In a legally required letter to Speaker Paul Ryan on April 18, Secretary of State Rex Tillerson confirmed that Iran is in compliance with the terms of the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA).
The next day, he told reporters that the deal represented a “failed approach” that will not prevent a nuclear-armed Iran. One might be tempted to attack such doublespeak as indicative of the administration’s general tendency to say one thing and do another. Yet on this count, Tillerson is correct. Iran is in compliance with the JCPOA, but the JCPOA isn’t working. Why?
In short, because compliance is not enough. The agreement resulted in Iran receiving significant sanctions relief in exchange for accepting a range of restrictions on its nuclear program. Were these restrictions permanent, Iranian willingness to adhere to them might be sufficient. However, many of the key restrictions expire in a number of years—six in the case of ballistic-missile development, eight in the case of Iran’s overall enrichment capability and thirteen in the case of a prohibition on enriching uranium to weapons-grade level. Accordingly, the benchmark for success must be set higher. The JCPOA can only be said to be working if progress is being made on the broader goal of discouraging Tehran from returning to enrichment when the restrictions on its program cease to be mandatory.
Read the full article at The National Interest.