Tuesday, May 22, 2018
Editorials

Editorial: Iran nuclear deal appears promising

The historic agreement aimed at crippling Iran's ability to produce a nuclear weapon has enormous potential to make the world a safer place. But there is much to digest about the deal announced Tuesday with the United States and five other world powers, and Congress should use wisely the 60 days it has to carefully vet the details. It is a review that should be based on national security and our nation's long-term interests, not political calculations, campaign sound bites or interference from allies such as Israel.

The headlines of the accord are promising and the result of months of negotiations. The deal extends the time Iran would need to produce an atomic bomb from two or three months to at least one year, which would give the United States and its allies an opportunity to react if the Iranians broke the agreement. It dramatically reduces Iran's supplies of enriched uranium and its stockpile of centrifuges used to enrich uranium gas. It forces significant changes in existing facilities that could be used to help produce nuclear weapons. Those would be positive achievements that are certainly better than the status quo.

As President Barack Obama said, this is an accord that would be based on verification through inspections and enforcement rather than on trust of a nation that previously has proved untrustworthy. International inspectors would be provided regular access to major nuclear sites and monitor Iran's nuclear program for up to 25 years. And there would be a big stick to discourage cheating: Iran is desperate to have the United Nations sanctions lifted that have crippled its economy, and those sanctions could be "snapped back" within 65 days if the terms of the deal are violated.

Like any negotiation, this one has its compromises. A U.N. embargo on conventional weapons sales to Iran would be lifted within five years, and a ban on missile sales would be lifted in eight years. That was particularly important to Russia, which participated in the drafting of the accords, along with Britain, France, China and Germany. And no agreement is going to offer an ironclad guarantee that Iran will not be able to obtain or develop a nuclear bomb decades from now.

Predictably, this agreement is not good enough for Israel, with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu calling it a "bad mistake of historic proportions" that would give Iran the financial resources to fund terrorist attacks. Obama later called Netanyahu to reassure him that the United States remains an important ally and that he shares concerns about Iran's support of terrorism. But Congress, which overreached by inviting Netanyahu to speak to a joint session earlier this year without consulting Obama, should focus on America's interests in vetting this deal.

Republicans ranging from House Speaker John Boehner to presidential candidates such as former Gov. Jeb Bush and Sen. Marco Rubio also were quick to accuse Obama of jeopardizing national security. But as Obama noted, the international community that is committed to carrying out this agreement is not as committed to indefinitely continuing economic sanctions against Iran. After years of sanctions, there is nothing to suggest that clinging to that strategy eventually would force the Iranian government to give up its nuclear program entirely.

Rather than sniping at the Democrat in the White House, the Republican-led Congress should spend the 60-day review period analyzing the specifics of an agreement that has broad international support. Evaluate the tradeoffs. Analyze the practicality of the inspections and verifications in Iran. Question the assumptions, and help the American people better understand the terms so they can make their own informed judgments. Obama already has promised to veto any changes, so ultimately it would take more than partisan opposition to override a presidential veto and derail this deal.

A seriously flawed agreement is worse than no agreement. But the initial overview of this deal is positive for the nation and for the world. As Congress wades into the details, it should measure them against the present and the possible — not against the perfect.

Comments
Editorial: Candor key step to restoring trust at Johns Hopkins All Children’s Heart Institute

Editorial: Candor key step to restoring trust at Johns Hopkins All Children’s Heart Institute

Johns Hopkins All Children’s Hospital has begun the important work of rebuilding trust with its patients and the community following revelations of medical errors and other problems at its Heart Institute. CEO Dr. Jonathan Ellen candidly acknowledges...
Updated: 10 hours ago
Editorial: Tampa Bay House members fail to stand up to Big Sugar

Editorial: Tampa Bay House members fail to stand up to Big Sugar

Big Sugar remains king in Florida. Just three of the state’s 27 House members voted for an amendment to the farm bill late Thursday that would have started unwinding the needless government supports for sugar that gouge taxpayers. Predictably, the am...
Published: 05/18/18
Editorial: Bondi holds drug industry accountable for Florida opioid crisis

Editorial: Bondi holds drug industry accountable for Florida opioid crisis

Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi’s lawsuit against the nation’s largest drug makers and distributors marks a moment of awakening in the state’s battle to recover from the opioid crisis. In blunt, forceful language, Bondi accuses these companies of ...
Published: 05/18/18
Editorial: A sweet note for the Florida Orchestra’s violin program for at-risk kids

Editorial: A sweet note for the Florida Orchestra’s violin program for at-risk kids

This is music to the ears. Members of the Florida Orchestra will introduce at-risk students to the violin this summer at some Hillsborough recreation centers. For free.An $80,000 grant to the University Area Community Development Corp. will pay for s...
Published: 05/17/18
Updated: 05/18/18
Trump backs off China tariff threat as China pumps money into a Trump family project

Trump backs off China tariff threat as China pumps money into a Trump family project

In barely six weeks, President Donald Trump has gone from threatening to impose $150 billion in tariffs on Chinese goods to extending a lifeline to ZTE, a Chinese cell phone company that violated U.S. sanctions by doing business with Iran and North K...
Published: 05/17/18
Editorial: Activism as seniors helps put Hillsborough graduates on the right path

Editorial: Activism as seniors helps put Hillsborough graduates on the right path

Lots of teenagers are walking together this week in Hillsborough County, a practice they’ve grown accustomed to during this remarkable school year.We can only hope they keep walking for the rest of their lives.Tens of thousands of them this week are ...
Published: 05/17/18
Editorial: Bondi holds drug industry accountable for Florida opioid crisis

Editorial: Bondi holds drug industry accountable for Florida opioid crisis

Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi’s lawsuit against the nation’s largest drug makers and distributors marks a moment of awakening in the state’s battle to recover from the opioid crisis. In blunt, forceful language, Bondi accuses these companies of ...
Published: 05/16/18
Updated: 05/18/18
Editorial: Johns Hopkins All Children’s should be more open about mistakes

Editorial: Johns Hopkins All Children’s should be more open about mistakes

A state investigation raises even more concern about medical errors at Johns Hopkins All Children’s Hospital and the venerable St. Petersburg institution’s lack of candor to the community. Regulators have determined the hospital broke Florida law by ...
Published: 05/16/18
Updated: 05/17/18
Editorial: St. Petersburg recycling worth the effort despite cost issues

Editorial: St. Petersburg recycling worth the effort despite cost issues

St. Petersburg’s 3-year-old recycling program has reached an undesirable tipping point, with operating costs exceeding the income from selling the recyclable materials. The shift is driven by falling commodity prices and new policies in China that cu...
Published: 05/15/18
Updated: 05/18/18
Editorial: HUD’s flawed plan to raise rents on poor people

Editorial: HUD’s flawed plan to raise rents on poor people

Housing Secretary Ben Carson has a surefire way to reduce the waiting lists for public housing: Charge more to people who already live there. Hitting a family living in poverty with rent increases of $100 or more a month would force more people onto ...
Published: 05/15/18
Updated: 05/18/18