For many, the recent nuclear deal with Iran may seem like it came out of nowhere. But this deal is the product of years of negotiations by America’s top diplomats and squarely within the security interests of America, our NATO allies, and Israel. With this deal a rare sight has emerged in Washington– a nonpartisan consensus. America’s foreign policy heavyweights from both Republican and Democratic administrations are lining up in support of the current diplomatic path forward. It’s a consensus that should be heeded.
Last week, many of the 131 House Members who signed the bi-partisan Price-Dent letter urging a diplomatic solution to prevent a nuclear-armed Iran spoke on the House floor in support of continued diplomacy. Unfortunately, there are also reports that the Senate may consider new sanctions on Iran that could scuttle the diplomatic process.
There should be no doubt in anyone’s mind that if diplomatic efforts fail, we will be pulled into another war in the Middle East. Americans want diplomacy, not war. Two recent ABC/Washington Post and CNN/ORC polls show strong support for a diplomatic deal that eased sanctions in exchange for Iran restricting its nuclear program.
America’s interest in this process is clear. The recent agreement stops Iran’s nuclear program in its tracks and institutes unprecedented inspections. That is why 79 former senior national security officials recently signed a who’s-who letter endorsing the diplomatic path being pursued. And as six former U.S. ambassadors to Israel noted, the deal “arrests Iran’s nuclear program for the first time in nearly a decade and opens the possibility of ultimately stopping Iran from developing a nuclear weapons capability."
The agreement puts Iran’s program in a cage, neutralizing their ability to enrich uranium at higher levels that could be used in a weapon. It guarantees that no new centrifuges of any type will be installed and many of those in existence will be left inoperable. It shines a spotlight on all nuclear components in Iran: inspectors will be allowed daily access to facilities and review of surveillance camera footage to verify Iran’s 100 percent compliance. These are the most stringent transparency measures in history and should be roundly applauded.
Those who have worked at the highest levels of diplomacy understand testing the interim agreement is a first step to arrive at a long-term solution.
Former Secretaries of State Henry Kissinger and George Shultz rightly wrote that American diplomacy has four major tasks moving forward, “to define a level of Iranian nuclear capacity[;] to ensure that this level is not exceeded; to leave open the possibility of a genuinely constructive relationship with Iran; and to design a Middle East policy adjusted to new circumstances.” Former Secretary of State Madeline Albright noted, “an accord by which Iran would curb its nuclear ambitions under strict and intrusive inspections program would greatly improve the long-term security of the United States and our closest allies in the Middle East.”
The alternative to a deal is to drive a bridge too far toward a needless new war. As former National Security Advisers Brent Scowcroft and Zbigniew Brzezinski noted, "should the United States fail to take this historic opportunity, we risk…losing the support of allies and friends while increasing the probability of war." To oppose this deal at this stage or to tack on new sanctions risks derailing a genuine opportunity and forcing America into another land war in the Middle East.
The line in the sand is drawn for Congress- you can side with voters and our national security experts in supporting a diplomatic path that gives America and our allies our best shot in a generation to disrupt and disarm Iran. Or you can poke holes in that policy with new sanctions that our allies don’t want and that will derail negotiations, put Israel at risk, and make war much more likely.
Platt was the Navy’s first Competition Advocate General, appointed by President Ronald Reagan.