The Challenge of Nuclear Weapons introduces students to the history of nuclear weapons and the concept of deterrence. It examines arguments for and against nuclear weapons and looks at three challenges facing us today: the leftover arsenals of the Cold War, proliferation, and the threat of nuclear terrorism.
- Understand the role of the U.S. in the debate about the Iran nuclear deal
- Identify the techniques political cartoonists use to express opinions
- Interpret cartoons about the Iran nuclear deal
- Monitor and explain the implications of the congressional vote on the Iran nuclear deal
New York Times article—The Iran Deal in 200 Words
In the Classroom
Ask students if they have heard about Iran’s nuclear program in the news. What have they heard? Tell students that they are going to learn more about it and about U.S. responses. Watch the video “What is the history of Iran’s nuclear program?” that features Joseph Cirincione. Ask students to identify from the video some of the things that they think should be included in a deal with Iran about its nuclear program, listing their responses on the board. You may wish to prompt them to consider things like the kind of nuclear program Iran should be allowed to have. Tell students that in July 2015, after extensive negotiations, Iran, the United States, and other countries reached an agreement about the nuclear program. Distribute the New York Times article, The Iran Deal in 200 Words, and give students time to read.
[Note: This article can be replaced with the Washington Post video, The Iran Nuclear Deal in 60 Seconds. Both provide an overview of the deal.]
Review the reading with the class. Clarify any difficult vocabulary or concepts. For example, be sure students understand what a “sanction” is. Ask students to identify information from the videos and article that they believe to be important. Which of the things that they listed after watching the video were included in the deal? What information is new to them? Are students aware of any controversies surrounding the Iran nuclear deal?
2. Analyze Cartoons
Divide the class into groups of three or four each. Distribute Political Cartoons to each student. Review the introduction with your class, emphasizing the techniques cartoonists use to convey opinions on political issues. Review the cartoon on page 2, and answer the questions with your students to model the assignment. What techniques are being used? What is the message of the cartoon? How is this cartoon related to what the class knows about Iran’s nuclear program and U.S. policy? Are there multiple ways in which the cartoon might be interpreted?
Assign the remaining cartoons to students, two per group. Have the students discuss the cartoons and answer the questions provided. Inform students that they will be presenting their work to the class.
3. Drawing Connections
Have each group present on their political cartoons. If you have multiple groups analyzing the same cartoons, you may wish to have them present together or on different questions from the activity, keeping in mind that different groups of students may interpret each cartoon differently.
As a class, discuss how cartoonists provide perspective on political issues. Were students able to identify the message of each cartoon? If so, what were the cartoonists trying to express? What techniques are used in each cartoon? Which techniques did students think most effectively got the message across? Were certain techniques easier to identify than others? Why? How do these cartoons relate to U.S. policy and responses regarding Iran’s nuclear program? Do students think that the cartoons they analyzed give favorable or unfavorable views of the Iran nuclear deal?
Point out that many of the critiques about the Iran nuclear deal revolve around the question Joseph Cirincione asks: do we trust them? Show the video of Jo-Anne Hart, “Can we trust Iran to keep its nuclear agreement?” Do students agree with her? Why or why not? How important is the idea of trust in their own views on the nuclear deal? (You may prefer to have students respond to this video and to questions about trust in a writing assignment, as described in “Extra Challenges.”) If students were making their own cartoons on the nuclear deal, what opinions would they want to express? How would they portray Iran? President Obama’s administration? Different political parties? What kinds of predictions would they make about the outcome of the deal?
4. Monitoring the Situation in the News
Distribute Monitoring the Situation. Tell students that they will be following the coverage of the U.S. Congressional votes on the deal. As a starting point, refer students to the list of news sources below. Encourage students to seek out other sources. Students should consult at least two or three news sources and write a short summation of Congress’s role in the decision on the deal. What major developments take place throughout the ongoing debate? What are the implications of the Congressional vote for the various players involved in the deal?
- Students could create their own political cartoons that reflect their opinion on the deal with Iran.
- After watching the video of Jo-Anne Hart, “Can we trust Iran to keep its nuclear agreement?”, students could write a persuasive essay about the importance of trust in the Iran deal.
- Students could write letters to elected officials. They can find contact information for the White House at whitehouse.gov/contact and for their U.S. senators and representatives at congress.gov.
News Sources for Monitoring
Al-Jazeera—Iran: Inside the Deal
New York Times—Iran’s Nuclear Program
BBC—The Middle East
BBC—Iran Nuclear Crisis: Six Key Points
This article outlines six major points in order to summarize the Iran nuclear deal and its possible implications.
Washington Post—The Iran Nuclear Deal Explained in 60 Seconds
This video summarizes the Iran deal by talking about what the deal allows and what it will not allow, ending with a discussion of the role of the U.S. Congress going forward.
Al-Jazeera—Timeline: Reaching a nuclear agreement with Iran
This timeline traces events surrounding diplomacy with Iran over its nuclear program. The video at the bottom of the page contextualizes the Iran deal by outlining the historical tensions between the U.S. and Iran.
The Wall Street Journal Video—The Iran Nuclear Deal: the Economic Windfall
Using a variety of graphics, this video discusses the potential economic implications of the Iran deal.
Vox Video—How the Iran Nuclear Deal Works: Explained in 3 Minutes
Presenting a highly optimistic perspective, this video uses graphics to summarize the Iran deal and possible outcomes.