President Barack Obama has been touting the clauses in the Iran deal that put sharp limits on Iran's ability to acquire the bomb, but the terms expire after 15 years, leaving many to question the strength of the deal.
According to The New York Times,
even those who are enthusiastic supporters of the deal are concerned that Obama has oversold it in his assertion that it would "block" all pathways for the country to acquire a nuclear weapon.
It would be more accurate to say that the deal will simply delay Iran's path to the bomb for 15 years, the Times said.
"The chief reservation I have about the agreement is the fact that in 15 years they have a highly modern and internationally legitimized enrichment capability," California Democratic Rep. Adam Schiff told the Times. "And that is a bitter pill to swallow."
But one expert said there was no alternative.
"Of course there are risks, and they have to be acknowledged," R. Nicholas Burns, under secretary of state for President George W. Bush, said in testimony before Congress in favor of the deal, according to the Times.
Obama's "most convincing argument," he added, "is that there is no better alternative out there."
Obama can emphasize that the economic sanctions on Iran begin to taper off only as it reduces its current stockpile of low enriched uranium, which is currently not enough to make one nuclear weapon and would amount to a 98 percent reduction to its current stockpile.
Regular inspections are also part of the deal, while international sanctions will be reimposed if Iran is caught cheating.
After 15 years, however, Iran would be permitted to develop reactor-grade fuel on an industrial scale with more advanced centrifuges, so that the international community would only have weeks of advance notice if Iran decided to develop the bomb.
"I believe it buys 15 years for real," Dennis Ross, who served as a White House adviser on Iran during Obama's first term and has not yet decided if he will support the deal, told the Times.
"But I do see vulnerabilities that I feel must be addressed. The gap between threshold and weapons status after year 15 is small."
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