CLINTON, N.Y. - Last month, President Trump announced his refusal to certify the nuclear deal between Iran and the United States.
Established in 2015, the agreement lifted economic sanctions on Iran and provided a pathway for the country to develop modest, non-weaponized nuclear energy. Iran's nuclear plants have since been subject to regular inspections to ensure the parameters of the deal are met.
On the campaign trail, President Trump criticized the deal for being "one-sided" and vowed to either renegotiate or withdraw completely. With the decision to 'decertify' the deal, Congress now has fewer than 60 days to decide whether or not to impose harsher sanctions on Iran.
The state of the Iran Deal was the subject of a panel discussion at Hamilton College Thursday night. Former Undersecretary of State and career ambassador Thomas Pickering met with former Iranian ambassador to Germany Seyed Hossein Mousavian to participate in the panel, which was open to the public.
Both believe withdrawing from the deal would have negative ramifications on global security.
"It would put Iran back free to develop anything it liked, including a nuclear weapon with no restraints," Pickering said. "It would pit us against our negotiating partners, where they clearly would not be willing to help us. They said so."
"Those who are opposing the deal, they're really making a big mistake," Mousavian said. "Iran has been fighting since the revolution for its legitimate right under the non-proliferation treaty for peaceful, nuclear technology."
Both say the importance of speaking to college students cannot be understated.
"University students are an important audience," Pickering said.
"I found the students very clever," Mousavian said.
"One question I asked was about the influence that the tension between the U.S. and Russia has had and what we can call a cold war in the Middle East," Audrey Nadler, a Hamilton College senior said.
"People don't really trust Iran and that kind of feeds into this narrative that we can't have a deal with them," Harrison Potter, another senior said. "It really seems to me that if we just opened up communication a little bit more, were a little bit more open-minded, we'd find a lot of similarities."