Iran deal is a risk worth taking


The opponents of the nuclear deal with Iran are right. Iran has regarded the United States as “the great Satan” since it came to power in 1979. Its foreign policy is often at loggerheads with ours. And some of its leaders believe that Israel, our closest ally in the Middle East, should not exist. It would be absurd to think that any deal with the Iranians wouldn’t present a risk. A risk not dissimilar the one the United States took in 1982 when we undertook to negotiate the START I treaty with Soviet Union, a country we once called “the Evil Empire.”

But we are Americans, and smart risk taking is in America’s DNA. Almost all of us are here in the United States because our ancestors chose to leave the familiar behind to pursue the promise of a new world. We have used our skill with risk to become the most powerful and prosperous nation the world has ever known.

Though we are risk takers, we are not careless gamblers. We are, instead, smart investors. We do our homework. We carefully assess the risks associated with opportunities. We keep our objectives firmly fixed in mind as we consider all of the things that could frustrate them. We use our ingenuity and creativity to avoid and limit risk. We work to improve the likelihood that our investments will pay off.

That there are risks involved in dealing with Iran cannot be disputed. Yet, through American leadership, the world has reached an accord with that country that significantly reduces the risk that there will ever be an Iranian nuclear weapon.

Iran has promised that it will never attempt to build or acquire a nuclear weapon. We do not foolishly take Iran at its word. Instead, we have realistically considered the possibility that Iran will renege on its commitment and we have devised unprecedented methods for detecting, deterring and punishing any duplicity.

All of Iran’s known nuclear facilities are now subject to 24/7 electronic monitoring and can be inspected at will by the International Atomic Energy Agency. International inspectors trained in the United States will monitor every step—from uranium mining to enrichment—that could lead to a stockpile of bomb fuel and warn us if they discover that Iran has done anything that could lead to a bomb. No country in the world has ever agreed to this degree of intrusiveness.

Iran has agreed to surrender 97% of its stockpile of enriched uranium. It has agreed that it will not enrich uranium beyond 3.67%, well below the 90% enrichment required for a weapon.

Iran will not be allowed to enrich any uranium at all in one of its two known enrichment facilities, and in the other, it must reduce the number of centrifuges by over 70%. The centrifuges Iran is allowed to keep in service will be its oldest and least efficient. Because these existing installations are subject to monitoring and inspection on a 24/7 basis, if Iran tried to ramp up its capacity at either of them, we will know.

Iran also has a heavy water reactor that currently has the ability to create weapons grade plutonium. Under international inspection, the reactor will be rebuilt so that it cannot do this.

We are not obliged to do anything until Iran has met all of these obligations.

There is little chance under the agreement that Iran will be able to continue its uranium enrichment activities covertly. Uranium enrichment is an industrial activity. It cannot be done in a small laboratory. If Iran tries to construct new enrichment facilities, we will know. If it tries to divert any uranium to a secret facility, we will know.

In fact, if we believe that Iran is doing anything suspicious, we can call the world’s attention to it and demand an inspection. If Iran fails or refuses to cooperate, the president can snap our existing sanctions back into place. And neither Russia nor China can stop the United Nations from once again imposing its current sanctions if the United States and its European partners believe that Iran has reneged.

There is a risk that after 15 years, Iran will lawfully reinstate its uranium enrichment program. But 15 years is a long time. Fifteen years ago, Bill Clinton was still in the White House presiding over a booming economy. Neither the September 11 attacks nor the Great Recession had yet happened. And few had ever heard of Barack Obama.

In 15 years, the current generation of young Iranian adults, objectively more progressive and forward-looking than their conservative elders, will have a stronger say in how Iran is governed. In 15 years, after the suspension of sanctions, Iran might have a normal, middle class economy, which can only benefit the safety and security of the United States and Israel.

As a pariah, Iran has little to lose. That’s why Iran behaves as it does. But working to give Iran something valuable to lose could transform a risky bet into a smart American investment in global peace.

For all of these reasons, I ask all of the members of Congress to side with numerous foreign policy experts, former heads of Israel’s Mossad and IDF, and renowned military leaders like Secretary of State Colin Powell, to support the hard fought victory that these negotiations bring and vote in favor of the P5+1 agreement.
Kirill Reznik, a Democrat, is a member of the Maryland House of Delegates, representing District 39.

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