Twenty months of negotiations have yielded one of the most historic foreign policy agreements in modern history. In Vienna, on July 14th, representatives of the US and other world powers reached a deal with Iran to limit the country’s nuclear capabilities in exchange for sanction relief. The US Congress has 60 days to approve the agreement. President Obama said that “because America negotiated from a position of strength and principal, we have stopped the spread of nuclear weapons in this region.” Among the criticisms of the deal is that it will give Iran more time to develop weapons.
Iran’s President Hassan Rouhani says his country achieved its main goals in the landmark nuclear deal reached with world powers last month. He says negotiations between Iran and the six-nation group—the US, Russia, China, Britain, France, and Germany—worked because of “constructive interaction” instead of confrontation.
Generally speaking, Iran agreed to limit its nuclear program and submit most parts of it to a new inspections regime in exchange for billions of dollars in relief from economic sanctions that have crippled the country’s economy.
Iran must reduce its stockpile of low-enriched uranium (material that can be made into nuclear fuel for weapons) by 98% for 15 years; reducing the number of centrifuges it has to enrich uranium at its main nuclear processing center by two-thirds to 5,060; move the remaining centrifuges to a monitored storage site. Iran has agreed to convert an enrichment site called Fordo, into a research center. The regime must allow for a new inspections regime, under which the UN nuclear agency can ask for to inspect a site it deems suspicious. Iran has the right to refuse, which puts it into the hands of an independent arbitration panel that decides whether Iran must comply within 24 hours. In addition, they have agreed to the conditional continuation of the current UN arms embargo for up to five more years and they have to continue current restrictions on the transfer of certain missile technology for eight more years. In exchange, the country stands to receive the more than $100 billion in overseas assets that have been frozen by other countries. It would also see the end of a European oil embargo and other financial restrictions on its banks.
If Iran abides by the terms of the deal, economic sanctions will be lifted and an oil embargo against the country’s exports will end. As a result, more oil will flood the market, causing oil prices to drop further.
Failure to comply with the agreement triggers a “snap back” of the economic sanctions, leaving all parties where they were before the agreement.
Many Western countries believe that, unimpeded, Iran would have used its growing nuclear program to assemble a nuclear weapon, which would further destabilize an already chaotic and violent region which in turn, could have led to a Middle East dangerous nuclear arms race. Bringing Iran into the sphere of international diplomacy has the potential to incentivize good behavior by the regime.
Congress now has a 60 day window to review and approve or reject the deal. Opponents aren’t likely to cobble enough votes together to scuttle the deal and Obama has vowed to veto any new legislation that creates new sanctions and/or prevents him from ending existing ones.
Rep. John Boehner had invited Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to talk to Congress; he has remained an especially vehement critic to the agreement. Netanyahu was trying to dictate US policy. Why should we become a puppet to a second rate marginalized nation while destroying any remnant of credibility we might have had with our real allies?
Besides aren’t we all sitting on pins and needles waiting for any sign from the opposition party (GOP) as to what the alternative options are and the detailed facts to support their objections? We deserve more than a bible thump from Israel…especially when the thump is misplaced and misguided.
According to an article in the Olean Times Herald and the New NY23rd blog our representatives on Capitol Hill were asked their thoughts regarding the agreement.
Senator Schumer stated he was “going to go through this agreement with a fine-tooth comb, speak with administration officials and hear from experts on all sides before he decides.”
Senator Gillibrand stated she “feels it is Congress’ duty to look long and hard at the details. I want to read all of the details, especially on the verification components, before making a determination whether it is a good deal.”
Representative Reed stated he will “listen to our friends and neighbors across Upstate New York and he wants to hear our thoughts on the president’s agreement.”
Taking this a step further, Rep. Reed openly posted his opposition to the Iran deal on his campaign Facebook page and told his followers to go to his official government page to participate in a “scientific poll.” There is one specific problem: according to the House Ethics Committee, a campaign social media page can only be used for campaign matters (not all constituents are allowed to comment on his campaign page; only his bobble headed posse, especially if you like to point out erroneous statements). So most of the people who voted on this so-called, “scientific poll” were Republican voters and not an actual account of all of his constituents. The poll was left up for one day and then everything was deleted on both of his pages.
Rep. Reed had his mind made up before he conducted his poll; it was plain to see (if you happen to catch it before it was deleted). He is towing the party line, no big surprise here. Out of roughly 30 people who voted, two-thirds voted to oppose the deal. Reed represents 716,000 constituents, it is clear that 30 votes don’t represent us all.
Personally, I’m looking forward to all of those town hall meeting he promised us in August, but my guess is that most of those meetings will happen in heavy Republican areas of his district.
(Reed’s poll certainly wasn’t scientific, but I am unaware that he ever claimed it was.–ed.)