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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat


Column: Detractors of Iranian deal probably haven’t read it

In a landmark deal, preliminary negotiations in Geneva between the so-called P5+1 — the U.S., United Kingdom, France, Russia, China and Germany — and Iran actually came to fruition. 

Surprisingly, the fact sheets released about the negotiations contain detailed and specific information about the potential accords, which gives the American public the opportunity to actually debate them.

However, it’s worth noting that the announced deal only establishes the basics. The rest of the framework should be laid by the end of June, but until then, a lot can change, particularly given the resistance of — ahem — certain members of Congress, as well as the fickle nature of Iran’s regime.

Part of what has made the released terms so revolutionary is the extent of Iran’s concessions. The P5+1 is getting almost everything it wants in terms of the number of centrifuges and nuclear facilities Iran is permitted, the timing of regular inspections and the amount of enriched uranium they can have in their stockpile.

Essentially, these sanctions serve to limit what nuclear proliferation experts refer to as “breakout time” — the amount of time it would take Iran’s regime to build a bomb. Currently, breakout time for Iran is a mere two to three months, but the time is estimated to increase to a year with the new restrictions.

For all detractors who are concerned about Iran’s newfound ability to possess nuclear technology — Iran already does. Now, the copious inspections provided for by the deal will make it harder for Iran to act on this technology and make it nigh on impossible to develop secret nuclear facilities.

Meanwhile, the concessions the U.S. has made are actually fairly minimal — while they are removing some sanctions, they are not removing those that were in place due to human rights violations. 

The sanctions that they are removing can only help the Iranian people, the majority of whom support improved relations with the U.S.

“No wonder they celebrated the news of the deal in the streets of Tehran by dancing, honking and cheering,” said professor Kamran Talattof of UA School of Middle Eastern and North African Studies. “This deal and the loosening of the sanctions … will provide them with a better opportunity to participate in social processes which [are] necessary for civil society building.”

The deal is, however, imperfect, as Republican Congressmen in particular are quick to point out.

First of all, it could fall apart uncomfortably quickly. Specifics of the timetable still have to be worked out. Regional instability, including suspicion and lack of trust between Sunni Arab states and officially Shia Iran. Domestic sales pitches in the U.S. could alienate Iranian leaders.

Most importantly, Republican leaders have made their opposition extremely vocal — so vocal that 47 senators signed an open letter to Iran declaring that any deal struck with the Obama administration would be discontinued under a Republican president.

It’s not just Republicans who want control, either. This week, the Senate passed a bill that would essentially give them a final vote in any deal that is struck with Iran, narrowing the chances that it might pass.

The pros of this deal still far outweigh the cons. Iran now has a defined set of restrictions that will prevent them from developing a bomb. Regular inspections will keep them honest. Removing some of the economic sanctions will hopefully allow the general populace to improve their way of life.

More importantly, part of what has kept economic sanctions effective against Iran has been the combined efforts of multiple countries. If those same countries watch the U.S. bungle a potential deal, they could lose faith and pull out, weakening the sanctions Republicans are supposedly trying to protect by opposing this deal and making our eventual bargaining power much lower.

This deal might also be the best we can get.

“We missed an opportunity to resolve this issue in 2003 by refusing to negotiate, and as a result we are in a much more difficult bargaining position today,” said associate professor Faten Ghosn of the UA School of Government and Public Policy.

In short, Congress — and by extension, the American public — can do much better than to reject this deal on principle. Rather, they should consider the real meaning of the terms contained within it. If nuclear proliferation experts are celebrating the extent of Iran’s concessions worldwide — and they are — perhaps that testimony should be taken to heart.


Maddie Pickens is an economics freshman. Follow her on Twitter.

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