Photo by John Schreiber.
Photo by John Schreiber.

A proposed deal to lift sanctions on Iran in exchange for greater oversight into the country’s nuclear power goals was met with skepticism and criticism Tuesday from Orange County congressional representatives, but a UC Irvine professor of history with ties to Iran praised the agreement.

Rep. Ed Royce, R-Brea, who is chairman of the House Foreign Affairs committee, was skeptical.

“Secretary of State (John) Kerry and his team have worked very hard to get this deal,” Royce said, but added that it would be a “tough sell” in Congress.

“The (Obama) administration has just announced a hugely consequential agreement,” Royce said at a committee hearing. “In testimony before this committee, Secretary Kerry told us these negotiations would be used to dismantle Iran’s nuclear program. That was the goal. Instead, this agreement allows Iran to retain a vast enrichment capacity, continue its research and development and gain an industrialized nuclear program once key provisions of this agreement begin to expire in as little as 10 years.”

Rep. Mimi Walters, R-Irvine, said she doesn’t trust Iran.

“I am deeply concerned and skeptical of the Obama Administration’s Iranian nuclear deal released today,” Walters said in an email to City News Service. “We simply cannot trust Tehran. Iran remains the world’s largest state sponsor of terrorism and has repeatedly deceived the international community to hide its illicit nuclear activity. No agreement will change the nature of the Iranian regime.

“Americans should be concerned that the Obama Administration has abandoned its own principles from the start of negotiations, and paved a pathway for Iran to obtain nuclear weapons and finance global terrorism. This deal would not only endanger our national security — but also the security and well-being of our allies, especially Israel. As I feared, today’s deal is a bad deal, and I intend to reject any agreement that would jeopardize the safety of the U.S. and our allies.”

Rep. Dana Rohrabacher, R-Huntington Beach, said he thinks it is a “bad deal,” according to his spokesman, Ken Grubbs.

“He thinks it’s a bad deal with no assurances it will prevent Iran from acquiring nuclear weapons from the international black market and that it pivots America’s weight to Shia Muslims,” Grubbs said. “He also thinks the real solution is for regime change in Iran.”

Rep. Loretta Sanchez, D-Garden Grove, who is running for U.S. Senate and serves on the Armed Services and Homeland Security committees, was also skeptical but saw signs of progress.

“The announcement of this proposed deal is a positive sign that the United States and Iran can engage in negotiations despite a volatile history,” Sanchez said. “I recognize it is a historic moment that these two countries have come to the negotiating table and made it this far.

However, I continue to have skepticism about Iran’s intentions.”

Sanchez urged caution on easing sanctions.

“Sanctions have been our most effective tool, and we must be cautious and not rush to repeal all sanctions,” she said.

Sanchez added she is “extremely concerned” about inspectors not getting full access to Iran’s nuclear programs.

Rep. Alan Lowenthal, D-Long Beach, praised the deal.

“I applaud Secretary Kerry and am encouraged by the P5+1 agreement with Iran as a possibly historic move toward peace and stability in the Persian Gulf region,” Lowenthal said. “The negotiators have done their job, now it is time for Congress to do ours. I supported the administration framework that included rigorous inspections, snapbacks on the sanctions and a goal of blocking Iran from a pathway to nuclear weapons. I now look forward to reviewing the full agreement in detail to determine if the agreement is consistent with the framework.”

UC Irvine history professor Touraj Daryaee, who specializes in Iran and spent his formative years there before emigrating to the United States, said the alternative to the deal is war.

“My parents still live there so I know exactly how it is,” Daryaee told City News Service. “I wouldn’t think if Iran is bombed it would make things better for anybody — for Iran, the region or the world.”

With all of the strife in Syria, Iraq and Afghanistan, it doesn’t make sense to plunge another middle eastern country into war, the professor said.

“We already have Syria, Iraq and Afghanistan,” He said. “We don’t want this other, bigger country to fall apart.”

Daryaee said he has been watching TV media reports all day and was astonished at the pessimism.

“It is very ‘this has been a bad deal, we’ve been tricked, we just caved,’ and that’s not the case,” he said.

Daryaee watched Iran President Hassan Rouhani’s address to the nation and was surprised at how closely it resembled President Barack Obama’s remarks from the White House.

“It was quite interesting,” he said. “They’re just going parallel now.”

Daryaee said it is “too early to tell” if the agreement will be one for the history books, but he noted “This is a major shift in U.S. policy.”

On a more personal note, the professor said he has “ties to both countries,” and that he felt “really happy” to see detente in the long- contentious relationship between the U.S. and Iran.

If the agreement leads to better diplomatic relations that allows U.S. citizens to visit Iran more often then it could also change how Americans view the country, he said.

— City News Service 

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