This post was co-authored by Farzeen Nasri, a professor of political science and economics at Ventura College.
This month, Congress will vote on the Iran nuclear agreement -- the first publicly-negotiated deal between two former allies in decades. Though it's now clear the deal will go through -- as more than 34 senators have committed to vote in favor of the agreement -- there still remains a chance that the president will have to use his veto if he doesn't get the necessary 41 votes. But it's important for opponents of the deal to realize that regardless of what the Congress decides, Iran will get sanctions relief from Russia, China and our allies across Europe who are eager to tap into market opportunities worth hundreds of billions of dollars.
Despite the facts, many oppose this deal on the false premise that if the U.S. doesn't approve the agreement, it will still be able to continue to ratchet up pressure in hopes of a better deal. But the fact is that foreign leaders have already announced they will move forward with the agreement. The British embassy has already re-opened in Tehran and business leaders internationally are already negotiating deals with Iran. At this point, the only thing opposing this deal will accomplish is to deny American companies access to these investment opportunities.
Congress needs to come to terms with the reality of the situation and minimize the damage to our national interests by supporting the president on this deal. This agreement was reached under the leadership of the United States, and rejecting it now will hamper the ability of future U.S. presidents to assume similar global leadership positions.
To achieve this goal, we need to convince the members of Congress that voting for the agreement is the right path forward. Here are the reasons why:
It's the best option we have, and it doesn't preclude us from taking other actions.
Some argue that this agreement will not prevent Iran from developing nuclear weapons in the future. This may be so, but it will keep Iran from developing a nuclear weapon for at least a decade and will extend the time necessary to produce the needed processed uranium to make a bomb from a couple of weeks or months to a year. Supporters of the agreement do not argue that this is a perfect deal, they argue this is the best deal under the present circumstances and have invited the opponents to present a better alternative, which has never come.
It's important to remember that this agreement does not preclude other options available to us, including a military option. However, when considering war, we should remember the outcome of our previous military actions in this region. For example, the war in Iraq, which by some estimates cost us over $2 trillion dollars and thousands of American lives, created a power vacuum out of which ISIS emerged.
Sanctions offer Tehran a scapegoat for their economic situation
Some oppose the agreement because they want to continue sanctions. But unilateral sanctions on Iran, when the rest of the world is removing theirs, will have little effect. What's more, sanctions have done little to compromise the Iranian government's standing. In fact, the regime blames the sanctions for the country's economic problems, but by removing sanctions, the government in Iran will finally have to take ownership of the economic problems its policies have created. Interestingly, the sanctions didn't slow Iranian progress in developing nuclear technology either. When sanctions started, Iran had five thousand centrifuges. Now it has over 19,000, including advanced centrifuges.
The Iran deal is not the same as the North Korean deal
There are also some that argue Iran will cheat. They refer to the Clinton Administration's agreement with North Korea that allowed that country to cheat and develop nuclear weapons. But the agreement with Pyongyang was four pages long, while the highly detailed agreement with Tehran is over 100 pages. That's why 29 high ranking American nuclear scientists, including six Nobel laureates, have attested that if Iran violates the terms of the agreement, it will be detected. Iran has agreed that the IAEA can have 24/7 access to the nuclear facilities in Iran. Iran also has agreed -- and this is the first time a country which is not under occupation has agreed to do so -- to allow inspectors to inspect the military facilities suspected of being used for nuclear activities, albeit with certain restrictions.
This deal does not threaten the security of our allies
Some argue that this agreement will allow Iran to develop a nuclear weapon after 15 or 20 years and, thereby, threaten the existence of Israel and/or Saudi Arabia. But even after the terms of this agreement are over, Iran will still be bound by the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty. Even if we assume that Iran will find access to a nuclear weapon in the future, it would be suicidal for Tehran to use its nuclear bomb against Israel, which owns over 200 nuclear bombs. Tehran would also think twice about using a nuclear bomb against Saudi Arabia, which like Israel, has the full force of the United States military behind it. Israelis who have served at the highest levels of the military and intelligence organizations in Israel, including Efraim Halevy, Former Mossad Chief, Admiral (Ret.) Ami Ayalon, Former Head of the Shin Bet, and Brig. General (Ret.) Shlomo Brom, Former Director of IDF Strategic Planning Division, have all stated that the deal makes Israel more, not less, secure.
The U.S. and Iran have mutual interests
Outside of the deal, it's important to remember that Iran and the U.S. were once great allies. Even today, the U.S. and Iran have shared interests. Iran is the biggest force in the Middle East against ISIS and helped the U.S. in its fight against Al Qaeda in Afghanistan. Members of Congress should recall George Washington's advice to the nation before casting their votes: "The nation which indulges toward another an habitual hatred or an habitual fondness is in some degree a slave. It is a slave to its animosity or to its affection...."