An international agreement was signed with Iran last week, and the war hawks in America and Israel are having a temper tantrum. Imagine trying to resolve an international disagreement with diplomacy instead of dropping bombs. What is the world coming to?
One of the more positive aspects of this agreement is that it is an international agreement that includes Russia. Counting Syria, this is the second international crisis within the past several months where the U.S. and Russia have acted in partnership to deal with an international crisis.
The agreement was also signed by Britain, France, Germany and China, and it freezes the Iranian nuclear program, for at least six months, with international inspectors checking daily to make sure that Iran is following the agreement. In response, according to Fareed Zakaria, in an international affairs analysis, "Iran gets about $7 billion of sanctions relief, a fraction of what is in place against it. The main sanctions - against its oil and banking sectors - stay fully in place."
Iran has lost about $80 billion in oil sales under the current sanctions. This agreement will allow a limited increase in oil sales for six months and the extra oil on the world market will have the additional side-effect of decreased oil prices.
Zakaria reminds us that the U.S. turned down a deal with Iran in 2003 and instead decided to go with stricter sanctions. Iran had 164 operating centrifuges in 2003. Today, it has about 19,000 centrifuges. While the sanctions have not slowed down Iran's nuclear program, there is no doubt that international sanctions have had a significant impact on Iran's current willingness to negotiate this agreement. Zakaria compares this agreement with "an arms control deal with the Soviet Union, with two adversaries trying to find some common ground."
International affairs scholar Bryan Gibson observed on CNN Opinion that, "Every U.S. administration from Reagan to Obama has tried to reach out to Iran." But, not until Iran's new president Hassan Rouhani was elected has an agreement been possible. Gibson writes that Rouhani, "has been determined to outflank his ideological opponents in Tehran and reach a deal with the West."
David Rothkopf, editor-at-large of the Foreign Policy Magazine, says that the international agreement with Iran was "a risk well worth taking" because "this deal slows Iran down" in its development of a nuclear bomb. According to Rothkopf, if the Iranians violate the six-month agreement, they would open themselves up to military action and an international community with little sympathy.
Not everyone is happy with the agreement. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and his allies in Washington are disappointed that the international community is more interested in finding a diplomatic solution than destroying the Iranian nuclear facilities. Some want to bomb Iran's nuclear facilities without any effort to negotiate. Some will not accept any proposal forwarded by President Obama because they seem to object to anything he proposes. Conservative John Bolton, for example, writing for The Weekly Standard calls the agreement an "abject surrender by the United States." By even negotiating with Iran, according to Bolton, "Iran has gained legitimacy."
Most people in the U.S. and Israel, however, are not so rigid in their thinking. Shimon Peres, Israel's president, reminded everyone that, "This is an interim deal. The success or failure of the deal will be judged by results, not by words." In a message to the Iranian people, Peres stated, "You are not our enemies, and we are not yours. There is a possibility to solve this issue diplomatically. It is in your hands. Reject terrorism. Stop the nuclear program. Stop the development of long-range missiles. Israel, like others in the international community, prefers a diplomatic solution."
Thank you, President Peres, for a reasoned response, and thank you, President Obama, for ignoring the war hawks.