11/26/2013 02:10 pm ET Updated Jan 26, 2014

A Breakthrough in Iran That Could Change Everything

This week's interim agreement with Iran stops the clock on the Iranian nuclear program and lays the groundwork for a comprehensive plan that could verifiably end the nuclear crisis.

That's a big deal, for more reasons than you might think.

For years, a fanatic choir of skeptics insisted that so-called rogue states and "tough cases," Iran chief among them, would never forgo weapons of mass destruction. The international community, they argued, was powerless in the face of a calculating leader or industrious madman in pursuit of the bomb. That misguided view of the world -- and of the power of multilateral pressure and diplomacy -- has been used to prop up dangerously outdated thinking about proliferation, deterrence and global security.

Look no further than Sunday's diplomatic breakthrough in Geneva -- or the swift and verified destruction of Syrian chemical weapons facilities currently underway -- for proof that those skeptics were flat wrong.

What is happening in the world right now is remarkable. We are seeing what can be achieved through multilateral leadership, hard-fought diplomacy and international pressure -- precisely the strategy advocated by the Global Zero movement. This constructive model is effective and scalable: it can move the world beyond the limitations of our whack-a-mole approach to proliferation and toward the negotiated, verified elimination of all WMDs globally.

We should take those steps while the wind is at our backs -- and while our luck still holds. These weapons pose a catastrophic threat, to a degree that overwhelms the imagination. It cannot be overstated but it can be overcome, if we're smart. If we're bold.

Achieving a world without WMDs won't be easy. It won't happen overnight. As with Syria and Iran, it requires committed leadership and political will. But that's an investment we can afford, and one that pays high dividends -- for this generation and all generations to come.

Indeed, on this question, it's the only one that can.