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Preventing Another Hiroshima: Making The Case For A Nuclear Deal With Iran

A huge expanse of ruins left the explosion of the atomic bomb on August 6, 1945 in Hiroshima. (AP)closemore
A huge expanse of ruins left the explosion of the atomic bomb on August 6, 1945 in Hiroshima. (AP)

Seventy years ago, the United States became the only country to use atomic weapons by bombing Hiroshima and Nagasaki. Today, we have a chance to mitigate this legacy with the Iran nuclear agreement.

This deal represents by far the best solution in limiting Iran’s nuclear program. The costly results of our lengthy conflicts in both Iraq and Afghanistan have shown the superiority of peaceful solutions to international crises.

This deal represents by far the best solution in limiting Iran’s nuclear program.

In deciding whether to support this agreement, undecided U.S. representatives and senators must, for once, put aside political considerations. Instead, they must judge it on whether it accomplishes its primary goal of preventing Iran from producing nuclear weapons. They must also accept that the agreement was never intended to address the myriad other differences between the United States and Iran.

Under this plan, international inspectors will subject Iran’s nuclear program to strict scrutiny to insure compliance with limitations on both the number of Iranian centrifuges and the enrichment capability of Iran’s uranium. This process presents a far better situation than the status quo under which Iran could potentially produce enough nuclear material to make a bomb in two to three months. The deal would also give international inspectors unprecedented access to Iranian nuclear facilities along every stop of the supply chain, from the country's uranium mines to any of its declared nuclear facilities. Even if Iran decided to cheat on the agreement and attempted to develop a nuclear weapons program in secret, the International Atomic Energy Agency’s Safeguards Agreement, which Iran has agreed to implement, allows inspectors to investigate any site they deem suspicious.

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry, with his first-hand military experiences, his work as an arms control advocate in the Senate, and now as a diplomat, understands the realities of the international climate as much as anyone. He, along with our allies that worked together to secure this accord, recognize the absence of any plausible alternatives at this time.

Secretary Kerry is not the only U.S. diplomat endorsing this deal. More than 100 former U.S. Ambassadors submitted a letter to President Obama endorsing the plan. The consensus among our current and former senior diplomats as well as the vast majority of our allies is clear: this is the best we can do, given the situation. Rejection of the agreement would undermine our diplomatic efforts, not only with respect to Iran but more broadly, as other countries would be wary of engaging our diplomats for fear that the U.S. Congress would ultimately reject even those deals endorsed by much of the rest of the international community.

As we commemorate Hiroshima and Nagasaki, let us hope that approving this agreement with Iran will help the United States build a lasting legacy of peace.

Finalizing this agreement could help to stabilize a volatile Middle East and allow for greater engagement with a longtime adversary. It would open a channel for greater dialogue with Iran, the best means of the United States addressing its grievances with the Iranian government.

In his speech on Wednesday at American University, President Obama proclaimed, “Since World War II, the deadliest war in human history, we have used our power to try to bind nations together in a system of international law. We have led an evolution … to prevent the spread of deadly weapons, to uphold peace and security, and promote human progress.”

As we commemorate Hiroshima and Nagasaki, let us hope that approving this agreement with Iran will help the United States build a lasting legacy of peace.


The author worked as a senior policy advisor to then-Senator John Kerry for seven years.

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Mark S. Sternman Cognoscenti contributor
Mark S. Sternman serves on the board of directors of the Council for a Livable World.

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