Iran this week announced that it has enriched more than 300 kilograms ((660 bs) of uranium. This indicates that it no longer considers itself bound by an agreement it reached with several industrial powers in Vienna, Austria in July 2015. Its breakout move comes at a time of increasing tensions between Iran and the United States (which was also part of the 2015 accord but withdrew from it last year.)
All Hands but One:
During the first night of the two-night Democratic debate last week, when ten candidates for that party’s nomination for President stood together on stage, a moderator asked for a show of hands on who would support a return of the US to the Iran deal, formally known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA). Nine of the ten candidates on stage raised their hands. Representative Cory Booker was the only exception.
But when they were in a position to be more specific and less binary, the candidates did not indicate a willingness to return to the JCPOA in its precise condition when President Trump pulled the US out of it.
At the heart of the JCPOA lies a simple trade: the other signatories allowed Iran access to the world’s banking systems and oil export markets; in return, Iran agreed to keep a tight lid on the development of its nuclear facilities, keeping them well short of weapons-production potential, and it granted outside agencies the access necessary to verify the lid.
That lid is now off. What happens next is uncertain.
The Thing to Know:
During last week’s debate, Tulsi Gabbard, a candidate who is also an Iraq War veteran, expressed a broad US political consensus about the defunct deal thus: “We need to get back into the Iran nuclear agreement, and we need to negotiate how we can improve it.” But one must now doubt that there is any agreement left to improve.