I am not a scientist, but unlike so many Republican members of Congress who make that claim, this failing prompts me to listen more carefully and critically to the views of those who are. That includes the 29 scientists who wrote a strong letter of support for approval of the Iran nuclear deal this month. The group stated that the agreement has “more stringent constraints than any previously negotiated nonproliferation framework.”
The agreement reached between a multinational coalition and Iran requires Iran, which is currently judged to have a “breakout time” of three months to complete a nuclear weapon, to forgo any further development during the first 10 years of the agreement, limit its enrichment of uranium to 3.7 percent (while a bomb requires enrichment to 90 percent), reduce its stockpile of low-enriched uranium by 98 percent, not exceed that quantity (660 pounds) for 15 years, and agree to inspections of its facilities during the next 25 years.
I am not a general or an admiral, but I do listen carefully and critically to those such as the three dozen retired generals and admirals who recently released a letter of support for the agreement, calling it “the most effective means currently available to prevent Iran from obtaining nuclear weapons.”
I am not a former Israeli intelligence or military leader, but when the former heads of both Mossad and Shin Bet say that the agreement should be approved, I listen carefully to what they say. Saying that “it is easy to play with fears in a fearful society,” former Shin Bet leader Ami Ayalon joined other of Israeli’s military and intelligence veterans in praising the fact that Iran’s breakout time – if they cheat – has gone from three months to 12 months – a vast improvement in lead time for Israel to react.
And I definitely am not a politician. But I have learned to listen carefully and critically to what politicians say (with a large grain of salt). Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu is making specious arguments to undermine the deal – including his claim that the prospect of a 24-day delay before being able to inspect a facility would allow Iran to “hide” any trace of uranium (which has a half-life of 703.8 million years and thus is easily detected after only 24 days). And as for the Republican opposition in Congress, I can only applaud their apparent speed-reading abilities since within five minutes of the text of the 109-page document being made public, many had already decided to oppose it.
While not claiming any of the titles above, I am merely a citizen of this country who sees the boast of an easy military solution to Iran’s nuclear ambitions as ridiculous. Many of the people making those boasts are the same neocons who urged war with Iraq (over supposed weapons of mass destruction) saying that it would be an easy victory, taking a few months and costing $50 billion to
$60 billion. Instead, it cost thousands of American lives, hundreds of thousands of Iraqi lives, lasting physical and mental injuries to our veterans, and several trillion dollars – while strengthening Iran’s influence over Iraq.
I only wish that these wrong-headed individuals had benefited from the wise counsel of my ninth-grade civics teacher who clearly stated that “war is the last stage of diplomacy and not the first.”
This article was written by for In Forum on AUG. 23, 2015.