A Good Deal With Iran
The nuclear agreement with Iran is a triumph of diplomacy. It stops the expansion of Iran’s nuclear program, rolls back some of its most worrisome elements, establishes more rigorous monitoring to guard against cheating, and suspends some sanctions on the Iranian people.
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If implemented, this agreement will significantly reduce the potential nuclear threat from Iran and enhance the security of Israel and other states in the region. Secretary of State John Kerry and President Barack Obama deserve credit for supporting the diplomatic effort.
The agreement includes a commitment from the U.S. and its allies to “not impose new nuclear-related sanctions for six months.” This means that the U.S. Senate must defer any further sanctions measures to allow compliance to proceed.
Israel has criticized the deal, but this demonstrates only that the Netanyahu government is so blinded by its animosity toward Iran that it cannot see the advantages it gains from this agreement.
In truth, this is a one-sided deal. Iran has made significant concessions and receives very little in return.
Iran has agreed to freeze the growth of its stockpile of 3.5 percent enriched uranium and halt the installation and operation of additional centrifuge capacity, halt enrichment above 5 percent and render existing near-20 percent enriched uranium supplies unsuitable for further enrichment, halt further development of the heavy-water reactor at Arak, and permit more rigorous verification and monitoring of its nuclear program.
In return, Iran gains partial sanctions relief, including the suspension of sanctions on gold and precious metals, some auto and civilian aircraft parts and petrochemicals, and the ability to fund student scholarships and humanitarian transactions.
The value of these sanctions relief measures is estimated at approximately $7 billion, compared with the approximately $100 billion in Iranian foreign exchange holdings that remain restricted. Current oil sanctions will remain in place, costing Iran an estimated $4 billion per month of lost oil revenues. All of the many other sanctions on Iran also remain in place.
This is a good deal for the United States, which has gained almost everything it demanded. Perhaps a gesture of magnanimity is in order. An initiative to ease further some of the economic pressures on the Iranian people would encourage compliance with the present deal. It would also improve the climate for the difficult negotiations that lie ahead on reaching a comprehensive agreement.
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David Cortright, a Sojourners’ contributing writer, is director of policy studies at Notre Dame’s Kroc Institute for International Peace Studies. David blogs at davidcortright.net.