Iran: The ‘UN’-deal

Jewish Light Editorial

You may approve of the P5+1 deal with Iran or you may loathe it. But one thing’s for certain:

There’s a new world order inherent in this deal, and it doesn’t start or end with the United Nations or its Security Council. And that’s a very good thing indeed.

The Iran agreement is absurdly complex, comprising dozens upon dozens of pages and exhibits about centrifuges, inspections and both nuclear and conventional arms embargoes (the latter pushed specifically by the United States at the end). The details will no doubt be the subject of much fodder when Congress reviews the pact in the near future, though it appears that presidential veto power over a nay vote will make it hard to unseat the deal.

The terms of the agreement are fairly debatable, of course. Some of those who oppose it are doing so based on a true belief that the deal, by which Iran will be released from economic sanctions after certain conditions are fulfilled, provides too many compromises on key items. Others are negative for political purposes, choosing to flex rhetorical muscle to gain an advantage for the forthcoming U.S. election cycle and beyond.

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One can hardly argue, however, that the main focus should be substantive — that is, does the agreement put Israel, the United States and the world in a significantly superior position vis-à-vis Iranian nuclear and arms breakout, and is the release of economic pressure worth the gains realized? While we believe the construct is superior to the alternatives — either war or a belief that indefinite sanctions without an agreement will deter an Iranian nuclear program — we get why others would disagree.

But today we pay special attention to something else altogether, namely, the consequences of an Iranian violation of the agreement, because it’s there that we see something rather special to behold.

For months there’s been discussion of the so-called “snapback” of sanctions — is there a way, in the event of a violation, to reinstate the financial consequences against Iran that have crippled its economy and brought its leadership to the bargaining table? The worry was that, with Russia and China as part of the P5+1 management group, it would be difficult if not impossible to get them to agree to a reinstatement in the event of a discovered Iranian breach.

But it appears that the final agreement sets up a scenario by which a majority of eight entities — the U.S., England, France, Germany, the European Union, Russia, China and Iran — determine the ability to reimpose sanctions.

Note the numbers, because they are all-important — neither China or Russia, which could exercise veto power in the Security Council, nor Iran, can block a snapback —they cannot comprise a majority, or even cause a 4-4 tie, to prevent sanction reinstatement without getting buy-in from one of the Western entities.

Moreover, the time for Iran to correct a violation before snapback can occur is 65 days, which looks downright immediate when compared to the years of hapless and useless nuclear inspection efforts in Iran over the years.

These enforcement provisions are not only a significant development for the deal itself; they represent a major statement to the world regarding the limitations of the United Nations, its voting mechanism and in essence, its lack of power to prevent bad things. There is no ability for the UN General Assembly, or its veto-laden Security Council (which must and will likely endorse the initial deal), to forestall a reimposition of sanctions should a violation ensue.

This on its face would alone be a major accomplishment, but there’s also a great irony here that cannot be underscored enough. That is, those who claim the American government has ceded power in the world to the UN and other multinational efforts are witnessing a sidestepping by which police power is both available and accessible in the event of bad acts by Iran.

No one can guarantee it will work, obviously, any more than there were any assurances in the absence of an agreement that Iran would fail to move forward with its nuclear program. But the Western powers have flexed their muscle appropriately, and we trust they have the internal fortitude to stick to the plan if violations occur.

Quick snapback without veto from the foreign supporters of rogue nations is a highly meaningful aspect of this deal that offers plenty of useful hints at future diplomacy outside the weak-kneed and anti-Semitic confines of the UN. Those who see this deal as a capitulation are entitled to their opinion, but are choosing to ignore the development of Western-led structures to combat Iran and other terror-causing nations that the UN and its Security Council have given a free pass so often in the past.