Key value of the Iran deal is in establishing a confidence building measure between U.S. and Iran
In that sense, the interim deal is only important to the extent it helps to produce that ultimate, comprehensive agreement. Fortu- nately, the deal has real value as a confidence-building measure.
Simply put, the United States and Iran don’t trust each other. That is understandable given how they have both behaved in the 34 years since the Islamic Revolution. Mistrust is so deeply rooted on both sides that it has often threatened to make any serious negotia- tions impossible.
What is most significant about the current deal is its potential to overcome that mutual mistrust. Both sides demonstrated a will- ingness to make concessions on the issues that the other side needed them to—and that is ultimately what will be necessary if there is going to be a successful final agreement. The United States needed to see the Iranians take meaningful steps to stop their pursuit of nuclear-weapons capability as reassurance that Iran was ready to give it up as part of a comprehensive agreement. Similarly, Iran needed some sign that the West (particularly the United States) would be ready to provide Tehran with meaningful sanctions relief in exchange for major concessions on its nuclear program.
That’s exactly what this deal did. The Iranians agreed to halt their progress toward a nuclear breakout capability for six months. Moreover, by agreeing to dilute its existing stockpile of uranium enriched to 19.75 percent purity, Iran demonstrated its willingness to scale back its nuclear program and move farther away from a breakout capability—the most critical element of any comprehen- sive agreement. Similarly, the West showed Iran that it was willing to give Iran some cash and to suspend some sanctions, which are Iran’s minimal requirements for a comprehensive agreement. It is true that the sanctions were suspended but not rescinded, and that they represented the least important of the sanctions on Iran. But the signal mattered more than the substance.
In addition to accomplishing its limited aims of preventing Iran from obtaining a nuclear weapon, the nuclear deal benefits U.S. interests in the region by opening up the possibility for greater cooperation with the Iranian regime to handle mutual threats such as the spread of ISIS.