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ASU Law professor says political pacts should be kept

October 12, 2017

President Donald Trump is considering backing out of the Iran Nuclear Agreement Review Act of 2015. Many believe it could leave the United States a diplomatic pariah if he follows through.

Trump says he will make a decision this week, which has led to wide speculation about sanctions, soured relationships and the future implications of multinational pacts.

To seek answers, ASU Now turned to Sandra Day O’Connor College of Law Professor Daniel Bodansky, an expert in international law.

Man in glasses smiling

Daniel Bodansky

Question: President Trump has been talking about scrapping the Iran nuclear deal, which was struck in 2015 before he took office. Good or bad move, and why?

Answer: This raises two questions: First, is scrapping the agreement legal and, second, is it a good idea? The Iranian Nuclear Agreement is not a legal agreement but a political agreement. It doesn’t have the status of a treaty, and it’s not binding in the area of international law. Presidents have quite a bit of authority to terminate legal agreements like treaties, but they have even more authority to terminate political agreements. So, yes, as a legal matter, President Trump is able to terminate the agreement.

But that doesn’t mean terminating the agreement would be a good idea. Opinions about the deal differ, but in my view the overriding idea of the agreement was to curb the Iranian nuclear program and it’s been successful in doing that. The agreement hasn’t curbed Iran’s support for terrorism and activities in the Middle East — it wasn’t intended to do that. Like most agreements, it can’t do everything. However, pretty much everyone agrees that Iran has been complying with the limits on its nuclear program. There’s very strict monitoring under the agreement, and there’s no evidence of violations.

Q: What are the foreign-policy repercussions if the United States pulls out of this agreement?

A: Two kinds of implications. First, pulling out of the Iranian agreement would make it much more difficult to do a negotiation with North Korea because even if an agreement was reached, if Trump pulls out of the Iranian deal, it means that he very well might pull out of a North Korean deal as well. North Korea will be less likely to want to strike a deal with the U.S. if they feel we might change our mind later.

The second implication is for our relationships with our allies in Europe who support the agreement. Pulling out of the Iran deal will obviously undermine relationships with European countries and make it more difficult to work together on issues like North Korean in the future.

Q: What would pulling out of the Iran nuclear deal achieve?

A: It’s not clear whether Congress will re-impose sanctions on Iran, so it may be more symbolic than anything else. Also, if our allies don’t re-impose sanctions, any sanctions imposed by the U.S. would be a lot less effective than previously. It seems as if Iran is holding up its end of the bargain, so if the sanctions were proposed again by the U.S., we’d probably be going it alone at this point.

Q: How does a political deal like the Iran agreement differ from a treaty like the North Atlantic Treaty that established NATO?

A: The North Atlantic Treaty was intended to establish legal obligations and be governed by international law. In contrast, the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action was intended to create only political commitments.

Top photo courtesy of Pixabay

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Eat two and call the doctor in the morning

Edible medical devices the next thing in electronics. But which foods work best?
October 12, 2017

ASU professor makes a jump in the quest for edible electronics, cites their potential to revolutionize biomedical technologies

Electronics can be wearable and implantable. Soon they’ll be ingestible.

An Arizona State University professor has created a tool kit of food-based electronics that will be used to create edible medical devices.

Hanqing Jiang and his team of researchers last year invented an edible supercapacitor made from foods like activated charcoal, gold leaf, Gatorade, seaweed, egg white, cheese, gelatin and barbecue sauce that stored and conducted electricity.

Food as an electrical component is just beginning to be studied. Now, after exhaustive research, Jiang and his team have created a list of foods that conduct or insulate electricity and have measured to what extent they carry out those roles.

Foods with lots of salt (like butter) and water (like fresh meat and vegetables) conduct electricity well. Carbonized cotton candy and flour can be used to build resistors. Vegetables with lots of cellulose, like broccoli and cabbage, can generate an electric charge. The researchers used the Food Guide Pyramid.

“You have to do something no one has done in the past,” said Jiang, a professor of mechanical engineering in the School for Engineering of Matter, Transport and EnergyThe school is part of the Ira A. Fulton Schools of Engineering at ASU..

The tool kit describes the properties of food-based electronic materials, how to create devices like an edible sensor and microphone, basic components and devices with integrated sensing and wireless signal transmission.

“This really does open the door for us for a much broader spectrum,” Jiang said.

ASU professor and student in lab building edible electronics

ASU Professor Hanqing Jiang and doctoral student Haokai Yang are advancing their group's research on edible supercapacitors that will one day be digested and used for non-evasive diagnostics and treatments for gastro-intestinal issues. Yang holds a large pH sensor, which will soon be made much smaller. Photo by Charlie Leight/ASU Now

Jiang and his team are now working on the next step: a functional device. They have two in mind: one that will study bacteria in the gastrointestinal tract and another bowel implant that is dissolvable.

It’s not easy. “The human body is very complicated,” Jiang said.

The devices they have built work in proof of concept. Bowel sounds from a 70-year-old man with abdominal pain were fed to a loudspeaker and recorded with the edible microphone. It successfully reproduced the original testing sound.

Edible electronics can’t compete with silicon-based devices, but they can solve a lot of problems. Ingestible electronics need to be passed from the body. If they break, there’s a possibility of contamination. Implantable electronics require surgery. Biodegradable electronics exist, but they have low energy density and battery size is limited.

Jiang envisions doctors doing real-time monitoring of the gastrointestinal tract. Edible electronics have the potential to revolutionize biomedical technologies and devices, he believes.

Research does have one painless aspect: “We can just eat it afterwards,” said Haokai Yang, a lab member and doctoral candidate studying mechanical engineering.

You can read the paper here:

Scott Seckel

Reporter , ASU News