News from the Bush School

Panelists Discuss the Iran Nuclear Agreement in “What’s Next?” Series

November 20, 2017

 Dr. Sunil Chirayathm, Dr. Mohammad Tabaar, Dr. Marvin Adams, and Dr. William Norris

Dr. Sunil Chirayathm, Dr. Mohammad Tabaar, Dr. Marvin Adams, and Dr. William Norris

The most recent “What’s Next?” series discussion addressed another pressing issue facing the world today—the Iran nuclear agreement. Texas A&M professors from the Department of Nuclear Engineering and the Bush School of Government and Public Service gathered to share their expertise with a diverse and full audience.

President Trump, who has been highly critical of the deal, recently announced that Iran has violated the “spirit” of the international nuclear agreement, which must be recertified every ninety days and prevents Iran from attaining a nuclear weapon. In decertifying the deal, he dropped the problem on Congress, which now has sixty days to decide whether to re-impose nuclear-related economic sanctions on Iran.

During the event, Dr. Sunil Chirayath from the Department of Nuclear Engineering provided background on the deal, giving context for the remainder of the discussion, whereas Dr. Marvin Adams presented a crash course on what it takes to create a nuclear weapon and how to deter countries from obtaining nuclear capabilities. Finally, Dr. Mohammad Tabaar from the Bush School spoke about what the deal means to Iran, highlighting that factional politics in the country that largely shape the country’s opinion of the agreement.

As Dr. Chirayath noted, President Trump has left the deal’s fate in the hands of the US Congress. Dr. Adams spoke about two essential elements any deterrence strategy must contain regarding “breakout,” or the amount of time required to acquire a nuclear weapon. A sound strategy must reduce the probability of breakout and lengthen the amount of time required to reach a breakout.

All three speakers during the event moderated by Bush School professor Dr. William Norris spoke to the merits of the current agreement. They noted that under the current agreement Iran’s nuclear program is heavily surveilled, and violating the deal is extremely difficult. However, some who favor keeping the deal, Dr. Tabaar said, advocate placing additional restrictions on Iran’s ballistic missile program.

This new series aims to answer the question “What’s next?” by addressing the major events and issues that grab our attention. This type of rapid-response series is designed to address events in real time, as they occur, with faculty from the Bush School discussing policy issues and options that are available to decision makers.