While right-wing media pundits are inciting fears that the U.S. deal with Iran to curb the country's nuclear program marks “a day that will live in infamy” and the beginning of “World War III,” national security and nonproliferation experts are lauding the international agreement as “wise,” “pretty damn good,” and “a deal that improves our national security.”
U.S., Other World Powers Reach Historic Nuclear Deal With Iran
President Obama Announced Nuclear Deal With Iran Has Been Reached. U.S. and international negotiators announced they'd reached a deal with Iran on July 14 to curb the country's nuclear program, where by “sanctions imposed by the United States, European Union and United Nations will be lifted in return for Iran agreeing long-term curbs on a nuclear program that the West has suspected was aimed at creating a nuclear bomb.” From Reuters:
Iran and six major world powers reached a nuclear deal on Tuesday, capping more than a decade of negotiations with an agreement that could transform the Middle East.
U.S. President Barack Obama hailed a step towards a “more hopeful world” and Iran's President Hassan Rouhani said it proved that “constructive engagement works”.
Under the deal, sanctions imposed by the United States, European Union and United Nations will be lifted in return for Iran agreeing long-term curbs on a nuclear program that the West has suspected was aimed at creating a nuclear bomb.
Iran will mothball for at least a decade the majority of its centrifuges used to enrich uranium and sharply reduce its low-enriched uranium stockpile. [Reuters, 7/14/15]
Steve Doocy: “The More You Dig Into [The Iran Deal], The Scarier It Is.” On the July 15 edition of Fox News' Fox & Friends, host Steve Doocy fearmongered over the newly announced Iran deal saying, “The more you dig into it, the scarier it is.” [Fox News, Fox & Friends, 7/15/15]
Rush Limbaugh: Obama Sold Out America To Iran With Nuclear Deal. On the July 14 edition of Premiere Radio Network's The Rush Limbaugh Show, Limbaugh argued that while it may be unthinkable that Obama would “sell the United States out to the Iranians,” that's what had happened:
LIMBAUGH: Now, I know a lot of you are hoping against hope that the things you've heard about this that are bad for America are not true. I know you're hoping that some of the analysis of the deal that you may have seen or heard, that describes how really bad it is, is just maybe a little partisan, really isn't true. Because no matter what else Obama has done, and his party, no matter what else they have done with domestic policy, surely, you're saying to yourself, they would not sell the United States out to the Iranians. You want to hold on to that, I understand it.
You want to grasp that, embrace that, and you really don't want to believe -- some of you -- really don't want to believe that what's happened here has happened. But it has, folks. There isn't a mushy middle on this. It's bad. [Premiere Radio Networks, The Rush Limbaugh Show, 7/14/15]
Lou Dobbs: U.S. Has “Surrendered” Its “Immense Strength” By Making Deal With Iran. On the July 14 edition of Fox News' America's Newsroom, Fox Business host Lou Dobbs said the Iran deal is a complete “capitulation”:
DOBBS: We have immense strength, and we have immense control over our destiny. We have simply surrendered that advantage, in favor of what? A sponsor -- the world's largest sponsor of state terrorism and emerging -- and now, with the assistance of this deal -- a certain to-be nuclear power. It is stunning. [Fox News, America's Newsroom, 7/14/15]
Sean Hannity: Will Announcement Of Iran Deal Be “A Day That Will Live In Infamy?” On the July 14 edition of Fox News' Hannity, Sean Hannity hosted former Vice President Dick Cheney to lambaste the Iran nuclear deal, asking him whether the day of the announcement is “a day that will live in infamy.” Hannity later claimed, “I guess you could really put the Obama seal on these nuclear weapons, because I think now it's pretty much inevitable.” [Fox News, Hannity, 7/15/15]
Mark Levin: Iran Nuclear Deal “Planted The Seeds Of World War III.” On the July 14 edition of Fox New's Hannity, radio host Mark Levin said the Iran nuclear deal “sealed the fate” of the world and “planted the seeds of world war III”:
LEVIN: My reaction is that Barack Obama has now planted the seeds of world war III. And one day world war III is going to break out right here because of his actions today. To arm up the Iranian regime, this terrorist regime in Tehran, you know, Obama likes to say that Reagan and Kennedy negotiated with the Soviets. The Soviets had nukes. Iran does not have nukes. But thanks to him and Kerry and the other ideologues and lightweights that surround him, they're going to get nukes. And this is where World War III, in my view, is going to start. He has sealed the fate -- the adults who are listening to this program, your children and grandchildren, he has made this world so much more dangerous as a result of what he has done. These inspections are phony. There are no real sanctions. The Iranians can't be trusted. They have demonstrated that time and time again no less than the United Nations has told us. The Russians and Chinese are thrilled by this because we'll be bogged down for decades. This is a complete disaster. [Fox News, Hannity, 7/15/15]
