JE Editorial: It’s Broke — Fix It

No one would wish Secretary of State John Kerry further discomfort, but if his broken leg — from a bike accident in Geneva after his meeting with the Iranian foreign minister — will keep him from racing toward a misguided finish line in a nuclear deal with Tehran, we’d prefer to see him recuperating for quite awhile. 
Although he has said his incapacitation will not impede progress toward the June 30 deadline, we urge more caution and hope he will use his recovery time to help him see more clearly the pieces of the impending deal that need major fixing.
The negotiations between Iran and six world powers, led by the United States, long ago stopped being about ending Iran’s capacity for nuclear arms. Instead, the emerging agreement is intended to curb Iran’s uranium enrichment, extend the so-called “breakout” time it would need to actually make a bomb and enact a stricter inspections regime, in exchange for an easing of sanctions. 
Of all the nations needing to sign off on the deal, France alone seems to understand the likely dangers if a more stringent agreement is not reached. Key among the French points is where weapons inspectors would be allowed to go. Iran has insisted that no inspectors be allowed into its military facilities. Really? Does Tehran take the world for a fool — and is the world being one? 
A nuclear deal with Iran is “useless” if it does not allow inspectors to check military sites, French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius told The Wall Street Journal this week. Fabius stated what, incredulously, does not appear obvious to everyone else: If Tehran wanted to build a nuclear weapon in violation of an international agreement, it would do so at a military site or other secret facility.
Also alarming is a report issued last week by the International Atomic Energy Agency showing that Tehran’s stockpile of nuclear fuel increased about 20 percent over the last 18 months of negotiations. As The New York Times reported Tuesday, this undercuts the Obama administration’s contention that the Iranian program had been “frozen” during that period. 
In addition, a nagging question continues to be how easy — or, more likely, how difficult — it would be to reimpose sanctions once they are lifted if Iran is caught cheating. The so-called “snapback” mechanism would, in all likelihood, not be so nimble.   
So Mr. Kerry, we wish you a speedy recovery, but we hope it’s one that includes some readjustment to your thinking on Iran. Unlike a bicycle outing, which you can always reroute if it’s not going as planned, a deal with Iran is not so easily reversible. Before you sign on the dotted line, please ensure that the top priority is not the deal itself, but rather what’s inside. For all intents and purposes, there will be no going back.


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