United States reaches agreement on framework for nuclear deal with Iran
U.S coalition finally reaches framework, but more work is needed
A coalition of six nations, led by the United States, announced last Thursday that they had finally reached an agreement on framework for a nuclear deal with Iran. Negotiations lasted for nearly 18 months and the deadline was extended twice, but the two sides finally agreed on ways to limit Iran’s nuclear program in exchange for the lifting of economic sanctions.
The meeting between the United States and Iran, who have had virtually no diplomatic relations in the past, is the result of years of using back channel negotiations, which were started when Hillary Clinton was Secretary of State. The framework is the beginning of the finalized deal, which has a signing deadline of June 30.
The deal, though historic, is far from enough to prevent Iran from acquiring nuclear weapons. The United States, along with China, France, Germany, Russia and the United Kingdom should demand measures from Iran that would allow unfettered access to all nuclear facilities and eventually lead to the complete elimination of Iran’s nuclear program.
According to CNN, The New York Times, and Fox News, in exchange for lifting crippling economic sanctions, Iran has agreed to several key provisions:
Reducing the number of centrifuges
Under the deal, Iran must reduce the number of operational centrifuges (the machines that allow for the enrichment of uranium) down from 10,000 to 6,104. Of the remaining centrifuges, only 5,060 would be allowed to operate for the next 10 years.
Enriching uranium to 3.67 percent
Iran will only be allowed to enrich uranium up to 3.67 percent, which is enough to sustain a peaceful nuclear program but is far from the percentage needed to build a bomb. Uranium needs to be enriched to roughly 85-90 percent to be considered weapons grade. This provision will last for 15 years.
The deal will also extend Iran’s “breakout time.” This is the time it would take Iran to develop a fully functional weapon, which is currently about two months. Under the new deal, that time would be extended to one year for at least 10 years. Any research and development done in Iran would also have to conform to this provision.
Lastly, Iran would have to allow United Nations inspectors access to nuclear facilities. Inspectors would only have to give a two-hour notice for an inspection, down from 24 hours under current conditions. The inspectors would verify that the provisions to the deal were being followed and would report back to the UN. If the UN finds violations, it will put sanctions back in place.
While this deal is a good beginning, it is far from enough. Iran has a reputation of deception, operating in secret and “cheating” on nuclear deals. The Fordow facility, one of Iran’s largest nuclear reactors, operated under a mountain in complete secrecy until it was uncovered by the United States in 2009, according to CNN. Iran has also made it exceedingly difficult for inspectors to access nuclear sites and reactors. Inspections are not mandatory under this new deal, and Iran would still be able to deny access.
A key point of this deal that must be emphasized is that it does not require the destruction of any reactors or centrifuges. They are only stopped for at least 10 years. If Iran was able to operate an entire nuclear reactor in secret, what is stopping the country from operating its centrifuges in secret?
There are also no provisions to stop Iran from deciding it wants out of this deal. After sanctions have been lifted, Iran’s economy could be stronger and the country may find itself in a better position to do as it pleases. Because the deal does not call for the destruction of centrifuges or nuclear facilities, they could simply be turned back on to produce weapons-grade uranium.
Iran also has a program to develop inter-continental ballistic missile (ICMBs) and is a strong believer in death to America and Israel. Its research on ICBMs will be allowed to continue under this deal, and it would be possible to eventually attach a nuclear warhead to them.
While rallying for support for the nuclear agreement, Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Khamenei joined a “Death to America” chant. He also said, “Of course, yes, death to America, because America is the original source of this pressure.”
Iran has also publicly committed itself to the destruction of Israel. According to an Israel Radio report, a top Iranian general recently said “erasing Israel off the map” is “nonnegotiable.” Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has been a strong opponent to the nuclear deal. In a press conference about the framework he said, “This deal would pose a grave danger to the region and to the world, and would threaten the very survival of the state of Israel.” He has said that pressure on Iran should be kept up until a better deal can be reached.
Allowing a nation who is committed to America’s destruction as well as the destruction of her allies to have any kind of nuclear program would be reprehensible. If Iran decides to develop a nuclear weapon, there would be little the United States could do to stop them.
Congress is rightfully concerned with the deal, which will not be fully revealed until the participating countries have already signed it. But legislators must remember that before now, the United States has had virtually no diplomatic relationship with Iran. The current deal is only a framework and it is possible to have some changes before the finalization in June.
The United States, along with the other parties involved should take what they can get at this point, and continue to have diplomatic relations with Iran. But they should also keep pressure on Iran in order to secure the best deal possible. Iran should be watched at unprecedented levels and sanctions should be put back in place at the slightest violations. President Obama should listen to the concerns of Congress as well as Prime Minister Netanyahu.
Even if this deal does not remove Iran’s nuclear infrastructure, it can be the beginning of better diplomatic relations between Iran and the rest of the world.
William Krause is the political columnist and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org