Thanks to an unnamed acquaintance who runs @TheIranMeal on Twitter, I've been slowly learning more and more about the Iran Nuclear Deal. Is it complicated? Yes. Does making the deal about food help me understand? Absolutely. Am I going to now pass what I've learned about nuclear deals (and Persian food) onto you? You bet I am!
For those who don't know, or who are too overwhelmed by the massive amount of partisan opinion on the topic, The Iran Deal is an agreement between Iran, and countries in the P5+1 (the United States, the UK, France, China, Russia, Germany and the European Union) that will prevent Iran from developing a nuclear weapon.
The deal accomplishes this by forcing Iran to reduce the number of centrifuges (used to enrich uranium, an essential component for a nuclear bomb) and reduce its current stockpile of enriched uranium by 98%. The deal will also compel Iran to redesign a reactor that could create weapons grade plutonium, blocking another pathway to a nuclear bomb. No enriched uranium, or enriched plutonium, and no technology to create it will make it much harder to create a nuclear weapon. Finally, Iran will submit to regular and robust inspections by the International Atomic Energy Agency to hopefully ensure that the country isn't pursuing a covert pathway to a nuclear weapon.
All good things for the United States. But some people feel like we lost more than we gained. Iran gets to keep some weapons grade uranium stockpiled, and the restrictions in this deal will only be in place for ten years. Iran will also gain relief from the sanctions imposed on their country that were causing an economic crisis. The deal does not include, "anytime, anywhere" inspections, and Iran will receive notice before any international inspections, which leaves some people very skeptical. Some argue that by agreeing to this deal, which doesn't permanently prevent Iran from creating a nuclear weapon, the United States is granting legitimacy to a repressive regime, and aggravating key allies in the region.
One key ally is Israel. Some are concerned for the safety of Israel because of the Iran deal. Other believe that Iran will soon have a lot of money from the deal, which they will use to fund terrorist activities. Only one Senate Democrat has supported the deal so far, Senator Durbin (D-IL), though several Democrats in the House, including Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) support it strongly. Senators like Chuck Schumer (D-NY) are feeling pressure to choose between loyalty to the party, and the president, and support for constituents who do not think the deal goes far enough to prevent Iran from creating a nuclear weapon.
However, that may not matter at all. There's no set rules for how Congress approves international relations. Yes, a treaty has to be approved by two thirds of the Senate, but this isn't necessarily a treaty. An "executive agreement," used by President Roosevelt (Franklin, not Teddy) in the 1930s did not have to be approved by Congress, and is different from a treaty in name only.
The Iran deal falls somewhere in the middle of the two thirds Senate vote for a treaty, and the no thirds vote for an executive agreement. What Congress could do is pass a "resolution of disapproval" which would, some say, block the bill. Of course, President Obama has promised to veto any such bill, meaning that if a party wants to make this vote count, they will need a two thirds majority in both houses to override the veto.
I've only scratched the surface of The Iran Deal, and I haven't even begun to discuss the particulars of The Iran Meal (seriously it's a hilarious Twitter, and yours truly has even contributed a couple of tweets, despite knowing very little about the deal, and about Persian cuisine). Complicated foreign policy issues like this aren't something one can form an opinion about in a day, which is why I'm deciding to learn more about the deal before I raise my all important constituent voice one way or the other. If you have questions about the deal, leave them in the comments section! I'll respond with links to articles written by bloggers far more knowledgeable than myself!