Myrtle Beach, SC, Orlando, FL April 9, 2015
Raleigh, NC Correspondent-One of the biggest news of the last few weeks was the proposed implementation of a nuclear deal with Iran. In 2002, some Iranian dissident groups alerted international community that Iran was secretly developing nuclear program. Although Iranian authorities insisted that the program was intended for peaceful purposes, there were well-grounded suspicions that the country was and is on its way to build military nuclear capacities. As sources revealed, Iran had built two powerful nuclear facilities in the country which were not declared to the United Nations’ supervisory agency International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA).
After learning about Iran’s nuclear program, the United Nations, European Union, the USA, Japan, and South Korea have imposed strict economic sanctions against the country. According to BBC News, these sanctions included such measures as a ban on any transactions with Iranian banks and financial institutions; a ban on the supply of heavy weaponry and nuclear-related technology to Iran; block on arms exports; asset freeze of key individuals and companies; ban on import, purchase, and transport of Iranian crude oil and natural gas; and the USA implemented a ban on all trade with Iran excluding transactions which benefited Iranian people (agricultural, medical, and humanitarian assistance). Understandably, these sanctions have adversely affected Iranian economy and led to many difficulties in oil, finance, and other industries. More importantly, quality of life for many ordinary Iranian people has suffered considerably (inflation, unemployment, rising costs of living, etc.).
The current deal was put in motion in November 2013 when interim agreement known as the Geneva Accord and the Joint Plan of Action was developed; as of now, final steps are being discussed with the deadline set for July 1, 2015. There are numerous details involved which specify what steps Iran and countries that imposed sanctions are expected to take. As such, P5+1 countries (members of the UN Security Council which include the USA, China, Britain, France, Russia plus Germany) aim to prevent Iran from developing military nuclear capacities (i.e. nuclear bomb). In order to achieve this goal, Iran has to curtail its uranium enrichment program, allow regular and in-depth inspections of its nuclear sites by IAEA, give up its fuel stockpiles, and to extend Iran’s “breakout capability”, i.e. the length of time needed to produce materials for one nuclear weapon. The period discussed is anywhere from 10 to 15 years. From their side, the countries involved promise to lift economic sanctions such as suspending the restrictions on the export of Iran’s petrochemical products, crude oil, goods, services, and gold; gradually transfer $ 4.2 billion of Iran’s oil revenues; modify the conditions for financial transactions with Iran; and if Iran complies with its conditions, not impose additional nuclear technology sanctions. However, further details of the agreement are still in development.
This deal has caused a lot of discussion and controversy around the world. Many people believe, given Iran’s previous actions, that Iran will not uphold its commitments. One of the most vociferous opponents of the deal is Benjamin Netanyahu, the Israeli Prime Minister, who asserts that without sanctions Iran will gain economic strength, which will allow it to further develop its military nuclear capacities. Also, many Republicans and even some Democrats oppose any dealings with Iran because of its association with Islamic militant groups and its general policy in the Middle East region. In addition, some groups inside Iran such as Iranian Revolutionary Guard, who are driven by power struggle, also oppose the deal.
However, there are many people who support the deal. First of all, there are ordinary Iranians who hope that the lifting of economic sanctions will allow them to have a better life. Also, many Americans believe that diplomacy is better than military engagement with Iran in order to prevent it from getting a nuclear bomb. There is a grain of truth in it—it is better to keep your adversary closer and allow Iran to be a part of world economy again than totally alienate it, thus risking any progress in an already extremely volatile region.
Prescott Valley, AZ Correspondent- Nuclear negotiations with Iran are a waste of time, as Iran will never adhere to the conditions that are set by the other countries involved in the current negotiations, including whatever conglomeration of capitulations American negotiators devise. The current debates signal that the Iranians will leave the talks altogether if their demands are not met, which has led Secretary of State John Kerry to concede to the regime’s demands throughout the negotiations. The initial talks in 2013 brought the opportunity to completely dismantle most of Iran’s nuclear program, but compromises made early on resulted in major concessions in favor of Iranian nuclear expansion.
