Opinion

opinion | Sidney Topol

Listen to the experts and support the Iran deal

Members of the House Foreign Affairs Committee listened as Secretary of State John Kerry testified during a hearing on the Iran nuclear agreement in July.

AP

Members of the House Foreign Affairs Committee listened as Secretary of State John Kerry testified during a hearing on the Iran nuclear agreement in July.

Massachusetts Senator Elizabeth Warren declared her support for the Iran nuclear deal last week — and that should come as no surprise. A thoughtful, dispassionate consideration of the agreement leads to the clear conclusion that it’s good for both the United States and for Israel.

Regrettably, however, there is tremendous pressure on the American public and on Congress to reject the deal. Some of that pressure is simply partisan: Many Republicans came out in opposition before the details were even announced.

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Some of it originates in the office of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. His government’s opposition is being echoed and amplified by some American Jewish and right-wing Evangelical Christian organizations, who are flooding the media, the political grass roots, Jewish communities, and Congress with anti-deal hype.

Their arguments are a medley of misrepresentations, half-truths, and fantasy. Like the claim that the agreement gives Iran a path to a nuclear bomb after 15 years. Or the contention that nuclear sites can be cleaned up as easily as meth labs. Or the assertion that this is a “bad deal” and a “better deal” was not only possible but remains achievable.

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All of these arguments have been powerfully dismantled by actual experts. Last week, President Obama dealt convincingly with each of those contentions. But opponents of the deal continue to insist on their own set of tendentious “facts,” grounded in the opinions of lobbyists and pundits who were determined to oppose this deal before the ink was even dry.

Americans should listen instead to the nonpartisan national security and nonproliferation experts, the overwhelming majority of whom support the pact. They should heed the words of the 60 US national security leaders who wrote that the deal is “unprecedented in its importance for preventing the acquisition of nuclear weapons by Iran” and the five former US ambassadors to Israel who recently urged Congress to support the agreement. They should read the letter sent by more than 100 former US ambassadors, who called the deal “a landmark agreement in deterring the proliferation of nuclear weapons.” They should review the statement signed by more than 70 European political, diplomatic, and military leadership figures, who wrote that the Iran deal is “a sound framework for ending the crisis over the Iranian nuclear program.”

Americans who have special concerns about Israel should be aware that anti-deal American Jewish groups do not speak for American Jews on this issue. According to recent polling, a plurality, if not a majority, of American Jews support the deal.

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Nor should they be misled into believing that the Israeli prime minister represents the totality of Israeli views. Serious Israeli experts, such as former Israeli intelligence chiefs Efraim Halevy and Ami Ayalon, have been outspoken in their endorsement of the agreement. Dozens of former Israeli generals, diplomats, nuclear experts, and other national security leaders have come out with forthright or nuanced support.

And finally, they should pay close attention to these words from President Obama:

“We have before us a solution that prevents Iran from obtaining a nuclear weapon without resorting to war. . . . If Congress kills this deal, we will lose more than just constraints on Iran’s nuclear [program] or the sanctions we have painstakingly built. We will have lost something more precious: America’s credibility as a leader of diplomacy. America’s credibility is the anchor of the international system.”

Longtime Boston resident Sidney Topol is the retired chairman/CEO of Scientific-Atlanta, Inc. and a board member of Americans for Peace Now.

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