In the spring of 2015, China, France, Russia, Germany, the U.K. and the U.S. reached a deal with Iran regarding their nuclear ability. In exchange for lifted economic sanctions, Iran agreed to heavily limit their nuclear production which may have enabled development of weapons.
Republican front-runners Ben Carson and Donald Trump have both spoken out against the Iran Nuclear Deal, while Democratic front-runner Hillary Clinton has backed it, promising to be more aggressive than Obama in her Middle East policy. Three HHS students, representing liberal, moderate, and conservative viewpoints, were asked for their own stances regarding the Iran Nuclear Deal. Their responses follow:
The Iran Nuclear Deal will not resolve the tensions in the Middle East but it will help reassure the world that Iran is not able to create a nuclear bomb anymore. By promising to remove economic sanctions in exchange for a stopping of nuclear bomb research, the Iran Nuclear Deal has solved many problems. The threat of a nuclear bomb in the hands of a country that the United States currently has little trust in has been removed. That is why some slight oversights in the deal can be overlooked for how detailed it is in regards to dealing with the facilities and resources of Iran.
The main problem with the Iran Nuclear Deal is that most of it depends on Iran being willing to showcase their past nuclear activities. Iran has been tightlipped for a long time about how far they have gotten into research. Iran must also decide to be cooperative with all attempts to follow through with the deal and related inspections. If they choose not to follow through with inspections it could lead to tense standoffs and war threats that are dangerous in today’s world. Apart from that, it seems to be a pretty good choice for America to make regarding Iran, at least compared to the other alternatives. Now that the deal has been accepted, the next president must remember that the deal cannot be defeated without consequences. If Iran feels that any member of the deal is breaking the agreed-upon changes, they do not have to follow the nuclear disarmament procedures outlined in the deal. With many Republican candidates threatening to repeal the deal and increase sanctions if they come into office, it could lead to a sticky situation for America. Iran would have no incentives to actually continue with the deal if a major member of it were to withdraw.
There are two sides of thoughts to the analysis on what will occur in regards to the deal. Those in favor warn that Iran will simply continue building a nuclear bomb, which is true. However, it is likely that it would not be created as quickly as supporters say. Others favor rejecting the deal and imposing stronger sanctions. However, as a major creator of the deal, that would give the United States a poor reputation and could lead to worsening relations with China, who cut down consumption of Iranian oil to make leverage for this deal. The fact of the matter is that Iran was developing nuclear technology quickly, and the consequences that could have come out of that development would have threatened the world. The deal simply makes it much more likely that Iran will not be able to develop any nuclear weapons.
This is also ignoring the fact that overall it is not that bad a deal, and Iran has very good reason to follow through with the terms of the deal. In order to have the sanctions placed on many businesses, Iran must fulfill key requirements of the deal. But the possibility of the removal of these sanctions placed on many of their important industries by the European Union, China and United States make it very possible that Iran will follow through to reap the considerable economic benefits. Having the sanctions placed on key exports such as petroleum, technology, and metals made it difficult for Iran to break certain markets.
The deal is very clear-cut in how they plan to deal with Iran’s possible resources that could be used to create a nuclear bomb. It gives clear instructions on what level of and how many centrifuges they are allowed to keep. Iran must export any amount of nuclear material that would bring them over the decided amount, and dilute any nuclear waste that is above a certain percentage. It also has instructions on how their one facility capable of making weapons-grade plutonium is to be systematically destroyed and remade, so only research can be conducted there. Any waste from research facilities will not be held on Iranian soil. Their capabilities will be limited in regards to nuclear research.
Iran will be unable to falsify results or progress. The deal ensures that there will be many inspections. Iran is required to give access to all facilities to an outside party the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) and allow constant monitoring in the form of surveillance. If they deny access to anything, IAEA will appeal to the committee to gain access. Even if they somehow manage to move out any traces of nuclear bomb-making activity, there will still be enough radioactivity to gain traces.
The Iran Nuclear Deal is based primarily on assuming that Iran wants to make money more than it wants to make bombs. Made in a difficult situation for the United States, in a time of Middle Eastern tension, this is a chance to improve relations. Considering the lack of trust on either side, it was the best deal possible – it ensures there is a good chance that Iran will not make a nuclear bomb. In this situation, that is really all that can be hoped for. That is why the Iran Nuclear Deal was the best choice America could have made, and a good deal overall.
