As the whole world knows, on Tuesday night 7/14/15 the United States and 6 of the world’s major powers (+ the EU) announced a major arms control agreement with Iran. Historic, is more like it, for good or ill. After nearly 40 years of cold war, proxy wars, and sometimes actual war with Iran, the West finally has a signed, detailed, multilateral agreement to limit the Islamic State’s nuclear program. However, the agreement does far less than we initially wanted in terms of dismantling and eliminating Iran’s existing nuke program. Its provisions are complex and the road ahead is long. Few observers doubt that Iran has given up its desire to get nuclear weapons capability, at least in the long term.
Still, if this agreement (formally the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action) actually succeeds in achieving its stated objectives, Iran will be kept out of the nuclear weapons club for at least the next decade, and probably closer to two decades. If Iran can successfully cheat or if the treaty regime falls apart, Iran likely will get its bomb capability. The result of that likely (but not indisputably) would be war(s) and a regional nuclear arms race. The stakes are very high.
Congress has the next 60 days to approve or reject the agreement. Obama is aggressively stumping for approval while GOP politicians and conservative pundits have thunderously denounced it as another Obama appeasement of an implacable enemy. So, our little group is entering the maelstrom as it’s just getting started.
There’s a lot for us to talk about on Monday night. I will start us off with a short summary of the terms of the agreement. Then, I want to add what I think is some important context that I think will help us in evaluating the pros/cons of the nuclear agreement. Don’t be lulled by the over-the-top remarks the GOP presidential candidates are making. Legitimate questions really do exist about the merits of the agreement and I hope we can address each of the major ones.
### I found us a great NEW LOCALE. I’ll fill you in Monday and we can start meeting there on July 27. ###
DISCUSSION QUESTIONS –
- What is in the new agreement with Iran?
- Basic structure and terms: Who has to do what by when and how, etc.?
- Enforcement: How will we monitor compliance and punish Iranian transgressions?
- Compromises: What have we conceded and what did we get in return, and the same for Iran?
- How far away from our negotiating objectives did we end up?
- Is this the best deal we could have obtained from Iran? How can we know that?
- Were there any realistic alternatives to this pact?
- Will the agreement work – Will it successfully freeze and partially roll back Iran’s nuke program?
- Is that enough? How specifically could we have achieved more?
- How likely is the West to stay vigilant so the agreement doesn’t fall apart?
- The Region: How will this agreement affect our other conflicts with Iran and the region’s other festering problems? How might it affect politics inside Iran?
- To watch for:
- Key events in implementation calendar.
- Signs that signal Iranian cheating or manipulation?
- USA: Would a GOP president really abrogate the agreement?
LINKS – Zillions – Focus on highlighted ones!
- Best link: It’s Sunday night – late to ask you to read more. But, the best, most comprehensive pro/con 3-way discussion is here. A must-read if u have time.
- The new agreement:
- A good agreement? Compared to what? Recommended.
- Why conservatives really are so furious. Recommended.
- Conservatives’ arguments are strange, and not actually arguments.
- But, don’t let conservative hyperbole stop us from asking hard questions about the agreement.
- In favor:
- An expert gives the agreement an A. Recommended.
- Monitoring: The monitoring mechanism is the most intrusive ever. It’s very likely to catch any significant Iranian cheating. Recommended
- Enforcement: The agreement makes it easy to reimpose sanctions on Iran if it cheats.
- 100+ former US diplomats signed a letter praising deal.
- Opposed, or at least highly skeptical:
- It’s better than nothing but not by much. Recommended.
- It falls way too short of Obama’s own stated goals.
- The 4 big problems with and 1 key question to ask about the agreement. Recommended.
- Dennis Ross gives a mixed assessment.
- We should have demanded progress on other issues, like Iran’s support for terrorism.
- Our Arab allies are very wary of the deal. So are many Israelis – NOT just Netanyahu.
- It’s the end of Israel.
- Related CivCon mtgs: On Iran 2012 and 2010. Appeasement/Munich analogy. Are U.S. and Israeli interests are diverging.
Next Week – Inequality: Its Causes and Consequences.