According to the terms of the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), restrictions placed on Tehran’s nuclear program will be lifted completely after fifteen years; actually, a recently leaked secret provision of the agreement states that certain key requirements will become inoperative even earlier. John Hannah describes the consequences, and what can be done to prevent them:
Under the JCPOA, by 2030 Iran will be permitted to build an [extensive] nuclear industry. It will be able to operate an unlimited number of advanced centrifuges and accumulate as large a stockpile of fissile material as it desires. That, in theory, includes weapons-grade uranium. At that point, it would be weeks, maybe even days, away from having the fuel for a small arsenal of nuclear weapons. All of this legitimized by the United States and the rest of what passes for the international community. . . .
The sunset provisions of the JCPOA are a ticking time bomb that needs to be defused. That means disabusing Iran of the idea that the United States is prepared to accept any plans on Iran’s part to expand dramatically enrichment capability (or plutonium-reprocessing and -separation capability) once the JCPOA’s restrictions expire. . . .
As bears constant repeating, the JCPOA is not a legally binding agreement. A new president will be within his or her rights to accept it, reject it, or demand that it be modified to address core national-security concerns. That fact should bestow real leverage on the next administration as it approaches international partners [to the agreement] who will be eager to avoid the deal’s outright collapse, as well as an early blowout with a new American leader. A good-faith offer by the new president to implement the JCPOA, coupled with a reasonable demand that its most glaring deficiencies be addressed, could, with time, well win the day diplomatically—especially if backed by a credible threat to act unilaterally should it eventually prove necessary.