Editorial: Keep a close eye on Iran


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Despite the recent unrest in Syria and Iraq, perhaps the most dangerous condition to percolate out of the Middle East could be the very real possibility of a nuclear Iran. Acting as the concerned parents of a troubled child clutching scissors, the rest of the world wearily tries to negotiate a deal.

The United States and Iran have had a strained relationship since Nov. 4, 1979. Speaking to the U.N. General Assembly in 2012, President Obama warned about Iran that “time and time again, it has failed to take the opportunity to demonstrate that its nauclear program is peaceful, and to meet its obligations to the United Nations.” Needless to say, the United States has a fair reason to be uneasy about a nation with a president that stated in an election speech that “saying ‘Death to America’ is easy. We need to express ‘Death to America’ with action.”

In 2013, there seemed to be a breakthrough. Iran agreed to halt the enrichment of uranium past 5 percent. As for the uranium already enriched to a 20 percent level, it would be diluted or converted into oxide. The accord also states that Iran would not engage in the construction of any new centrifuges or enrichment facilities. In return, Iran will have sanctions worth approximately $7 billion lifted.

Enriched uranium is the key component in both the generation of energy and nuclear weapons. Iran publicly claims that its uranium program is aimed at the production of energy, not military weaponry. The enrichment levels for nuclear energy uses reside in the 3-5 percent range. That Iran has been enriching past these levels is a cause for concern.

The next step of this concerted effort required the P5+1, a group of six world powers consisting of the United States, Russia, China, United Kingdom, France, and Germany, to determine a new set of requirements by Nov. 24. Just as well-intentioned parents often fail to reach a cohesive course of action, the P5+1 did not succeed in meeting its own deadline.

This means that Iran will continue with the agreement signed in 2013, reducing its uranium stockpiles by converting approximately 5 kilograms of uranium oxide into nuclear fuel per month.

While the deal seems to be an international victory at face value, it has not gone without criticism. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who realizes that a nuclear Iran would put Israel in the most imminent danger, believes that this is a “bad deal.” He warns against signing any resolution “that would allow Iran to remain with thousands of centrifuges that it could use to enrich uranium, which you need for a nuclear bomb, in a short period of time.”

A U.N. group that serves as its atomic watchdog has been commissioned to conduct monitoring to make sure Iran is abiding with the deal. The real test will come on Dec. 11 when a U.N. group will meet in Vienna to reveal what the monitoring has revealed.

Netanyahu has a right to be hesitant about any centrifuges at all in Iran, given the rhetoric that commonly comes out of that country regarding Israel. That being said, if Iran is truly honoring the 2013 accord, that would certainly be a step in the right direction, because some cooperation is better than no cooperation at all. The Daily Iowan Editorial Board believes that the international community should keep a close eye on Iran. If this can be done without treating it as a hostile entity and Iran honors its part of the agreement, a bilateral deal can be reached.

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