The ink has barely dried on the recent “Parameters” for a “Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action” (JCPOA), which itself is merely another interim step en route to a fully-fledged comprehensive agreement that may or may not be reached by the end of June and which, furthermore, even if concluded could (certainly if judged in light of the previous agreements with Iran) significantly deviate from its current composition. Already, predictably conflicting narratives between Iran and the US have emerged on what was agreed upon in Lausanne, raising serious questions whether the parameters of the deal as described will survive the ongoing negotiations. Under these circumstances it is challenging to provide a definitive assessment of the agreement in hand.

Nevertheless, how does it look? In our judgment a great deal depends on one’s vantage point. If one is persuaded that the agreement averted imminent Iranian nuclearization and that such prospect would have inevitably unleashed war with Iran, then almost any deal seems preferable. If on the other hand you believe that Iran was not about to resume its pre-2003 Manhattan -type nuclear weapons program and war was a remote prospect, then time need not have been of the essence for the P-5, which in turn casts the achieved outcome in much less favorable light the outcome achieved.

This article was published in full in the Norwegian Institute of International Affairs.