But Experts Are Lauding The Iran Deal As “Necessary And Wise,” “Pretty Damn Good,” And Evidence Of U.S. Strength
Nonproliferation Expert Jeffrey Lewis: Iran Deal Is “Pretty Damn Good.” Jeffrey Lewis, director of the East Asia Nonproliferation Program at the James Martin Center for Nonproliferation Studies, explained in Foreign Policy that the Iran nuclear deal is “pretty damn good,” containing “substantial” reductions in centrifuges and “clever” mechanisms to re-impose sanctions should Iran backtrack on its end of the bargain:
The real issues in Vienna were how to re-impose sanctions if the deal collapsed, as well whether to lift the United Nations' arms embargo and the sanctions on Iran's missile programs.
The mechanism to re-impose sanctions -- called “snap back” by people who don't wear baseball caps -- is pretty clever. Any of the parties can raise an issue within a Joint Commission created to administer the agreement. If the party is unsatisfied, it then can notify the United Nations Security Council. The Security Council has 30 days to act -- and if it does nothing, the sanctions are automatically re-imposed. That gives the United States and other parties the ability to blow up the deal and return to sanctions regime with no chance for Russia or China to veto.
What's going to be needed to deal with this is a sense of calm, a sense of perspective, and sense of humor. There are going to be lots of people who get red in the face, point out all the terrible things the Iranian government does and generally make accusations quicker than they can be debunked or resolved through negotiations. It will be important to step back every now again, breathe deeply, look at how things have turned out in North Korea and Iraq and remember: this is a pretty damned good deal. [Foreign Policy, 7/14/15]
Lewis: “I Would Give It An A.” Lewis, who in addition to directing the East Asia Nonproliferation Program at the James Martin Center for Nonproliferation Studies also runs an arms control blog and podcast, spoke to Vox.com's Max Fisher and told him the negotiating team “did a fantastic job”:
FISHER: Why is this a good deal?
LEWIS: It's a good deal because it slows down their nuclear program -- which they say is for civilian purposes but could be used to make a bomb, and which we think was originally intended to make a bomb. And it puts monitoring and verification measures in place that mean if they try to build a bomb, we're very likely to find out, and to do so with enough time that we have options to do something about it.
There's a verifiable gap between their bomb option and an actual bomb. That's why it's a good deal.
FISHER: Now that we're here, what grade would you give it?
LEWIS: I would give it an A.
FISHER: A solid A!
LEWIS: I mean, it's hard. There are two pieces to this.
Compared to the deal we could have gotten 10 years ago, if the Bush administration hadn't had their heads up their butts? Not an A! That would have been a great deal!
I remember when they had 164 centrifuges, in one cascade, and I said, “You know what, we should let them keep it in warm standby. No uranium, just gas.” And people were like, “You're givin' away the store!”
FISHER: We would kill for that now! They got cut down to 5,000 centrifuges, and it's a huge deal.
LEWIS: Exactly. And that's been the fundamental experience of this for me. Every six months, the deal we could have gotten six months before looks better. Every time we tried to hold out for a better deal, and every time we got in the position of a worse deal.
So, compared to where they started, and what I thought was feasible to achieve, this team I thought did a fantastic job. If this team had been in place in 2003 or 2004 or 2005, it might have looked even better. But they inherited what they inherited, and they did a pretty decent job with it. How could I give them less than A? [Vox.com, 7/15/15]
National Security Expert: “The Agreement We Have Is About As Good As Any Real World Agreement Could Be.” Anthony H. Cordesman, Arleigh A. Burke Chair in Strategy for the Center for Strategic and International Studies and former military advisor to General Stanley McChrystal, wrote that the U.S.' deal with Iran is “as good” as realistically possible:
One can debate the finer details, but in the real world, the agreement we have is about as good as any real world agreement could be. If this agreement is now blocked by internal U.S., politics, Iran is almost certain to react by portraying the United States as dishonest and as blocking arms control and peace, and react with a more active series of nuclear and military efforts -- as well with even more hostile efforts in Iraq, Syria, Lebanon, and the Gulf.
