Jewish Light Editorial

One cannot lump all opposition to the tentative nuclear agreement with Iran into one camp. After all, as the saying goes, there are a million different ways to say no.

But we’re on board with saying yes. We think the major reduction in centrifuges, the massive drop in low-enriched uranium, the unprecedented inspection rights, the conversion of the Fordo site and the removal of plutonium capability from the Arak facility are substantial and important concessions that severely curtail nuclear weapon breakout efforts without the West’s knowledge.

Some flat-out assert that we should not deal with, and release sanctions on, a nation that has regularly lied and continues to spew hatred toward the West, the United States, Israel and Jews. Others say that even if there is to be an agreement, it should push Iran even further back toward zero nuclear capability (no facilities, no centrifuges) and attempt to assure a longer breakout time for creating such capability should Iran break the deal. Or that it should thwart Iran’s missile development, or contain guarantees that curtail Iran’s support of terror in the Middle East.

We don’t deny the serious concerns. After all, if there weren’t concerns, why would there be the need for such rugged negotiations between the P5+1 nations and Iran in the first place? Negotiating with one’s friends is always significantly easier than bringing enemies to the table in a constructive manner.

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Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has continually utilized hyperbolic statements in front of the United States Congress, on Sunday morning talk shows and beyond about how utterly bad the deal is. Yuval Steinitz, Israel’s minister of intelligence and strategic affairs, this week listed specific improvements to the deal that he believes would make it acceptable.

Yet to assume that Iran would simply have caved and accepted less favorable positions represents nothing more than speculation. We cannot be at all sure from anything we read that the Western negotiators had the power or leverage to make a better deal than the one on the table right now. For it’s all conjecture unless and until someone produces a silver bullet that demonstrates Iran would have agreed to something more potent.

So let’s just accept for argument’s sake that a better deal could not have been obtained.

Given that perspective, we are reduced to analyzing whether this deal is superior to no-deal alternatives. And we conclude that it is, for several reasons.

We do not care to continue down the track of Iran being wholly unencumbered in its nuclear development. We do not believe that it’s clear that if current sanctions produced the current deal, that more new sanctions will produce a better deal; we think there’s at least an odds-on chance that negotiations would cease altogether if that were to happen.

We also continue to take the position that if no better deal can be reached through different negotiations or harsher sanctions, then on-the-ground military options may be what’s left to deter Iran’s program. And while such an effort may be necessary (and ought be preserved) as a last resort, yet another Middle East war will produce untold casualties and make the chances of negotiated solutions and, in our opinion, regime change far less likely.

Those who say that the American negotiators are too trusting have not been following the story. Over and again, our leaders have affirmed both that they were willing to walk away if they didn’t get the deal they wanted, and that nothing about the agreement is predicated on trust — the deal documents the ability to inspect virtually anytime and anywhere to follow up on perceived issues.

The administration is not required by law to seek congressional approval for this move. So if the goal of many of the deal’s opponents is to deliberately undercut the accomplishments to date, and President Barack Obama has the courage of his convictions., it’s a tough sell to ask him to put the future of the deal in Congress’ hands. Yes, the same Congress that previously sent an unprecedented letter directly to Iran in an attempt to undermine the deal.

In short, we don’t fault those who are skeptical of the agreement, which still hinges on several months of fine tuning to ensure a full meeting of the minds. We just disagree with them.