On June 14, 2015, the Islamic Republic of Iran and the P5+1 (The United States, The United Kingdom, France, Russia, China, plus Germany) reached a negotiated agreement that limits Iran’s nuclear capabilities. Under the terms of the agreement, Iran can no longer produce weapons-grade nuclear power. In exchange for this, economic sanctions will be lifted.
Of course, the details are too complex to squeeze into a two-sentence summary. Some are hailing the deal as a breakthrough in nonproliferation diplomacy while critics are saying that the United States and her allies have completely caved in. But this deal is not for the critics or cheerleaders to approve; the United States Senate has the final say. This deal does have flaws, but the end game of the negotiations was to strike a crippling blow to Iran’s nuclear capability, and in that regard, it worked.
The key component of the deal for Iran was the lifting of economic sanctions. Because of these sanctions, the Iranian people (not the government in power) were suffering from a profound economic downturn. However, the economic uptick the people of Iran are hoping for may not come to fruition. Many fear that the Iranian government may use the hundreds of billions of dollars to continue to finance terror groups throughout the world and continue to conduct proxy wars against Israel and Saudi Arabia. Even under strict economic sanctions, Iran supported the Assad regime in Syria to the tune of $1 billion.
“Le mieux est l’ennemi du bien.”
The perfect is the enemy of the good.
Another fear is that Iran will find a way to cheat and still produce a nuclear weapon. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has been a harsh critic of the deal. The deal “may block or delay Iran’s path to one or two bombs for the next few years, assuming they don’t cheat, but paves their way to many, many bombs after a decade or so because they become a threshold state with full international legitimacy,” Netanyahu told CBS’s “Face the Nation.” “To boot, they also get a cash bonanza to fund their terrorists and aggression against us, against the region, against America and the world. So I think this is a very bad deal with a very bad regime. It’s not good for anyone’s security.”
In an ironic twist, Iran’s newfound cash flow could find its way to Shiite militias in Iraq and Syria that are currently fighting ISIS. A better-equipped force, trained by Iran’s Quds Force, could take the battle to ISIS. If this does develop, it could mean fewer American boots on the ground in Iraq and Syria. Although not an original goal of the deal, this would mean a win for the United States.
The original goal of the deal was to eliminate Iran’s nuclear capability. The P5+1 wanted, and got, the following:
- Iran will gives up about 14,000 of its 20,000 centrifuges.
- Iran will gives up 97 percent of its enriched uranium; it will hold on to only 300 kilograms’ worth.
- Iran will be forbidden from enriching uranium beyond energy-grade fuel, or 3.67 percent enrichment. (Weapons-grade uranium is 90 percent enriched.)
- Iran will destroy or export the core of its plutonium plant at Arak, and replace it with a new core that cannot produce weapons-grade plutonium. It will ship out all spent nuclear fuel.
Although this deal may not be perfect, it is the best deal we can get at the moment. There are some serious questions about the long-term and short-term effects of the deal. However, the alternative is no deal. No deal means that Iran continues to pursue nuclear weapons and increase instability in the Middle East.
(Featured image courtesy of huffingtonpost.com)