This article was published in collaboration with The Huffington Post.
Nuclear negotiations with Iran are coming down to the wire. The deadline set for completion of a deal is July 20—Sunday—and significant disagreements remain. The talks are likely to be extended for a few more months. But if an agreement is reached, the fight isn’t over. Elements of the deal would surely face challenges in Congress, where opponents of a deal have already pushed measures that would prevent America from complying with its end of the bargain. A deal signed in Vienna could well fall apart in Washington.
One of the key issues that Congressional critics of a deal will zero in on is evidence that Iran, prior to 2003, had a nuclear-weapons program. The way they will frame this issue was foreshadowed in a recent report coauthored by a former staffer to Senator Mark Kirk—a major Iran skeptic—and influential neoconservative expert Mark Dubowitz. The report warned that “Iran’s record of nuclear deception does not inspire confidence in Tehran’s commitment to honor any final nuclear agreement.” In other words, if Iran was indeed secretly developing nuclear weapons a decade ago, then the Iranians are not to be trusted, and this mistrust casts a shadow over the entire deal.
Are these critics right? Yes and no.