As the end of negotiations on Iran's nuclear program draws near, we can expect the campaign against an agreement to intensify. In that debate, many questionable statements, assumptions and propositions have been thrown around.
1) Opponents of this agreement say Iran will cheat their way to a nuclear weapon.
But the fact is that the Iranians will not be able to cheat without the international community getting a clear warning in good time to stop them. This deal is not about trust; it's about verification. The agreement subjects Iran to the most intrusive inspections regime in history; it leaves nothing to trust. There will be inspections at all nuclear sites and constant, round-the-clock monitoring. Every ounce of uranium will be tracked. If the Iranians try to break out and build a weapon, they will be detected.
2) Opponents of this agreement say Iran must admit to all its past nuclear-weapons related research.
But it would be foolish to sacrifice knowing what Iran is doing now and in future just to insist that it admit all it did wrong in past. This deal ensures that we'll know what Iran is up to now and going forward -- and give us ample time to stop it -- because Iran will be subject to the most intrusive inspections regime in history.
3) Opponents of the agreement say that it lifts sanctions on Iran in exchange for little or nothing but promises.
Nothing could be further from the truth. Sanctions only lift when the international inspectors, part of the most intrusive program in history, verify that Iran is complying with the deal. And if Iran is found to be violating the agreement? Sanctions snap right back into place.
4) Opponents of this agreement say it only lasts for 10 or 15 years.
But the fact is that after rolling back Iran's nuclear program, this deal keeps in place permanent enhanced inspections to prevent it from acquiring a bomb. That's a far better result than the mere two to four years experts say a military strike would set back Iran's nuclear program.
5) Opponents of this agreement insist that Iran's infrastructure must be completely dismantled.
Yet this deal is the most direct, workable route to blocking every pathway Iran has to a bomb. It completely defangs Iran's nuclear infrastructure by effectively eliminating uranium stockpiles, cutting centrifuges by two-thirds, and preventing acquisition of plutonium.
6) Opponents of the agreement argue that this deal allows Iran to still engage in some nuclear research and development.
In fact, this deal severely restricts Iran's nuclear R&D, including by prohibiting the testing of advanced centrifuges using uranium. It also drags Iran's R&D program out into the light of day, subjecting it to the most intrusive inspections and verification regime in history. Without the deal, Iran's research and development would revert to being unrestricted and unmonitored.
7) Opponents of the agreement say it does not stop Iran's support for terrorism.
It's important to understand that this deal does not let Iran off the hook for its sponsorship of terrorism, and continues to punish it for that and other outrageous activity. Under the deal, sanctions will remain firmly in place against Iranian support for terrorism, human rights abuses and ballistic missile development. And most importantly, this deal keeps Iran from developing a nuclear weapon, which could then fall into other dangerous hands.
8) Opponents of this agreement say the United States should impose tougher sanctions and insist on a "better deal."
However, new U.S. sanctions would actually result in less pressure on Iran to concessions, not more. If Congress rejects a deal that prevents Iran from obtaining a nuclear weapon, we will be blamed, not Iran. China, Russian and other countries would resume their business with Iran, collapsing the tough sanctions regime, while Iran could kick out inspectors and resume nuclear activities, paving the way for it to develop a bomb.
The bottom line is that this deal promises to be by far the most effective way of preventing Iran from acquiring a nuclear weapon, and doing so moreover without recourse to military action.