Lost in translation?

The nuclear deal with Iran is largely considered a success, at least by liberal news outlets.

Aaron Stein, a graduate of the nuclear non-proliferation program at The Middlebury Institute of International Studies at Monterey, is quoted by Vox.com saying:

“When I was doing my non-proliferation training at Monterey, this is the type of inspection regime that we would dream up in our heads,” he said. “We would hope that this would be the way to actually verify all enrichment programs, but thought that would never be feasible.”

Various commentators have also already hailed it as Obama’s biggest foreign policy success.

This all sounds too good to be true. And chances are that it is. I quite enjoyed Saturday’s Dateline London episode. Even though it was not hosted by Gavin Esler, the narrative on the nuclear deal was quite captivating. The deal, as presented by the Americans, sounds quite rosy, indeed. Turns out that the Persian version of the deal looks a bit different.

“The American text claims that Iran has agreed to dismantle the core of the heavy water plutonium plant in Arak. The Iranian text says the opposite. The plant shall remain and be updated and modernized.

In the past two days Kerry and Obama and their apologists have been all over the place claiming that the Iranian nuclear project and its military-industrial offshoots would be put under a kind of international tutelage for 10, 15 or even 25 years. However, the Persian, Italian and French texts contain no such figures.”

Yes, the source of these quotes is NYPost, which is owned by News Corp, which owns Fox News. So one has to take the article with a grain of salt. But it is not just the NYPost which raised concerns. A similar article can be found on the NYTimes website, and it mentions other discrepancies:

“The American statement says that Iran will be barred from using its advanced centrifuges to produce uranium for at least 10 years. Before those 10 years are up, Iran will be able to conduct some “limited” research on the centrifuges. The Iranian version omits the word “limited.””

“The starkest differences between the American and Iranians accounts concern the pace at which punishing economic sanctions against Iran are to be removed. The Iranian text says that when the agreement is implemented, the sanctions will “immediately” be canceled. American officials have described sanctions relief as more of a step-by-step process tied to Iranian efforts to carry out the accord.”

The problem is that when discrepancies like this exist, some version of the deal is bound to be broken.








An episode of Al Jazeera’s about the nuclear deal seems to imply that the agreement was deliberately vague. It’s an interesting perspective: both sides presented contradictory statements about the outcome of the talks, and each side knew that the other side would do that. A rare example of perfect information in the real world.

As neither of them were keen on not reaching an agreement, they concluded that they should both claim victory, at least until they have more time to talk about these issues before the June 30th deadline.


Lost in translation?

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