Moreover, if the deal fails to pass Congress, outside nations will also take advantage of America's divisions. Russia and China will exploit the U.S. “failure” for their different reasons. The EU countries are likely to see this as an example of U.S. internal weakness and inability to lead. Our regional allies will have to confront both a more active Iran and a United States whose leadership and unity has proven to be all too uncertain. [Beyond Partisan Infighting: The Role Congress Should Play in Reacting to the Nuclear Agreement with Iran, 7/15/15]
Harvard Diplomacy Expert: Iran Deal Was “Necessary And Wise.” The New York Times quoted R. Nicholas Burns, professor of Diplomacy and International Relations at Harvard University's John F. Kennedy School of Government, as saying the Iran deal is “necessary and wise”:
“The reality is that it is a painful agreement to make, but also necessary and wise,” said R. Nicholas Burns, who drafted the first sanctions against Iran, passed in the United Nations Security Council in 2006 and 2007, when he was undersecretary of state for policy. “And we might think of it as just the end of the beginning of a long struggle to contain Iran. There will be other dramas ahead.” [The New York Times, 7/14/15]
Executive Director Of Truman National Security Project: Iran Deal “Improves Our National Security,” Was Accomplished By “American Leadership.” Michael Breen, a veteran of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan and Executive Director of the Truman National Security Project, wrote on CNN.com that the “agreement demonstrates the power of tough, principled diplomacy” and should make Americans safer:
Keeping Iran from acquiring a nuclear weapon is of central importance to American security. This agreement demonstrates the power of tough, principled diplomacy -- and will make America and our allies safer and stronger if properly implemented and enforced. American leadership made this agreement possible: rallying the international community to force Iran to the table with multilateral sanctions, maintaining a united front through months of negotiations, and holding firm for a deal that improves our national security.
This agreement is not based on trust. Because we expect Iran to try and cheat, verification is a critical component of the agreement. Its terms close off all of Iran's potential avenues to a nuclear weapon, give us access to their entire nuclear supply chain, and impose the strictest monitoring and verification regime ever negotiated in the history of nonproliferation. If Iran cheats a month, a year, or a decade from now, we will be in a position to know. And because this agreement is backed by the international community, America will be in a position to take decisive action with our allies if Iran violates the terms.
This generation of combat veterans, frontline civilians, and policy leaders knows all too well the sacrifice required when diplomacy fails. Many of us, myself included, have spent our adult lives attempting to redeem the aftermath of a deeply unnecessary war in the Middle East, launched in the name of nonproliferation. This time, through tough American-led diplomacy, we have charted a better, smarter course. [CNN.com, 7/14/15]
Arms Control Expert: If Iran Cheats On The Deal, The Likelihood Of Them Getting Caught Is “Near 100 Percent.” Vox.com quoted Aaron Stein, an arms control expert with the Royal United Services Institute, who explained that in the event Iran backtracks on their commitments, their likelihood of getting caught is “near 100 percent”:
The nuclear deal actually lays out how all of this is supposed to work if Iran cheats -- the negotiators clearly wanted to account for that -- and it looks pretty good, if not perfect.
Let's say, for instance, that Iran is secretly siphoning off some of its uranium and centrifuges and shipping them to a hidden site under a mountain somewhere, where it secretly processes the uranium into nuclear fuel that could be used for a bomb.
First what would happen, almost inevitably, is that international inspectors would catch Iran. There are any number of points in the process where Iran could get caught. Inspectors at Iran's uranium mines, its uranium processing mills, or certainly its enrichment facilities would find out if Iran were siphoning off even a little bit of material. Or, for example, they would notice that Iran's centrifuge factories -- which they'll monitor -- are missing centrifuges.
“The likelihood of getting caught is near 100 percent,” Aaron Stein, an arms control expert with the Royal United Services Institute, told my colleague Max Fisher. [Vox.com, 7/14/15]