The Top 5 Reasons to Sign a Nuclear Deal with Iran
As the November 24 deadline to reach a nuclear deal quickly approaches, reports are indicating that it could be extended should the upcoming talks in Vienna fail to yield a comprehensive agreement. This should not suggest that the talks are breaking down, but rather quite the opposite. The negotiating parties are aware of the importance of reaching a historic nuclear deal that would resolve a twelve-year dispute, not the least due to the benefits such an agreement would carry. Below are but a few of these benefits that stand out.
Successfully negotiating an end to the nuclear dispute with Iran will avert a disastrous military conflict in a region already enmeshed in strife. Considering the tacit cooperation between the United States and Iran against the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL), conflict between these two would be untimely and would surely derail parallel efforts against the extremist group. As the world faces major international issues, such as the rise of ISIL and other extremist groups, the deterioration of U.S.-Russian relations, the ongoing Israeli-Palestinian conflict and tensions in the Asia Pacific, the relationship that was once marked by brinksmanship is now among the most stable and contained international issues facing both Washington and Tehran.
To be sure, the Obama administration is aware that airstrikes against Iran’s nuclear facilities would merely delay its program and could have the opposite effect of the expected outcome, encouraging Tehran to end its cooperation with the United Nations nuclear watchdog (the IAEA), leave the Nuclear Non-proliferation Treaty and potentially make the political decision to “go nuclear.” For these reasons, a clear benefit of a nuclear deal would be the prevalence of diplomacy and peace over military action.
A nuclear weapons–free Iran
A nuclear deal with Iran will guarantee that Iran’s nuclear capacity remains exclusively peaceful with no possible military dimensions and with enough time for the international community to detect a breakout, should Iran ever feel the unlikely need to “dash for the bomb.” Through a comprehensive agreement, Iran would cap its uranium enrichment to 5 percent and would have a mutually agreed limit on the number of centrifuges it would operate. Iran would also either convert its stockpile of enriched uranium to oxide or ship it overseas, potentially to Russia as it has been recently suggested.
Further, the plutonium path to a bomb would also be obstructed in the wake of a nuclear agreement, as Tehran could be required to modify its heavy-water reactor in Arak to reduce the annual enriched-plutonium production capacity to a level too low for the production of nuclear weapons. What is more, Iran’s nuclear program will have a maximum level of transparency. Under a comprehensive nuclear accord, Tehran will likely have to continue implementing the IAEA Safeguard Agreement and adopt the Subsidiary Arrangement Code 3.1, as well as the Additional Protocol, which allows for snap inspections.
Regional cooperation and détente
President Obama’s secret letter to Iran’s Supreme Leader stressing that any cooperation against ISIL was contingent upon Iran reaching a nuclear deal with the so-called P5+1 highlights the overlapping strategic interests between the United States and Iran.
These shared interests do not end at ridding the region of ISIL. Both countries would like to see a significant decrease in sectarian strife across the broader Middle East; both have influence in Afghanistan and Iraq and an interest in ensuring their stability; and both would like to see the crisis in Syria resolved in a way that prevents the country from being a perpetual breeding ground for extremism. Other areas of cooperation could also include countering drug trafficking out of Afghanistan and Pakistan, combating piracy in international waters and working with Iran to become an alternative source of natural gas to Europe, negating the need for Russian supplies during this time of deteriorated relations between the West and Moscow.
A nuclear deal does not necessarily mean that the United States and Iran will be “besties,” but it could allow Washington and Tehran to de-conflict their interests in the region. This is already occurring in Iraq, where both countries are tacitly cooperating in the fight against ISIL through Iraqi intermediaries. Indeed, the United States alerted Iran ahead of its initial airstrikes in Syria in September. A nuclear deal could pave the way for the broader de-conflicting of regional interests, which could in turn lead to a form of sustained détente between the two.
Global economic impact
Economic sanctions imposed on Iran by the United States, the European Union and others have significantly restricted international commercial opportunities with Iran, negatively impacting the Iranian economy, as well as having an impact on the global economy through foregone commercial activity. Increased economic relations with Iran could only help strengthen the global economic environment.