The Unreality of the Iran-Nuke Fight

Israel is throwing the full weight of its U.S. lobby to crush the Iran nuclear agreement, but there are other factors adding momentum to the opposition — partisanship among Republicans and money from Israeli backers to propagandize the American people, explains ex-CIA analyst Paul R. Pillar.

By Paul R. Pillar

An air of unreality pervades much of the debate on the agreement to restrict Iran’s nuclear program. Opponents of the agreement raise issue after issue on which the agreement is clearly superior to the alternative that would exist if the opponents succeed in getting the U.S. Congress to kill the deal, but the opponents keep raising such issues anyway.

There is, for example, long discussion of the details of inspection arrangements and exactly how many days will elapse between when an accusation is made and when international inspectors could enter a facility. But to the extent any of this is intended as criticism of the agreement it is beside the point because if the agreement is disapproved there would not be any such extraordinary inspections, with 24 days or 240 days or anything else in the way of an adjudication period.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu speaking to 2014 convention of the powerful lobbying group, American Israel Public Affairs Committee.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu speaking to 2014 convention of the powerful lobbying group, American Israel Public Affairs Committee.

Indeed, if the agreement is killed the universe of possible Iranian “violations” of its obligations would be greatly shrunk because Iran would be under no restrictions at all regarding its nuclear program other than the basic commitment under the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty not to build weapons. Similarly, complaints about the number of years certain limits on the Iranian program will be in effect are beside the point because if the agreement is killed there will be zero years of limits.

Everything that has been gained under this agreement in the way of restrictions on, and monitoring of, the Iranian nuclear program is a net, as well as a gross, gain over the situation that prevailed before the negotiations began and over the situation that would prevail if the agreement is killed.

To get these gains, neither the United States nor its negotiating partners nor Iran’s regional rivals

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