The Iran agreement is hardly set in stone. As was assumed for a while now, we are really talking about a June 30 agreement whose shape may well not include any or many of the understandings that have been bandied about since the announcement was made on Thursday in Lausanne. No one seems to have final language and every interested party is flaying against a variety of different birdies. This includes but is not limited to: various members of the P5+1 especially the U.S.; the Members of the U.S. Congress; the Iranians; the Israelis; the other potential Iranian targets including the Saudis, the Egyptians, the Turks, and the Jordanians; and even the science community.
Eventually it may come down to how the document is translated into various languages. All parties will fight for their interpretation. At the end mutual suspicions may even undermine the apparent understandings. All parties will now contend that their spin is correct and many of the unseen concessions may still await to be made again at the eleventh hour in June.
Obama wants this deal to work desperately, because he fully favors all forms of non-proliferation and possible weapons reduction leading to nuclear disarmament; and the Iranians know it. Despite earlier promises to walk away from the negotiating table if the Iranians deal bad cards, so far the President (and Secretary Kerry) have not shown true readiness to do so or the ability to stand up to Iran. Obama is permitting ideology to wag the dog of political reality. Now, he and Kerry may only have one more chance.
The President’s ace in the hole is Energy Secretary Ernest Moniz, a renowned former MIT nuclear scientist, who has been a key part of the negotiating team. It may well eventually come down to his recommendation to the President and not the diplomats’ as to the efficacy of the sanctions regime and the technological brakes that this agreement puts on further Iranian nuclear weapons development.
The road for any Israeli modifications to this agreement ironically goes through Riyadh and Cairo as much as through Washington. Teheran’s major adversaries in the Muslim need to be convinced as much of the viability of this deal as will the Israelis. Israel-U.S. relations may re-energize as the deadline looms ahead and Obama reaches out to Netanyahu to bring him on board. How Bibi will be able to qualify his support without jumping on board may be the biggest challenge he faces as he moves reality slowly sets in. All of this maneuvering remains as the possibility of an agreement remains open until the fine print appears at the end of June.