Next Steps with Iran: A Conversation with Barbara Slavin

On Tuesday, August 11, 2015, Global Ties U.S. presented a webinar titled, “Next Steps with Iran: A Conversation with Barbara Slavin” to its affiliated member organizations, one of which is the Greater Cincinnati World Affairs Council (GCWAC), to discuss the implications of the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), a deal proposing nuclear non-proliferation in Iran for fifteen years.  Using her extensive knowledge of U.S.-Iran relations, Barbara Slavin, a Washington Correspondent for Al-Monitor and Senior Fellow of the Atlantic Council, detailed the implications of the nuclear deal from political and a-political standpoints and addressed public concerns with Iran’s adherence of the proposal.

In her introduction, Slavin outlined the deal itself including the congressional timeline and the debate surrounding its significance in U.S. foreign policy. Along with a fifteen year nuclear non-proliferation treaty, Iran would see a cap of its uranium stockpile, with roughly a fourth of the materials it needs to create a nuclear bomb. In addition, monitoring and verification by the International Atomic Energy Agency will intensify. Congress has created a dialogue with the American people about what this deal means for national security and must come to a vote by September 17th.  President Obama has stated his intentions to veto the congressional decision, should it oppose the treaty. Congress has until September 28th to respond.  Some argue that if the treaty is blocked, U.S.-Iran distrust could increase and strengthen hostile political factions, while others are more concerned with Iran’s fidelity.

Slavin expressed that she thinks it is in Iran’s best interest to follow the guidelines of the nuclear deal, as it would be “foolish” to try and cheat. It would require a successful conversion of Iran’s current mining and refining processes to convert operations despite thorough monitoring. In addition, working with uranium leaves footprints, and it would be easily detectable should Iran manage to work on a bomb secretly.

As a supporter of the deal, Slavin lists political and humanitarian benefits to passing the nuclear deal. She suspects that captured U.S. reporter, Jason Rezaian, will be released in the next couple of weeks, as the Iranian government is aware of the bad publicity and wants to support overall U.S. engagement. An Iranian nuclear non-proliferation treaty would increase international trade and investment, consequently increasing jobs and opportunities for the Iranian people. Slavin also noted that this treaty could take place during a shift in power in the Iranian government and would create a more constructive Iran and Middle East. The treaty could open up a people to people cultural exchange between a-political Americans and Iranians, in areas such as athletics, music, fine arts, academia, women’s rights, the environment, archeology, and humanitarian trade.

Even though passing the treaty will have many benefits, Slavin notes that it is not a cure-all for the past and current Iranian-American conflict. Iran still supports groups on the U.S. terrorism list. Human rights are a sensitive subject for both sides; however, this agreement is a step to rectify relations and move Iran and America forward in the next fifteen years. She mentions that the Obama administration is placing importance on engagement rather than confrontation. As she signs off, Slavin encourages the audience to read all sides of the political debate, to engage our local and national politicians, and to educate one another on the treaty, so that the decisions made in congress are representative of our wants and needs.

Written by Katie Beckley, GCWAC intern & undergraduate at Miami University

Source: Global Ties U.S. & Barbara Slavin, a Washington Correspondent for Al-Monitor and Senior Fellow of the Atlantic Council

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