Effort to Kill the Iran Nuclear Agreement Continuesby Paul R. Pillar
The one-year anniversary of the Iran nuclear agreement, known formally as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), is naturally an occasion for stock-taking, as such anniversaries commonly are. Much spinning is mixed in with the stock-taking, and it is worthwhile to take stock of the spinning as well as of the reality that is relevant to the agreement.
The most obvious and noteworthy part of the reality is that Iran has fully observed the extensive, very limiting and intrusive, provisions of the agreement regarding its nuclear program. The Iranian record of compliance actually extends back significantly longer than a year. Before the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action there was a preliminary agreement, the Joint Plan of Action, which came into effect in January 2014 and included most of the limitations on Iran that also would enter into the later agreement. Iran now has been in compliance for two and a half years with stringent restrictions on its nuclear program agreed to in multilateral negotiations.
Despite this record of compliance, efforts to destroy the agreement continue. Those efforts demonstrate that most opposition to the agreement has not been motivated by the ostensible reasons, and most of the actual reasons are not ones that would be satisfied or negated no matter how well and how long Iran conforms with its obligations. It always was obvious that the agreement would be superior to the alternative of no agreement in assuring that the Iranian nuclear program stays peaceful. The main motivations for opposition to the agreement have had nothing to do with nuclear nonproliferation and instead have to do with not wanting to have any agreement of any sort with Iran.