Friday, August 07, 2015

Letter to The Honorable Chris Smith (R, NJ) on the Iran Nuclear Program

                                                                                                                                      August 6, 2015

Dear Mr. Smith,

            I write as your constituent to protest your opposition to the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action negotiated with the government of Iran by the Obama administration and the other P5+1 nations. This plan represents the best hope of peace in the Middle East; it is one of the most significant diplomatic efforts of our lifetime. It deserves the full support of the U.S. government, thus your call to obstruct it is neither prudent nor statesmanlike.
            Your arguments against the plan are not sound. The inspection regime it establishes is among the most intrusive ever instituted by a non-proliferation agreement. Even with the concessions made to Iranian security concerns, there is no possibility that the Iranians could secretly develop a nuclear weapon given the monitoring network the plan would put in place. Moreover, the proposed inspection regime would provide the U.S. and its allies with vastly more information than we currently have, so the idea that “gaps” in the plan pose a greater threat than the status quo is a patent fallacy.
            Likewise, since the provisions of the inspection regime never expire, it is simply not true, as you claim; that once “restrictions [on the refinement of nuclear material] expire, Iran could enrich on an industrial scale and the U.S. and its allies will be left with no effective measures to prevent Iran from initiating an accelerated nuclear program.” If Iran were to do as you envision, inspectors would immediately be aware of this activity, and the U.S. and its allies would possess all of the means currently at their disposal (both military and non-military) to put a halt to such ambitions. Moreover, because the Joint Comprehensive Plan, by mandating the immediate surrender of enriched uranium and the destruction of the majority of Iran’s centrifuges, increases the “breakout time” for a nuclear weapon from three months to a full year, even once the most severe restrictions of the plan expire, it provides the U.S. with greater resources and more time to prevent an Iranian nuclear weapon than it currently possesses. Thus, again, the provisions of the plan are vastly superior to the status quo.
            Even if one accepts that, despite its profound improvements on the status quo, the Joint Comprehensive Plan is not ideal, this would not redeem your obstruction. In order to justify setting the perfect in opposition to the good, one would need to demonstrate that there are practical means to improve upon the current plan. Anyone who has paid attention to world affairs for the past decade knows that this is not so. The Joint Comprehensive Plan was only achieved through the painstaking cultivation and maintenance of a broad coalition of allies that imposed punishing sanctions on Iran at great cost to their own people. This deal represents the outer limit of what that coalition was willing to sacrifice in the cause of diplomacy. If the U.S. walks away from this plan we will never marshal that degree of support again, and on our own we will never be able to apply the level of economic and political pressure that has forced this set of concessions from Iran. In that case the only means left to achieve a more comprehensive solution to the problem of Iran’s nuclear program will be military. Since those military means are destructive and unpredictable, and since the plan does not forfeit any of them in any case, it would be utterly foolish to refrain from giving this plan a chance to work before rushing into another foreign war.
            As an American citizen, a Jew, and a Zionist, I am deeply concerned with the security of both the United States and Israel. A nuclear-armed Iran would pose the greatest threat to those interests since the end of the Cold War. The Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action effectively forecloses the possibility of an Iranian nuclear weapon and thus neutralizes that threat. It is the duty of all U.S. officials to lend the authority of their offices to its implementation. I urge you to do what is right for America and the world. In any case I hope that this letter finds you well, and I thank you for your attention on this matter.


                                                            Andrew Meyer

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