Sunday, July 19, 2015

So, I've finished reading...

So, I've finished reading ... the text of the Iran deal (formally the “Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action”, or JCPOA).  It's available as a PDF file here.  My conclusion?  While there is some hyperbole, as you'd expect, from the critics of the deal ... in general they are completely correct.

The deal is incredibly lopsided in favor of the Iranians.  It appears to have been designed to facilitate cheating at the margins.  There really is no provision other than re-imposition of sanctions in the event of non-compliance.  No fines, no threat of military intervention, no punitive action of any kind.  Any rational actor would of course immediately start pushing at the edges to see what they could get away with.  As quite a few reviewers have pointed out, because Iran has already put us on notice (with language baked into the deal) that if any sanctions are re-imposed, they consider the deal null and void ... then the chances of our side re-imposing sanctions for “small” infractions are near zero.  In other words, this deal is unenforceable.  Worse, for so long as the deal is in force, the signatories are obligated not to take military action against Iran.  The only way the deal could possibly be “enforced” is if some third party (Israel, Saudi Arabia, or a Middle Eastern consortium) does the enforcing militarily, or if a signatory unilaterally decides to abrogate the deal.

Designed for failure, it is.

If I were in the Iranian's shoes, I'd be taking a big chunk of that $100B or so that's being freed up, and using it to buy defensive weapons (once those sanctions are lifted) to raise the price for an attack by Middle Eastern rivals.  If I were in the shoes of the Israelis or the Saudis, I'd be polishing up my attack plans, and preparing to execute them before the sanctions are lifted just to avoid the preceding.  A joint attack would make the most sense, though I'm not sure that's palatable politically, for the Saudis.

I think this deal just raised the chances of a regional conflict, involving millions of people, very substantially.

Even the text of the JCPOA is lopsided.  I didn't measure them, but by eyeball between 80% and 90% of the text is all about the benefits to Iran.

No wonder they're dancing in the streets in Tehran!

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