Catholic Church leaders Applaud Nuclear Agreement with Iran
By Tony Magliano
Committed to a negotiated settlement over the real possibility of armed conflict, six world powers and Iran have decided to give peace a chance.
With much patience, persistence and hard work for over 20 months, the P5+1 Group (the five permanent members of the UN Security Council: China, France, Russia, the United Kingdom, and the United States, plus Germany) have reached a nuclear agreement with Iran that is nothing short of historic.
According to the respected Arms Control Association (www.armscontrol.org), “The agreement – known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action – establishes a strong and effective formula for blocking all of the pathways by which Iran could acquire material for nuclear weapons and promptly detecting and deterring possible efforts by Iran to covertly pursue nuclear weapons in the future.”
Fr Federico Lombardi SJ, director of the Holy See Press Office, said: “The Holy See views the new agreement on the Iranian nuclear program in ‘a positive light.”
In a letter to members of Congress, Bishop Oscar Cantú, chairman of the Committee on International Justice and Peace of the US Conference of Catholic Bishops, quoted an earlier statement by Pope Francis: “I express my hope that a definitive agreement may soon be reached between Iran and the P5+1 Group.”
In his letter Bishop Cantú added, “The United States and its international partners have taken a remarkable step with Iran in reaching this agreement. We encourage Congress to support these efforts to build bridges that foster peace and greater understanding. In the words of Pope Francis, may the negotiated framework ‘be a definitive step toward a more [secure] and fraternal world.’ ”
But unwisely some members of the US Congress have signaled their opposition to the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action.
While this agreement is not perfect – very few agreements are – it is a solidly good agreement for the US and its negotiating partners, Iran, the Middle East and the world.
According to the Arms Control Association, “Some critics of this deal in the United States may still believe that by rejecting the agreement and increasing sanctions pressure on Iran, the United States can somehow coerce the leaders in Tehran to dismantle Iran’s nuclear programme or agree to better terms. That is a dangerous illusion. There is no better deal on the horizon.”
The Arms Control Association explains that the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action will establish long-term, verifiable restrictions on Iran’s sensitive nuclear fuel activities. For example, Iran’s plutonium path to the bomb will be eliminated. And of equal importance, the International Atomic Energy Agency will be allowed to send international inspectors to check any Iranian facility of concern – including military sites.
The Arms Control Association is concerned that if Congress manages to block implementation of this hard-won, balanced and effective multilevel deal, the US will have broken from its European allies, and the necessary international support for Iran-related sanctions will be lost. Iran would then have the incentive to quickly and significantly expand its capacity to produce bomb-grade material.
The alternative to this accord is a likely nuclear arms race in the Middle East, and probably war.
The Arms Control Association wisely puts it this way: “This is the time to seize — not squander — the chance to put in place an effective, long-term, verifiable deal that blocks Iran’s pathways to nuclear weapons.”
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