The Future of the Iran Nuclear Deal

NEW YORK – “There’s many a slip twixt the cup and the lip,” goes the old English proverb. Something seemingly resolved and certain in fact is neither. If no such expression exists in Farsi, I predict one soon will.

The reason, of course, is the “Parameters for a Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action Regarding the Islamic Republic of Iran’s Nuclear Program,” the framework just adopted by Iran and the P5+1 (the UN Security Council’s five permanent members – China, Britain, France, Russia, and the United States – plus Germany). The agreement constitutes an important political and diplomatic milestone, and it contains more detail and is broader in scope than many anticipated.

But, for all that, the text leaves unanswered at least as many questions as it resolves. In reality – and as the coming weeks, months, and years will demonstrate – major issues have yet to be settled. It is closer to the truth to say the real debate about the Iran nuclear accord is just beginning.

The framework places significant limits on Iran’s nuclear program, including the number and type of centrifuges, the sort of reactors, and the amount and quality of enriched uranium that the country may possess. Standards are set for the inspections needed to provide confidence that Iran is fulfilling its obligations. And provision is made for easing economic sanctions once Iran has verifiably met its commitments.