Since the Republicans offered no alternative, it came down to either the deal putting off Iranian development of a nuclear weapon for at least fifteen years or no deal, which according to experts meant that Iran could develop a nuclear weapon within a year or two, but no one can be certain. And with no deal, the sanctions would come to an end. The Republicans had no difficulty distorting the truth about the deal. But the opponents were trapped in their own illogic: they charged that the agreement prepared the way for a nuclear Iran in fifteen years. Whether or not Iran developed a nuclear bomb after fifteen years, without the deal Iran could develop a nuclear bomb a lot sooner. Moreover, some monitoring would remain in effect for twenty years and some would be permanent. Senator John Cornyn of Texas—the Republican whip—and others asserted that all verification could be held up by Iran for twenty-four days, whereas the twenty-four-day provision applies only to suspected sites and sets a limit, not a goal. Known sites are to be subject to twenty-four-hour on-site inspections.
Elizabeth Drew is publishing a two-part analysis of the Iran deal in The New York Review of Books. This excerpt is from part 1.