Progress on Iran

Agreement on Iran’s nuclear program is an important success for U.S.


The weekend agreement on Iran’s nuclear program is an important success for the United States. The accord moves this nation another step back from war with Iran, and lays a framework for putting firm limits on the program.

Iran continues to assert that its program has only peaceful objectives. Israeli leaders have criticized the agreement, claiming that Iran seeks a nuclear-weapons capacity it can direct against Israel. That’s a major American concern too.

But Israel’s security appears improved by the accord and its impact on Iran’s military potential. Republicans are eager to deny President Obama this diplomatic success, which is shared with Europe, China, and Russia.

Most important, the agreement has the potential, if it is expanded into a permanent accord after six months, to bring Iran back into the family of civilized nations. Iran has been an outlaw from since its radical revolution 34 years ago.

In 1979, militants invaded the U.S. Embassy in Tehran and held 52 Americans captive for 444 days. Iran has carried out other unhelpful acts since then, including support for Israel’s enemy Hezbollah and Bashar Assad’s regime in Syria.

This tentative agreement toward resolution of the nuclear issue is, as Mr. Obama points out, only a first step. But it includes the basic function of vigilant international oversight of Iran’s activities. Now will come the hard part: putting into place more permanent measures.

There will be some relaxation of economic sanctions — an estimated $7 billion worth. The ones that bite Iran hardest, in the oil and banking sectors, will remain in place while the longer-term accord is negotiated.

Iran’s interest in a permanent solution should not be underestimated. Sanctions are estimated to have cost Iran more than $120 billion. Its gross domestic product has dropped 1.5 percent this year. Its people have suffered considerably in terms of food and other shortages, inflation, and loss of currency value.

Meanwhile, Americans should be pleased at what has been achieved and hopeful of a long-term resolution.