Kerester 1
Andrew Kerester
Prof. Dyson
Pols 3442
Midterm #2
The Iran Deal: A Path to Peace or Cause for Concern?
Nuclear w...
Kerester 2
countries, acquiring nuclear weapons? Kenneth Waltz, in his article “Why Iran Should Get The
Bomb”, argues that...
Kerester 3
itself with nuclear weapons. Another key component of the JCPOA involves limiting Iran’s
uranium enrichment lev...
Kerester 4
may appear like a favorable deal, such an evaluation only holds true for the very short term. In
the long run, ...
Kerester 5
conceal or relocate the activity and materials in violation of the JCPOA, thereby presenting an
opportunity for...
Kerester 6
While Kenneth Waltz, in his article “Why Iran Should Get The Bomb”, presents a
compelling argument for why we s...
Kerester 7
indication that Iran will behave as a belligerent outlier, operating outside the general trend
existing nuclear...
Kerester 8
sanctions, they were lifted only after a few months.”21 Now let us consider this response in
comparison to the ...
Kerester 9
worry over Iran’s pursuit of a nuclear weapon and the likely failure of the JCPOA to prevent this
in the long-r...
Kerester 10
Works Cited
1) Ben-Meir, Alon. "The Good, The Bad and the Ugly About the Iran Deal."
TheHuffingtonPost.com. Ju...
of 10

Pols 3442 Midterm 2

Published on: Mar 4, 2016
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Transcripts - Pols 3442 Midterm 2

  • 1. Kerester 1 Andrew Kerester Prof. Dyson Pols 3442 Midterm #2 The Iran Deal: A Path to Peace or Cause for Concern? Nuclear weapons exploded onto the international scene during and after the conclusion of World War 2, and ever since have sparked numerous debates and pressing questions. Recently, some of these questions have resurfaced to the forefront of international politics as the P5+1 (US, UK, France, China, Russia and Germany) agreed to a deal with the reigning Iranian regime which ends crippling international economic sanctions against Iran in exchange for Iran’s compliance in taking steps specified in the deal aimed at reducing their capability of developing and deploying a nuclear weapon. Among the many questions this deal raises, both about the deal itself and about nuclear weapons in general, the first that must be addressed is, what are the specific steps Iran is obligated to take in regards to its nuclear program? The next pressing question that comes to mind is, will it work? Will this deal, known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA)1, prevent Iran from acquiring a nuclear weapon and ensure that its nuclear program exists solely for peaceful purposes? This particular question does not lend itself well to an immediate definite answer, only time can reveal that; however, we may evaluate particular aspects of the JCPOA that impact its likelihood of success. Once this topic has received proper attention, we must ask ourselves this: should we even worry about Iran, or other 1 "Iran Nuclear Deal: Key Details." Www.bbc.com. July 14, 2015. Accessed November 24, 2015.
  • 2. Kerester 2 countries, acquiring nuclear weapons? Kenneth Waltz, in his article “Why Iran Should Get The Bomb”, argues that we should not worry about Iran acquiring a nuclear weapon, and should even welcome it because it would increase the stability of the region. I disagree with Waltz’s argument. My primary argument throughout this paper is that we should absolutely be worried about Iran, or any rogue state, acquiring a nuclear weapon and that the Iran Deal (JCPOA) contains fundamental flaws which will ultimately prevent the deal from, in the long term, successfully barring Iran from joining the cadre of states possessing nuclear weapons, and achieving greater regional peace and stability. Let us turn now to addressing the first question: what are the specifics of the Iran Deal? One of the key provisions that Iran must comply with is that it must reduce its uranium stockpile to a maximum of 300kg, a significant reduction from its current 10,000kg stockpile.2 President Barack Obama claims that this amounts to a 98% reduction in Iran’s nuclear stockpile.3 If Iran follows through with this obligation than it will limit the amount of material it has available to construct a nuclear weapon, thereby reducing its capacity to develop nuclear weapons. A key goal of measures such as this is to reduce Iran’s break-out time—the time it would take to produce a sufficient amount of highly enriched uranium for manufacturing a nuclear weapon.4 Since Iran will still have nuclear infrastructure in place for power generation and other peaceful means, they will still retain the resources necessary to produce a nuclear weapon if they so choose to do so at any point. Since the major powers cannot completely eliminate Iran’s nuclear capabilities, the next best option is to maximize Iran’s break-out time, thereby giving the major powers more time to detect, and coordinate a response to, the threat of an Iran attempting to arm 2 Botelho, Greg. "What's in the Iran Nuclear Deal?" CNN.com. July 14, 2015. Accessed November 27, 2015. 3 Botelo, “What’s in the Iran Nuclear Deal?” 4 “Iran Nuclear Deal: Key Details” www.bbc.com