By no means is the Iran Deal perfect, but it is better than nothing. In October, Obama began to lift sanctions against Iran (ignoring the vehement resistance of House Republicans) and said, “Today marks an important milestone toward preventing Iran from obtaining a nuclear weapon and ensuring its nuclear program is exclusively peaceful going forward.” Our president harbors high hopes for a Deal that many Americans still feel uneasy about– and for good reason. The worst case scenario is a scary one to consider: the existence of an economically strengthened, nuclear Iran that can support local terrorist organizations… yikes. On the flip side, if Iran betrays the trust of the P5+1 (China, France, Russia, Germany, U.S., U.K.), it only provides the international organization with the “proper justification, and some lead time, to carry out swift actions.”
Let’s start with the flaws; for one thing, the deal is built upon a trust-based system of verification, and Iran has not always been the most trustworthy of nations. The International Atomic Energy Agency published a report in February claiming that Iran, in violation of the Nonproliferation of Nuclear Weapons Treaty, withheld access to information necessary to certify that all nuclear activities within Iran were for peaceful ends.
On the other hand, an attempt at diplomacy is better than diving into yet another violent conflict in the Middle East. Most can agree that prolonging the time it takes Iran to gather enough materials to make a nuclear bomb (from 2-3 months to 1 year), reducing the amount of stockpiled uranium Iran possesses, and tracking the nation’s nuclear capabilities are steps in the right direction. The Deal is not by any means rock solid, but it is a necessary, nonviolent, international attempt to monitor Iran’s nuclear powers.
Pick your poison: war or peace. This attempt to oversee Iran’s nuclear capabilities may end in betrayal, but in my opinion, it is better to initially attempt nonviolent diplomacy than to simply rush headlong into war. If we are betrayed, so be it, but we will not be unprepared to retaliate, and at least we will have tried to avoid violent conflict (putting the P5+1 on the moral high ground).
Since the Iran Nuclear Deal was passed, Republicans and Democrats have fought over the issue. Simply put, the Republicans stand against the deal and the Democrats stand with it.
The deal has provisions in place that allow inspectors from the IAEA (International Atomic Energy Administration) to check in on Iran’s nuclear facilities for the next 15 years. Iran runs centrifuges which are devices that enrich uranium to make it suitable for nuclear weapons or fuel. Under the agreement, Iran can only enrich uranium to 5% uranium-235. In addition, all existing stockpiles must be diluted to that same level. In return, the deal eases sanctions on oil exports from Iran and allows the nation to receive up to $700,000,000 from oil sales. As for its existing reactors, Iran is to rebuild its Arak reactor (that enriches weapons-grade plutonium) to a design that will not enable weapons-grade plutonium to be produced. All spent fuel has to be exported from the country so it can not be used for nuclear arms.
This deal seems fair at face value. Iran can use its nuclear material for education/power and the Middle East and surrounding powers will not have to worry about a nuclear armed Iran. However, this is only for 15 years. After 15 years, Iran can go back to enriching uranium and making weapons-grade material. They can also build new facilities after that time, as well as use more efficient centrifuges that enrich the uranium faster than the ones they had started to use before the deal prevented their operation. Within the next few years, sanctions imposed by the EU, Japan, Korea, the U.S., and other powers will slowly be phased out assuming they comply with the provisions of the deal. The President said; “Iran has powerful incentives to keep its commitments. Before getting sanctions relief, Iran has to take significant, concrete steps like removing centrifuges and getting rid of its stockpile.” He is probably right, and Iran will likely remove their stockpiles and centrifuges. The real catch is found in the part about lifting sanctions. Some of these sanctions included the flow of heavy weaponry into Iran as well as the flow of money. This means that over the next decade, Iran will have the additional capability to fund regional wars and better fund their state sponsored terrorist organizations such as Hezbollah, Hamas, etc. Tehran realizes that it is better to further erode the strength of Israel and the United States by making the terrorism situation worse. So, the threat of a nuclear Iran will be diminished in the near term, but the threat of an advanced Iran with better conventional capabilities will be augmented.
The deal could have been better. Iran has shown that it is an enemy of the United States, Europe, and Israel many times in the past. It is foolish to assume that Iran will somehow give up its militaristic nature and put all the money it will receive to good use. So far, Iran has only stopped some of the centrifuges it agreed to dismantle under the agreement and plutonium is still being made. To date, no one has done a thing to impose new sanctions or revive the older ones. According to the President, if Iran did not hold up its end of the deal, then the old sanctions could “snap” back into place. This has not happened and given this administration’s failed foreign policy initiatives, it simply will not happen. If anything, the deal is just a political play to help Obama’s legacy resonate better with the American people.