The latest negotiations from Lausanne, Switzerland indicate that the Iranians will not dismantle any nuclear sites, destroy centrifuges or close down any heavy-water reactor and underground sites. Enriched uranium that currently exists in the capital, Tehran, will be reduced but will remain within Iran’s borders. The nuclear infrastructure will also remain in place, though a 10 year period will supposedly disallow some of the program’s progression. Once the period lapses, Iran will enter the nuclear age. The Iranians, and in particular the Iranian Deputy Foreign Minister, Abbas Agraghchi, reportedly said, “It’s our moon shot.” Technically, he meant that his country’s dignity was on the line in keeping all nuclear-weapons sites functioning, and he compared the program to the thrust of America’s lunar space program in the 1960’s.
As far as Iran obtaining “the bomb,” it all depends upon what the Senate does in its April vote to intervene concerning the mandated sanctions and to investigate and review the American side of the negotiations. The Senate Foreign Relations Committee’s “Nuclear Agreement Review Act of 2015” would require President Obama to present the final deal to Congress for review before any restrictions on Iran are lifted. The White House has intervened with opposition to the review, and the Foreign Relations Committee chairman, Bob Corker, has reported that the Senate is lacking in the two or three votes necessary to override a presidential veto concerning the legislation. There is much confusion as to what has been agreed upon concerning both the Iranian and the American interpretation of the agreement, so it must be subject to investigation. It is obvious that the president will most probably not relinquish to the Senate’s demands, as he will either not submit the agreement for review, possibly turn over the whole issue to the United Nations, or just declare executive privilege over the whole matter.
Enough subterfuge and misleading information has been divvied out to the American people through the Obama administration’s interpretation and presentation of the Iranian deal, which many know not to be for the betterment and safety of America or Israel. It may also become a catalyst for other countries in the Middle East to go nuclear to protect their own interests. Obama claims that the newly hatched deal presents a “once in a lifetime opportunity” to stop Iran from acquiring a nuclear weapon and will bring stability to the Middle East. Needless to say, the June 30th deadline for the negotiations will determine how many more concessions will be made and whether the United States Congress intervenes and plays its constitutional role with this very unconstitutional and most possibly non-binding treaty. There appear to be no benefits to this agreement for America. No matter the outcome, Iran cannot be trusted to adhere to any agreement, and who is to say that they may already have the capability to produce a bomb or acquire the necessary components from another country. It’s a bad deal, but Iran will continue to push for the bomb one way or the other, to the detriment of all involved.
Asheville, NC Correspondent–Iran’s plan for nuclear development represents a serious quandary in American foreign policy. On one hand, a nuclear-armed Iran is a serious threat to regional stability generally and Israeli security specifically. On the other, a nuclear powered Iran could spur scientific growth and development in the region, decrease global reliance on fossil fuels, and modernize a country in serious need of economic reform. While nuclear power plants being built all over Iran would be a boon for global peace and stability, nuclear weapons would have the opposite effect. The construction of a framework for peaceful nuclear development in Iran requires global support. Support from Russia and France are necessary as they are the most likely parties to sell nuclear fuel to Iran. Support from America is necessary to reassure Israel that the program is peaceful. Obviously, support from Iran is also pivotal to the long-term success of any potential deal. Obtaining this kind of support requires serious commitment from all parties, and the current political climate in America makes such a commitment impossible. Whether principled or politically inspired, Senate Republicans refuse to cooperate with the Obama administration on ratification of a deal. This means any potential agreement is tenuously supported at best in America, which signals to the rest of the world that negotiations are fragile. The failure of our leaders to take the construction of a non-proliferation framework for Iran seriously means a nuclear-armed Iran is an inevitability. When the proposed deal breaks down, as it must without sustained international support, Iran will use it as justification for nuclear development. They will develop nuclear weapons, and will do so from a place of fear and hostility. A lackadaisical, half-hearted approach to a nuclear deal is, in many ways, worse than no effort at all.