Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Trust Kerry on the Iran Deal He Is Negotiating the Best Agreement We Are Likely to Get

Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Trust Kerry on the Iran Deal He Is Negotiating the Best Agreement We Are Likely to Get

Article excerpt

The battle for an agreement between the world and Iran that meets the goals of the two has now shifted from Switzerland to the United States, at least from the point of view of Americans.

What the world, represented by China, France, Germany, Russia, Britain and the United States - the permanent members of the U.N. Security Council - plus Germany, wants is for Iran's nuclear weapons ambitions to be stifled in the interests of Middle East and international peace. At the moment the only Middle Eastern country with nuclear weapons is Israel. What Iran wants is to get rid of the economic sanctions now imposed on it by much of the world - particularly by the United States - which have smothered its economy. It is estimated that Iran's gross domestic product has dropped 20 percent under the sanctions.

In recent months Secretary of State John F. Kerry has pretty much devoted his energy full-time to achieving the agreement. He started his tenure as secretary in 2013 with three negotiating goals - an Israeli-Palestinian accord, an end to the Syrian civil war and an Iran nuclear agreement. He has had to more or less drop the first two as too hard, given the negative attitude of the parties.

Now, he has in hand a useful framework agreement with Iran to work toward a final understanding, hopefully by June 30. There is no reason to believe that the remaining barriers - even though the devil does frequently lie in the details - cannot be overcome and that 36 years of Iranian estrangement from the United States and other parts of the world cannot be ended.

It shouldn't be necessary to spell out the desirability of drawing Iran's difficult regime inside the world tent, as opposed to outside it directing a noxious stream into it. But the battleground for Mr. Kerry and the agreement has now shifted to Washington, a field polluted by ugly politics and, worse, lots of money.

Mr. Kerry, backed by President Barack Obama, unhelpfully thinking of his legacy, one of man's more evil motives, does have assets to bring to the argument. Principal among them is the honorableness of his goal - getting Iran out of the nuclear weapons business. He has worked his tail off to get us as far as we are at this point, and Mr. Kerry is a straight-shooting patriot, a Vietnam war veteran, a defeated presidential candidate who isn't going any further. He also is a veteran of 28 years in the Senate.

Mr. Kerry has argued fiercely for the agreement and has left plenty of room for the United States to walk away from it if Iran does not keep its end of the bargain. Some sanctions are easy to continue. Others are easy to restart. Most importantly, International Atomic Energy Agency inspectors, according to the agreement, will be all over the Iranians like big dogs to make sure they respect their commitments. …

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