Friday, December 15, 2017
Editorials

Editorial: An opening to resolve Iran nuclear problem

The interim deal the Obama administration helped reach with Iran marks the best opportunity to peacefully resolve the crisis over the country's nuclear program. The accord with the six world powers calls for Iran to temporarily freeze its nuclear program in exchange for limited concessions and a timetable for reaching a more comprehensive and lasting agreement. While a final deal may be tough to complete, this path is clearly better than a military confrontation over Iran's nuclear ambitions. Now Tehran must show it is serious.

The deal is intended as a first step toward a larger nuclear pact to be negotiated over the next six months. It halts the installation of new centrifuges, requires Iran to dilute its stockpile of higher-grade uranium (which is needed to produce a weapon) and caps the enrichment of higher-grade fuel. Major work at the Arak heavy-water plant is suspended for six months, and Iran is barred from testing or producing fuel for that reactor or putting it in operation. Iran also agreed to an unprecedented level of monitoring of its nuclear sites by international inspectors, making it all but impossible for Tehran to hide any weapons program. This is a meaningful agreement that provides both sides with the time and confidence-building steps necessary to pursue an enduring deal.

Critics in Congress and overseas, especially Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, are blasting the agreement as a mistake. While the crippling effect of economic sanctions brought Iran to the bargaining table, sanctions are a tool, not a policy goal, and this diplomatic route is clearly preferable to continuing to face off with Iran. Though Tehran has a terrible record of transparency, this agreement would help bring Iran's nuclear program into the open through more intrusive inspections. By easing sanctions, which could return $7 billion to Iran's economy over the next six months, the United States is holding out a bone for Iranian moderates in the new government of President Hassan Rouhani, which could open lines of diplomacy across a range of issues from Syria to counterterrorism. And the talks provide a framework to bring Iran more fully into the global community. None of this can be accomplished through the threat of force alone.

The six-month timetable provides a reasonable time frame and an end date to negotiations. While the interim accord could be extended, both sides have face-saving reasons for moving in good faith toward a final deal. And new sanctions are always an option later on; if anything, the interim agreement raises the stakes for both sides to have something tangible to show for the diplomatic effort. Iran's new government would be foolish to test the allies' resolve. This deal forces the Iranians to move first, stalls the Iranian program for the first time in a decade and gets inspectors in on the ground. The administration seized an opening to resolve this crisis through diplomacy. It needs to be as clear-headed in the months ahead as Iran's true intentions become apparent.

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Editorial: Rubio should make good his threat to oppose tax cuts without changes

Editorial: Rubio should make good his threat to oppose tax cuts without changes

For once, it would be nice to see Sen. Marco Rubio stand up as the independent leader he aspires to become. For once, the Florida Republican should hold his position rather than bow to pragmatic politics. Rubio can stick with his threat Thursday to v...
Published: 12/14/17

Another voice: A shameful anniversary

Josephine "Joey" Gay should have celebrated her 12th birthday this week. She should have been surrounded by friends and family in a place festooned with purple, her favorite color.Chase Kowalski should have been working toward a Boy Scout merit badge...
Published: 12/13/17
Updated: 12/14/17
Editorial: Congress should block efforts to expand offshore drilling

Editorial: Congress should block efforts to expand offshore drilling

Timing is everything, and Sen. Bill Nelson seized the right moment this week to call on his colleagues to pass legislation he filed earlier this year that would block the Trump administration from opening additional areas to offshore drilling. With t...
Published: 12/13/17

Another voice: Alabama picks an honorable man

THANK YOU, Alabama.In Tuesday’s special election, the state by a narrow margin chose to spare the nation the indignity of seating an accused child molester in the U.S. Senate. Though the stain of electing Republican Roy Moore would have sullied Alaba...
Published: 12/12/17
Updated: 12/13/17
Editorial: Tax cuts aren’t worth harm to Tampa Bay

Editorial: Tax cuts aren’t worth harm to Tampa Bay

As congressional negotiators hammer out the details on an enormous, unnecessary tax cut, the potential negative impact on Tampa Bay and Florida is becoming clearer. The harmful consequences stretch far beyond adding more than $1.4 trillion to the fed...
Published: 12/12/17

Another voice: Privacy in the internet age

How much information about you is on your cellphone? Likely the most intimate details of your life: photographs, internet searches, text and email conversations with friends and colleagues. And though you might not know it, your phone is constantly c...
Published: 12/10/17
Updated: 12/11/17
Editorial: Grand jury could force reforms of juvenile justice system

Editorial: Grand jury could force reforms of juvenile justice system

Confronted with documentation of sanctioned brutality and sexual abuse in Florida’s juvenile detention centers, the reaction from Gov. Rick Scott’s administration was defensive and obtuse. So it’s welcome news that Miami-Dade State Attorney Katherine...
Published: 12/08/17
Updated: 12/11/17

Editorial: U.S. House sides with NRA over state’s rights on concealed weapons permits

With the horror of the mass shootings at a Las Vegas country music concert and a small Texas church still fresh, the U.S. House finally has taken action on guns. But the bill it passed last week won’t make Americans safer from gun violence. It is an ...
Published: 12/07/17
Editorial: Hillsborough cannot afford pay raises for teachers

Editorial: Hillsborough cannot afford pay raises for teachers

There is no satisfaction for anyone in the standoff over pay raises between the Hillsborough County School District and its teachers. Most teachers across the nation already are underpaid, but this district simply cannot afford the raises teachers ex...
Published: 12/07/17
Editorial: Impact of Water Street project extends beyond buildings

Editorial: Impact of Water Street project extends beyond buildings

With a buildout of $3 billion encompassing entire city blocks, it’s obvious that Jeff Vinik’s plans will change the look and feel of downtown Tampa. But the Tampa Bay Lightning owner unveiled a broader vision last week that reflects how far the impac...
Published: 12/06/17
Updated: 12/08/17