Iran nuclear deal far better than any of our other options

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So now we have a choice to make.

Earlier this morning, and after years of negotiations, President Obama announced the successful and historic conclusion of a nuclear arms deal with Iran.

“I strongly believe that our national security interest now depends upon preventing Iran from obtaining a nuclear weapon, which means that without a diplomatic resolution, either I or a future U.S. president would face a decision about whether or not to allow Iran to obtain a nuclear weapon or whether to use our military to stop it,” Obama told his fellow Americans. “Put simply, no deal means a greater chance of more war in the Middle East.”

If anything, Obama understates that reality.

If for some reason the United States rejects or undermines the deal with Iran, our sole remaining option to keep Iran from going nuclear would be another destabilizing war in a region already destabilized by ill-considered war.  If we reject the deal that has been negotiated in good faith not only with Iran, but with our closest allies and with China and Russia, we will be blamed for its collapse; we will forfeit the international support that would be needed to reinstitute sanctions on Iran, leaving the military option as our sole remaining recourse.

So which path do you choose?

Here are the major provisions:

  • Iran agrees not to acquire, seek or possess highly enriched uranium or bomb-grade plutonium for a minimum of 15 years;
  • It surrenders 98 percent of its existing stockpile of low-enriched uranium, a step that significantly extends the time frame it would need to “go nuclear”. As Obama described it, “Iran currently has a stockpile that could produce up to 10 nuclear weapons. Because of this deal, that stockpile will be reduced to a fraction of what would be required for a single weapon.”
  • Iran agrees to remove two-thirds of its current nuclear centrifuges, including its most modern technology, and allows the remaining centrifuges to be monitored constantly by inspectors.
  • Iran agrees to full-time monitoring of every aspect of its nuclear program, from uranium mines through processing.

Many of those who will oppose this deal have opposed even the attempt to get a deal. When Obama said back in the 2008 campaign that he would be willing to talk with Iran without preconditions, they howled in anger. They predicted that Obama would never be able to win international agreement for serious sanctions against Iran, and after those sanctions were approved, they predicted the sanctions would never be effective. When those sanctions did prove effective in forcing Iran to accept an interim agreement that allowed serious negotiations to take place, they insisted that Iran would never honor its provisions. They proved wrong about that too, as some have even acknowledged.

A lot of the critics will focus on the things that the deal does not do. For example, it does not permanently guarantee that Iran will never have a nuclear weapon. However, no conceivable deal could meet that test, and neither could a military option.

Let’s say we choose the war option — let’s say that we agree to absorb the casualties, expense and blowback that such a war would entail — what would that approach do to Iran’s “breakout” time another 10 or 15 years down the road?

It would do nothing. To the contrary, war would harden Iran’s resolve to eventually go nuclear, because only with such weapons would it be immune to such attacks in the future. The only possible means to ensure that Iran doesn’t go nuclear would be to invade and permanently occupy the country, a task that would make the occupation of neighboring Iraq look like a picnic.

In short, if you judge the war option by the same standards that opponents are judging the deal option — the long-term guarantee of a non-nuclear Iran — the war option fails miserably.

Critics of the deal will also point out, correctly, that it doesn’t end Iran as a potential source of terror, as a threat to Israel and the Gulf States, or as a regional competitor to the United States. Nor does it remove Iran’s theocratic government. However, while those may be worthy goals, they are all well outside the realm of a nuclear arms control negotiation.

The goal of the negotiations has been to halt Iran’s nuclear program, to force Iran to undo much of the progress that it had achieved toward a nuclear weapon, and to open its program to long-term international inspection. Those goals have been achieved.

If the deal falls apart down the road — if Iran fails to abide by its terms or balks at necessary inspections — then sanctions “snap back” and the military option is again on the table, and we are still ahead of the game because of the nuclear fuel that Iran will have surrendered by then.

It’s also important to note that a certain number of people, most of them conservatives,  just don’t trust the concept of negotiation and agreement with those they view as enemies. It is a visceral reaction, and it occurs regardless of the merits of the specific deal, and regardless of the era. Perhaps the best example came in 1987, when President Ronald Reagan negotiated and signed the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Force Treaty with the Soviet Union. To conservatives, that was an outright betrayal by Reagan.

National Review, which calls the current Iran deal a disaster, likewise condemned the INF as “Reagan’s Suicide Pact.” George Will haughtily described the INF treaty as a sign of American weakness, claiming that “The Soviets want victories; we want treaties.” And in the Republican primaries to replace Reagan, every GOP hopeful with the exception of then-Vice President George Bush campaigned against the treaty’s ratification.

And if that’s how conservatives reacted with the sainted Ronald Reagan as president, responding to what many believe became the most successful arms-control treaty in history, imagine what their successors will do with Obama in the White House.

But of course, you won’t have to imagine the howling; we’re all about to witness it.

