A team of international inspectors arrived in Iran this past Saturday as part of a landmark deal struck with world powers to limit its uranium enrichment in exchange for eased sanctions.
On Monday, Jan. 20, much of Tehran’s nuclear program will be frozen in exchange for limited relief from Western economic sanctions.
The main elements of the deal were announced the night of Nov. 24, 2013, when six world powers signed a deal with Iran in what is being referred to as a “first-step agreement.” It aimed to roll back key parts of Iran’s nuclear program.
The goal in negotiating with Iran is to limit the country’s nuclear program. The deal included a commitment from Iran to no longer enrich uranium above the five percent level. They promised to stop advancements in their nuclear factories; including the Natanz Fuel Enrichment Plant, or the enrichment facility at Fordow, and they agreed that the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), is given access to undertake new inspections of each facility and will be able to inspect every workshop.
Senator Chuck Schumer, a democrat from New York, and Vice Chair Conference Committee, has stated, “I am disappointed by the terms of the agreement between Iran and the P5+1 nations [United States, Russia, China, United Kingdom, France and Germany] because it does not seem proportional … Iran simply freezes its nuclear capabilities while we reduce the sanctions.”
He believes that the agreement does little to reverse Iran’s nuclear ambitions and instead makes the world a much more dangerous place.
For example, this deal allows Tehran to maintain research and development of its nuclear program, as well as five to seven bombs worth of low-enriched uranium.
This deal raises a serious concern for what a final deal should look like.
The “first-step deal” dismantles none of Iran’s existing programs, allowing 9,000 centrifuges to continue operating and an additional 10,000 centrifuges to remain in place.
After six months, if no agreement is reached, Iran will remain in a position to double the pace of its enrichment.
The interim agreement merely states that Iran will “address” U.N. Security Council concerns. What it does not require is that Iran must come into compliance with six mandatory U.N. Security Council resolutions. Each which demands Iran suspend all enrichment, reprocessing and heavy water activity and comply fully with IAEA demands.
Additionally, the final agreement would allow Iran to continue mutually agreed upon enrichment activities. American officials also have conceded as a practical matter that Iran will be allowed some enrichment capacity.
The mission is clear: the U.S. must ensure that Iran does not acquire a nuclear weapons capability.
Yet, now that the six countries have inked an initial agreement with Iran, the U.S. must not only ensure full Iranian compliance but also insist that any final deal deny Tehran a nuclear weapons capability.
Now is the time to increase the pressure through additional sanctions placed on Iran.
The United States must send a strong message to Iran that it will not tolerate its persistent march toward nuclear capability. Finally, Congress must play a unique role to stop Iran’s quest.
Tough sanctions passed by Congress and vigorous diplomacy pursued by the Obama administration have brought the Iranian government to the negotiating table; sanctioning Iran may be worth another try.