Trump wrong on Iran Deal

Published 10:40 am Wednesday, August 10, 2016

Editorial By Wim Laven


“Who would make that deal?” Trump on the Iran deal, Biloxi, Jan. 2016.



Donald Trump keeps criticizing the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (the Iran Deal); he couldn’t be more wrong, it has been a tremendous success.


Just over a year into the Iran Deal there is significant evidence that the deal is working.


Dozens of retired military generals, in an open letter last year, supported the agreement, because they also wanted to address the ignorance early on. They said: “There is no better option to prevent an Iranian nuclear weapon … Military action would be less effective than the deal, assuming it is fully implemented. If the Iranians cheat, our advanced technology, intelligence and the inspections will reveal it, and U.S. military options remain on the table … And if the deal is rejected by America, the Iranians could have a nuclear weapon within a year. The choice is that stark.” So it should be clear that experts from all perspectives have held consensus about the value of the deal.


The Iran Deal was a result of the choice of diplomacy over war. War aims to be the ultimate in aggressiveness combined with the complete absence of cooperation—framing conflict as zero-sum (to the extent they lose, we win; if they make any gain, that is our loss). In this mythology: Iran does whatever it takes to ensure survival or is bombed into submission. Diplomacy, by contrast, stresses an end to mutually harming stalemate through the success of win-win solutions. All evidence in my field of Conflict Transformation shows that win-win agreements are sustainable and result in much higher rates of compliance by all parties.


So, in the context of the Iran deal, there was an opportunity to break free from the destructive cycle and the risk of escalated conflict—bombs are good for killing opposition and innocent civilians but not for changing minds—and a cooperative solution was reached. A year later we see that the experts were correct and the agreement has been a victory for the people of the US, Israel, and Iran.


The Iran deal was good diplomacy because it met the interests of both sides; the P5+1 wanted to block a pathway to nuclear proliferation, and Iran wanted sanctions lifted. As President Obama stated—sourced in an Israeli paper: “by all accounts it has worked exactly the way we said it was going to work” adding, “there were all these horror stories about how Iran was going to cheat, and this wasn’t going to work, and Iran was going to get $150 billion to finance terrorism and all these kinds of scenarios. And none of them have come to pass.”


And so even Israel, the country with the biggest opposition to the Deal, has acknowledged its broad success.


The prodemocracy agreement included transparency, rules on enrichment, the removal of sanctions, and the agreement to address “past issues of concern.” The evidence for its success includes improved trade relations like a large commercial deal with Boeing. In January the International Atomic Energy Agency indicated Iran was acting in line with the main components of the agreement.

The IAEA highlighted: Iran disconnected, removed, and placed in IAEA-monitored storage two- thirds of its installed centrifuge capacity, going from over 19,000 centrifuges to 5,060; at its Fordow facility, Iran terminated all uranium enrichment and removed all nuclear material; Iran reduced its stockpile of up-to-five percent low enriched uranium by 98 percent, going from roughly 12,000 kilograms to 300 kilograms; Iran removed the core of the Arak heavy water research reactor and filled it with concrete, rendering it permanently inoperable.

We cannot know for sure what would have happened without this agreement, but one thing is for sure: no alternative to diplomacy would have been as effective (both in human life and monetary terms) in delivering safety and security. Trump’s repetition of his fictional assessment does not make it valid. Just another of his many incompetent foreign policy assertions.



Wim Laven, syndicated by PeaceVoice, is a doctoral candidate in International Conflict Management at Kennesaw State University and teaches courses in conflict resolution.