After several years of diplomacy, the United States, Russia, China, United Kingdom, and France, plus Germany (P5 + 1) and Iran reached an historic agreement regarding Iran’s nuclear program in Vienna, Austria today. The agreement claims to take steps that will keep Iran from producing a nuclear weapon in exchange for lifting international sanctions against the country.
“This historic agreement between the international community and Iran on its nuclear program will ensure Iran will not produce a nuclear weapon, making the U.S. and the world safer. This agreement will keep Iran at least a year away from having the fissile material needed to make a crude nuclear weapon for at least ten years. Without an agreement, that timeline shrinks to three months and the threat of war increases dramatically,” commented Paul Kawika Martin, the political director of Peace Action, the largest peace group in the U.S. founded on the issue of abolishing nuclear weapons, who has been working on the Iran issue for over eight years and had the rare opportunity to spend time in Iran where he enjoyed the hospitality from its people and its vast culture.
The agreement includes five major components: Decreasing the stockpile of material that could possibly be made into fissile material. Limiting the quantity and quality of centrifuges that could make highly enriched uranium needed for a nuclear bomb. Reconfiguring the nuclear reactor (and securing its spent fuel) in the city of Arak so it produces an insignificant amount of weapons grade plutonium. Implementing unprecedented inspections and comprehensive monitoring. And lastly, scheduling and implementing the lifting of specific sanctions on Iran. In summary, over the next ten years and in some cases longer, all pathways for Iran to build a nuclear weapon will be blocked and critical examination and oversight for verification in exchange for lifting of sanctions.
Recent polls show that a vast majority of Americans oppose military intervention with and support reaching an agreement such as the one reached with even stronger support coming from American Jews. Despite American support, many in the U.S. Congress have expressed opposition and have promised to derail the historic agreement.
Because the U.S. Congress passed the Iran Nuclear Agreement Review Act of 2015 several months ago, they will have 60 days to review the agreement. During that time the President may not lift certain statutory sanctions. Within the review period, Congress may vote to disapprove the agreement. If the disapproval survives a guaranteed presidential veto — a prospect that looks unlikely — then the President would not be able to lift sanctions as part of the agreement, essentially killing the deal. “Peace Action expects Members of Congress to support the Iran agreement with positive statements and votes that approve the deal. We and dozens of other political organizations will use any votes on the Iran deal in legislative records and will withhold endorsements and campaign contributions for lawmakers that vote to kill this important agreement,” warned Paul Kawika Martin. The organization claims to have given millions in contributions and endorsed thousands of candidates since its inception.
“An agreement with Iran on its nuclear program is better than any imaginable alternative. Military strategists have said consistently that a military intervention with Iran would at best slightly delay any nuclear program and at worst force Iran to engage in getting a nuclear weapon even if they had no such program. Voting against the accord would be very short sighted as the agreement with Iran on their nuclear program may lead to productive negotiations on other items of concern with the Iranian Government. More sanctions on Iran are likely to only embolden Iranian hardliners rather than solving the problem,” concluded Paul Kawika Martin.
Besides reaching an agreement with the P5 + 1, Iran also reached an agreement with International Atomic Energy Association (IAEA) to clarify all possible past military dimensions (PMDs) of its nuclear program. The IAEA will release its final assessment by December. This has been a sticking point with critics of an agreement.
“The success of these talks since 2006 again proves that diplomacy works. Instead of isolation, sanctions that disproportionately affect commoners or military intervention that costs vast amounts of blood and treasure with untold long-term costs and unintended consequences, the U.S. used dialogue, negotiations and the international community to solve conflict. These history making negotiations may open the door for more talks on issues like human rights and regional security that will further reduce Middle East tensions,” concluded Kevin Martin, executive director, of Peace Action.