A year after President Obama’s nuclear deal with Iran, the worst predictions of what would happen next have not come to pass.
The Iranians, defying the expectations of the deal’s most vociferous critics, gave up 98 percent of their nuclear material. They dismantled thousands of centrifuges and filled the core of a major plutonium reactor with cement. Inspectors roam their facilities.
By late January, even Israel’s top military officer said he was impressed. “The deal has actually removed the most serious danger to Israel’s existence for the foreseeable future,” Lt. Gen. Gadi Eisenkot, the chief of staff of the Israel Defense Forces, told a conference in Tel Aviv, “and greatly reduced the threat over the longer term.”
But if the celebrations inside the White House this week appear muted, it is in part because very little about the Washington-Tehran relationship outside the strict parameters of the 130-page agreement has improved. Tehran is still sending its forces to support President Bashar al-Assad of Syria and to gain influence in Iraq, and now has begun to honor its fallen soldiers there as heroes. Taking advantage of a newly worded United Nations resolution that merely “calls upon” Iran to limit its missile testing, it has kept up a steady pace of tests, with more and more capable weaponry. The United States has protested, but has recognized that Russia and China would never permit the imposition of sanctions.
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