The UC Irvine Think Tank
On Saturday, Nov. 23rd, President Obama gave a speech on what the White House called a “First step agreement on Iran’s nuclear program.” The New York Times reports that in this agreement, Iran will retain the technology and materials necessary to build a nuclear weapon, but the timeline for them producing the actual weapon has been postponed an estimated two months.
Iran is allowed to keep the existing 11,000 centrifuges it has, but is not allowed to produce more. Iran is also required to dilute their supplies of 20 percent enriched uranium.
If Iran complies, the United States will continue its sanctions, but provide up to $7 billion dollars in sanctions relief. So to those non-nuclear physicists out there, this means Iran must stop stockpiling its 20 percent enriched uranium, slowing down the process of reaching weapons level enrichment. Thus, it is keeping its resources, just slowing down the process of using them.
How should us students at UC Irvine react to this complex international event? I propose a twofold approach: first, at the university level. It is not the student government’s position to issue policy or declare political positions on international affairs.
Secondly, as individuals and people of privilege, it is our responsibility to form our own personal opinions, get informed and understand other cultures before we pass judgment. Simply put — do your research outside of the news.
In previous years, ASUCI has decided it should issue highly political decisions on foreign politics, specifically decisions pertaining to the Middle East. Regardless of country, regardless of political implications or significance, it is not the place of the student government to make political decisions on behalf of the students of UC Irvine.
The student government’s job is to ensure the best campus climate for its constituents, the students. ASUCI is supposed to increase school spirit, play a role in athletics, and make our UCI experience the best it can be. Delegitimizing Israeli sovereignty and Jewish right to self determination and funding and incentivizing Palestinian hate speech on campus has already been done by ASUCI in previous legislation. Hopefully, issuing foreign policy pertaining to a complicated nuclear and economic situation will not be on their future agenda.
At the individual level, it is our responsibility to become informed, to understand the situation and make sure our campus climate represents what us Anteaters feel is appropriate. I personally see a double standard on campus. We must all ask ourselves the very simple question “Why is Iran pursuing a nuclear program?” The clear answer is for military purposes: they want to develop weapons. Many high-ranking Iranian officials have stated exactly what they want to do. The Iranian Chief of Staff has said “the Iranian nation is standing for its cause and that is the full annihilation of Israel,” former president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad has compared Israel to be “like a cancer cell that spreads through the body… it must be removed from the body.” Finally and most importantly, the Supreme Leader of Iran, its highest-ranking political and religious official and head of state, Ali Khamenei, has expressly stated, “this cancerous tumor of a state [Israel] should be removed from the region.”
Now, at UCI, we have clubs bringing speakers with very similar messages as the Iranian government: the destruction and annihilation of Israel, anti-American rhetoric, and the call and incitement of violence to further political means. Every year, on our own Ring Road, a wall of vicious lies and propaganda slanders Israel, and misinformed students walk the campus with signs stating “Death to apartheid.” These signs do not belong on our campus and should not be tolerated, the same way an atomic Iran should not be tolerated. The goal of preventing Iran from obtaining nuclear weapons is an international one, the goal of making sure our campus climate is as open, diverse and welcoming as possible is in our hands.
Daniel Narvy is a third-year political science major. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org