The 4 Fatal Flaws of the Iran Deal

April 4, 2015 Topic: Diplomacy

The 4 Fatal Flaws of the Iran Deal

The new political framework agreement is inherently risky...

One option worthy of consideration is a quarterly review of Iranian compliance by the UNSC. If there is no resolution affirming Iranian compliance, the UNSC resolution on sanctions would go into effect automatically. This would be unprecedented. But it would send a powerful message to Iran and avoid conflicts of interest with European allies.

The agreement is hopeful if one believes that the Iranian government has decided not to pursue nuclear weapons or nuclear weapons capability. In such a case, the implementation of this agreement could lead to other breakthroughs—on Iranian missiles, support for terror, and push for regional hegemony.

But if you judge, as I do, that Iran is determined to acquire nuclear weapons, then the framework agreement in its current form is risky. The administration initially was pushing for no enrichment and then for only a few hundred centrifuges. The same is true on several other key items where it wanted more changes than it got in the framework agreement. There are critical details that have not been worked out—especially on inspections and on re-imposition of sanctions. The agreement also does not provide a mechanism for Iran to address the remaining questions on “possible military dimensions” of its program. Satisfactory solutions to these issues can reduce the risk in the agreement as it is now.

Perhaps the debate in the United States--including by the U.S. Congress--can improve the agreement, for example, by further reducing the number of centrifuges that Iran should be allowed to operate given that its need is far smaller than the number allowed in the agreement.

Given how important the Administration believes the agreement is, and given the broad mistrust of Iran in the United States, Americans will have greater confidence in the Agreement if the Senate ratifies it. The Senate ratified important arms control agreements in the past such as the SALT agreements. The result may be a better and broadly supported agreement.


Zalmay Khalilzad is a Counselor at the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS). He was the former US Ambassador to Afghanistan, Iraq and the United Nations