Predicting where the Iran deal could break down, at LobeLog

With the Iran deal done and (probably) about to get through legislative challenges both in the US and in Iran, it’s worth really thinking about what potential problems may crop up as the deal is implemented and maintained. While John Kerry is probably right that people who think there was a better deal to be had from these talks are living in a “fantasy,” this deal isn’t perfect. Crafting a “perfect” deal on something like this is impossible, because Iran’s “perfect deal” would look markedly different from America’s, or France’s, and that’s why we have things like “negotiations” and “compromises.” So there are inevitably going to be elements of this or any similar deal that aren’t ideal, that have unintended consequences, and that will produce complications that could threaten the deal at some point.

My newest piece for LobeLog takes a look at a couple of these potential soft spots in the deal, including the unlikely possibility that it won’t get past Congress. I also talk about one concern that I’ve mentioned before, which is that the process for adjudicating disputes over site inspections could lead to clashes between Iran and the IAEA:

One of the most challenging issues during negotiations was the question of whether International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) inspectors would be able to gain access to non-declared nuclear sites in Iran suspected of housing nuclear weapons-related work. The deal didn’t fully resolve this issue but instead created a procedure for resolving disputes between the IAEA and Iran over site access. Failure to resolve a dispute could result in the re-imposition of some or all sanctions against Iran, which could in turn prompt Iran to back out of the deal. This aspect of the deal, even assuming it works as intended from an inspections perspective, seems likely to be the most contentious, if Iran and the IAEA wind up clashing over access to sensitive Iranian military sites.

Most of the rest of the piece is based on my reporting from an Arms Control Association event that was held last week, where each of the panelists had a different answer when asked about potential trouble spots. They all had important things to say on that point, but I’m going to make you go read the whole piece over at LobeLog to see them.

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