Iran Nuclear Deal Takes Effect Monday

The deal is only an interim one, but it is the first step in yet another effort to prevent Iran from developing a nuclear weapon. NPR's Rachel Martin talks to Danielle Pletka of the American Enterprise Institute, who does not believe that this deal is a good one. Pletka is the co-author of Containing and Deterring a Nuclear Iran.

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RACHEL MARTIN, HOST:

International inspectors have arrived in Iran as part of the negotiated nuclear deal that goes into effect tomorrow. They're monitoring Iran's compliance with an interim agreement designed to try to prevent the country from developing a nuclear weapon. We reached out to Danielle Pletka of the American Enterprise Institute. She's also the coauthor of the book "Containing and Deterring a Nuclear Iran." I began by asking her whether she believes this deal contains or deters.

DANIELLE PLETKA: I don't think it does enough. It's certainly a step. The question is really whether it's an adequate step, not just for the United States and for the region, but also in exchange for what the Iranians are receiving.

MARTIN: So, what specifically is the United States surrendering that is too much?

PLETKA: I think that probably the biggest loss here is that the sanctions are now going to start rolling back, maybe not in America but certainly in parts of Europe and lots of Asia and Russia. And I think it's the beginning of the end of an effective sanctions regime.

MARTIN: But while this is an interim deal, this is still an ongoing negotiation. And it's widely believed that the sanctions over the years are what brought Iran to the negotiating table at this point. Is it not appropriate then for all sides to make concessions?

PLETKA: Absolutely. I think that if you're going put sanctions on then obviously the carrot that goes with the stick is that you have to be willing to lift the sanctions. And the administration insists that they have done very little to lift sanctions, that in fact the steps backwards are miniscule in comparison to what the Iranians wanted. I would counter that unfortunately what the Iranians have given is also miniscule. What the Iranians have done is they have bought themselves a lot of time in which they can freely work on a variety of aspects of their nuclear weapons program without fear of international censure.

MARTIN: Six months though, that's not...

PLETKA: No.

MARTIN: ...that's not a long time.

PLETKA: First of all, there's a relatively vaguely worded provision that allows the six months to be extended. Maybe a year - if you're being lawyerly, probably ad infinitum.

MARTIN: So, in your opinion can there be a diplomatic solution to the Iranian nuclear challenge?

PLETKA: There's a better deal to be had. There was always a better deal to be had.

MARTIN: What specifically would that have entailed?

PLETKA: I think that there are things that are missing from this that are really important. The administration has made a very big concession, probably what, for the Iranians, was one of the most important things, which was that the Iranians insisted that they have a, quote, "right," unquote, to enrichment. The Obama administration insists that they do not have that right. Unfortunately, what this agreement does it envisions not only an interim but also a final status agreement which allows the Iranians to enrich uranium.

MARTIN: Which they say will be for civilian purposes.

PLETKA: Of course. And they've always said that and yet they have not managed to persuade even the Chinese, certainly not the International Atomic Energy Agency, and not the rest of us either.

MARTIN: If the U.S. cannot work out a diplomatic solution, if this interim deal falters, is military action inevitable?

PLETKA: You know, if you would have asked me that last year, I probably would have said yes and in previous years I might have even suggested that American military action is inevitable. I now think that American military action is almost inconceivable. And that leaves the Israelis, many of us who have expected that the Israelis would act on one of their red lines. And, you know, successive prime ministers have given more and more time to international negotiations. So, do I believe military action is inevitable? No. I don't think that anyone who is aware of the history of this could suggest that it's inevitable by any party.

MARTIN: Danielle Pletka. She is the coauthor of the book "Containing and Deterring a Nuclear Iran." She's also with the American Enterprise Institute in Washington. Thanks so much for talking with us.

PLETKA: Thank you.

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