Recap: Campus Forum on the Iran Nuclear Deal

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Claire Song

In an event co-sponsored by Academic Affairs, Penn Democrats, JStreet, PIPAC, Pi Sigma Alpha, and Penn Republicans, a panel of experts discussed the recent deal between the United States and Iran, in which the U.S. will lift nuclear-related economic sanctions in exchange for Iran reducing their nuclear program. Political science professor Michael Horowitz, physics professor Ken Lande, political science professor Ian Lustick, and Director of the Middle East Forum, Gregg Roman, all gave their individual analyses on various motives for the deal, and what the deal means for the future of U.S. international relations.

Professor Horowitz opened the discussion with four key points regarding the deal, analyzing whether the U.S. could have gotten a better deal than it did, whether the deal would actually stop Iran from getting nuclear weapons, how the nuclear deal will affect Iran’s other policies, and potential alternatives to the deal. He especially emphasized that the way we think about the deal is not necessarily so black and white—that there are many factors to consider when supporting or denouncing the deal. Professor Lande followed with an analysis of Iran’s nuclear facilities, highlighting puzzling factors such as why they are focused on purifying uranium instead of directly buying plutonium—a much better source of energy for nuclear weapons— from sources like North Korea. The discussion focused on asking what Iran is doing with their current nuclear facilities, and speculation on their unconventional nuclear practices. Professor Lustick followed by bringing the discussion back to U.S. international relations, outlining the potential levying power the U.S. would lose with the Middle East should the deal fail and comparing the current atmosphere surrounding the deal to the Panama Canal Treaty of the Carter presidency. Lastly, Gregg Roman rounded out the forum by discussing the greater implications the deal could have, giving an impassioned dialogue on the potential damage to U.S. national security interests before the event broke out into a lively Q&A session.

The event highlighted the many facets surrounding the deal and was a great learning experience for everyone in the packed audience. Thanks to all the organizations that helped make it a success!