On July 14, 2015, a historical agreement was established between Iran and the five permanent members of the United Nations Security Council including – China, France, Russia, the United Kingdom and the United States – plus Germany and the European Union. Due to the fear associated with Iran’s nuclear program this agreement has become a controversial topic in the news, as well as a divisive partisan issue.
The Iran deal is a joint comprehensive plan of action which will guarantee the use of Iran’s nuclear program for peaceful purposes only. The overall goal is to push Iran’s capability to manufacture a nuclear weapon from two to three months to a least one year. In order for this to happen, Iran must agree to significant changes in its use of uranium, centrifuges and plutonium.(1)
Uranium needs to be enriched about 90% to reach U235; U235 is a fissile nuclide used in the creation of a nuclear weapon. As part of this deal, Iran has agreed to reduce its stockpile of U235 by 98%. It can continue to enrich uranium at low levels over the next 15 years.
Centrifuges are the mechanism used to enrich uranium. In this deal, Iran must reduce centrifuge enrichment machines by two thirds. These centrifuges will be Iran’s most basic model. Under the agreement, Iran is not permitted to enrich uranium with its more advanced models for ten years. This makes it impossible for Iran to produce a nuclear weapon in less than one year’s time.
Plutonium is the other nuclear weapon material. Under this agreement, no plutonium that could be used to produce a nuclear weapon will remain in Iran.
Finally, The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) will have unprecedented authority to track the nuclear activity of Iran with rigorous inspections. “This deal is not built on trust; it is built on verification,” said President Obama. “Inspectors will have 24/7 access to Iran’s key nuclear facilities.” Inspectors will have regular access with as little as two hour notice at declared sites. At undeclared sites suspected of nuclear activity, inspectors will have access in a minimum of 24 hours. The IAEA will also monitor all uranium mining and ore concentration for twenty-five years.
There appeared to be two separate approaches that could have been taken to prevent creation of an Iranian nuclear weapon; these being war or diplomacy. If given the choice of action between these two approaches, diplomacy is the most altruistic response. Peace cannot be achieved through the application of violence, coercion or force. Renowned expert in foreign policy, international affairs and diplomatic history, Henry Kissinger states: “Philosopher, Immanuel Kant argued that perpetual peace would eventually come to the world in one of two ways: by human insight or by conflicts and catastrophes of a magnitude that left humanity no other choice. We are at such a juncture.”(2) This statement is unignorably accurate in regard to the circumstances surrounding the Iran Deal.
The sustainable development goals clearly put people at the center of development. There can be no development without peace; nor can there be peace without development. Though imperfect, the Iran Deal represents a milestone in international relations, as it is a clear choice of diplomacy and painstaking negotiation, over the use of force. It is a joint effort to preserve peace and security and, as such, deserves our support.
- The Historic Deal That Will Prevent Iran from Acquiring a Nuclear Weapon. The White House. 2015. [cited 8 September 2015]; available at https://www.whitehouse.gov/issues/foreign-policy/iran-deal
- Henry Kissinger, On China (New York: Penguin Press, 2011).