Thursday, April 26, 2018
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: St. Petersburg’s waste-to-energy to wastefulness project

Editorial: St. Petersburg’s waste-to-energy to wastefulness project

A St. Petersburg waste-to-energy plant now under construction has been billed for years as an environmentally friendly money saver. Now it looks more like a boondoggle, with the cost and mission changing on the fly. It’s yet another example of a city...
Updated: 9 hours ago
Editorial: As USFSP consolidation task force meets, openness and collaboration are key

Editorial: As USFSP consolidation task force meets, openness and collaboration are key

Writing a new law that phases out separate accreditation for the University of South Florida St. Petersburg and folds it back into the major research university was the easy part. The hard work starts today when a new consolidation task force holds i...
Published: 04/23/18
Updated: 04/25/18

Correction

CorrectionCircuit Judge John Stargel of Lakeland is a member of the Florida Constitution Revision Commission who voted against a proposed amendment that would have stopped write-in candidates from closing primary elections. An editorial Saturday inco...
Published: 04/23/18
Editorial: Pruitt sets new low for ethics at EPA

Editorial: Pruitt sets new low for ethics at EPA

Not too many people took then-candidate Donald Trump seriously when he famously campaigned to "drain the swamp" as president. But that shouldn’t give this administration a free pass to excuse the behavior of Scott Pruitt, the administrator of the Env...
Published: 04/22/18
Updated: 04/23/18
Editorial: Allegiant Air still has safety issues

Editorial: Allegiant Air still has safety issues

Allegiant Air’s safety record remains troubling, and the Federal Aviation Administration’s reluctance to talk about it is no more encouraging. Those are the key takeaways from a 60 Minutes report on the low-cost carrier’s high rate of mid-flight brea...
Published: 04/21/18

Editorial: Women’s work undervalued in bay area

Even a strong economy and low unemployment cannot overcome the persistent pay gap affecting full-time working women in Florida. A new report shows women in Florida earned 12.5 percent less on average than their male counterparts, and the disparities ...
Published: 04/21/18
Editorial: Florida’s death penalty fading away on its own

Editorial: Florida’s death penalty fading away on its own

Florida lawmakers may never take the death penalty off the books, but stronger forces are steadily eroding this inhumane, outdated tool of injustice. Court rulings, subsequent changes to law and waning public support have significantly suppressed the...
Published: 04/20/18
Updated: 04/24/18

Editorial: A missed chance for open primary elections

The Florida Constitution Revision Commission did a lot of things wrong this week by combining unrelated or unpalatable provisions into single amendments that will appear on the November ballot. It also wasted an opportunity to do one thing right. The...
Published: 04/20/18
Updated: 04/23/18
Editorial: New Cuba president is chance for new start

Editorial: New Cuba president is chance for new start

For all the symbolism, Raul Castro’s handoff of the Cuban presidency this week amounts to less than meets the eye even if his handpicked successor, the Communist Party functionary Miguel Diaz-Canel Bermudez, is the first person not named Castro to le...
Published: 04/20/18