America was well justified in making the Iranian Nuclear Deal

Hadeel Eltayeb, Contributing Writer

The controversy surrounding the recently-confirmed nuclear deal with Iran, formally called the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), is the talk of the nation. Essentially, the aim of the deal is to increase the breakout time, or time it would take Iran to construct a nuclear weapon. Were the JCPOA to be approved, present sanctions that have crippled Iran would be lifted. These sanctions date back to the 1979 Tehran hostage crisis, with gradual adjustments having been made as recently as 2012.

Without the deal, Iran’s current nuclear program poses a great threat. Should the Iranians choose to pursue the construction of a nuclear weapon, the estimated breakout time would only be about two to three months. Under the deal’s terms, Iran’s breakout time would increase to twelve months or more. There are two ways by which Iran could pursue the development of nuclear weapons: highly enriching enough uranium, or producing sufficient weapons-grade plutonium. The deal eliminates one of the two uranium- enrichment facilities in Iran, while splitting the number of centrifuges from its current 19,000, to barely half that at 6,000. It also renders the heavy-water reactor used to produce weapons-grade plutonium essentially useless, while preventing the country from building any more reactors until the deal expires in 15 years. Iran must also reduce its stockpile (currently enough to build eight to ten bombs) to 660 pounds, while the rest is shipped out of the country.

The common complaint about the JCPOA is that it trusts Iran to monitor itself, but that is blatantly untrue. The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) has not, nor will it ever, give Iranian agencies the ability to monitor their own nuclear sites. To do so would be ridiculous. IAEA inspectors will be monitoring Iran’s nuclear programs at all stages, looking for tell-tale signs such as unexplained purchases, isotope alarms, and holes doubling as potential uranium mines.

The IAEA also has authority to inspect any sites it deems suspicious, and should Iran be in any violation of the JCPOA, snap-back sanctions would immediately go into effect. It is worth reemphasizing that these sanctions have done extensive damage to the Iranian economy. The logical assumption would be that Iran’s first step, and essentially, its incentive to follow the terms of the agreement, would be to repair that damage before anything else could plague their economy.

While it is daunting to think about a powerful Iran with money and economic opportunities like those enjoyed in the West, we cannot forget that to leave Iran’s nuclear program unchecked is to essentially ensure that Iran can build a nuclear weapon. Not only does this deal curb the ways by which Iran could construct a bomb, but it limits the resources they already have. Over time, Iran’s resources would only increase, meaning that breakout time concerns would only increase proportionally.

In 15 years, the JCPOA will have expired, and possibly, Iran and the West will have achieved a better rapport. This nuclear deal with Iran is vitally important because it provides us with time, and time is absolutely of the essence.