  • 3. Kerester 3 itself with nuclear weapons. Another key component of the JCPOA involves limiting Iran’s uranium enrichment levels. Uranium enrichment works by filtering uranium hexafluoride gas into centrifuges in order to isolate the isotope known as U-235.5 Low-enriched uranium contains about a 3% concentration of U-235 and is used to produce fuel for nuclear power plants, but uranium can also be highly enriched to the point where it contains a 90% concentration of U- 235, the concentration needed to produce nuclear weapons.6 Due to this fact, the JCPOA limits Iran to keeping its uranium enrichment levels at a maximum of 3.67% and reduces its collection of 19,000 centrifuges by two-thirds.7 Nuclear weapons can also be built with plutonium, and so the JCPOA addresses Iran’s heavy-water nuclear reactor in the town of Arak. The spent fuel from this reactor contains the plutonium necessary to manufacture a nuclear weapon, and so as part of the deal Iran has agreed to redesign the Arak reactor so that it cannot produce weapons- grade plutonium8 and “all spent fuel will be sent out of the country as long as the reactor exists”.9 Iran has agreed to voluntarily adopt these restrictions to its nuclear program, “…in return for the lifting of crippling sanctions,”10 by the international community. The International Atomic Energy Agency will hold the responsibility of monitoring Iran’s officially declared nuclear sites in order to ensure their compliance with the JCPOA.11 Obama, echoing a key provision and understanding of the Iran deal, stated that, “If Iran violates the deal, all of these sanctions will snap back into place…So there is a very clear incentive for Iran to follow through and there are very real consequences for a violation.”12 These aforementioned provisions and limitations discussed within this section constitute the framework basis of the JCPOA; however, while it 5 “Iran Nuclear Deal: Key Details” www.bbc.com 6 “Iran Nuclear Deal: Key Details” www.bbc.com 7 Botelo, “What’s in the Iran Nuclear Deal?” 8 “Iran Nuclear Deal: Key Details” www.bbc.com 9 “Iran Nuclear Deal: Key Details” www.bbc.com 10 “Iran Nuclear Deal: Key Details” www.bbc.com 11 Botelo, “What’s in the Iran Nuclear Deal?” 12 Botelo, “What’s in the Iran Nuclear Deal?”
  • 4. Kerester 4 may appear like a favorable deal, such an evaluation only holds true for the very short term. In the long run, the deal extends an unwise level of trust to Iran, leaving the rogue state with far too much flexibility and an unsettling potential to develop not only the capabilities of its conventional forces, but also a threatening nuclear weapons program. While only the passing of time and acute observation will reveal with absolute certainty whether the JCPOA will be successful or not in the long term, we may still evaluate the deal and discuss the troublesome flaws which will significantly its impede the success. One flaw exists in that while Iran must grant IAEA inspectors essentially free access to their declared nuclear sites for the next 10-15 years, inspectors do not enjoy this same freedom of access to sites that Iran has not declared as nuclear sites.13 This lack of true “anytime, anywhere” inspections imposes meaningful resistance to the chances of the deal succeeding. For instance, even if inspectors or world powers suspect that Iran may be cheating the deal at an undeclared covert site they cannot take immediate physical action to verify or alleviate their suspicions. Instead, while, “The Obama administration assures Americans that the Iran deal grants access within 24 days to undeclared but suspected Iranian nuclear sites,”14 the troubling reality is that the, “…terms [of the deal] permit Iran to hold inspectors at bay for months, likely three or more.”15 Essentially, the language of the JCPOA allows Iran to strategically delay and prevent inspectors, via manipulating the deal’s rules regarding communication channels and dispute resolution,16 from gaining access to any sites that Iran has not explicitly declared. During this stalling period, Iran retains full sovereignty and control over the suspicious site in question and may take measures to 13 Samore, Gary. "The Iran Nuclear Deal: A Definitive Guide." Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs. Harvard University. August 3, 2015. Accessed November 30, 2015. 14Fradkin, Hillel, and Lewis Libby. "Iran Inspections in 24 Days? Not Even Close." WSJ.com (Wall Street Journal). July 21, 2015. Accessed November 30, 2015. 15 Fradkin and Libby, “Iran Inspections in 24 Days? Not Even Close.” 16 Fradkin and Libby, “Iran Inspections in 24 Days? Not Even Close.”
