Understanding the U.S./Iran Nuclear Deal
Some call it a milestone, some call it the end of international isolation and some see it as dangerous; however people view the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) – otherwise known as the nuclear deal with Iran – many are still unsure that it will strengthen the US/Iran relationship. What it will do is change Iran’s economy, give them freedoms they haven’t had in many years, and, hopefully, make it impossible for Iran to build a nuclear weapon.
In January, it was determined that Iran had done everything needed to meet the terms of the July 14 deal. Over the past few months, Iran has been slowly taking steps to comply with the deal and since October have, among other things; shipped 98 percent of its fuel to Russia, dismantled more than 12,000 centrifuges so they can’t enrich Uranium, and poured cement into their nuclear reactor designed to produce plutonium.
To build a nuclear weapon, you would need access to either Uranium or Plutonium, and this deal blocks the main ways Iran had to leverage those materials. To construct a Uranium bomb they would need massive amounts of Uranium and tens of thousands of centrifuges, this deals cuts down on their supply of both. To build one out of Plutonium, they would need to do so in the Arak reactor, a heavy-water nuclear reactor. Under this deal, the Arak reactor will be redesigned so it cannot produce any weapons-grade plutonium.
While there are many more facets of the deal, the short of it is, under the sanctions of the deal, the time it would take for Iran to assemble a nuclear weapon has lengthened from two to three months, to 12 months or more. This would give the U.S. time to react and take action against Iran.
As a result of Iran’s compliance, many previous sanctions have been lifted, or suspended, depending on who you talk to, and this opens many doors for Iran. Lifting the sanctions opens the Iranian economy to international trade and investment and puts them back in the world financial market. While this new freedom may help Iran improve their economy, the effect on the U.S. economy, at least in 2016, will be slim to none.
“The deal won’t affect the U.S. economy or offer growth in 2016,” said George Abed, senior counselor and director for Africa and the Middle East at the IIF [Institute of International Finance], in a Bloomberg Business Article, “As sanctions prevent most U.S. companies from dealing with Iran.”
There may be companies for which it is a threat though. Pistachio farmers, for instance, may suffer as Iran’s crop far surpasses anyone’s in the U.S., and they will now be able to export their supply.
One industry that may thrive though, is the aviation industry. The deal calls for the U.S. to grant licenses to allow the sale of commercial passenger aircraft requiring Iran to invest at least $20 million to update its fleet.
While the deal has some breathing a sigh of relief, when it comes to the oil industry, according to Bloomberg News White House correspondent Angela Greiling Keane, “This couldn’t have come at a worse time.” Iran is a major oil producer and will once again be able to export, contributing to an already oversupplied market. While gas prices could drop even further as the supply grows, as we’ve seen from falling stock market prices, this isn’t necessarily a good thing for U.S. economy.
Still others may worry that the deal may not be enough to make Iran comply, but the White House assures the public that they aren’t simply trusting Iran to comply. A brief issued by the White House, emphasizes the fact that if at any time Iran is not complying, sanctions can be snapped back into place. A major part of the deal was Iran conceding to 24/7 monitoring of their facilities and nuclear programs. This prevents them from trying to move forward in secret.
And, for those worried, not all sanctions are being lifted, only those related to nuclear programs. Iran is still considered a state sponsor of terror and will be treated as such.
When it comes to the question of whether or not the U.S. made a good deal, there are many conflicting opinions and a few Republican presidential nominees have already said if they were elected they would repeal it. But, many still feel it’s a good deal, for the U.S. at least. Sharon Squassoni, director of the Proliferation Prevention Program at the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS) told Nina Easton of Fortune Magazine that the best part of the deal was the fact that “It’s enforceable.” She believes it will dial back Iran’s ability to create nuclear weapons. But she also believes it could cause an arms race in the Middle East.
And while the U.S. economy may not be affected right away, Iran’s will. And that could mean bad news as they begin gathering resources other than weapons, as opponents of the deal believe they will.
So, whether you believe the deal was the right or wrong move, the fact remains that it is historic. But, the historic impact it will have remains to be seen.