By Jonathan Santoro, Rachel Donaldson, and Sarah Baum
The Iran nuclear deal has been a focal point in politics for months now. It was a hot topic at the GOP debates, it’s been the subject of a slew of petitions, protests, and propaganda campaigns, and it is the Junior State of America’s Debate of the Month.
The deal itself was reached on July 14, 2015. Diplomats from France, China, Russia, the United Kingdom, Germany, and of course, the United States and Iran, had contributed to its creation. While the deal has already been created, “implementation day” isn’t expected until early next year. People from all around the country and the world have spoken out against it. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has said the deal will “trigger a nuclear arms race in the Middle East, the most volatile part of the planet. That’s a real nightmare…the deal is dangerous…As a result of this deal, there will be more terrorism, there will be more attacks, and more people will die.”
President Obama, however, is strongly for it. “With this deal, we cut off every single one of Iran’s pathways to a nuclear weapons program,” he said at a press conference this past July. “With this deal, we gain unprecedented around the clock monitoring of Iran’s key nuclear facilities… This nuclear deal meets the national security interests of the United States and our allies… This deal makes our country and the world safer and more secure.”
In a truly typical JSA fashion, members of the Junior State from all around the nation have been listening closely to the debate, watching our leaders carefully, and formulating opinions of their own, which you can read below.
Cyrus Khorram and Jennifer Tischler, both from the Pacific-Northwest state, oppose the deal. Says Khorram, “…the Iran Nuclear Deal is a failure on Obama’s part, and falls far short of what a real deal would look like. [I have] parents from Iran, and I have spoken to them and many others who have been there or currently live there, and they all say the same thing…The government there is corrupt, and it is not to be trusted. Obama’s ignorance…to the Iranian government has blinded him, and as a result, we have given Iran, a country which chants ‘Death to America’ on a daily basis…the capabilities to produce Nuclear weapons.”
“I am extremely displeased with this,” Tischler adds. “The US made several compromises that we should not have been obligated to. International sanctions placed against Iran should have been used as a bargaining chip to secure a better deal, yet they are being rolled back without any guarantee that Iran will indeed hold to the terms of this deal… This deal does nothing to prevent a nuclear Iran… The US must return to the negotiating table, and tell Iran it just isn’t good enough. We CAN get a better deal.”
But not everybody from the Junior State is against it. Henry Huang, from the Southern Empire Region (SER) in Southern California, said that he was “absolutely pro” the deal. “America has to face ISIS,” Huang told JSA Today. “Having Iran standing on the same line with America will help a lot. Also…the deal itself is an elastic one. It grants the power for the USA to put sanctions back on Iran [if] Iran breaks it.”
Everett Kim, also from the SER, “supports the Iran Nuclear deal because… [it reduces] nuclear facilities in Iran… facilitate[s] greater international security… and promotes assimilation between Iran and the rest of the world through economic means.” However, she does “agree with the Senate’s current decision to prevent Obama from lifting… sanctions against Iran until that country’s government formally recognizes Israel’s right to exist and releases American citizens in Iranian custody.”
On the other end of California, statesperson Ashley Reid from the Northern California state echoes Kim’s and Huang’s sentiments. “…I am for it simply because peace is good. Deals are good. And cooperation is good… I have heard from those who dislike the deal… that the negotiators weren’t willing to show enough teeth and that we need a ‘better’ deal. Until I’m shown specifics on what needs to be improved, I don’t see why we shouldn’t attempt to be amicable.”
In the Midwest, Zach Correia of Woodbury, Minnesota, and Christian Gonzalez, from Western Springs, Illinois were asked what their thoughts on the Iran Deal were, how they would change it, and if they believe Congress should approve of it.
Correia was in favor of the deal, explaining that it is “sound and reasonable. The deal sets up a framework to stop Iran from getting a nuclear weapon, which benefits everyone. Additionally this also helps Iran by removing sanctions that are crippling its economy that are in turn causing its people to suffer.” He argued that this deal helps keep the world safe, while still helping Iran build itself up again. Nevertheless, there was the concern of how Iran will handle the inspections of nuclear sites, but Correia believes that, since it is a sovereign nation, it is their responsibility, and not America’s, to take charge there. Correia stated that Congress approving the bill would not only make the world safer, it would also look better for America.
“If Congress does strike down the deal, the US would seem on an international scale like they are not willing to negotiate with any country that opposes us. Not only would future agreements with Iran never happen again, but other countries would question if they should negotiate with the US if they would just be rejected. This deal shows that the US is willing to work with people, even those that hold different views.” Correia maintains that this deal would benefit everyone, and keep the world safer. The sanctions on Iran, he argues, are making the people of Iran suffer, and they deserve protection, just like the people of Israel. Peace must be found, and this deal is a start.
Gonzalez, on the other hand, looked less favorably on the deal. He stated “I believe that President Obama gave way too much leverage away. I think that he has good intentions, friendly relations is always good, but he handled it poorly.” Gonzalez believes that the deal gives Iran too much power while America has little gain, arguing that Iran should not have the ability to inspect itself because we can’t trust it to be honest. He instead believes we need to have more transparency in the Iranian regime and have better regulations to prevent them from building a nuclear weapon, while lifting the economic sanctions. That being said, Gonzales does believe Congress should approve the deal because it would worsen our relationship with Iran. Nevertheless, America needs to make sure Iran upholds their end of the deal, or else they will suffer the consequences. “Normalizing relationships is quintessential to any state. Especially from a trade perspective, because in trade, everyone wins. We get oil from Iran. Iran gets goods from the US. I hope that we can have a better relationship with the Iranian people. […] But if the Iranians try anything we have to assert that we won’t be taking their deceptive bs anymore and we slap the sanctions back on.”
Despite the differing opinions on the actual deal, a clear consistency is that the deal ought to be approved, regardless of how good it may be. It’s not the best it could be, and it’s not the worst. But there is evident concern that if Congress did not approve of the deal, then it would look very bad on America, and could threaten future attempts at diplomacy, with Iran, and the rest of the world.
Coming from Winchester, Massachusetts, Abigail Mumme-Monheit reminds us that the United States needs to embrace trust for a deal to work: “There are times when risks need to be taken to achieve peace, this is one. The Iran nuclear deal is a necessity to ensure peace for the United States. Trust is key, and although the U.S. government is reluctant to trust the Iranian government, taking the risk of trusting Iran is more likely to give us peace and ensure future mutual trust.”
Congress tried block the deal last month, but when opponents of the deal failed to get enough votes in the Senate the effort failed. The House passed a non-binding resolution opposing the deal along a straight party line vote. What do you think? Let us know and comment below!
NES interview by Rachel Donaldson.
MW interviews by Jonathan Santoro.
Introduction, PNW, NorCal, and SoCal interviews by Sarah Baum