** As previously written at Binghamton Political Buzz Examiner.com were Michael “Vass” Vasquez is a writer **
With the conclusion of extended negotiations on July 15,2015, President Obama has now presented Congress with the Iran nuclear deal. The controversy surrounding the deal has now reached a new level.
In Iran the deal was celebrated. Reports show that average citizens of that nation cheered the news, stating that whatever the terms of the deal, “we will be able to live normally like the rest of the world.” Indeed predictions are that the Iranian currency, the rial, will become stronger. Such an action will boost the Iranian stock market and improve the economy of the nation, a boon to the average citizenry that have long suffered from economic embargoes and sanctions. As part of the deal, sanctions will be lifted and US companies like Boeing are poised to step into the vacuum that has existed for years.
But as the people of Iran rejoice, the government of Iran has a different tone. Throughout the negotiations, that were initially expected to end on June 30, 2015 and continued into July, Iran has rejected every notion of restriction implied and in some cases stated by the US. Iran has fought against full access for nuclear inspectors. Iran has stood steadfast on continuing its nuclear ambitions. Iran has even disputed the timeframe and conditions of lifting sanctions and embargoes, even as the Obama Administration insisted on US airwaves that the timeframe and conditions were secure.
So what is actually in the deal? According to the NY Post and other sources, just about everything Iran wants. For the sake of creating a headline grabbing historic deal, the Obama Administration has forgone full access random inspections to inspections with a 24 day (that is days not hours) prior notice. Iran maintains thousands of heavy centrifuges used create nuclear material. The conventional weapons ban will disappear in 5 years, with a ban on ballistic missiles (used to deliver nuclear weapons as far as to the US itself) to follow 3 years later. Even more upsetting for some, roughly $150 billion in frozen and sanction restricted funds will be released, allowing use in programs ranging from helping the Iranian people to funding terrorist organizations around the world.
According to President Obama, this deal will,
“With this deal, we cut off every single one of Iran’s pathways to a nuclear program, a nuclear weapons program.”
That statement of assurance is not universally accepted. Internationally, especially in the Middle East, grave reservations exist. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu commented that,
“I think Iran has two paths to the bomb: One if they keep the deal, the other if they cheat on the deal… When Arabs and Israelis agree, it’s worth paying attention.”
Saudi Arabia has also, quietly, voiced its own concerns in an unofficial statement that the deal was a “monumental historical miscalculation.” Even France, who did agree to the final deal, just 3 days before the official deadline on June 27, 2015, noted its concerns citing that the deal include, “A lasting limitation of Iran’s research and development capacity, rigorous inspections of sites, including military if needed, and the automatic return of sanctions if Iran violates its commitments.” Terms that are not in the final deal, but France and Germany do get the benefits of renewed trade. This led to the statement by French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius stating that, as of July 15, 2015, the only concerns were commercial and not financial in the Iran deal.
Thus the politics of the nuclear deal with Iran remains as controversial as ever. In the Middle East it is causing unrest. In Europe, nations are backtracking earlier concerns in favor of financial gain. In the US, the battle of presidential hopefuls has taken on the international leg of the race. Hillary Clinton took a wavering position that ultimately says nothing about her opinion of the deal she helped to start in 2012, but anger Israel and some voters. Jeb Bush called the deal deeply flawed. Senator Marco Rubio predicted that once Congress rejects the deal it would be clear “…this is Barack Obama’s deal, not an agreement with lasting support from the United States.” Newcomer to the Republican race, Gov. Scott Walker cited that the deal ends the day President Obama ends his tenure. Senator Ted Cruz chose to focus on the thought of the Israeli Prime minister,
“We still have an opportunity to tell the truth about what [Israeli] Prime Minister Netanyahu called today a ‘bad mistake of historic proportion.'”
Lest anyone think that the decision on Iran’s nuclear ambitions rests with the popularity of whichever presidential candidate, the comments from both sides and in both Houses of Congress are stating the same thing. A summation of many of the comments might be best reflected in the words of Democrat Rep. Steve Israel of New York, who said,
“I go into this skeptical, I have been skeptical, and I am not going to make a final decision until that skepticism is fully relieved.”
At this point, with controversy still flaring and deep opposition awaiting, the historic moment that the Obama Administration has been struggling to achieve is still further down the road. Truly, history will be the ultimate judge of this effort. Either Iran will comply and vindicate the Obama Administration, or in a decade (maybe less) a nuclear Iran will cause even more strife in a Middle East. In a region which is always too turbulent, envisioning nuclear arms at the ready would mean far worse than a few paragraphs for President Obama in history books.