November 15, 2013
What a Deal with Iran Needs
Today, CNAS released a paper by my colleague Dr. Colin H. Kahl that provides some important context for the talks between Iran and the P5+1 countries that took place earlier this month and will continue on Nov. 20. The paper argues (pg. 2) that a final deal should seek three main goals: 1) Lengthen breakout times; 2) Shorten detection timelines; 3) Provide assurances against a covert nuclear infrastructure.
It warns (pg. 4-5) against the dangers of pursuing a maximalist deal for four broad reasons:
1) “[I]t is unclear if any escalation of sanctions could bring the regime to its knees in time to prevent Iran from achieving a breakout capability.”
2) “[S]omewhat paradoxically, escalating sanctions at this moment could actually end up weakening international pressure on Iran.”
3) “[I]ssuing more explicit military threats (through a possible authorization of use of military force, for example) is also unlikely to achieve a maximalist diplomatic outcome.”
4) “[A]ttempting to generate an existential crisis for the Islamic Republic could backfire by increasing the regime’s incentives to acquire nuclear weapons.”
The paper then goes on to explain (pg. 5-6) the major components of a “sufficient” deal. They include, broadly:
1) Significant constraints on uranium enrichment
2) Significant constraints on the plutonium track
3) An intrusive inspections regime
4) Transparency into past military dimensions of the Iranian nuclear program
Kahl concludes that “if we are to avoid the worst possible outcomes – unconstrained Iranian nuclearization or another major war in the Middle East – then a good-if-imperfect deal is clearly preferable to no deal at all.” Of course, the devil is very much in the details—and Kahl gets into all of them, so read on if you’re interested. You can find the full paper here.
More from CNAS
The greatest obstacle to returning to the Iran deal isn’t Iran—it’s Congress
Leaving the JCPOA may have cost us the most precious commodity: time. And now, out of time, out of options, it’s hard to see how we’re better off. Let Congress consider that....
By Jonathan Lord
A New Nuclear Deal With Iran Shouldn’t Be Accompanied By Terrorist Legitimization
Removing the label of terrorism should take effort on behalf of the offending party, something the Islamic Republic is unwilling to provide....
By John O'Malley
Iran Deal Return Increasingly Uncertain
Elisa Catalano Ewers joins The Warcast to discuss the series of strikes exchanged in Iraq and Syria and their diplomatic ramifications. Listen to the full episode from The Wa...
By Elisa Catalano Ewers
Returning To The Iran Nuclear Deal Is Essential For Biden's Foreign Policy Agenda
Ilan Goldenberg speaks with Franco Ordoñez about the importance of returning to the Iran nuclear deal for President Biden's foreign policy agenda. Listen to the full conversa...
By Ilan Goldenberg