The U.S. and five world powers this week finalized a temporary agreement to halt Iran’s nuclear program, with the Islamic Republic pledging to begin destroying its stockpile of highly enriched uranium in exchange for the easing of economic sanctions. The parties will now have six months to negotiate a permanent deal ensuring that Iran’s nuclear program remains peaceful. The U.S. and its partners—China, France, Germany, Russia, and the U.K.—will loosen trade sanctions and unfreeze $4.2 billion of Iranian assets in foreign banks. Iran has pledged to stop enriching uranium beyond the “peaceful use” threshold of 5 percent and destroy or dilute existing supplies that exceed that limit.
Congressional critics of the deal, including some Senate Democrats, are pushing for legislation imposing new, harsher sanctions in six months to help ensure Iran’s compliance. President Obama said he would veto such a bill, and Iran has vowed to end negotiations if Congress passes one. “For the sake of our national security and the peace and security of the world,” said Obama, “now is the time to give diplomacy a chance to succeed.”
The proposed Senate bill would torpedo this breakthrough accord, said Greg Thielmann in The Philadelphia Inquirer. Dictating changes to terms that have already been agreed upon would only prompt Iran’s hard-liners to scrap the agreement and call for an immediate ramp-up of its nuclear program. “Senators should stop trying to reopen deals that have already been struck and demanding the impossible for deals yet to be made.”
That’s not what the bill seeks to do, said Clifford May in USA Today. Tough sanctions brought Iran to the table in the first place; the prospect of new ones would keep it there and make its leaders show that “they are serious about making a deal, rather than defeating us.”
This deal won’t stop Iran from being a “threshold nuclear power,” said Peter Beinart in TheAtlantic.com. It could, however, help end America’s cold war with Iran. And make no mistake: “Cold wars are brutal, ugly things.” Stopping this one would “deny Iran’s regime a key pretext” for repressing domestic dissent, and improve the chances of ending “a devastating war in Syria that shames the world.”