January 15, 2016
CNAS Press Note: “Implementation Day” for the Iran Nuclear Deal
Washington, January 15 – In anticipation of the announcement that Iran has met its initial obligations under the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, and that sanctions relief would begin, Center for a New American Security (CNAS) Middle East Security Program DirectorIlan Goldenberg and CNAS Energy, Economics, and Security Program Director Elizabeth Rosenberg have written a new Press Note, “’Implementation Day’ for the Iran Nuclear Deal.”
The full Press Note is below:
This weekend Iran and the P5+1 are expected to announce that Iran has met its initial major initial nuclear commitments under the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, and begin implementing sanctions relief. Iran has taken steps that have extended its dash time to a bomb from a couple of months to one year by reconfiguring the Arak heavy water reactor, shipping out almost its entire stockpile of Low Enriched Uranium, and decommissioning two thirds of its centrifuges. The speed with which Iran has implemented the agreement has exceeded expectations as most experts, including those in the U.S. government who believed Iran would complete this initial phase in the spring or summer of 2016.
Still, there are many challenges ahead. Iran will receive relief from the financial sanctions that restricted its sale of oil and refined products, barred access to the global financial system, and constrained its auto, ports, shipping, and insurance sectors. However, the continuity of terrorism, human rights, and regional destabilization sanctions will make it difficult for traders and investors to navigate new economic opportunities. Additionally, weak economic performance, a banking sector in disarray, and poor marks on corruption, money laundering risk, and ease of doing business dim the attractiveness of making deals with Iran. Sanctions relief will not turn around this economy, and Iran will fall short of achieving the quick economic windfall that many had hoped would accompany the nuclear deal.
Beyond implementation of the agreement, other challenges with Iran remain. Iran's support for surrogates and proxies in the Middle East and its meddling in Syria, Iraq, Lebanon, and Yemen remains a major point of concern. Meanwhile Saudi-Iranian competition has only intensified in recent months and continues to be a major destabilizing factor in the Middle East. And the potential implications of the nuclear deal for internal Iranian politics will not be clear for years to come, though an early indicator may come with next month’s elections.
Still, on balance the deal must first and foremost be judged by how it is being implemented and its ability to stop Iran from obtaining a nuclear weapon. And by this measure, early returns are positive.
Goldenberg and Rosenberg are available for interviews. To arrange an interview, please contact Neal Urwitz at email@example.com or 202-457-9409.