 

Reader Comments 0

641 comments
Corey
Corey

History teaches Iran it shouldn't trust the U.S. The U.S. CIA fomented a coup which toppled a duly elected Iranian leader and replaced that leader with the Shah because the leader of Iran wanted state control the oil industry. The Iranian people became fed up with that U.S. puppet, the Shah, and he was exiled. Iranian students stormed the U.S. embassy and held diplomats hostage for over a year. While the hostages were being held Americans developed amnesia regarding our previous meddling in Iranian internal affairs. The U. S. is the only country to have ever used nuclear weapons. If your neighbor used a dangerous product he would have a tough time convincing you that you should not be trusted with same dangerous product. Don't you think?

JonathanYaeger
JonathanYaeger

It would be wise to try to remove politics from the discussion and look at the substantive terms of the "deal."

The sine qua non of a viable agreement is the ability to perform "anytime, anyplace" inspections of all nuclear facilities, and without this provision, it is really -- in spite of claims to the contrary -- a reliance upon good faith.

The US military has stated (in the past) that they cannot be sure that they know of all of the enrichment facilities. If this is true, then without the ability to perform "anytime, anyplace" inspections, it is a reasonable concern that Iran is not showing all of its hold cards and clearly does not intend to. What we don't know here can hurt us.

"The IAEA last month said the Iranians are not currently living up to their obligations." Will they start now?

Iran's intention to become a nuclear power is apparent, because it is necessary for their hegemony over the region and, and for their own "protection." They have spent billions of dollars and have lost many lives already in their effort. At best we may delay their capability, but to claim that it "prevents" them from obtaining their eventual goal is misleading. It is unwise to believe that they will (now or later) abandon their strategic objective(s).

Iran has stated that their intention is to wipe Israel off of the map. Fact: They are currently the largest sponsor or exporter of terrorism in the world. Radical fundamentalists in Iran -- including the Ayatollah himself (their "Supreme Leader") believe in the eschatology of the eventual reappearance of al-Madhi, whereby the annihilation of Israel is component part.

To believe that we are making substantial gains with Iran requires that we sweep all of this under the rug; consider their most virulent threats to be mere bluster; and hope that Iran will willingly set those beliefs aside. In other words, it requires that we believe that "rational actors" will trump the fanatics at every important turn.

Given the supremacy of the "Supreme Leader" on all things Iranian, are we wise and justified to make that assumption?

King Tut 0603
King Tut 0603

I loved seeing Graham on Morning Joe.  He admits he had not seen the details.  He also admits to not  having the level of experience of dealing with the people in the Middle East as John Kerry but he slams the deal and the efforts overall.  What a great guy!  How can we keep electing these people!

JamVet
JamVet

Ah yes, that great combat veteran among us, vindicator, who never boasts of his medals for courage and valor on behalf of a grateful nation.

He merely maligns a real one as a Viet Nam Purple Heart huckster.

John Kerry, is to these bloggers, a man amongst boys.

And they call themselves conservatives.

And real men.

Not the kind that I grew up with...

StraightNoChaser
StraightNoChaser

President Obama has done what all US Presidents have done and will continue to do, make deals with dictators to keep the world safe.  This is going in the history books along side the other deals made in the past.

StraightNoChaser
StraightNoChaser

@Captain-Obvious @StraightNoChaser   How did preemptive strikes in Iraq and removing Hussein make the world safe? What makes the world safe is Iran's influence in the Middle East.  That's how it works and that's how it will have to continue to work to stabilize that part of the world.  Lots of people way before Shrub realized you can't ram democracy down the throats of people it's a process.

gotalife
gotalife

gergan on cnn just spilled another secret on Iran.


They are betting their future on the younger generation that wants to modernize with relations with us and join the global economy.


He admits the peace prize is now worthy and now we have to wait and see but relations with Iran have already improved.

gotalife
gotalife

Crickets from the cons so they are invisible on this blog.


The President hid his secret weapon from me on foreign policy.


Showing respect to everybody.

gotalife
gotalife

Allow me to show you how a adult American patriot admits to being wrong..


I agreed with Hillary and thought the President was naïve thinking he could change the world.


I was 100% dead wrong and apologize to our President.


I am human and never pretend a party or pols are perfect and I am not perfect.


Your turn cons.



gotalife
gotalife

Why should we listen to cowards that are not adult enough to admit being dead wrong 


We don't.


Until you grow up and admit you are wrong you are invisible on this blog.


Got it cons?

breckenridge
breckenridge

Y-J-C it seems that you have very different views on war and peace than Dwight Eisenhower did.  But I'm keeping an open mind here, I'm will to compare your military record to Ike's before I decide who is the true expert.


So.......what have you got?

