Earlier this month, after long negotiations, a deal was announced between Iran and a group of six nuclear powers to exchange lifting of international economic sanctions against Iran in return for Iran’s abandoning all attempts to enrich uranium anywhere close to weapons grade.
This news was met with celebration in Iran, where the populace has been dealing with a crippled economy. Many people are looking forward to being able to get better jobs and better access to goods and services that many of us take for granted.
While not celebrating in the streets, I and many other folks in the US are happy that an agreement was reached and hope that the US Congress will lend their support. Frankly, if they don’t, all it will do is make the United States look unreliable. The international sanctions will be lifted even if US ones imposed by Congress stay in place, while, worse yet, the Iran nuclear program would once again be free of international inspection and constraint.
I trust that the US’s lead negotiator, Secretary of State John Kerry, has reached a deal that is verifiable and will keep Iran from developing a nuclear weapon. I am grateful that the team also included Secretary of Energy Dr. Ernest Moniz, who is an MIT nuclear physicist. It is hard to imagine a better person to have in the room during negotiations on this topic. When he says that the Iranians could not clean a site of nuclear materials during the time that the agreement allows them to delay on inspection, I believe him. He definitely knows how to detect nuclear particles, even in tiny amounts.
I am old enough to remember Iran before the revolution that brought about the Islamic Republic. As a child, I remember hearing about the Shah of Iran and thinking of the country as a friend and ally of the US. Knowing that it had once been Persia, it also seemed very exotic to a small town New England girl. I did not know until much later the shenanigans that the US had pulled to overturn the democratically elected government and place the Shah in power.
When the revolution came in 1979, I was in my first year at Smith. It happened that a woman living in my house was the daughter of an Iranian diplomat. It was heart-wrenching to see her lose her homeland and see her fear for her family’s safety. Fortunately, they were able to escape the country unharmed.
In the following decades, it seems that many of the Iranian people have remained friendly toward Westerners, even though the government was not. I hope that this agreement will help promote diplomacy over war and continue on the path toward nuclear disarmament.