USC and ITAM international relations students discuss the Iran nuclear agreement. Group 8

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    Pamela Starr

    On July 14, 2015, an agreement between Iran and the P5+1 countries to curb Iran’s ability to develop a nuclear weapon was announced. Some have argued that this agreement is a significant and positive step forward for nuclear non-proliferation, and as such it makes the world a safer place. Others argue just the opposite, that this agreement is fatally flawed. Not only will it fail to limit Iran’s capacity to obtain nuclear weapons in the future, it makes the Middle East and the world a significantly more dangerous place.

    What do you think, and why? Is this agreement a step forward or a step backward in terms of nuclear non-proliferation? Will it make the Middle East and the world a safer or a more dangerous place? In either case, please provide clear and valid evidence to prove that your position is superior to the other.

    Please limit your answer to no more than 300 words. Obviously this gives you VERY little space to make your argument, so you must be brief. One approach would be to use bullet points to list the evidence to support your argument. Keep in mind that the purpose of this written portion of the assignment is to create a foundation for your upcoming face-to-face conversation. Do not think of it as your fully developed argument but instead as an introduction to it that your counterparts will read to get a sense of your views before the group conversation.

    Diana Moreno

    The Iran nuclear deal framework was a preliminary agreement to the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) between Iran, P5+1 countries (United States, United Kingdom, France, China, Russia, and Germany), and the European Union. JCPOA was created to ensure that Iran’s nuclear program would become exclusively peaceful and it should reduce its uranium enrichment programs for the next fifteen years. The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) is to verify that Iran sticks to the commitment. However, how can we be sure Iran is really going to comply with the agreement? From a realist perspective, governments tend to cheat. Even if the IAEA checks that Iran effectively reduces its current stockpiles of enriched uranium, Iran may come up with a way to keep production without the IAEA knowing. This is also based on the principle of self-defense. Iran, at its core, may be unwilling to give up its nuclear power as other countries, such as Israel, may attack Iranian territory.
    On the other hand, the current Iranian president, Hassan Rouhani, is not conservative like most of the previous Iranian presidents. His approach is to make Iran more open to negotiation with Western countries in order to improve relations. Nonetheless, presidential terms in Iran last four years. Can it be guaranteed that the next president will share Rouhani’s ideas towards the West and avoid further nuclear proliferation? It is a possibility that the next president will discredit Rouhani’s efforts and break the long-term agreement. Also, the president is not the maximum authority in Iran; it is the supreme leader. Ayatollah Ali Khamenei is the current supreme leader. He has more conservative views toward the West and many followers, including many Iranian diplomats and politicians who are not satisfied with how the agreement turned out because they consider it leaves Iran vulnerable.

    Matthew Carpenter

    I think that The Iran Nuclear agreement is a significant and positive step forward in nuclear non-proliferation. For the most part, everyone can agree that the following elements of the agreement promote worldwide safety:
    • Iran is only able to keep its oldest and least efficient centrifuges, reducing overall numbers from 20,000 to 6,104
    • It must reduce its enriched uranium stockpile by 98% to 300kg
    • It must keep enrichment levels at 3.67%, enough for power plants, but short of the 90% needed for nuclear weapons
    • It is placed under a UN arms embargo for up to 5 years
    • It is restricted by the UN from importing ballistic missile technology
    • Snap-back provision: if Iran violates any aspect of the deal, sanctions are replaced for 10 years with the possibility of a 5-year extension
    The critics chime in, however, on the fact that these provisions are only held in place for 10 years. They also raise the question of whether, even during that time, the agreement can be properly monitored. To address the latter:
    • Joint Commission formed by P5+1, the EU, and Iran will monitor compliance
    • The IAEA has 24/7 access to Iranian facilities to investigate suspicions
    To address the issue of expiration:
    • The overarching question at this point in time is not how we can stop Iranian nuclear-proliferation forever, as that is not something we can have significant influence on. However, what we can have significant influence on is Iran’s “break-out time.” Through the Iran Nuclear agreement, it would extend from 2-3 months (without the agreement) to 1+ years. In matters as delicate as nuclear-proliferation such an extension can be crucial. This is currently the best we can do to protect our downside, and 10 years down the line we will be substantially more equipped to address the issue of longevity.

    Mauricio Garibay

    The 2015 agreement between America, Russia, China, Europe and Iran is likely to be a little bit bad and a little bit positive. It is more than noticeable that this agreement will bring economic stability to Iran and will also bring a claimed “community of nations”, that will make stronger U.S and Iranian relation. However, knowing that Iran has been in a constant war with the US for decades, how can they claim that this agreement can create a “community of nations”. Also, Iran is already one of the world´s greatest funder of terror organizations, and Iran seeks to dominate middle east, how can we assure that they will not use those 150 billion dollars for funding terrorism to acquire what they seek to get, instead of using that money to really help the Iranian people that need to be helped.
    I consider this agreement is a diplomatic action to maintain Iran “trapped” on trade with the world. The sanctioned Iran was developing a culture of resentment, isolation, and independence; those 3 things were making Iran to be far from being part of the balance of power, because they were developing themselves without the consensus of other countries. Diplomatically speaking, it will make other countries feel safer, but we can´t deny that the agreement will make stronger Iran, and that can make war more likely to appear, even though they are signing an agreement to avoid a nuclear weapon war. I think that this agreement isn´t even a step backwards or a step forward in terms of nuclear non-proliferation, it’s merely an international act based on economic interests among nations.

    Matthew Merz

    The Iran Nuclear Agreement of July 14, 2015 was should be seen as a great step in the right direction regarding international cooperation and intent, however it is flawed in many aspects, namely by its appeasement tone and lack of a transparent inspection plan. Looking positively at this agreement, the biggest thing to be seen is that this was a joint venture by several world powers (United States, Russia, China, England, France) not just the might of one country, which would likely have been the United States. This level of cooperation is important because it not only increases the threat to Iran if they do not follow the agreement, but it also takes the blame and bad feeling off of any one country, so as to prevent situations like the Iran Hostage Crisis in the 1980’s.

    Looking into the negative aspects of this agreement, the biggest one that comes to mind is that lack of “Anytime, anywhere” inspections. While the secretary of state, John Kerry alleges this was never on the table, it seems to be a big point that much of the american public was expecting. Without this stipulation, there is no easy way for the United Nations to verify that Iran is adhering to the agreed protocols which may lead to further strain on the relations between the countries involved. In place of the “anytime, anywhere” inspections, the deal outlines a standard 24 day warning for UN inspectors. Regarding that stipulation, any common person is able to realize that given that much notice, over three weeks, it will be much easier for Iran to cheat on the agreement, in turn making this agreement nearly unenforceable. Therefore, while this agreement is a clear step in the right direction, the way it is being implemented is fundamentally flawed.

    • This reply was modified 6 years, 2 months ago by Matthew Merz. Reason: Formatting
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