  • 5. Kerester 5 conceal or relocate the activity and materials in violation of the JCPOA, thereby presenting an opportunity for Iran to covertly further its nuclear weapon ambitions, whether via research or expanded uranium enrichment, while avoiding the ire of international sanctions. Another significant obstacle to the deal’s success exists in the highly unfortunate fact that the deal does not directly link the issues of Iranian nuclear ambitions, international sanctions relief and Iranian support for terrorist proxies throughout the region/Iran’s efforts to destabilize its neighbors. Even if Iran staunchly adheres to the limitations imposed on its nuclear program, the JCPOA fails in that it allows for billions in sanctions relief to flow into the country without any strict mechanisms in place to prevent those funds from benefitting the terrorist proxy groups Iran supports.17 This means Iran remains acutely aware that it is free to wreak havoc in the region with its proxy groups on an even larger scale with the help of the money that will flow back into the country. The end result of this relatively soft policy on Iran’s sponsorship of international terrorism holds grave implications for the long-term peace and stability of the region. Furthermore, while the JCPOA reduces Iran’s short-term capability of acquiring a nuclear weapon, it still allows Iran to legally practice enriching uranium, does not require it to deconstruct any of its nuclear facilities, and allows for the continued research and development of more advanced centrifuges and intercontinental ballistic missile technology.18 While this still means that Iran’s nuclear program is restricted in the short-term, it also means that Iran can look forward to 10-15 years in the future when it will more than likely be in a better position to acquire a nuclear weapon of its own construction as a direct result of the advances in research and development that it will conduct while it patiently bides its time waiting for the deal to expire and the opportune moment to strike. 17Ernst, Joni. "The Danger of the Iran Deal." CNN.com. September 10, 2015. Accessed November 29, 2015. 18Ben-Meir, Alon. "The Good, The Bad and the Ugly About the Iran Deal." TheHuffingtonPost.com. July 22, 2015. Accessed November 30, 2015.
  • 6. Kerester 6 While Kenneth Waltz, in his article “Why Iran Should Get The Bomb”, presents a compelling argument for why we should not worry about Iran acquiring a nuclear weapon, and why we should even welcome it as foundation of regional stability, I believe he is ultimately misguided in his assertions. A plurality of reasons exist for why we should worry about the possibility of Iran (or any other rogue state for that matter) acquiring a nuclear weapon. First and foremost, his argument appears to rely far too heavily on historical precedent. For instance, a central pillar of his argument rests on the general trend exhibited by other nuclear states. Waltz claims that, “The problem with these concerns [over how Iran will behave after acquiring nuclear weapons] is that they contradict the record of every other nuclear weapons state going back to 1945. History shows that when countries acquire the bomb, they feel increasingly vulnerable and become acutely aware that their nuclear weapons make them a potential target in the eyes of major powers. This awareness discourages nuclear states from bold and aggressive action.”19 Historical precedent can reveal trends that may hold true in many cases; however a trend does not equal an unquestionable fact, especially when that trend is based on a relatively small sample size, as there are not enough nuclear-armed states to constitute a sample size large enough to draw definitive conclusions from. A trend is simply a trend, and that is all it is. Every trend will hold true—until it doesn’t. As many a statistician can attest to, even the most rigid of trends often have anomalies known as outliers, and these outliers are termed as such partially because their occurrence is not expected—they lie outside the immediate sphere of expected outcomes, yet they occur anyways, regardless of our expectations. In this sense, we must not rule out the possibility that Iran, or any other rogue state seeking nuclear weapons, will behave as one of these outliers and approach the possibility of a nuclear-armed Iran with utmost urgency. A key 19Waltz, Kenneth."Why Iran Should Get the Bomb." ForeignAffairs.com. July-August 2012 Issue.Accessed November 24, 2015.
  • 7. Kerester 7 indication that Iran will behave as a belligerent outlier, operating outside the general trend existing nuclear states have followed, is its previous track record of sowing regional discord and instigating instability. Iran’s past conduct has explicitly and clearly demonstrated that it is able and willing to, “…engage in clandestine, subversive behavior; Iran undermines regimes, supports terrorist organizations and continually calls for the annihilation of another UN member state— Israel.”20 When considering matters of international stability and the consequences of how a particular state will behave within the international system, it is wise to defer to the general trends of states, but it is far wiser to recognize the greater relevancy and inherent importance of the particular state-in-question’s past behavior, trends it actively exhibits and its relationships with other states. We can directly observe the simple truth of this statement in the vastly different ways America perceives and reacts to different countries possessing nuclear weapons, depending on the aforementioned factors. Consider America’s longtime allies, France and the UK. America has enjoyed a long friendship with these states, during which they have built up a favorable rapport with each other while all sharing a mutual respect for the established laws and norms of the current international order. Due directly to the nature of these states’ amicable behavior toward each other and generally agreeable behavior while acting on the international scene, America has never expressed serious concern with or felt threatened by the nuclear arsenals of these two companion states. Let us consider two states who do not share as close a relationship with America as France and the UK do, but still act relatively “behaved”: Pakistan and India. The international response to Iran’s pursuit of a nuclear weapon, “…stands in stark contrast to the reaction to India and Pakistan’s testing of nuclear weapons in 1998 within weeks of one another. Although there was worldwide condemnation and the US imposed some 20 Ben-Meir, “The Good, The Bad and the Ugly About the Iran Deal.”
