California Forum

Deal with Iran is a positive step away from nuclear weapons

Like Rabbi Reuven Taff, I remember the nuclear attack drills American schoolchildren experienced years ago. Like him, I believe a nuclear-armed Iran would threaten world security. Indeed, it would particularly threaten our main ally in the Middle East – Israel. And I, too, have read the agreement. (“Nuclear deal with Iran leaves vulnerable, insecure feeling”; Viewpoints, July 26)

We should support the agreement that effectively rolls back Iran’s quest for a nuclear bomb. Before 2013, Iran was building its nuclear capacity at an alarming rate. The interim agreement in 2013 required Iran to stop installing centrifuges and to eliminate its highly enriched uranium. International inspections revealed that Iran complied.

The much stronger final agreement requires Iran to neutralize most of its enriched uranium, decommission thousands of centrifuges and render its plutonium plant harmless. All these steps are to be verified by international inspectors.

Why, then, do people oppose the agreement? In part, it’s based on erroneous understanding of the deal and because the deal is not perfect.

A good example is the complaint that the deal “does not provide for anytime/anywhere inspections.” Yet the deal provides for 24/7 international monitoring of Iran’s identified nuclear facilities and requires Iran to provide access to any future suspected sites within a period of up to 24 days. Yes, anytime/anywhere, and on any basis, inspections would be better, but comprehensive monitoring and accounting will prevent significant diversions, and it is unrealistic to expect any country to allow unfettered access anywhere at any time.

Similarly, Taff notes that the deal does not reduce or control Iran’s production of intercontinental ballistic missiles. However, the United States will keep in place its existing sanctions against Iran’s ballistic missile program.

The claim that the deal “does not require Iran to dismantle centrifuges” ignores Iran’s obligation to dismantle and remove the infrastructure that allows the centrifuges to enrich uranium. Without a deal, Iran could actually increase the centrifuges’ capacity.

Finally, contrary to Taff’s assertion, the deal does not enable “Iran to continue increasing their weapons-grade nuclear capabilities.” Instead, it verifiably blocks all of Iran’s pathways to a nuclear weapon.

Israel’s former national security head, Efraim Halevy, concluded, “Without an agreement, Iran will be free to act as it wishes, whereas the sanctions regime against it will crumble in any case.”

The agreement is a positive step in the opposite direction, providing hope that Iran will not join the nuclear club. President Barack Obama and Secretary of State John Kerry deserve our support for the deal they have struck.

Brian Landsberg is co-chair of the Sacramento Chapter of J Street, a national pro-Israel organization dedicated to a two-state solution to the Israel-Palestine conflict.