Following years of arduous negotiations, and decades of hostile relations, Iran and world powers on Tuesday announced a nuclear agreement that proponents say provides a historic opening for military deescalation, relief from devastating sanctions, and ultimately, peace.
"This deal is a huge victory for diplomacy over war," Phyllis Bennis, senior fellow at the Institute for Policy Studies, told Common Dreams. "It prevents the very real threat of war with Iran but also, in the longer term, demonstrates the power and efficacy of diplomacy."
The accord culminates a marathon session of Vienna negotiations between Iran, the United States, Russia, China, United Kingdom, France, Germany, and the European Union.
The deal was met with praise by numerous heads of state. Iranian President Hassan Rohani said Tuesday that the agreement is proof that "constructive engagement works," adding that the deal halts "illegal" sanctions.
"Whatever problems there are in the global peace movement in recent years, this victory is very much tied to the building of an anti-war movement against the war in Iraq... This has made price of war higher than price of diplomacy, and that's the victory we're seeing today."
—Phyllis Bennis, Institute for Policy StudiesPresident Barack Obama praised the agreement and vowed to fight for Congress to pass it: "I will veto any legislation that prevents the successful implementation of this deal."
U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry said on Twitter, "This is the good deal we have sought," adding it is a step "towards possibility of peace."
And Russian President Vladimir Putin declared that the world has "heaved a sigh of relief."
Not everyone expressed enthusiasm. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who has vigorously opposed diplomacy and advocated war with Iran, denounced the agreement as a "historic mistake for the world."
Chair of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, Bob Corker (R-Tenn.), also did not waste any time in casting doubt on the agreement, declaring: "In the coming days, Congress will need to scrutinize this deal and answer whether implementing the agreement is worth dismantling our painstakingly-constructed sanctions regime that took more than a decade to establish."
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Under the deal, Iran will receive sanctions relief in exchange for limits to its domestic nuclear program. The White House fact sheet is available here.
"The agreement includes five major components," explained Peace Action, which has advocated for diplomacy, in a statement released Tuesday. "Decreasing the stockpile of material that could possibly be made into fissile material. Limiting the quantity and quality of centrifuges that could make highly enriched uranium needed for a nuclear bomb. Reconfiguring the nuclear reactor (and securing its spent fuel) in the city of Arak so it produces an insignificant amount of weapons grade plutonium. Implementing unprecedented inspections and comprehensive monitoring. And lastly, scheduling and implementing the lifting of specific sanctions on Iran."
Civil society organizations from around the world, including within Iran, have long pressed for diplomacy rather than military escalation and devastating sanctions.
"War would only make a future deal next to impossible, embroiling the U.S. and Iran in perpetual conflict. Some wanted to see that; we didn't."
—Trita Parsi, National Iranian American CouncilTrita Parsi, president of the National Iranian Ameican Council, on Tuesday heralded the deal as "the greatest achievement of the new millennium." Parsi added, "War would only make a future deal next to impossible, embroiling the U.S. and Iran in perpetual conflict. Some wanted to see that; we didn't."
Bennis emphasized: "Whatever problems there are in the global peace movement in recent years, this victory is very much tied to the building of an anti-war movement against the war in Iraq. The millions of people who flooded streets around the world on February 15, 2003 can claim this victory as their own. This has made price of war higher than price of diplomacy, and that's the victory we're seeing today."
However, Tuesday's announcement does not officially close the deal: it must still be approved by U.S. Congress, where it faces stiff opposition from hawkish lawmakers. To that end, U.S. groups including Just Foreign Policy, Win Without War, Peace Action, and Jewish Voice for Peace met the announcement with their own calls to action, declaring: Don't let U.S. lawmakers sabotage this chance for peace.
"This opportunity for the diplomatic process to succeed in avoiding war with Iran is too important to discard over partisan politics," said Rabbi Joseph Berman, government affairs liaison for Jewish Voice for Peace. "This is a strong deal and we urge our elected leaders to vote in favor of the agreement when it comes before Congress."
"Defend the Iran deal and stop Republicans from starting a war with Iran," reads a petition from groups including Just Foreign Policy and Code Pink. "We need to build an impenetrable firewall in Congress to prevent Republicans from passing any legislation to kill the deal and putting us back on the path to confrontation and war."