Commentary Magazine


Iran: Let’s Enrich to 60 Percent

It’s now been almost a month since Secretary of State John Kerry announced that world powers had reached a nuclear deal with Iran, never mind that it subsequently emerged that the timeline on the deal hadn’t really started because the technicalities were still to be agreed upon. The Obama administration nevertheless moved forward with sanctions relief, perhaps believing that goodwill would bring Iranian authorities into compliance on an issue on which, for decades, they had shown little goodwill.

One of the most amazing things about the self-congratulations in some circles about the triumph of diplomacy is it ignores the discussions inside Iran with regard to the deal. While some Iranian officials have praised the deal as a victory largely because it secures Iranian objectives without forcing permanent Iranian concessions or compliance with UN Security Council resolutions or the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Safeguards Agreement, whose violation began this cascade of diplomacy, other simply suggest—as Iranian President Rouhani once did—that temporary suspensions are simply a strategic pause. Over at, American Enterprise Institute’s Will Fulton and Amir Touraj have been keeping track of the Iranian statements regarding their nuclear program. The bluster among some Iranian officials regarding the program does not give cause for confidence.

Take this piece, for example, in which leading conservative Mohammad Reza Bahonar suggests that Iran should enrich uranium up to a level of 60 percent should the Geneva deal fall apart. In effect, this is revealing. If the cost of the Geneva deal is $7 billion over six months as the Obama administration claims, then it is reasonable to assume that Tehran will demand that same amount in relief be provided every six months so long as a final deal is not reached. Of course, if Iran is getting over $1 billion per month in relief and needn’t suspend its work, it has already achieved its objective. If the United States has enough of such bribery and blackmail, though, and talks do not succeed, then Iran will enrich to a level far greater than it needs for energy generation purposes. This itself belies the notion that, at least for Bahonar’s faction, the nuclear program is for anything other than military purposes.

Kerry may believe his deal is like a fine wine that improves with age. If he is a sommelier, however, he is the first that cannot tell the difference between a fine vintage and vinegar.