One key feature of the deal is that it exchanges sanctions relief for Iran with limits to its fuel stockpile and nuclear-production capacities. Iran will have to remove two-thirds of its installed centrifuges and store them under international supervision. It will also have to reduce its stockpile of enriched uranium by 98 percent for 15 years.
Should Iran fail to hold up its end of the bargain, the agreement arranges for a panel involving all seven countries that participated in the nuclear talks to vote on whether to put sanctions on Iran back in place. A simple majority can approve them, which means that if Iran, China, and Russia vote against the so-called “snapback” of sanctions, they can be overruled.
Meanwhile, the agreement affirms that "under no circumstances will Iran ever seek, develop, or acquire any nuclear weapons." To make sure Iran complies, it also guarantees that the International Atomic Energy Agency will monitor Iran’s nuclear facilities for the next 25 years...
...As for the United Nations arms embargo against Iran, it will be lifted after five years and restrictions on Iran’s ballistic missiles will be eased after eight years. According to Colum Lynch and Dan de Luce at Foreign Policy, the American concession on this issue, which may alienate some of the president’s allies in Congress, is ultimately what led to Iran to give in on the limits to its nuclear program outlined in the accord. The issue of the arms embargo was initially left out of the April framework agreement.
Beinart's article about why the Republicans are having, will have a major hissy fit over this:
When critics focus incessantly on the gap between the present deal and a perfect one, what they’re really doing is blaming Obama for the fact that the United States is not omnipotent. This isn’t surprising given that American omnipotence is the guiding assumption behind contemporary Republican foreign policy. Ask any GOP presidential candidate except Rand Paul what they propose doing about any global hotspot and their answer is the same: be tougher. America must take a harder line against Iran’s nuclear program, against ISIS, against Bashar al-Assad, against Russian intervention in Ukraine and against Chinese ambitions in the South China Sea...
...Obama has certainly made mistakes in the Middle East. But behind his drive for an Iranian nuclear deal is the effort to make American foreign policy “solvent” again by bringing America’s ends into alignment with its means. That means recognizing that the United States cannot bludgeon Iran into total submission, either economically or militarily. The U.S. tried that in Iraq.
It is precisely this recognition that makes the Iran deal so infuriating to Obama’s critics. It codifies the limits of American power. And recognizing the limits of American power also means recognizing the limits of American exceptionalism. It means recognizing that no matter how deeply Americans believe in their country’s unique virtue, the United States is subject to the same restraints that have governed great powers in the past. For the Republican right, that’s a deeply unwelcome realization. For many other Americans, it’s a relief. It’s a sign that, finally, the Bush era in American foreign policy is over.
What is happening here is this: Obama's efforts at diplomacy throughout his two terms demonstrates that the neocon hardline "war is the answer" mindset is false. Where the Republicans would insist on bombs and occupation at all times, Obama looks for alternatives, usually through talks and deals. Granted, Obama still deploys troops and has increasingly relied on drone warfare across the Middle East, but he's trying to avoid the large-scale alienation that hampered U.S. interests overseas and weakened our position with allied nations.
Look at how Jeb Bush - whose father of all people was an expert diplomat himself, and who has to be cringing at his son's folly - was complaining about Obama's "poor" efforts at foreign policy, that "we" as a nation were "not leading". His criticisms ring hollow and false now that Obama and his State Department led our allies into making a solid workable deal with an Iran once treated as hostile by Jeb's brother Dubya. Jeb seems to ignore a key bit about foreign policy: if you go into a meeting and come out of it with more allies and trade partners than you did going in, it's a victory. And more often than not, Obama's been winning those meetings.
To the hard-liners here in the U.S., the talk will likely be about how this deal hurts Israel (and Saudi Arabia), or appeases the theocratic Ayatollahs ruling Iran. What they're ignoring is that if (yes, we do need that caveat) the deal pans out, Israel (and Saudi Arabia) will actually be SAFER with a nuke-free Iran in the region. And this isn't a soft deal either: if Iran gets caught pulling anything sneaky - and the oversight/transparency efforts appear to be well-prepped - the whole deal's off, which is a strong incentive for Iran - which needs the sanctions lifted for economic stability - not to cheat.
And as for the Ayatollahs and their hard-liners in the Iranian government, the easing of sanctions will make the world a friendlier, more attractive visage to the Iranian people (who are more savvy about the world and eager for normalcy than the neocons would admit).
I still stand with the protesters from years ago who stood for a democratic change in their leadership. I cheer on the fact that a later election cycle proved the Iranian people wanted that change despite the fear of their overlords, and elected people who became part of this peace process with the world at large. I still hope that with this move, the hard-liners of their government can realize they don't need to rule by fear or suppress their people.
This is a great day for America, and a large step towards global peace. Well, okay, there's still the rest of the Middle East to clean up, ISIL to stomp, a Syrian civil war to end, a Libyan government to stabilize, a...
Also, it's I Heart Pluto Day. Let Pluto be the Planet it was BORN to be.