Supporters of the Iran deal argue they have secured verifiable, significant reductions in Iran’s ability to make nuclear weapons. Opponents accuse the deal’s backers of wishful thinking. It’s fatuous, they argue, to think that Tehran is willing to forgo the bomb. Instead, the Iranian leadership will cheat on its obligations. Or wait patiently until constraints expire. And be even more trouble to Israel and other U.S. friends in the Middle East.
Let’s weigh these arguments against the possibility of another kind of wishful thinking: that a “better” deal can be achieved by walking away from this one. To achieve better terms, the current sanctions regime must hold as long as it takes to resume negotiations. Also, the next American president must be able to convince all of Washington’s negotiating partners to support better provisions than those rejected by the Congress. Plus, “tougher” sanctions must remain in place on all of Iran’s significant trading partners for as many years as it takes Tehran to cry “uncle.” All of these hopeful assumptions rest on the next President’s ability, moral standing and political backing — domestically and internationally — to negotiate a better deal.
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