In spite of negative rhetoric and predictable posturing, the Iran Nuclear Deal is worth the diplomatic effort. Harsh words from supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, threaten to derail the diplomacy. Accusing the Obama administration of lying, the mullah questioned the veracity of details set forth in a presidential press conference immediately following the Swiss negotiations.
The main discrepancies lie in the terms of the sanctions and the planned level of inspections. The country’s president, Hassan Rouhani, voiced similar reservations in a speech given on Iran’s Nuclear Technology Day. This event celebrates the country’s nuclear achievements.
Iranian leadership demands that all of the economic sanctions be lifted upon the official signing of any agreement. Currently, there are many layers of internationally enforced sanctions against the country. Energy-related sanctions effect their ability to export fossil fuel reserves, to import technology that exploits their energy concerns and restrict their international banking relationships. There are also sanctions imposed in regard to their human rights abuse, and proclivity for terrorism in the Middle East.
The P5+1 leadership prefers that sanctions be lifted gradually in response to proof that Iran is meeting the terms of the pact. These terms would include reduction of uranium enrichment in a great portion of their nuclear facilities, as well as the complete dismantling of several of the facilities. They would instead process other non-fissile materials, more in line with medical and energy application.
The other primary focus of the pact would be the routine and comprehensive inspection of all nuclear facilities. Without unpredictable and comprehensive inspection, there is no way to verify that Iran is indeed ramping down their enrichment. This is also a sticking point according to the supreme leader’s comments earlier this week. He refuses to agree to the level of inspection that would be necessary to truly verify compliance.
Furthermore, to capitulate to Iran’s demand for the immediate lifting of sanctions would render the pact useless. If Iran has been able to enrich enough fissile material to be reportedly a mere two months from building a weapon, it stands to reason that a quick influx of revenue from exports and escrow would increase their development capacity exponentially. According to economic experts, once international sanctions are lifted, restoring them would be arduous and require literally months of United Nations votes and wrangling. By the time any real consensus could be reached and sanctions restored, it would already be too late. This stark reality certainly raises the worthy efficacy of a functional Iran nuclear deal.
As well, international business interests are itching to set up shop again in a vital Iran with limitless influx of investment. With no constraints, and with intermittent compliance, the sometimes-rogue state could easily become an oppressive hegemony of ruthless theocracy in the region. With an Iranian nuclear state, other powers in the area would soon follow suit in the nuclear proliferation race. Middle eastern experts say that Saudi Arabia has already negotiated with secondary nuclear powers to acquire the technology to create a weapon.
A volatile situation would only deteriorate with military intervention as Israel has threatened in the failure of diplomatic efforts. If it is possible to diplomatically prevent Iran from developing a nuclear weapon and truly verify their continued compliance, the Obama administration is right to pursue it with such diligence. Avoiding the loss of more American lives and treasure on middle-eastern soil makes the pursuit of the Iran Nuclear Deal worth the effort.
Opinion by Chris Marion
Photo by Eric Bridiers – Flickr License