Author: Richard N. Haass, President, Council on Foreign Relations
The agreement to constrain Iran’s nuclear capacity, the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), which the U.S. Congress will vote on next month, places significant limits on Iran’s nuclear program for a decade or longer. At the same time, the accord allows Iran access to resources that will enhance its ability to carry out a worrisome agenda throughout much of the Middle East. In addition, the agreement in no way resolves the problems posed by Iran’s nuclear program. To the contrary, these problems could well grow as most of the restrictions on centrifuges and enriched uranium run out after 10 and 15 years respectively.
So what should Congress do? Just to be clear, it is not being asked to vote on whether the accord is good or bad but whether the U.S. would be better or worse off with it. Nor should the vote be based on hopes the agreement will bring about a more moderate Iran. This is possible, but so, too, is the opposite. We cannot know if Iran will be transformed, much less how or how much. The agreement is a transaction that should be judged on its merits.