David H. Petraeus (Washington Post)
- If the Iran deal would block its paths to a nuclear bomb for the next 15 years and there is no obvious negotiated alternative, why are we still undecided? Put simply, because the deal places no limits on how much the Iranians can build or expand their nuclear infrastructure after 15 years. Iran’s ability to dramatically increase its output of enriched material after year 15 would be significant, as Iran deploys advanced models of centrifuges starting in year 10 of the agreement.
- In terms of the size of its nuclear program, Iran will be treated like Japan or The Netherlands – but Iran is not Japan or The Netherlands when it comes to its behavior. It is, after all, one of three countries designated by the U.S. as a state sponsor of terrorism. While we hope that Iran may change, we cannot count on it.
- President Obama emphasizes that the plan depends on verification – not trust. But what matters even more is that the Iranians recognize that they will pay a meaningful price when we catch them cheating. Deterrence is the key to preventing the Iranians from developing nuclear weapons. Iran must know that we will not permit it to become a nuclear weapons state ever.
- Now is the time for the Iranians and the world to know that if Iran dashes toward a weapon, especially after year 15, that it will trigger the use of force. At that point, it would be too late for sanctions to preempt an Iranian nuclear fait accompli.
- It is critically important for the president to state this clearly, particularly given his perceived hesitancy to use force. Indeed, were Obama to be unequivocal about the use of force should Iran violate its commitment not to seek nuclear weapons, the international community would accept the legitimacy of military strikes in response.
- The Iranians also should know that if they produce highly enriched uranium – for which there is no legitimate civilian purpose – that we would see that as an intention to make a weapon and would act accordingly.
Dennis Ross was special assistant to President Obama for the Middle East and South Asia from 2009 to 2011. Gen. David H. Petraeus, who commanded U.S. and coalition forces in Iraq and Afghanistan, was director of the CIA from Sep. 2011 to Nov. 2012.