Behind the Iran Nuclear Deal

There is a saying in politics.  Nothing ever happens on the weekend, and when it does it has to be major.  The major story broke late Saturday night.  It announced a possible deal with Iran over its nuclear capabilities and sanctions that are currently in place.  So what are the details behind the Iran nuclear deal?

The talks involved six-nations and met in Geneva, Switzerland.  The deal is only a temporary 6-month agreement to test the proverbial waters for a bigger deal down the road.  This deal includes… (according to the BBC)

  • Iran will stop enriching uranium beyond 5% and destroy all uranium that is enriched beyond that.
  • Iran will give greater access to international inspectors including daily visits to the Natanz and Fordo sites.
  • No further development of the Arak plant where it is speculated that Iran could enrich plutonium.
  • In return, there will be no new nuclear-sanctions placed on Iran for 6-months if it complies.
  • Iran will receive sanction relief of about $7-billion.

One thing sticks out from this list… the very first point.  Commercial nuclear power plants used enriched uranium of 3%.  Iran has stated that its nuclear program is for nuclear energy only and not for the development of a nuclear weapon.  So then one must ask the question as to why they would have uranium enriched above 5%.

Many members of Congress, both Democrats and Republicans, are not thrilled with this deal.  They see it as being weak against Iran.  They see the current sanctions that were placed on Iran in 2010 having a crippling effect on the Iranian economy.  According to the CIA,

  • The estimated GDP (real growth rate) for Iran in 2012 was -1.9%.
  • It’s unemployment rate was estimated to be 15.5% in 2012 with 18.7% below the poverty line as of 2007.
  • The estimated 2012 inflation rate was 27.1% which was up from 20.6% in 2011.
  • The exchange rate of the Iranian Rial (IRR) is 12,175.5 to the US Dollar.

The sanctions are crippling the Iranian economy, but it’s only affecting the Iranian people and not the leadership.  There is no freedom of media in that nation, so the people only get the information that their government allows.  So do the people actually understand the full reason why these sanctions are in place?  And can they do anything that could cause us to shift our stance?

Leaders of both parties (and other members) would be the first to spout off that the people could overthrow the government and install a democratically-elected government in its place.  The problem with this line of reasoning is that the United States overthrew Iran’s last democratically-elected government in the 1950s because the Prime Minister was going to nationalize the oil fields.  The US installs the Shah government which the 1979 Revolution overthrows.  It sounds very ironic, and slightly hypocritical, for the US to tell them they need a democratically-elected government when we overthrew their last one.

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And let us not forget that though we complain about Iran’s nuclear ambitions today, it was not always the case.  It was during the Shah government that the United States gave Iran nuclear technology.  It lasted from the 1950s until the 1979 Revolution.  It was a program called “Atoms for Peace.”  It was even ramped up during the Ford administration by Dick Cheney and Donald Rumsfeld.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has already publicly stated that the deal is a mistake and that Israel will act unilaterally, if necessary, to keep Iran from developing a nuclear weapon which he feels that this deal only delays.  Netanyahu also plans to put pressure on the US Congress to pass more sanctions on Iran which Congress was already considering before these negotiations.

There is a lot of distrust on both sides.  These are the first direct talks that have taken place between the US and Iran since before the 1979 Revolution.  There really is no framework for anything.  The US and the other western nations involved in the deal held the upper hand in these negotiations.  But trust must be earned from both sides.  So they have agreed to lift some sanctions, but if Iran fails to live up to what it has agreed upon (or lies and deceives) then those sanctions go back into place immediately.

The American people are war weary from Afghanistan to Iraq to the larger “war on terror.”  Personally, I don’t know if this is a good idea or not.  Talking does beat silence.  That much I do agree with.  As for the short-term deal and the possibility of a long-term one, I’m just not sure yet.  There is still that much animosity.  But we owe it an attempt before we decide to spend billions of dollars to go war yet again.  The ultimate goal is clear.  Iran must not be allowed to enrich uranium to the point that it can have a nuclear weapon.  How we achieve that goal is up for debate.

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