THE DEBATE: On Tuesday, March 11, 2014, the McCain Institute for International Leadership at Arizona State University hosted the debate: “Iran Nuclear Deal: Breakthrough or Failure?” at the Jack Morton Auditorium on the George Washington University campus, in Washington, DC.
The debate centered on the interim nuclear deal with Iran. Supporters hail the interim agreement as a diplomatic breakthrough that effectively delays Iran’s progress toward a nuclear weapons program, and gives negotiators more time to reach a final agreement. Critics, however, argue that the Iranian regime has bought time to further develop their nuclear program while giving up little consequence.
Arguing in support of the interim nuclear deal with Iran were Robert Einhorn, Senior Fellow with the Brookings Institution; and Karim Sadjadpour, a senior associate at the Carnegie Endowment. Arguing against the nuclear agreement were Bret Stephens, columnist and editor at The Wall Street Journal, and Reuel Gerecht, a senior fellow with the Foundation for Defense of Democracies.
Jessica Yellin, the former CNN chief White House correspondent, moderated the debate.
Bret Stephens argued that a regime that stones women to death, and has ambitions on its neighbors, must be prevented at all costs from acquiring a nuclear weapon, including by use of force if necessary.
Reuel Gerecht recommended that in order to achieve a stronger agreement with Iran than the current interim deal, the United States needs to put in place a much tougher sanctions regime, and demonstrate the will to use force if necessary.
Karim Sadjadpour recommended that the United States focus more on promoting policies that expedite political change in Iran. A more representative Iranian government would be less interested in a nuclear weapon, and foster greater regional stability.
Bob Einhorn argued that a diplomatic solution featuring strong monitoring, early detection of breakout, and a drastic reduction of Iran’s nuclear capability is possible, and the current interim agreement is a step in that direction. The United States should make every effort to secure such an agreement, and only if it is not achieved consider alternatives based on pressure.
Senior Fellow with the Brookings Institution
Senior Associate at the Carnegie Endowment
Columnist and Editor at The Wall Street Journal
Senior Fellow with the Foundation for Defense of Democracies.