Put Up Your Nukes, Let’s Get Down to It

Chaos. Complete chaos. You look around and all you hear are screams. Screams of pain, screams of terror, screams of confusion. They all blend together in a cacophony of anguished sound. You can’t see anything. There’s smoke everywhere. You’re stumbling, tripping over what you hope is a anything but a dead body. But the smoke dissipates slowly and when it clears you’re able to see the unfolding aftermath. Destruction. And blood, so much blood.

As a young American, I cannot hope to understand the full capacity of the situation for first-hand witnesses of the Hiroshima nuclear bomb detonation. I cannot begin to comprehend someone’s willingness to put so many lives at stake. I cannot fathom the complexity of the science involved to invoke such a powerful weapon. But I can see the traumatic effects that result from using nuclear bombs, and from this knowledge I can understand that these tragedies should never be repeated. By anyone.

With the presidential election quickly approaching, President Obama is working hard to pass the Vienna Iran nuclear deal. Iran has become a substantial threat in terms of nuclear weaponry to the United States and other world economic powers, including the UK, EU, China, France, Russia, and Germany. The economic powers have been enforcing strict sanctions on Iran to coerce the country into signing an agreement, and the sanctions finally seem to be taking their toll. The Iranian middle class, specifically, has felt the blunt of the blow. Comprised of service workers, small business owners, and civil servants, those in the middle class are unable to afford the imported goods that they could purchase when the economy was booming. After Iran’s 1980 war with Iraq and with the increasing amount of sanctions, Iranian leaders have focused their efforts on helping those of the poor class, while leaving the middle class to fend for themselves. Whether Iran is willing to compromise because of the suffering Iranian middle class, or because of a lack of substantial progress on Iranian nuclear research, it is hard to tell. Regardless of the reason, Iran leader, Hassan Rouhani, is finally ready to approach an agreement. This is a huge step, considering the outcome of the 2004 Paris Agreement, in which Iranian President, Mohammad Khatami, refused to demolish any aspect of Iran’s nuclear production. In 2013, more progress was made with an interim deal between Iran and the world powers. However, the agreement needed to be solidified and extended; cue the Iran nuclear deal.

So, what exactly is the Iran nuclear agreement? And what does it mean for Iran and the world economic powers?

The agreement has many facets. The first is that Iran cannot use nuclear power to create nuclear bombs or to participate in nuclear bomb research. It can, however, use nuclear power for nuclear energy. Iran also cannot obtain the plutonium or uranium that are required to create nuclear bombs, nor can it use its centrifuges to enrich uranium. Not only is Iran required to remove 2/3 of its uranium-enriching centrifuges, but it must also abstain from using the Fordow nuclear facility. In addition, Iran must remove 98% of the enriched uranium it currently holds (capable of creating 10 nuclear bombs). Furthermore, all of Iran’s nuclear facilities will be under constant supervision, in case Iran tries to “cheat” the system. In exchange, the United States and members of the E3/EU+3 (China, France, Germany, the Russian Federation, the United Kingdom) will gradually reduce the amount of sanctions they have enforced on Iran. These sanctions originally served as a method to coerce Iran into forming a nuclear agreement. This sanction relief will only begin after Iran has made solid steps toward the actions set out in the deal. These terms last for fifteen years and meetings will take place at least once every two years. If you would like to read the agreement in its entirety, you can click here.

So is it a good deal, or is there something better?

Keep in mind that this is, in fact, a deal. It’s not going to be perfect – for anyone. Compromise is an essential part to constructing and maintaining a sound agreement. Both parties have to be willing to give and take as necessary. With this perspective, this deal seems to benefit the United States and its allies much more than Iran.

We’re given the opportunity to put our minds at ease, to make sure that another Hiroshima doesn’t happen. We were the cause of the first nuclear bomb tragedy and some may say that this nuclear deal is the direct result of a hypocritical U.S. that wishes to maintain its hegemonic power. Because we were the first to detonate an atomic bomb and see its horrific effects, shouldn’t we be responsible for making sure it doesn’t happen again – to anyone? We learned from our mistake, now we must stop others from making the same one. Violence isn’t the answer. Nuclear wars are not the answer. Compromise is the answer.

The ultimate driving force of this agreement is time. Not just time to “one-up” Iran in terms of nuclear production, or time to effectively launch a counter-attack or defensive strategy if Iran were to cheat. This agreement gives us the time to give Iran the benefit of the doubt, to open a dialogue with Iranian leaders, and to ultimately move towards a future in which nuclear war is not necessary to settling disputes. In addition, this agreement gives the Iranian middle class, innocent of any direct involvement in Iran’s nuclear progress, time to recover from the substantial blows it has taken from Iranian leaders’ decisions. Furthermore, it gives Rouhani time to prove himself.

Some may say that Rouhani and Iran, in general, are incapable of change. They say that Iran will not use its sanction relief to help the middle class, but instead use it to increase military opposition and terrorism. There is no question that Iran and the U.S. have had vastly different values throughout history. However, the fact that Rouhani has made an effort to come to a compromise with the United States says something. Perhaps Rouhani does share the same values as Katahmi and maybe he wants to nuke the U.S. right here and now. But what if he doesn’t? With Rouhani willing to come to an agreement with the world powers, shouldn’t we be willing to give him the chance to change our discriminatory perspective against Iran as a whole? With the right leader, who places human rights and democracy at the center of attention, Iran may be able to change from a threat to an ally. Rouhani could be that leader, but we’ll never know if we don’t give him the chance to prove it.

Others will argue that the agreement is not long enough. That by the time fifteen years is up, Iran will only have a stronger military and economy, with increased aircraft defense and military missiles. That instead of a nuclear threat, Iran will simply be a larger military threat. But these individuals forget two things. The first is that nuclear threats are much more substantial than military threats. Wars obviously have a toll, but nuclear wars are military wars on steroids. If a nuclear war between the United States and Iran were to take place, neither country would be ready for the aftermath. Death and destruction would be the only result. All hopes for future agreements or future peace would be lost. All the progress that has been made will dissolve like cotton candy. Secondly, these critics forget that this is a deal. If the U.S. were to walk in, suggesting Iran completely stop its nuclear weapon research and production for eternity, an agreement would never have been reached. Deals have expiration dates; that much is inevitable.

Critics even argue that there’s a better deal out there and that if the U.S. would simply add more, harsher sanctions, Iran would willingly abide to stricter rules. The sanctions were initiated as a means to bring Iran to the negotiation table and many of the world powers apart from the U.S. are unwilling to increase their sanctions; we would no longer have support from other countries. Plus, it took this long for Iran to even approach the negotiation table, so who knows when the next opportunity for compromise will arise? This agreement is a ticking time bomb, literally; if we don’t act and come to an agreement now, we could be bombed tomorrow.

The bottom line is that this deal is the best we’re going to get. It gives us the opportunity to delay, if not avoid, another nuclear disaster. It not only symbolizes the progress that both countries have made since 2004, but it also symbolizes the progress that has yet to be made. Without this bill, we have no hope of a better future in which Iran and the world powers work together in mutually beneficent ways. It provides the opportunity for change and a chance to show that violence isn’t the answer, but that cooperation and compromise is. We don’t need another Hiroshima. We need a deal.

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