Editorials

So far, so good for Iran nuclear deal

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu told a joint session of Congress in March 2015 that a deal would “all but guarantee” that Iran would get nuclear weapons, but the agreement seems to be working so far.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu told a joint session of Congress in March 2015 that a deal would “all but guarantee” that Iran would get nuclear weapons, but the agreement seems to be working so far. Associated Press

“Disastrous.” “A historic surrender.” “Sheer insanity.”

Those were only some of the strident criticisms of the deal the Obama administration negotiated with Iran over its nuclear program.

One year later, Iran has given up 98 percent of its nuclear material, international inspectors are monitoring nuclear facilities and most experts agree that it would take months longer for Iran to assemble a nuclear weapon. In January, five Americans were released from Iranian prisons on the same day that the nuclear deal was certified and some of the most crippling economic sanctions against Iran lifted.

Not too shabby – and nowhere near the disaster that hyperventilating opponents warned about.

As The New York Times reported Thursday, even the top military leader in Israel – whose prime minister was invited by Republicans to give a blistering take-down of the deal before a joint session of Congress – said the agreement has “removed the most serious danger to Israel’s existence for the foreseeable future.”

But don’t hold your breath for many critics to give any credit to the painstaking diplomacy of the Obama team.

Donald Trump surely won’t. On his way to the Republican nomination, he has repeatedly called the Iran agreement one of the worst deals ever and claimed that Iran “made such fools of us.” He told a pro-Israel lobbying group in March that his “number one priority is to dismantle the disastrous deal with Iran.”

But as on so many issues, he has offered few details of what he would do as president and definitely no plausible alternative. And with the terrorist attacks in Europe, Iran’s nuclear ambitions have taken a back seat as a campaign issue.

If Trump and his surrogates mention the Iran deal at all at the GOP convention next week in Cleveland, they are sure to continue bashing it as a way to attack the foreign policy of President Barack Obama and of Hillary Clinton, the former secretary of state and Trump’s Democratic opponent. Every Republican in Congress who voted on the deal opposed it, and some are still trying to scuttle it.

It’s true that the broader goals for the agreement are a long way off. Iran conducted missile tests and is sending troops to support Syrian dictator Bashar al-Assad, while continuing to abuse human rights at home. Overall relations with America remain chilly at best.

Yet, while far from perfect and still a work in progress, the Iran nuclear deal has made the world slightly safer. In these turbulent times, that’s a real accomplishment.

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