The framework tentatively agreed to by P5 + 1 world powers and Iran has been variously praised and condemned. The first thing a student in contract law learns is that an agreement to agree is not an agreement. What remains therefore is simply a draft that can be referred to as a guide for further discussion.
President Obama regards the framework as a diplomatic achievement, a “once in a life time opportunity” to curb the spread of nuclear weapons in a dangerous region, while keeping all options available. He characterized it as “our best effort by far to make sure Iran doesn’t get nuclear weapons.”
The wisdom of the president’s “bet” will be determined only with the passage of time. In practice the framework will perpetuate the dialogue with Iran for an indeterminate time.
During that period Iran may gain relief from economic sanctions and a chance of returning to a “normal” peaceful relationship with the western world. But what has the rest of the world gained?
The United States and other countries have pledged never to permit Iran to obtain a nuclear bomb. Such pledges become an empty vow under the new circumstances while the Iranian relationships with the world are returned to a state of peaceful normalcy. The one problem with all this is that the present world situation is in anything but a state of normalcy. In the Middle East, war is going on today. Every one of those full-scale conflicts could develop overnight into a worldwide conflict of warring nations. In such a state of non-equilibrium, the following have occurred:
1. Iran has been relieved of any foreseeable pressure to announce publically it has no intention of seeking a nuclear weapon.
2. After completion of the steps called for in the Framework, Iran is removed from all sanctions and restrictions permitting Iran to resume world commerce.
3. Iran remains free to continue to foment and spread Islamic terror around the world, which it has lead for several generations. There is no reason to believe that the Islamic Republic of Iran will change its character.
4. The framework makes no mention of any request by P5 + 1 for Iran to disavow its pledge to destroy the state of Israel; nor has it been requested to grant to Israel recognition as a sovereign state.
5. The turmoil in the Middle East goes on and Iran remains free to participate in open battles now waging between Shiites and Sunnis in many places. Iran has constantly pushed its ambition to fulfill a competing Shiite Caliphate upon which it plans to dominate the world. ISIS, a radical Sunni power has established a Sunni Caliphate in parts of what use to be Syria and Iraq where it is facing opposition from Iran, Iraq and the drones of the U.S. and other nations.
6. Other Sunni Caliphates have been proposed including intentions expressed by the prime minister of Turkey and by Sheik Baghdadi.
Somewhere along the line P5 + 1 nations have neglected to keep Israel in the picture, after it was apparently agreed that Israel would be kept informed of negotiations because of its vital interest in the of oft proclaimed intention of Iranian mullahs to destroy Israel as the “Small Satan,” and also the “Large Satan,” the United States. The State of Israel has an obvious personal interest in the prospects and future of the framework. The prime minster of Israel has proclaimed that the Framework is a “bad deal” and can only lead to war. He has also proclaimed that Israel will take whatever steps will be called for to defend itself against those threats. Of course, it remains to be seen what will be the outcome of the current situation. If the State of Israel should determine that the clear and present danger it faces in the current situation requires Israel to execute military action against Iran what will be the status of the most recent pledges offered by President Obama that if Israel were threatened with military confrontation from Iran America would have “have Israel’s back?” Our ally Israel deserves an answer to that question from President Obama.
The leadership of the United States Senate has criticized the framework and it will be considering the situation when Congress reconvenes in the next few weeks. At that time, the Republican leadership in the Senate will have under consideration various proposed legislative initiatives relating to the Iranian situation. This will include the entire question of economic sanctions against Iran that are presently in place or may be introduced. The president has threatened to veto any such legislation. It remains to be seen whether there will be sufficient votes to overturn any such future action by the president.
Kenneth J. Bialkin, a former chairman of the Conference of Presidents, is a lawyer in New York.