The Iran Deal–Who Makes a Deal?

Andrew Checchia ’19

The Iran Nuclear Deal, arguably the most important foreign compact of the year if not the decade, is surprisingly controversial. It is an agreement that in some ways was deemed inevitable and hailed as the one that will finally end global fears regarding Iran’s nuclear capabilities. The Deal is certainly one of necessity for both Iran and the whole of the United Nations, notably the United States.

There is a lot of information about the need for and stipulations of the Deal, but misunderstandings run rampant nonetheless. Politicians of both parties seem to paint the deal as something it isn’t, which only adds to the wide array of misinformation. Since its announcement, some politicians have denounced Secretary of State John Kerry’s ability to broker a “good deal” for the United States. Such rhetoric simply equates to calling for a “better deal,” an empty statement, indeed. While most support or criticism of the Deal appears to be fairly political, it is vital to understand the implications of possibly rejecting the deal on the table.

Misinformation regarding the effects of lifting economic sanctions imposed on Iran plagues the Deal in congressional debate. Many politicians claim loosening the reins on Iran not only hurts the United States, but it essentially hands the Iranian government a large sum of money. Opponents of the Nuclear Deal fail to understand the complexities of diplomatic negotiations. In order to even begin negotiations, Secretary Kerry needed to offer a substantial decrease in international sanctions. Any deal likely would have included this lifting of economic restrictions, so calls for a “better deal” appear unjustified.  Iran actually receives no direct funding from the Deal. Rather the nation will simply resume normal economic functions after an extended period of stagnation from sanctions. In fact, all these restrictions, put in place “in response to Iran’s continued illicit nuclear activities” (says a US Department of State statement), have been adopted by global leaders with the intention of forcing Iran into the kind of deal Kerry has since brokered. Although the lifting of sanctions does allow Iran to start capitalizing on its natural oil deposits, it isn’t a direct check paid out out by the members of UN. In essence, this money is a side effect of the Deal rather than a direct bargaining point.

Arguably the most important stipulation  of the Iran Deal is the ability to provide frequent and very present oversight over Iran’s nuclear facilities. The Deal offers representatives of the NATO-led International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) to inspect Iran’s peaceful nuclear energy facilities in order to prevent the nation from secretly developing nuclear weapons. A senior State Department official stated that “the [IAEA] would have total oversight of sampling inspections of [nuclear material] under the agreement between the agency and Iran over access to sites.” This helps illustrate that the IAEA, and by extension, the United States and United Nations, have the unhampered ability to subjugate Iran’s specified nuclear research and energy facilities to random tests and required inspections. Clearly, the Deal inhibits Iran’s ability to make a weapon of mass destruction under the radar.

My take on the Iran Deal is that it’s an absolute necessity. Its direct and indirect benefits outweigh any misgivings I have about the nature of the Deal. The chance that it offers — making certain one of our most vocal rivals cannot obtain a dangerous weapon — is one that shouldn’t be taken lightly. Besides simply de-arming what many nations considered a ticking time bomb, the stipulations of the Deal directly serve to improve the quality of life for countless Iranian people. Clean nuclear power could bring electricity to a nation often cut off from the rest of the world.

Another understated advantage is the introduction of a new member to the international community researching the possibilities of nuclear power. The Deal only serves to speed up beneficial research in the  nuclear technology field. Kerry’s Deal doesn’t undercut peaceful advances in nuclear sciences by the Iranian government.

Other opponents of the Deal claim that the UN ought not to negotiate with Iran since it frequently provides financial support for terrorist organizations. Effectively, such an argument relies on the motto: “We don’t negotiate with terrorists.” However, Iran is not a terrorist organization. It’s a sovereign nation recognized by the UN. If global powers cannot negotiate with these “unstable nations” that we desperately need to rein in, then how are we to settle differences and issues on a global scale? Diplomacy is just that — diplomatic. All nations must engage in diplomacy in order to increase prosperity, safety, and end rivalries.

The Iran Deal actually raises a bigger question than whether it is a “good deal” or a “bad deal” as speaking heads like Donald Trump or various newscasters would say. The fact that common citizens are debating such a complex and monumental negotiation challenges the idea that government decides foreign policy. This opens the door for individuals to argue that foreign policy is up for a popular vote. The details of diplomatic relations shouldn’t be subjected to popular approval. The average American today is not qualified to chime in on the merits of a nuclear deal with a nation that has been wildly caricatured ever since the Iranian Revolution and Hostage Crisis. It’s safe to say the average American would have a hard time accepting any sort of beneficial deal for such a controversial nation. Although it’s important to have checks for poor diplomatic decisions, elected representatives not trained in international relations aren’t equipped to broker these deals themselves.

The Iran Nuclear Deal helps provide a snapshot of the current the political atmosphere in the United States today. It shows that representatives, and even presidential hopefuls, are not only willing to pander to uninformed public sentiment in order to sound powerful and strong in foreign policy, but they are also ill-equipped to tackle such issues without the proper background and training.

Please leave diplomacy to the diplomats brokering the deals behind closed doors, not to the figures discrediting them in front of a camera.