By Lt. General Robert Gard, Board Chair, and Angela Canterbury, Executive Director
Now that President Barack Obama has signed a bill giving Congress, at its request, greater oversight authority over any potential Iran nuclear agreement — including the explicit opportunity to vote down the deal — the cacophony from those opposed to diplomatic negotiations with Iran has reached a new high.
Despite the fact that the details have yet to be finalized (a deadline has been set for June 30th), opponents are arguing that the agreement President Obama is close to reaching with Iran is a “bad deal” and that we should hold out for a “better deal” or abandon this process completely and increase pressure on Iran in a quest to force it to capitulate.
But absent from these discussions is any compelling evidence that the proposed deal would fail to prevent Iran from building nuclear weapons without our knowledge. This is why the U.S. and the international community imposed crippling sanctions on Iran and are now negotiating to block Tehran’s path to the bomb. And in exchange for Iranian compliance with that mandate, we in turn will relieve the sanctions pressure. Diplomacy seeks mutual benefits, and we need to give it space to work.
There were strident criticisms of the interim agreement the P5+1 (the U.S., U.K., France, Russia, China and Germany) and Iran reached in November 2013, claiming that it included too many concessions to Iran, and that Tehran wouldn’t abide by its terms.
But as we now know, it succeeded in what it set out to do: eliminate Iran’s stockpile of higher enriched uranium and freeze and roll back many components of its nuclear program while negotiations for a final agreement took place. Indeed, Sen. Lindsey Graham, a South Carolina Republican, was initially a critic, but recently admitted that the interim agreement has been “fairly successful.”
Yet opposition persists to the process itself as well as to the very promising framework agreement announced in April.