If there were to be a World War III, the battlefield would probably look very different than previous wars.
Soldiers would be replaced by powerful nuclear weapons, entire cities could be wiped out by a single bomb, and the resulting destruction might mean the end of human civilization as we know it. This said it’s easy to see why we don’t want these weapons falling into the wrong hands.
On July 14, seven countries – including the US and Iran- reached an agreement on Iran’s nuclear program. The deal has sparked controversy all across the world. While many applaud the ‘win-win situation’ that it creates, others perceive the deal as ineffective.
A Nuclear Age
The detonation of the atomic bomb on Hiroshima and Nagasaki in 1945 created a new and massively destructive style of battle: nuclear warfare. The imminent threat of a third World War hung over the world for more than 20 years as the US and USSR amassed huge stockpiles of nuclear weapons. Although the two sides nearly came to blows in the 1960s, a war was avoided, and the whole world took a sigh of relief.
Over the next decades, however, other countries started to build nuclear programs. As of 2014, nine nations, including Pakistan, Israel, and North Korea, possess nuclear weapons. Many nations now believe that Iran is on track to develop a nuclear arsenal in the near future.
Iran has been accused of being a state sponsor of terrorism. It is undeniable that they have supported some dubious actors in the Middle East drama. The concern that acquiring nuclear weapons might embolden Iran to spread violence and instability throughout the entire region, is what prompted this nuclear deal.
Iran’s Nuclear Deal
There are two ways to produce a nuclear weapon: by manufacturing uranium or plutonium. Uranium can produce both elements through a series of complex steps and machinery. The recent deal aimed to cut off both paths for a long period of time.
Per the agreement, Iran has agreed to limit its uranium production and reduce its stockpile, as well as shut down some of its most important nuclear plants. In addition, Iran will stop manufacturing weapon-grade plutonium, and not build any additional plutonium reactors for at least 15 years.
Iran has also agreed to provide greater visibility into its nuclear program. It will allow the International Atomic Energy Agency to keep constant surveillance and carry out inspections of covert operations or suspicious sites, provided a 24-day notice. In return, the US and other countries will lift the harsh economic sanctions they have currently placed on Iran.
Supporters say that this deal cuts off all pathways to Iran acquiring a nuclear weapon in the near future. Critics counter that Iran might find a way to get around the deal and lifting the economic sanctions would give the country dangerous power in the Middle East. As the deal waits to be approved by Congress, the debate rages on.