After 20 months of negotiations, a deal over Iran’s nuclear power has been reached. The deal limits Iran’s nuclear activity in return for the lifting on international economic sanctions that have crippled Iran’s economy. Already, there has been much debate over the success of this deal which is currently polarising both Washington and the American public.
The Republicans and some Democrats have already rallied against the deal, claiming that this would ‘embolden’ Tehran, and that ‘instead of stopping the spread of nuclear weapons in the Middle East, this deal is likely to fuel a nuclear arms race around the world’.
Similarly Benjamin Netanyahu said it was a catastrophic mistake because it will provide Iran with ‘hundreds of billions of dollars with which it can fuel its terror machine and its expansion and aggression towards the Middle East and across the globe.’
The congress has 60 days to review the deal and decide whether to approve it or not. However, President Obama has stated that he will veto any legislation that will prevent its implementation. Congress can overturn this veto if it has two thirds majority, but this seems highly unlikely.
On the other hand, there are many optimists, and some go as far as stating that it’s the deal of the century. For many, the deal resolves one of the most important security issue the US has been facing- that is to stop Iran from developing nuclear weapons. Under the deal, Iran would dismantle about 97% of it uranium, and for 15 years Iran plutonium production would be permanently disabled. Additionally for 25 years, Iran would be subject to a very strict inspection system with continuous monitoring of its uranium mines. The deal therefore is not built on trusting Iran, but on verification. If Iran cheats, the US would know.
Before any prospects of a diplomatic agreement, the US was faced by two options. Either Israel or the US would launch a pre-emptive military strike to halt nuclear Iran or learn to live with a nuclearized Iran that would without doubt set off a nuclear arms race in the Middle East. Both routes were disastrous. Consequently the deal saved the world from yet another unnecessary war in the Middle East in the name of non-proliferation. As Defence Secretary Bob Gates has said, “If you think the war in Iraq was hard, an attack on Iran would, in my opinion, be a catastrophe.” A diplomatic approach to solve international security issues is the smarter choice.
Nonetheless, this deal comes at great costs. This deal was a win-win for Iran – Iran will get billions of dollars in sanctions relief that will strengthen its role in Middle Eastern politics. That will mean more funds and more conventional weapons for the Shia militias in Iraq, and Hezbollah, and Iran’s ally Syrian president Bashar al Asad. It is quite likely that the intensity of the conflicts in Syria, Iraq and Yemen will increase, and the Middle East will deteriorate even further.
That was however, a pre-condition to the deal. Any negotiation depended ignoring everything else and focusing on the unclear issue, but everything else still matters a lot. But perhaps this step to diplomacy can pave the way for other diplomatic negotiations to settle problems in the Middle East.
Overall , the deal is balanced. Congress should support it because the alternative is worse, but we acknowledge that this success came at a very heavy price. For now, the crisis has been postponed.