There are no viable alternatives to the current nuclear deal with Iran
One of the strongest cases for accepting the nuclear deal with Iran can be made by considering the alternatives to the deal. Some of the options (ex. pursuing more sanctions or greater restrictions) are both unrealistic and possibly counterproductive, while other options such as taking military action against Iran's facilities would cause serious damage to international security for many years.
There is little evidence that new unilateral U.S. sanctions or airstrikes against Iran’s nuclear facilities would compel Iran to abandon enrichment. Sanctions have been useful in bringing Iran to the negotiating table, but they have not stopped Iran's program from advancing. According to a December 2013 U.S. intelligence community assessment, “new sanctions would undermine the prospects for a successful comprehensive nuclear agreement with Iran.”
While airstrikes against Iran’s nuclear facilities might temporarily set back the program, the delay would be temporary and run a high risk of convincing Iran to dash to acquire nuclear weapons to prevent such strikes in the future. A ten-to-fifteen-year deal will keep Iran further away from the ability to make enough highly enriched uranium for a nuclear weapon for longer than the alternative of a military strike possibly could.
The bottom line is that none of the critics of an Iran deal, from Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to all the harrumphing Republican presidential hopefuls, has offered a single credible alternative that accomplishes even what has been achieved since 2013.
Absent an accord, Iran will in time resume where it left off 20 months ago. The United States, under Obama or his successor, is not about to go to war with Iran; forget about it. We’ll get the next facile metaphor along the lines of Netanyahu’s warning that an Iranian nuclear threat is coming “to a theater near you,” and another crescendo of rhetoric designed to disguise helpless navel-gazing and, perhaps, a touch of remorse for the opportunity squandered to ring-fence and cut back Iran’s nuclear program under relentless inspection.
The key is to compare the deal to the plausible alternatives. No “perfect” deal in which Iran would completely capitulate was ever possible. And history suggests that the aftermath of imposing requirements that states regard as humiliating is not pretty — the most extreme example being Germany’s responses to the settlement imposed on them after World War I, which led to World War II. Now, if the United States rejected this deal and went back to sanctions to try to get a better one, most of the world would not be with us, making sanctions much less effective, and Iran would begin adding more centrifuges, enriching more uranium, and edging ever closer to the bomb — eventually leaving us with a stark choice between acquiescing and launching military strikes on Iran’s nuclear facilities. Such strikes would carry huge risks for U.S. security, would only set Iran’s program back by 2-5 years, would probably lead Iran to kick out inspectors, and would likely shift it to a program focused on going directly to the bomb at covert facilities. Overall, this deal serves U.S. and world security better than any available alternative.
The author argues that the common calls from Republican presidential candidates to "tear up the Iran Deal" lack a credible alternative and will likely be quickly abandoned when faced with the reality of dealing with other international partners in the deal.
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Doyle McManus argues that while there may be alternatives to the Iran nuclear deal, "none of them are easy, none are cost-free and none are guaranteed to work", making them more of a gamble than the deal itself.
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The author argues that opponents of the nuclear deal with Iran have the burden of proof to show a viable alternative.
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Richard Cohen argues that critics of the Iran deal have yet to propose an alternative to the current framework and that a collapse of the deal would put U.S. and Iran back on a path towards war.
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The author challenges Netanyhu's critique of the Iran deal, arguing that if the U.S. backs away from the current deal in favor of more pressure, the rest of the world will pull out and "Iran’s isolation will ease and America’s will grow."
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