Debating the deal: How a nuclear deal with Iran could change the Middle East

Dark clouds are seen over Palais Coburg, the venue for nuclear talks in Vienna, Austria, July 9, 2015.

Earlier today, as the world waited in suspense to see if a nuclear agreement between Iran and the P5+1 would emerge from the talks in Vienna, I testified before the House Committee on Foreign Affairs on what a nuclear deal with Iran could mean for a Middle East engulfed by chaos, sectarian tensions, and civil war. It is by no means certain whether the negotiators will be able to overcome the remaining obstacles and reach a final deal, but even if they do, we simply do not know how they will handle critical issues such as the lifting of sanctions, the access rights of inspectors, and the process of reapplying sanctions in the event that Iran is caught cheating.

This naturally makes me very wary of commenting on the advantages or disadvantages of a deal where so many key uncertainties remain. But what I can (and did) comment on is whether a nuclear deal with Iran is likely to lead to greater stability or greater instability in the Middle East and thus whether it will ultimately benefit or undermine American national security.

Watch the testimony:

Part I: Opening statements


Portrait: Ken Pollack

Kenneth M. Pollack is an expert on Middle Eastern political-military affairs, with particular emphasis on Iraq, Iran, Saudi Arabia and the other nations of the Persian Gulf region. He is currently a senior fellow in the Center for Middle East Policy at the Brookings Institution. He served as the director of the Center from 2009 to 2012, and its director of research from 2002 to 2009. His most recent book is Unthinkable: Iran, the Bomb, and American Strategy.

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