After twenty months of negotiations, President Obama and other international leaders made a landmark agreement that will curb Iran’s efforts to develop a nuclear weapon. The agreement stipulates that the United States lift economic sanctions that forced Iran to the table in the first place. Israel and Saudi Arabia have spoken out about the proposed deal since Iran’s economic influence would expand, but the global community generally sees this deal as a way of promoting stability in the region. Iranian public opinion even stands in strong support of the deal since the lifted sanctions would greatly improve their crippled economy.
With international opinion on his side, President Obama has been campaigning to guarantee that the negotiated settlement with Iran passes in Congress. A vote will likely happen soon after Labor Day when Congress is back in session, so time is running out to garner support. Many members of Congress have already released statements for or against the agreement, and President Obama announced that he would veto Congress’s decision if the agreement did not pass. For Congress to override the veto, each house would need a two-thirds majority rejecting the Iran deal.
Since the deal is contingent upon sanctions being lifted, many opponents of the deal insist that the growth of the Iranian economy will allow Tehran to more easily produce nuclear weapons and conduct terrorist operations. This line of thought, however, ignores the great unlikelihood that Iran could get away with such a feat.
The intrusiveness of the International Atomic Energy Agency’s (IAEA) monitoring of Iran’s nuclear program is unprecedented under this new agreement. The media has generated concern about the IAEA’s practices, suggesting that Iranian scientists will be testing their own inspection sites. This procedure is actually only a part of the IAEA’s practices, which requires that samples are tested by both Iranian scientists and IAEA officials to ensure that data is not misrepresented.
By having both parties administering tests, both groups are held accountable; in other words, Iran cannot tamper with data since it will conflict with IAEA data and vice versa. This double accountability is actually a strength of the deal, and when combined with the deactivation of over half of Iran’s centrifuges and the repurposing of Iran’s nuclear reactor, the negotiated agreement effectively guarantees that Iran will not have a nuclear weapon for the next fifteen years while the deal is in effect. Without the provisions in this agreement, we cannot guarantee Iran’s nuclear program will be stifled.
As stated in a letter signed by fifty-one Christian leaders, including the General Secretary Stan Noffsinger, “There is no question we are all better off with this deal than without it.” This unified Christian front shows the great moral significance of this deal. Too often politics controls conversations by talking strictly in terms of US interests. If we wish to be Christians committed to inviting the Kingdom of God, we cannot allow this opportunity to de-escalate conflict and address our neighbor slip away. We need to remember our kinship to others, as Jesus says, “I give you a new commandment, that you love one another. Just as I have loved you, you also should love one another. By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another” (John 13:34-35).
Our sisters and brothers in Iran struggle, and now they too have a chance for at least a small measure of liberation. Even more, an Iran with a diminished nuclear program helps place the already unstable region on a pathway to peace and opens the door to reconciliation between Iran and the United States.