It’s Not a Mystery

Except to Steve Chapman, writing in Real Clear Politics.

It’s a mystery why, after allegedly tricking us into giving them everything they wanted, the Iranians would be so eager to evade these easy terms.

Iran’s leadership wants nuclear weapons, and they’ll do what they need to do to get them: talk interminably about a “deal” that purports to restrict their access, for a time, and then disregard the terms of the deal in order to continue their development and building efforts apace. This just isn’t that hard to understand.

Let’s consider the threat of cheating. One complaint is that the accord allows Iran to delay inspections of some sites for up to 24 days or more, making it easy to clean them up before the inspectors arrive. In fact, it wouldn’t be easy, because nuclear materials linger—not for weeks, but for centuries.

Back in 2003, when it was suspected of conducting forbidden nuclear experiments at one facility, Iran blocked International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) monitors for more than six months. But when inspectors finally got in, they were able to detect telltale residues.

Couple things about this. In no particular order, the materials linger when they’re not cleaned up. Apparently Chapman thinks the Iranians are so stupid they learned nothing over the last dozen years from their less-than-effective cleanup efforts and being caught out.

From that incident those dozen years ago, no consequences ensued from the IAEA’s discovery. There’s little reason to believe a different outcome to any cheating today.

And, what Chapman carefully elided: the Iranians cheated then. Along those lines:

We don’t have to prove guilt. Iran has to prove innocence.

No, they don’t. They don’t have to do anything; they can continue their activities unaltered by any discovery of cheating. Never mind that no consequence can ensue from the cheating until it has been demonstrated that Iran has failed its proof.

But take the worst-case scenario. Suppose Iran commits a violation and our partners devise some ingenious way to block sanctions. Then what? The US would still have the ultimate recourse: military action.

Indeed. But what Chapman ignored is that the longer the delay on taking that ultimate recourse, the more expensive and the more chancy of success it will get.

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