EVANS, Georgia – As a result of the recent negotiations at Geneva and months of prior talks, officials from Iran and six of the world’s major powers, including the United States, have agreed to a temporary deal regarding the state of the Iranian nuclear program. This deal essentially ensures that for the next six months, Iran’s nuclear program will be subject to international watch and any actions that might boost its ability to create nuclear weapons must be halted.
Iran is required to stop enrichment of uranium above five percent and to neutralize existing uranium enriched at 20%. Additionally, Iran is not allowed to install new centrifuges, devices that work to enrich uranium, and has to keep some existing centrifuges inactive. Furthermore, in addition to opening its nuclear program to international monitoring, Iran is required to cease work at its heavy water reactor at Arak meant to process plutonium for use in creating nuclear weapons.
In exchange for curbing its nuclear program temporarily, some of the international economic sanctions against Iran will be eased. Everyone hopes this deal will pave the way for a more permanent agreement that puts an end to the Iranian nuclear weapons program and renders any nuclear ambitions for the future peaceful and solely for civilian interests. Regardless, any sign of diplomatic negotiations between the Western world and Iran is significant, as it has interrupted the decade of hostility and distrust regarding Iran’s nuclear program.
Although the main banking and oil sanctions remain in place, relief from these economic sanctions will total about $7 billion dollars for Iran. Since the 1979 Iranian hostage crisis, the list of sanctions against the state of Iran has been lengthening. Both the U.S. and the European Union have strengthened sanctions, since 2006, in the hopes of forcing Iran to alter the country’s course in regards to its controversial nuclear program. From the freezing of Iranian assets abroad to the banning of foreign investment in the country, the economic sanctions against Iran have had a significant impact to the Iranian economy over the last few decades. As industry has stagnated under an economic crisis, consumer prices have risen, unemployment is estimated to be double the national average and the nation’s GDP has suffered a decrease.
In general, the Iranian public has received this agreement well, with local newspapers holding this nuclear deal to high acclaim. Iranians welcome a step away from past isolationist policies that led Iran into an economic crisis. In fact, the current Iranian president Hassan Rouhani was elected on a platform focused on leading Iran through economic recovery through negotiations with the world’s major powers in order to lesson the crippling economic sanctions. Although the $7 billion is not enough to end any economic crisis Iran is facing, the nuclear agreement is the first step of many toward peace in the Middle East and the easing of larger economic sanctions related to banking and oil. After this deal was reached, Iranian currency rose in value, awarding credit to the notion that the lessening of sanctions on Iran will be a positive force on the Iranian economy.
Some lawmakers on Capitol Hill remain wary about this deal and wish to impose stricter sanctions on Iran. The Obama administration, however, warns that talks of any more sanctions would run the risk of ruining any progress made at Geneva. Moreover, the Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif has asserted that if Iran is met with any new economic sanctions from the U.S., there will be a cessation to the deal. In essence, although some members of both political parties in the United States are crafting legislation that impose new sanctions on Iran, the Obama Administration within the White House is defending the deal struck with Iran in hopes for a peaceful future.
– Rahul Shah