Captain-Obvious
Captain-Obvious

"Here are the major provisions:

  • Iran agrees not to acquire, seek or possess highly enriched uranium or bomb-grade plutonium for a minimum of 15 years;
  • It surrenders 98 percent of its existing stockpile of low-enriched uranium, a step that significantly extends the time frame it would need to “go nuclear”. As Obama described it, “Iran currently has a stockpile that could produce up to 10 nuclear weapons. Because of this deal, that stockpile will be reduced to a fraction of what would be required for a single weapon.”
  • Iran agrees to remove two-thirds of its current nuclear centrifuges, including its most modern technology, and allows the remaining centrifuges to be monitored constantly by inspectors.
  • Iran agrees to full-time monitoring of every aspect of its nuclear program, from uranium mines through processing."

NONE of which can be accurately verified without IRAN'S permission.

Find any reputable foreign policy expert not associated with the Obama administration that will tell you otherwise, and you might have a point, Jay, but this is an agreement for a bullet point on Obama's post-Presidency resume, NOT one that will work as advertised.

LogicalDude
LogicalDude

@Captain-Obvious "NONE Of which can be accurately verified without IRAN's permission. "


and guess what "no deal" looks like:  no verification of anything by anyone at any time, so Iran can keep on doing what it's doing to get nuclear material purified to weapon grade. 


Can you explain how THAT is a better deal than the deal done today? 

Captain-Obvious
Captain-Obvious

@LogicalDude @Captain-Obvious  So we still have the equivalent of "no deal", Dude. Except now Obama can crow about something else he's done that won't work.

Big frikkin' deal.

If there has ever been a smaller person and a bigger a$$ elected to the Presidency, I haven't seen it.

DownInAlbany
DownInAlbany

His domestic policies include supporting and even rewarding unlawfulness.

It should not surprise us when that ideology spills over to his foreign policies.

Yes_Jesus_Can
Yes_Jesus_Can

@DownInAlbany 

Obama has done one good thing internationally.  His justice dept. went after FIFA. 

Anybody know anything else good bamster and his bots have done internationally speaking? 

Anything? 

gotalife
gotalife

Hillary is a necon on foreign policy but for the deal. She called it naïve so she was wrong too like me..

Yes_Jesus_Can
Yes_Jesus_Can

@gotalife 

YOU.... ever YOU thought the president was naive??

Wow Goat!  You were lucid at one time! 

Why the flip-flop? 

Nick_Danger
Nick_Danger

Republican presidential candidates will have an interesting time, I think, defending the position that doing nothing was better than getting this deal.

Doggone_GA
Doggone_GA

@Nick_Danger Except they won't do that...they'll go on and on and on about how THEY could have gotten a BETTER deal.

Nick_Danger
Nick_Danger

@DownInAlbany @Nick_Danger 

How is it better?  Well, here's one!  They're giving up the vast majority of their fissile stockpile!

Now, in your opinion, is that a good thing, or a bad thing?

Captain-Obvious
Captain-Obvious

@Nick_Danger @DownInAlbany  To who? In what timeframe? Who will verify that it was given up entirely? Do we REALLY know just how much material they have, or are we just taking their word for it?

Nick_Danger
Nick_Danger

@Captain-Obvious @Nick_Danger 

So, is your assertion that all committee decisions must be unanimous?

It seems to me this deal is enforceable by a majority of the eight members of the committee.

Captain-Obvious
Captain-Obvious

@Nick_Danger  Why, as this is nothing but an un-enforceable agreement, therefore, it is the equivalent of "doing nothing".

Nick_Danger
Nick_Danger

@Captain-Obvious @Nick_Danger @DownInAlbany 

It seems to me that all your questions could be answered by reading the agreement.

In any case, to my original point - republican candidates will have a hard time, in my opinion, convincing the American public that "no deal" is a preferable option to the deal we have.

Captain-Obvious
Captain-Obvious

@Nick_Danger @Captain-Obvious @DownInAlbany  Read it. Don't see anything that answers my questions. Since YOU blindly support anything Obama does, perhaps you might have some insight into what is specifically in the agreement that covers my questions.

And to reiterate my point, this is still the equivalent of "no deal", therefore, nothing has changed except Obama can spike another shiny, yet non-existent "victory ball";

Captain-Obvious
Captain-Obvious

@Nick_Danger  Oh, and btw, Nick, "doing Nothing" and Going to war" are just two potions that would have been available for Obama or to GOP candidates. Tougher sanctions are another, up to and including a blockade.

That being said, I have previously written that I don't care if Iran gets a nuclear weapon, so long as our stated policy is that if Iran uses one on us or our ally, Israel, their country will be turned into the largest glass surface on the planet.

Not that Obama would ever agree to THAT . . . .

gotalife
gotalife

Our President changed the world as promised.


This deal along with forcing the ME to fight their own wars is the way to go in the future.


Lets not screw it up by electing gop children in 16.


With trump helping the dems, the dems are in great shape for 16.

Captain-Obvious
Captain-Obvious

@gotalife  "Our President changed the world as promised."

You say that as if that's a good thing . . . . .