Panel of professors discusses the pros and cons of the Iran nuclear agreement

The American people have been barraged with a myriad of information on the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) with Iran, but many people are still ignorant about what exactly the Plan of Action contains.  Misinformation has become commonplace, stemming from both the opponents and supporters of the so-called “Iran Deal.”

In order to combat the erroneous opinions about the JCPOA, the Hesburgh School of International Studies sponsored a university-wide panel entitled “The Iran Nuclear Agreement: Is It a Good Deal?”  In this panel moderated by David Cortright, Director of Policy Studies at the Kroc Institute for International Peace Studies, Professor of Political Science Michael Desch, Robert and Marion Short Professor of Law Mary Ellen O’Connell, and Major General Robert Latiff (Ret.) reached the consensus that it is in the United States’ best interest to adhere to the Iran Nuclear Agreement.

Desch gave a general summary of the events leading up to the deal, the impact of the deal, and “whether the deal is a good deal or a raw deal.”  Opponents of the deal, Desch argued, paint a grim picture of Iran’s nuclear capability before the deal.  Prior to the agreement, Desch explained, Iran was far away from nuclear warhead capability, possessing only ballistic missiles and no nuclear weapons.  Iran was outmatched by the United States and Israel in every nuclear output.

In terms of ending the Uranium path, the agreement shuts down the Fordo Uranium facility and reduces the percentage of enrichment by a considerable extent.  The deal substantially limits Iran’s amount of centrifuges, and Iran has agreed to dispose of 98 percent of its low-enriched uranium.  “The Plutonium route is the most dangerous and that’s where the Obama administration got the best deal,” said Desch on the restrictions leveled against Iran’s plutonium infrastructure.

Desch concluded that this is “a pretty good deal” for the United States.  He argued that it restricts both scientific pathways for creating a nuclear weapon and puts in place security measures to ensure that Iran follows the deal.

O’Connell stated there are only two options for the United States if they opt out of the nuclear agreement: either reinstate sanctions against Iran or go to war with Iran.  She argued that reinforcing sanctions would be difficult and ineffective given that the rest of the world is lifting its sanctions on Iran.  The war option, O’Connell claims, would violate established U.N. procedure and international law.  The principle of necessity states that force can only be used as a last resort and if the force is not harmful to the innocent civilians. O’Connell does not believe the United States can meet the terms of this principle if they do not at first accept the nuclear agreement.

Finally, Latiff examined how effectively the agreement limits the Iranian Nuclear Program and ultimately argues that the program has been significantly restrained.  He argued that there are no good alternatives to the JCPOA.

He claimed, “It’s better to have people on the ground then off the ground” in terms of examining the Iranian nuclear program.  According to Latiff, the deal is the best available option and will give the U.S. security advantages in the Middle East.

Brendan Besh is a sophomore from Stanford Hall and is a student in the Program of Liberal Studies with minors in Business Economics and Italian. He is involved in Mock Trial, Right to Life, ND Votes, and the Center for Ethics and Culture. Contact him at