As recently as last week, President Obama spoke to Senate Democrats at a White House gathering, and sounded a pessimistic note about the international nuclear negotiations with Iran. The odds of diplomatic success, the president said, were “less than 50-50.”
But negotiators remained committed to the process, recognized the historic opportunity, and this morning, announced a breakthrough. Defying the odds and overcoming the seemingly insurmountable hurdles, the United States and its negotiating partners have reached a deal.
Iran and world powers have reached a historic deal under which Tehran will curb its nuclear program in exchange for the easing of economic sanctions, with President Barack Obama declaring early Tuesday “every pathway to a nuclear weapon is cut off.”“This deal meets every single one of the bottom lines,” Obama said, adding that he will “veto any legislation that prevents implementation of this deal.”
The text of the deal itself is already available online here, and the White House’s overview is online here. The agreement is the culmination of months of work completed by negotiators from the United States, the United Kingdom, France, Germany, Russia and China.
While the political world begins delving into the details, it’s worth appreciating how unlikely this accomplishment really is. Remember, from 1979 to 2013, the United States and Iran barely spoke in any capacity. During that time, the two nations’ heads of state hadn’t directly communicated so much as a word.
As recently as a decade ago, U.S. foreign policy dictated that Iran was part of an “axis of evil.” Iran’s nuclear program accelerated soon after.
The very idea of the P5+1 process seemed like a far-fetched fantasy. And yet, in one of this generation’s most impressive diplomatic accomplishments, the deal is done.
The next question is whether or not Congress will sabotage American foreign policy.
As things stand, even the Republican-led House and Senate will probably fall short of derailing the international agreement. In May, lawmakers overwhelmingly approved legislation known as the Corker/Cardin bill, which will offer Congress a chance to voice its disapproval of the diplomatic breakthrough.
But, as President Obama noted this morning, that bill will be vetoed and with at least 150 House Democrats siding with the administration on nuclear diplomacy, the chances of a congressional override of the White House veto are poor.
What’s more, opponents of the breakthrough will have to combat the prevailing political winds: every independent poll for months has shown widespread public support for the Obama administration’s efforts to reach an agreement. Conservatives have tried for quite a while to convince Americans to oppose this deal, and so far, those efforts have failed miserably.
This historic opportunity, in other words, will move forward.