Miles: Calm heads make diplomacy work towards peace

The Salt Pile

In 2015 the United States and other nations struck a nuclear deal with Iran. The deal was one of the most discussed political events of the year: Some view it as a major achievement of diplomacy in our modern age of bombs and threats by others as a submission to the demands of aggressive Iranian leaders.

The agreement mandated that international sanctions on Iran would be lifted, in return for a 98 percent reduction of its stores of low-enriched uranium and for reducing its number of operating centrifuges—which are used to process that uranium—by two-thirds. It is believed that this greatly reduces Iran’s potential for nuclear weaponry. If they decided to violate this agreement and rush a nuclear weapon, it could take up to a year, compared to the couple of months it would have taken before the logistic reductions. In effect, this agreement killed most of Iran’s nuclear program, without a drop of blood shed, to the chagrin of war hawks across the U.S.

This year Iran seems to be making good on this deal, much to the shock of naysayers (and Republican presidential candidates) everywhere. On Jan. 16th, the International Atomic Energy Agency reported that Iran has made serious progress on deconstructing its nuclear systems. Over 8.5 tons of uranium have been moved to Russia, the country permanently decommissioned a nuclear reactor in Arak and disabled over 12,000 centrifuges. In all respects, Iranian President Hassan Rouhani has readily complied with the deal. Furthermore he is actively working to improve Iranian domestic affairs, as well as foreign relations. Although the nation remains hostile toward Israel, the situation in the Middle East is slowly healing.

This is a historical moment in the diplomatic relationship between two countries who have been hostile toward each other since the hostage crisis in the late 1970s, and it could not have occurred without the tireless efforts of our leaders, including President Barack Obama and Secretary of State John Kerry. They should be commended; level heads prevailed in discussions, even with our very own Congress seeking to undermine the deal at every turn.

Many conservatives, including those in Congress, believe that these negotiations will fall through. Some suggest directly bombing Iranian nuclear facilities; others say that tightening sanctions will force Iran to concede to unreasonable deals, such as a complete and total destruction of their nuclear systems. The commonality between these lines of thought is aggression. The Republican approach to a tense situation is aggression; swords will succeed where words have failed.

I’m not saying that this isn’t a valid approach at times. There have been many occasions throughout history where only war could solve problems, but we should not resort to violence when we’re not forced to.

The fact of the matter is that the deal has been successful. In but a few months, it led to a drastic reduction in Iran’s nuclear potential, and the world is safer for it. Perhaps this event can serve as a reminder to a country bristling at the mere perception of hostility: Diplomacy has kept this world going round many times over in the past, and it’s not about to stop working now. When calmer heads prevail, everyone wins.

Danny Miles is a second-year student.