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Earlier this year, the world rejoiced at the news that Iran had tentatively agreed to a deal that would curtail its capability to develop a nuclear program. In exchange, the United States and five other world powers promised to lift the harsh trade sanctions that have crippled the country's economy since they were imposed in 2005.
Since then representatives from Iran, United States, China, Germany, France, Britain, and Russia, have been trying to iron out the details. After missing several deadlines, on July 14, the team finally emerged from behind closed doors in Vienna, Austria and announced they had come to a mutually acceptable agreement. As would be expected, both sides had to make some compromises, which means that the final deal is somewhat different from the provisional one revealed in March 2015.
According to experts, the positives include a stipulation that Iran will immediately cease all activities that increase its capability to build a nuclear weapon. The country officials also promised not to set up a new enrichment facility or produce new centrifuges. This means that if Iran lives up to its agreement, it will not have the capacity to build a nuclear weapon, something it has been edging towards for the last two years. Another positive is a ban on all research and development efforts that could aid in the creation of a nuclear device.
Among the concessions that are drawing criticism is that Iran has only agreed to comply with the terms of the agreement for fifteen years. Meanwhile, the UN Security Council, European Union, and the United States plan to lift most trade restrictions within the next few months. This means that Iranian companies will soon be able to conduct business freely with all European and many US companies. The trade embargo has not been completely lifted in the United States which also has terrorism and human rights violations related trade restrictions in place against the middle-eastern country.
What's worrying experts the most, however, is the poor mechanism that is in place to verify that Iran is fulfilling its side of the bargain. Most believe there are too many loopholes, making it easy for the country to cheat if they so wish. They are also concerned about how hard it will be to re-impose sanctions should it become necessary. But even the agreement's most vocal critics agree that despite its flaws, it will slow down Iran's capability to produce a deadly weapon.
The agreement still has to be endorsed by the various lawmakers. In the US, it is unlikely to get approval from the members of the Republican Party who control the two chambers of Congress - the House and Senate. However, President Obama is a firm believer that this is the only way to stop Iran from developing a nuclear bomb. He has even threatened to veto any decision that hampers the agreement from being approved. So who is right? Nobody knows for sure, but hopefully, whatever decision is reached will result in a peaceful solution to an issue that has been haunting the world for a long time.
Resources: haaretz.com,prospectmagazine.com,npr.com, theguardian.com