At one year mark, Iran deal has already made world safer
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This week, we celebrate a quiet anniversary – one that’s probably far from most people’s minds. It’s the anniversary of an agreement that’s been a quiet success. A deal that keeps a nuclear weapon out of Iran’s hands, and makes the world a safer place. Today marks the one-year anniversary of the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) – the Iran nuclear agreement.

We should all celebrate how diplomacy, not military might, won the day.

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One year later, we no longer fear the specter of Iran as another nuclear power. Our allies no longer wrestle with the possibility of another destabilizing force in an already unstable region. Without a single shot fired, the power of diplomacy has prevented a nuclear-armed Iran.

Before the deal, the risk of a military confrontation with Iran was a looming threat. President George W. Bush’s memoirs confirm that war with Iran was a possibility during his administration.

This is no longer the case. The deal puts Iran’s nuclear program under lock, key, and camera, and Iran won’t be able to cheat on these restrictions quickly or quietly. Iran is now subject to the most intrusive inspection regime in history. The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) has some 150 nuclear inspectors who scrutinize Iran’s nuclear supply chain at every stage, from uranium mines to enrichment factories. The agency employs 24/7 video surveillance, high-tech sensors, and other cutting edge nuclear technology that would rapidly sound the alarm if Iran were to cheat.

IAEA’s revamped inspection regime benefits all of us, and we get it cheap. The extra cost of the IAEA’s massive inspection program is estimated at about $10.1 million - less than what U.S. taxpayers spend in half a day on the boondoggle of the F-35 fighter jet. It’s a small price to pay for safety and security.

Just look at the cost of the Iraq war and our extended war in Afghanistan. Imagine if we engaged in yet another catastrophic conflict in the Middle East. Imagine the cost in treasure, in American influence, and most importantly, in American, allied, and Iranian lives.

Nevertheless, hardliners in the U.S. and Iran actively worked against this deal. They outspent pro-peace, pro-diplomacy groupsnearly five to one. We are incredibly grateful that rational voices prevailed, and ultimately won the most consequential peace vote of the past decade.

But we have to stay vigilant. Some in Washington and Tehran are still trying to sabotage the deal. New sanctions have been proposed in Congress that take us precariously close to the edge of violating the JCPOA. This week, the House is voting on legislation that would directly violate the deal by imposing new sanctions. The House Financial Services committee is also marking up legislation that violates the deal by prohibiting the sale of commercial aircraft to Iran. This is dangerous. We should be working to ensure the deal’s success, not its failure.

Supporters of the deal are not naïve - we are not counting on a broader change in Iranian behavior. We recognize the different ways Iran still supports and engages in terror. And we’re working against that, too. But we cannot allow this brinkmanship to continue. Nuclear peace is far too important.

Diplomatic victories aren’t like military victories. There’s usually no pageantry or victory laps. Diplomatic triumphs are quiet.

And so on the one-year anniversary of the Iran nuclear agreement, let’s recognize this quiet triumph of diplomacy. Let’s recognize that we’ve avoided the blood and tears of war. Let’s recognize that we’ve created a safer planet for Americans, for Iranians, and for all people.

And finally, let’s pledge to give diplomacy its fair shot in the future. War shouldn’t be our norm. Let’s choose peace.


Congressman Keith Ellison represents the 5th District of Minnesota in the United States House of Representatives and Co-Chairs the Congressional Progressive Caucus. Kate Gould is a Legislative Representative at the Friends Committee on National Legislation and a Political Partner at the Truman National Security Project.