Ongoing debates concerning July Iran deal

Christina Deal, Staff Writer

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The controversy over the Iran deal continued to divide the political sphere throughout the summer. The proposed agreement would allow Iran to reopen various nuclear plants, while scaling back its operation in order to curb any temptation to further develop its enhanced military power.

According to the Arms Control Association, in 2006, six world powers banded together to form the P5+1 and initiate diplomatic efforts with Iran concerning its nuclear program. P5+1 references the UN Security Council’s five permanent members: China, France, Russia, the United Kingdom and the United States, with Germany as a later addition.

On July 14, 2015 in Vienna, Austria, these same six countries reached an agreement with Iran, which is now know as the Iran deal. Since that date, Congress has debated the pros and cons of such a deal. In three weeks time, Congress will vote to either approve or deny this treaty agreement.

President Obama, the Iran deal’s leading advocate, says that the deal will prevent more unrest in the Middle East and is therefore the most diplomatic option available to his administration. However, other members of Congress voice concerns that the Iran deal would unlikely be enforced or sustained.

“Put simply, no deal means a greater chance of more war in the Middle East,” President Obama said in a comment to the New York Times. Mr. Obama also commented how his successor would be in a much better position in regard to Iran if Congress supports the Iran deal.

Many political insiders predict that if Congress passes the bill to override the Iran deal, Mr. Obama will utilize his veto power. This veto would most likely stifle any further efforts to oppose the deal. “Today, because America negotiated from a position of strength and principle, we have stopped the spread of nuclear weapons in this region,” Mr. Obama said in his address. “Because of this deal, the international community will be able to verify that the Islamic Republic of Iran will not develop a nuclear weapon.”

Democratic Senators Charles E. Schumer and Robert Menendez have both released their opinions about opposing the deal. Therefore, in the Senate, 54 Republican senators support the measure, leaving opponents several votes short of the 60 votes necessary for a majority, as reported by the New York Times.

A crucial supporter of the deal is Democratic Senator Harry Reid who voiced his opinion this past Sunday concerning the upcoming vote. “I know it’s a long shot, but I hope that it can be done,” said Reid, according to the New York Times. “We’ll just have to see because right now we still have a lot of unaccounted votes.” Reid supports the deal and hopes that the president will attain victory and not have to veto the nuclear agreement.

David E. Sanger and Michael R. Gordon reported for the New York Times that current concern lies in the fact that in a little over a decade, the most significant restrictions would be lifted gradually, leaving Iran able to enter the race toward nuclear weapons unchecked.

Based on various summaries of the Iran deal, it would reduce Iran’s 20,000 nuclear enrichment machines at various plants to about 5,000 for 10 years. Research and development on more efficient machines will remain restricted for that period of time as well.

“The chief reservation I have about the agreement is the fact that in 15 years they have a highly modern and internationally legitimized enrichment capability,” said Democratic Rep. Adam B. Schiff, commenting to the New York Times. Despite these concerns, Schiff supports the deal.

An additional concern of opponents is the likelihood of ensuring that the Iranians follow the proposed deal. Due to the Iran’s past track record of not disclosing necessary information, intelligence agencies express worry that the deal will be inherently flawed, as reported by Sanger and Gordon. Iranian reaction to the news of the deal remains a mix of joy and reservation.

The international community looks on with trepidation, waiting to see what the United States decides. Laurance Norman and Jay Solomon reported for the Wall Street Journal that Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, a key leader when speaking of peace and diplomacy in the region, has many concerns about the timeline of events.

“Wide-ranging concessions were made in all of the areas which should have prevented Iran from getting the ability to arm itself with a nuclear weapon,’’ Mr. Netanyahu said in an interview with the Wall Street Journal. “The desire to sign an agreement was stronger than everything else.”

The next three weeks will continue with the heated debates and complicated language concerning the deal. Congress must decide whether or not Mr. Obama’s concerns about impending conflict are legitimate.

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