The U.S.-Iran Nuclear Deal that Could have Been

In the realm of foreign policy, the United States-Iran nuclear deal is currently the most discussed and controversial topic. The deal, being hailed as historic and transformative in the media, has been portrayed as the first step in restoring peaceful relations between the United States and Iran as a means of reducing the threat of Iran obtaining nuclear weapons.

The deal, however, has critics and politicians alike asking the question of whether or not this benefits the United States in the long run or simply creates more problems in the future. The deal appears to benefit Iran more than it does the United States, leaving the question of whether negotiations should have continued on until a more mutually beneficial agreement was settled upon.

In sum, the United States nuclear deal with Iran blocks Iran’s pathways to creating nuclear weapons by cutting the number of Iran’s centrifuges, reducing Iran’s stock of enriched uranium from 10,000 kilograms to 300, and restricts Iran’s ability to generate plutonium as a byproduct of power generation over the course of 15 years. The deal also forces Iran to cooperate with the International Atomic Energy Agency to increase transparency and eliminate the covert production of fissile material via inspections—and a 24-day notice before inspection despite other world super powers being only allowed 24-hour notice. In exchange, the United States agreed to remove economic sanctions on Iran, providing Iran with an estimated $150 billion in sanctions relief.

Some believe that the $150 billion in sanctions relief would boost the suffering economy of Iran and allow Iran the opportunity to become involved in global trade, specifically in regard to oil, creating even more profit for the region. While the $150 billion in sanctions relief has potential benefits, given Iran’s history with terrorist groups like Hezbollah, Hamas, and the Islamic State, more caution should have used in giving the state of Iran such a hefty deal.

In the Middle East, there is a general mistrust of Iran given their history with supporting terrorist groups and countries like Israel are worried about how the $150 billion in sanctions relief is going to be used. There has been much conversation about the possibility of Iran increasing its funding to the terrorist groups with the $150 billion in sanctions relief and the consequential profits which would cause even greater conflict in the region.

The increased threat to the region is credible given Iran’s relationship with terrorist organizations and may cause the Middle East to increase security measures to counter the threat. Many fear that Iran’s deal with the United States could trigger an arms race throughout the region much like the Cold War. The possibility of an arms race may likely be the case, given that the United States agreed to the possibly of sanctions for arms being lifted in five years and ballistic missiles in eight years should Iran comply with the deal. Again, removing such sanction on weapons seems unwise given Iran’s prior cooperation with terrorist groups.

The United States-Iran nuclear deal poses many hypothetical threats that need to be taken seriously and monitored closely. The United States lifted massive economic sanctions in exchange for Iran’s promise to reduce their nuclear efforts. To be clear, while the deal puts heavy restrictions on nuclear development, the deal by no means eliminates Iran’s ability to create nuclear weapons. Further, the deal lasts for up to 15 years, by which time Iran will have gained billions more to put toward their nuclear development and research.

In other words, the deal’s success largely lies with Iran’s compliance with the deal. The region’s future stability, perhaps even international stability, rests in the hands of a mistrusted state with a desire to develop nuclear weapons. And while the consequences are yet to be known, it would have better served the United States and even the Middle East had the United States taken more caution and time when approaching a deal with Iran given the implications the deal might have on terrorist activity and overall regional stability.