It comes as no surprise that some members of Congress revile any compromise with Iran over nuclear capabilities. When U.S. political factions refuse to work together on nearly anything, accommodation with an “enemy” nation is unthinkable.
Negotiation with Iran has produced an agreement, which goes to Congress for approval in mid-September. It delays and limits Iran’s nuclear capabilities in exchange for easing international sanctions. For many critics, the plan is long on concessions and short on ending the threat that a sponsor of terrorism might eventually acquire a nuclear weapon.
Nuclear scientists, arms experts and dozens of retired generals and admirals endorse the plan as the best available way to limit Iran’s ability to grasp such weapons. They recognize that diplomacy and stringent verification of an agreement can accomplish far more than antagonizing a rival ever could.
By isolating Iran through sanctions, the U.S. has played enemy to Iran’s leaders and given them more incentive to pursue nuclear weapons. Iran’s nuclear bargaining chip is a powerful one. These days, leverage — either in military strength or energy independence — is counted not in dollars but isotopes.
Iran maintains it is only interested in peaceful applications of nuclear power. Yet it is no wonder that certain nations — particularly those identified as enemies by the United States — pursue the Bomb. Once acquired, it effectively deters a U.S. invasion.
Hawks and isolationists argue the plan’s 15-year framework gives Iran the time and money to grow in strength and influence among terror groups. But such thinking is based on the assumption that Iran’s rulers — and citizens — won’t change. While weapons inspectors will have unprecedented access to monitoring atomic matters, Iranians will likely embrace a larger role in the global economy.
Though it wields the most powerful military force the world has ever seen, weapons of war are not the United States’ greatest tool of influence. Rather, U.S. global power flows most decisively from its worship of capitalism and consumption. Give Iranians a taste of a higher standard of living from the sale of oil, and see if they want to go back to poking Uncle Sam with uranium centrifuges.
Critics decry a plan that doesn’t demand Iran give up all of its enriched uranium. But the agreement calls for a 98 percent reduction and ensures much closer monitoring. With no deal, there would be no inspection of a far greater quantity. The New York Times reports that before Iran ceased its nuclear program during negotiations, it was “a few weeks” away from having fuel for nuclear weapons.
Comparing a few weeks and no talking to 15 years and a relationship, the path to a more peaceful future is clear.