An F/A-18E Super Hornet prepares to launch from the flight deck of the aircraft carrier USS Nimitz, September 2013.
Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Nathan R. McDonald / U.S. Navy / Handout via Reuters

The Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), reached by Iran, six other countries, and the European Union in Vienna in July, has sparked a heated political debate in the United States. Under the terms of the agreement, Iran has agreed to accept some temporary limits on its nuclear program in return for the lifting of the economic sanctions the international community imposed in response to that program. The Obama administration, a chief negotiator of the accord, argues that the deal will freeze and in some ways set back Iran’s march toward nuclear weapons while opening up the possibility of improving relations between the United States and the Islamic Republic, which have been bitterly hostile ever since the 1979 Iranian Revolution. The administration further contends that the agreement includes robust provisions for the international inspection of Iran’s nuclear facilities that will discourage and, if necessary, detect any Iranian cheating, triggering

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  • MICHAEL MANDELBAUM is Christian A. Herter Professor of American Foreign Policy at the Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies and the author of the forthcoming book Mission Failure: America and the World in the Post–Cold War Era.
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