To their considerable credit, the United States and the other five powers who are concerned about Iran’s alleged nuclear programme have struck a deal of considerable substance. The deal removes Iran’s ability to build a nuclear weapon by taking away their means to carry out the key steps for a nuclear warhead. At the same time it acknowledges that like any other nation, Iran has the right to pursue peaceful nuclear research for non military purposes.
The deal has several major parts to it, which were outlined simultaneously in Iran by by President Rouhani, and in the U.S. by President Barak Obama. The five other powers, France, Britain, Germany, Russia and China praised the deal which President Obama vowed would be enforced by re-imposing sanctions if Iran failed to comply with the conditions of the deal.
The critics are the usual suspects – Saudi Arabia, threatening to develop its own nuclear capacity, which would probably not be subject to United Nations inspections and Israel which is widely known to have suspect nuclear facilities at Dimona among other locations. Israel is thought to have stockpiled somewhere between 100-200 nuclear warheads. None of Israel’s suspect capability has ever been subject to United Nations inspections because of U.S. vetoes. The critics claim it is an historic surrender, that it is fundamentally flawed and that rather than reducing security risks in the region, it has exacerbated them.
The deal faces a fight in Congress. It is perhaps unfortunate that the harshest critics are grandstanding for their constituents with a view to being the Democrat or Republican Presidential nominee for 2016. Although I have no doubt that they all mean what they say, it is unlikely that they have thought through the potential ramifications of the deal being killed, which they have vowed to make happen. It is even less unlikely that they have considered the Iranian perspective and just how much harder getting Iran to co-operate on ANYTHING were said critics to kill the deal.
And then there is the hatred that flared on Fox News when the deal was announced – xenophobic comments about Obama being a Muslim; about Iranians all chanting “Death to America” day in day out; about betraying Israel and hoping that its Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu carries out his threat of airstrikes. All inflammatory nonsense largely built on deliberate misinterpretations of events.
At a time when U.S. foreign policy is being rocked by all sorts of problems, this is a bright spot where international sanity won the day. And for that, we should be grateful.