The last minute nuclear agreement worked out in Geneva on Sunday between Iran and the six-powers group of the United States, Russia, China, Britain, France and Germany is an important first step and merits the support of all progressive, peace-minded people. It is a welcome step by our country away from a foreign policy of militarism and confrontation.
According to the deal, Iran will change its current nuclear fuel refinement regime: It will stop enriching uranium over the 5 percent level, will dilute existing stocks of 20 percent enriched uranium back to the 5 percent level, will not install any new centrifuges, and will stop work on the Arak nuclear facility where some fear it may be trying to produce plutonium, another route to atomic weaponry. Iran also agrees to intensified inspections by the International Atomic Energy Agency.
In exchange for this, and during the six months in which a permanent deal is sought which will bring Iran into full compliance with the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, the six-powers will reduce sanctions currently imposed on Iran. This will be worth about $7 billion to Iran, and will consist of permitting Iran to sell more oil on international markets, export metals, chemicals and other items, and have more access to financial and banking mechanisms now crippled by sanctions. Needless to say, no new sanctions will be imposed as long as Iran keeps to the bargain.
By the end of six months, the goal is for Iran and the six-powers to sign a permanent agreement that will permit Iran to produce all the nuclear power required for its own energy generating and medical (e.g. radiotherapy for cancer patients) needs, but not nearly enough to produce atomic weapons.
This is a major positive achievement. But, the deal could fall apart or be sabotaged. It is being openly denounced by Israeli Prime Minister Benyamin Netanyahu, by Republican and some Democratic politicians and pundits in the United States, all of whom claim that the Obama administration has betrayed Israel by entering into this agreement. Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates, who see Iran as a dangerous regional rival, are not satisfied with the deal. But beyond the region, countries like India will benefit from the deal, as it makes Iranian oil available to their industries again.
One of the biggest dangers right now is that the deal be sabotaged by the U.S. Congress imposing even more sanctions on Iran. We opposes all sanctions that harm ordinary working people unless there is a liberation movement which explicitly asks for such sanctions, as was the case in the struggle of the people of South Africa against apartheid. The Iranian regime is reactionary and repressive, but no sector of its internal opposition, including the Iranian left, supports sanctions.
If Congress piles on more sanctions, the people of Iran and the whole region will be hurt, and the chance for peace will be greatly set back. We ask, therefore, that our readers contact their congressional representatives to insist that they support the Geneva agreement and the process that will lead to a more complete and permanent settlement.
Furthermore, we deem it rank hypocrisy for nations such as the United States, which has a mind boggling capacity for thermonuclear mayhem, to pressure others while they do little or nothing to reduce their own stockpiles. Negotiations to prevent Iran from producing a bomb should go hand in hand with general nuclear disarmament-and that includes Israel. This will happen only if we organize and speak out to make it happen.
Photo: U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry, center right, and Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif, center left, shake hands at the United Nations, Nov. 24, in Geneva, Switzerland. Iran struck a historic nuclear deal with the U.S. and five other world powers, in the most significant development between Washington and Tehran in more than three decades of estrangement between the two nations. The agreement commits Iran to curb its nuclear activities in exchange for limited and gradual sanctions relief. Martial Trezzini/Keystone/AP