Iran nuclear deal is a path away from war

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry and negotiating partners share a light moment after reaching a deal on Iran.
U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry and negotiating partners share a light moment after reaching a deal on Iran. The Associated Press

We have seen what comes of U.S. involvement in Middle East wars — destabilization, new terrorist threats and more war.

The pact with Iran announced Tuesday is about diminishing the chances of the United States going to war to stop Iran from deploying a nuclear weapon. To that end, the U.S. and its negotiating partners forged a sound deal. President Barack Obama and Secretary of State John Kerry should be hailed for a historic achievement.

To gain the lifting of international economic sanctions, Iran agreed to surrender 98 percent of its supply of low-enriched uranium and to remove two-thirds of its nuclear centrifuges — technology that spins uranium into the concentrated form that could produce a nuclear explosion.

Iran also agreed not to seek or possess highly enriched uranium for at least 15 years. Significantly, it consented to full-time monitoring of every aspect of its nuclear program.

The agreement doesn’t squash Iran’s nuclear ambitions forever; the country can produce as much nuclear fuel as it wants after 15 years. A big drawback is the eventual lifting of an embargo on Iran’s ability to trade conventional weapons.

The pact doesn’t change Iran’s status as a nation that supports terrorist organizations, commits human rights violations and has threatened to destroy Israel. The U.S. must scrupulously monitor its conduct and enforce sanctions that remain in place.

But if the deal succeeds, Iran’s ability to produce a nuclear weapon would be set back by many months. The chance to participate in the international economy could have a moderating effect on political hardliners. If Iran strays from the negotiated terms, the U.S. and other nations could and should reinstate sanctions.

The deal has critics, of course. Some members of Congress view it as a betrayal of Israel. Others decry negotiating with an enemy.

But if Congress succeeded in clearing the high bar needed to reject the pact, our nation would be left with only one viable option for deterring a nuclear Iran.

That option is war. And we know where that leads. The pact announced Tuesday is a path away from conflagration.