Is the Iran nuclear deal in the best interest of the United States and world peace?
Millis resident; board member, Massachusetts Peace Action
The Iran nuclear deal is a unique opportunity to let diplomacy work by accomplishing three important goals: 1) a step towards nuclear non-proliferation; 2) a diplomatic re-engagement with Iran that would enhance regional stability; 3) the prevention of a possible war.
1) Even though the US has some 1,600 nuclear weapons and eight other countries collectively possess thousands more, there is a longstanding movement for nuclear non-proliferation to contain this threat. This agreement could put us on the path to containing nuclear proliferation in the region and might encourage others to reduce their arsenals.
2) When we consider that Iran and the US have not had diplomatic relations for 35 years, and that violent extremism is on the rise, this is the ideal time to re-engage diplomatically. Diplomacy has already shown its effectiveness, when in 2013, Iran agreed to reduce enrichment and to freeze the number of centrifuges.
Indeed, the real threat to our security is believing that war will resolve conflicts. More engagement in the region with inspectors on the ground could lead to more security for Israel. A more secure Israel may be more likely to pursue peace with the Palestinians. Implementing this agreement — one negotiated between China, Russia, France, the UK, the US, Germany and Iran — will be a landmark achievement. It will move us towards a foreign policy based on respect and common interests in an increasingly interdependent world.
3) Those who oppose the Iran deal think more force is a better option. But there are voices of reason including those in the defense establishment who understand that a military response would not permanently resolve nuclear weapon concerns and would only fuel opposition to the West. If this agreement is successful, Iran’s young population can pursue reforms at their own pace without intervention from foreigners. To borrow from US Representative Stephen Lynch’s letter in support of the deal: “We must seek their [the Iranians’] better angels. . . . While we should move forward with care and every precaution for ourselves and for our allies, let us nonetheless move forward.”
I couldn’t agree more.
Lexington resident, Boston attorney, former US delegate under President Clinton to the United Nations Human Rights Commission
Democratic and Republican administrations alike have designated Iran the world’s foremost state sponsor of terror for the past 30 years, based on its record of directing and funding terror operations against the United States, its allies, and civilians around the world. Democratic and Republican presidents have pronounced Iran’s nuclear weapons race a profound threat to American national security.
President Obama deserves credit for his effort to address this threat. The agreement between the West and Iran does have one very meaningful benefit: if Iran actually abides by the agreement, it will restrict its nuclear program such that for the next 10 to 15 years, instead of the estimated two months it currently needs to “break out” and deploy nuclear weapons, it will require one year to do so.
Placing to one side whether Iran will comply and whether in practical terms there are likely to be any consequences whatsoever if it does not, the extremely significant problems created, worsened or, at a minimum, left unaddressed by the agreement make the prospect of war likelier, They make it highly probable that Iran will in fact have nuclear weapons within 15 years, with nothing that can be done about it.
First, up to $150 billion in frozen funds, and sanctions relief worth tens of billions more, will be provided to Iran up front. That means virtually all of the economic and diplomatic leverage the West has amassed to deter Iran from deploying nuclear weapons will be abandoned.
Second, Iran is not only free to use this massive bonanza to expand its terror operations but, given the agreement’s eventual removal of international restrictions on its acquisition of conventional and ballistic weapons, to purchase and use those weapons.
Finally, of course, given the expiration periods and abandonment of any non-military leverage over Iran, the agreement removes any practical limitation on Iran’s deployment of nuclear weapons after 15 years at most – unless the United States is prepared to use the military force no one wants or expects it to use. That means that America and the rest of the world will likely live under an Iranian nuclear Sword of Damocles, beginning relatively soon.
As told to Globe correspondent John Laidler. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.