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After months, and even years of negotiations between Iran and the United States (along with several other world powers) January 16th, or Implementation Day, has seen many sanctions lifted on Iran. While many have criticized the strength or weakness of the Iran Nuclear Deal, what we’ve seen as tangible benefits – even in this short timeline – have shown the reason for the deal President Obama calls “ a diplomatic agreement that achieves our objectives.”
But what exactly are those objectives? According to the White House, the main objectives of the deal, officially known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, are: to cut off all pathways, both overtly and covertly, to a nuclear weapon by Iran; to put in place “vigorous, intrusive, and unprecedented transparency measures” on Iran’s nuclear capacity; and to ensure that sanctions can be snapped back into place if Iran violates the deal at any point. This is a simplified version of an extremely complex deal, but does essentially boil down to a trade of lifted sanctions on Iran for Iran’s discontinuation of nuclear development.
Two main details need to be cleared up, in a deal with heavy partisan split, is not all sanctions were ended and sanctions will actually be put back into place if Iran violates the deal. As the White House noted, “U.S. statutory sanctions focused on Iran’s support for terrorism, human rights abuses, and missile activities will remain in effect and continue to be enforced.” The only sanctions lifted are directly in proportion to the amount of nuclear disarmament that happens in the country.
Secondly, if US officials believe Iran is violating the deal, they would bring the allegation to the Security Council. At that point, sanctions would be imposed automatically. If members of the Security Council — Russia, China or others — rise to Iran’s defense, they can block the new sanctions only by passing a new resolution. However, this could be stopped by a U.S. veto – and ultimately give the US the autonomy to replace any and all sanctions previously imposed.
Most importantly, this deal is not as “one-sided” as many of those who voted against its passing would argue. There are two main impacts, economic and political. Economically, the World Bank states that “Iran’s full return to the global market will eventually add about a million barrels of oil a day, lowering oil prices by $10 per barrel next year…which also expects economic growth to surge to about 5% in 2016 from 3% this year.” This amount of economic growth is unprecedented for Iran, but it also positively benefits the US in reference to oil prices – which directly effects the everyday man and woman as commuting times rise in the US substantially every year.
Politically, President Obama – and countless other US officials – have made it clear this is the best deal the US could get. Any mention of a “better deal” such as the one Benjamin Netanyahu, the Prime Minister of Israel, advocated for is “impossible” according to Obama. It should also be noted, for those who may advocate for stronger sanctions, the US has lifted sanctions to a much smaller degree than the EU, especially in terms of business and trade with Iran.
So, in the wake of Implementation Day, there are a few things we can say about the Iran Nuclear Deal: that it accurately addresses the objectives set out by the US, that the devil is in the details, that the sanctions are limited and can be re-imposed, and that there look to be economic and political benefits to both Iran and the US.
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