  • 8. Kerester 8 sanctions, they were lifted only after a few months.”21 Now let us consider this response in comparison to the international response to Iran’s pursuit of nuclear weapons. Iran has still not acquired a nuclear weapon, yet it faces harsher and longer-lasting consequences for the pursuit of a nuclear weapon, whereas India and Pakistan were essentially let off the hook for acquiring their nuclear weapons. This contrast is not due to simple chance or historical accident, but rather the discrepancy in international reaction exists because Iran actively demonstrates to the world its malicious intentions and eagerness to ignore international law while senselessly putting lives in danger in its reckless determination to exert its influence in pursuit of regional dominance. The fact of the matter is that, “Were Iran not engaged in such activities, there would have been no uproar about its nuclear program and the sanctions might not have been sustained.”22 This intuitive logic shows further resilience in the example of North Korea’s relationship with the international community. North Korea is an actively rogue state which abuses its own people, willingly maintains a hostile attitude toward the majority of the world community, and has acquired its own small, yet still dangerous nuclear arsenal. North Korea continues to face international sanctions originating years back directly due to its nuclear program and status as a rogue state. We must take care to remember these facts when considering whether or not we should fear another state’s acquisition of a nuclear weapon. Most importantly of all in this case, we must not forget that while a majority of states may behave a certain way, this does not mean all states will therefore inherently conform to the same behavior. With this in mind, we must recognize that some states will inevitably act unpredictably and adopt courses of action which may significantly deviate from international norms/expectations, and thus we must certainly 21 Ben-Meir, “The Good, The Bad and the Ugly About the Iran Deal.” 22 Ben-Meir, “The Good, The Bad and the Ugly About the Iran Deal.”
  • 9. Kerester 9 worry over Iran’s pursuit of a nuclear weapon and the likely failure of the JCPOA to prevent this in the long-run. Internalizing this knowledge provides the foundation for maintaining a wise, cautious and adamant stance against allowing nuclear weapons to fall into the hands of rogue states. Contrary to Waltz’s belief that nuclear proliferation will bring greater stability, permitting rogue states to freely possess nuclear weapons acts less as an international stabilizer, and more as an international fault line, exacerbating existing conflicts and potentially igniting new ones. It is primarily for these reasons discussed throughout this paper that the international community must remain on its guard to prevent Iran (or any rogue state) from acquiring nuclear weapons, especially after having evaluated the likely effectiveness of the JCPOA and arriving at the conclusion that while it may restrict Iran in the short-term, it provides no lasting solution and simply sets Iran up to be in a better position to acquire a nuclear weapon than when the deal began.
  • 10. Kerester 10 Works Cited 1) Ben-Meir, Alon. "The Good, The Bad and the Ugly About the Iran Deal." TheHuffingtonPost.com. July 22, 2015. Accessed November 30, 2015. http://www.huffingtonpost.com/alon-benmeir/the-good-the-bad-and- the_b_7849296.html 2) Botelho, Greg. "What's in the Iran Nuclear Deal?" CNN.com. July 14, 2015. Accessed November 27, 2015. http://www.cnn.com/2015/07/14/politics/iran-nuclear- deal-highlights/ 3) Ernst, Joni. "The Danger of the Iran Deal." CNN.com. September 10, 2015. Accessed November 29, 2015. http://www.cnn.com/2015/09/10/opinions/ernst-iran-nuclear- deal/ 4) Fradkin, Hillel, and Lewis Libby. "Iran Inspections in 24 Days? Not Even Close." WSJ.com (Wall Street Journal). July 21, 2015. Accessed November 30, 2015. http://www.wsj.com/articles/iran-inspections-in-24-days-not-even-close-1437521911 5) "Iran Nuclear Deal: Key Details." Www.bbc.com. July 14, 2015. Accessed November 24, 2015. http://www.bbc.com/news/world-middle-east-33521655 6) Samore, Gary. "The Iran Nuclear Deal: A Definitive Guide." Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs. Harvard University. August 3, 2015. Accessed November 30, 2015. http://belfercenter.ksg.harvard.edu/publication/25599/iran_nuclear_deal.html 7) Waltz, Kenneth. "Why Iran Should Get the Bomb." ForeignAffairs.com. July-August 2012 Issue. Accessed November 24, 2015. https://www.foreignaffairs.com/articles/iran/2012-06-15/why-iran-should-get-bomb

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