The nuclear deal between the US and Iran has challenged some Americans’ deep-rooted convictions about diplomacy and nuclear capacity and polarized Republicans and Democrats.
When the bipartisan advocacy group United Against Nuclear Iran decided last week to mobilize opposition against the nuclear deal with Tehran, their president, Gary Samore stepped down, The New York Times reported.
Mr. Samore, a former nuclear adviser to President Obama, initially felt “chances of a successful negotiation were dim. But after the framework of an accord was announced in Lausanne, Switzerland, in April, he praised it as a good step,” The Times noted. “I think President Obama’s strategy succeeded,” he told the Times.
Unlike his successor at the group, Samore praised Obama’s strategy, which he said “created economic leverage and traded it away for Iranian nuclear concessions.”
Distinguished scientists and veterans have also been outspoken about their approval of negotiations with Tehran.
Three dozen former generals and admirals wrote a public letter, saying the agreement was the most effective way to prevent Iran from obtaining nuclear weapons, The Washington Post reported.
Twenty-nine scientists, including six Nobel Laureates and a physicist who helped design the world’s first hydrogen bomb, in a letter published on the Times website also supported the deal, which they said was innovative and had stringent verification techniques.
Obama has rejected most criticism of negotiations.
He said in a speech at American University, war would be the only alternative to diplomacy, “maybe not tomorrow, maybe not three months from now, but soon” – a claim many Republicans, including Senators Lindsey and John McCain have disputed.
Critics worry when the core requirements of the deal expire in 15 years, Iran will harness a dangerous nuclear capacity.
According to The Wall Street Journal, they fear Iran will better supply its allies due to economic and military gains as a result of a financial windfall of tens of billions of dollars and an end to a arms embargo enforced in 2010, which covered tanks, artillery, and ballistic missiles.
Alan Dershowitz, a law professor at Harvard, said in his book, “The Case Against the Iran Deal: How Can We Now Stop Iran from Getting Nukes,” that new alliances, created by any deal, could change political dynamics.
He wrote: “It was predicted that Saudi Arabia may have to become closer to Israel because of their common enemy. But the opposite may result as well: seeing the handwriting on the wall, and sensing the growing strength of Iran and the shrinking influence of the US, Saudi Arabia may begin to hedge its bets by moving closer to Iran.”
Obama didn’t deny concerns Iran may be untrustworthy.
He accepted “Iran has a history of trying to play it close to the line when it comes to their nuclear program” but stressed the need to compromise in an interview with Mic.
“You never get 100% of what you want. And the world is a big, complicated, and sometimes dangerous place, so you have to apply judgments to what is the most important thing and how do you best achieve it, given the realities of the situation,” he told Mic.
Opinions across the political spectrum are surprisingly diverse.
A Reuters survey found a third of Republicans actually support the nuclear deal with Iran and another 40 percent are unsure of their opinions.
Half of Democrats supported the negotiations, while 10 percent opposed it and 39 percent were not sure.
Obama acknowledged many Democrats opposed the deal due to a deep affinity towards Israel, according to Mic.
Overall, the American public remains largely skeptical. In a Pew poll, 79 percent of a total 2,002 Americans surveyed had heard about the agreement. Of these, just 38 percent approve, while 48 percent disapprove and 14 percent do not offer an opinion.