It is easy to turn a blind eye to the far-away devastation resulting from
decades of war overseas, ignoring the repercussions of war. But whether we
pay attention or not, these wars cast long shadows — from the rise of the
Islamic State to perilous civilian living conditions. When it comes to nuclear
weapons, we cannot afford to maintain our ignorance.

On July 14, after years of tense negotiations, the international community
and Iran agreed on a deal to curb Iran’s nuclear weapons program. The deal
prevents a 10th country from joining the nuclear weapons club, while
supplanting decades of armed intervention in the Middle East with peaceful
diplomacy. The agreement offers a rare opportunity to take a significant and
necessary step toward global zero, turning the risk of nuclear proliferation
into progress toward nuclear weapons elimination.

Sealing the Iran deal is the only way to significantly reduce the risk of a
nuclear weapons arms race in the Middle East, and will ensure Iran’s nuclear
program can be used only for peaceful purposes. With unimpeachable
verification measures, the deal is both stringent and comprehensive. The
alternative is war.

Thanks to Congress, the deal with Iran and the historic opportunity it
represents is in jeopardy. Political posturing and baseless sound bites trump
thoughtful discussion, threatening to derail our best path toward peace and
security in the Middle East. Within hours of the deal being announced,
House Speaker John Boehner vowed that Congress will “do everything we
can to stop [the deal],” before he could ever had time to read or understand
it. Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., promised that the next president would “undo”
it. In denying the deal and refusing diplomacy, they send the message that
we prefer a nuclear arms race and potential war over peaceful negotiation
and positive global relationships.

Skeptics of the Global Zero movement argue their opposition to
disarmament, for fear of the Iranian nuclear program. They said Iran would
never agree to freeze its nuclear program, let alone roll it back. Today, the
Iran deal proves those skeptics wrong. If the agreement succeeds, it will be
one of the biggest non-proliferation victories our movement has seen in
years. By limiting the number of nuclear weapons states, we can then focus
on reducing and ultimately eliminating the global stockpile.

The stakes are high. If Congress rejects this deal, Iran’s nuclear program will
not remain frozen, and we will be denied any access to inspect or oversee
Iranian facilities. If Congress rejects the deal, we provide opportunity for
continual development of weapons of mass destruction that pose the most
urgent threat to human life, the environment and the global economy. If
Congress rejects the deal, we lose our chance for peace.

We have the power to take a concrete step toward a more stable future — a
future where we are lifted by the strength of a global community. When it
comes to nuclear weapons, we cannot afford to turn a blind eye while our
politicians jeopardize our collective security. Congress must support
diplomacy and the deal with Iran.

This op-ed was written by Clara Schneid, Susan Cundiff, and Michael Carrigan. Clara Schneid is a student at the University of Oregon and Global Zero Action Corps leader. Susan Cundiff is chairwoman of Women’s Action for Nuclear Disarmament. Michael Carrigan is program director at the Community Alliance of Lane County.

We aren’t the only ones in support of the deal:


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