Deal reached to slow Iran’s nuclear program

Obama's Iran statement

News broke late Saturday evening that a historic deal had been reached between Iran and six countries — including the United States, Russia, and China — that would limit the Islamic republic from developing nuclear weapons.

The “historic” deal would require the regime in Teheran to destroy its 20 percent uranium and freeze the 3.5 percent stock the country has currently produced for its nuclear energy program.

The Washington Post explains that 20 percent uranium is “needed for research reactors that produce isotopes for cancer treatment and other applications, such as agricultural to enhance fertilizers.” The paper notes that this level of enrichment is “only several steps away from being boosted to weapons-grade levels at more than 90 percent.”

In return, there would be no further sanctions against Iran for at least six months, provided that the regime allows daily inspections and follows through on the destruction of the higher levels of enriched uranium.

“These are substantial limitations which will help prevent Iran from building a nuclear weapon. Simply put, they cut off Iran’s most likely paths to a bomb,” said President Barack Obama in a televised statement late Saturday evening. “Meanwhile, this first step will create time and space over the next six months for more negotiations to fully address our comprehensive concerns about the Iranian program. And because of this agreement, Iran cannot use negotiations as cover to advance its program.”

Secretary of State John Kerry told George Stephanopoulos, host of ABC’s This Week, that the deal is a significant step forward with Teheran and that it protects the interests of Israel.

“This negotiation is not the art of fantasy or the art of the ideal, it’s the art of the possible, which is verifiable and clear in its capacity to be able to make Israel and the region safer,” Kerry said yesterday.

“The fact is that Iran’s ability to break out, George, will expand under this program,” he said. “Therefore, Israel will be safer, the region will be safer, Iran’s 20 percent uranium will be destroyed, therefore they are safer. Iran’s 3.5 percent uranium stock will be frozen at its current level and the centrifuges will not be able to be installed in places that could otherwise be installed and advance the program.”

The reaction from Israel and congressional Republicans have been anything but receptive. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu called the deal a “historic mistake,” despite the Obama Administration’s promise that this diplomacy will make the Middle East safer.

“Israel is not bound by this agreement. The Iranian regime is committed to the destruction of Israel and Israel has the right and the obligation to defend itself, by itself, against any threat,” said Netanyahu, according to Haaretz, a Tele Aviv-based paper.

Most of the reaction from Republicans has been mostly negative. Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL) called the deal “a blow to our allies in the region who are already concerned about America’s commitment to their security.”

Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC), who subscribes to an aggressive foreign policy, tweeted, “Unless the agreement requires dismantling of the Iranian centrifuges, we really haven’t gained anything.” Sen. Jeff Flake (R-AZ) was the most reserved, writing, “Just heard President Obama describe nuclear deal with Iran. Look forward to studying details.”

Whether the current push for more sanctions against Iran will now end — or, at least, slow until the six-month window has passed — remains to be seen. Republicans are talking tough, but President Obama will veto any additional sanctions passed by Congress, and it’s unlikely that the votes are there to override that action.

On the deal, a diplomatic solution is always preferred to war. Economic sanctions have severely impacted Iran and have gotten the country to the point where its ready to negotiate. The “trust, but verify” approach obviously applies in this situation.

Secondly, there is a bloc of Republicans in Congress and pundits in the media who will never be happy when it comes to Iran. While this may sound like hyperbole, there is a contingent that really does seem to want yet another war. That is the worst possible outcome, short of Iran actually developing a nuclear weapon.

The situation is incredibly complicated, and a pragmatic approach is needed to ensure that the world — particularly, this region — remains safe. There is reason for skepticism, after all, President Obama has made significant missteps in foreign policy, such as Libya and Syria. This may not be ideal, but the realities of the world usually aren’t.

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