PRESIDENT OBAMA’S STATEMENT ON THE IRAN NUCLEAR DEAL

“Today, after two years of negotiations, the United States, together with our international partners, has achieved something that decades of animosity has not: a comprehensive long term deal with Iran that will prevent it from obtaining a nuclear weapon. This deal demonstrates that American diplomacy can bring about real and meaningful change — change that makes our country and the world safer and more secure. This deal is also in line with a tradition of American leadership. It’s now more than 50 years since president Kennedy stood before the American people and said, ‘Let us never negotiate out of fear but let us never fear to negotiate.’ He was speaking then about the need for discussions between the United States and Soviet Union, which led to efforts to restrict the spread of nuclear weapons. In those days the risk was a catastrophic nuclear war between two superpowers.

In our time, the risk is that nuclear weapons will spread to more and more countries, particularly in the Middle East, the most volatile region in our world. Today, because America negotiated from a position of strength and principle, we have stopped the spread of nuclear weapons in this region. Because of this deal, the international community will be able to verify that the Islamic Republic of Iran will not develop a nuclear weapon.

This deal meets every single one of the bottom lines that we established when we achieved a framework earlier this spring. Every pathway to a nuclear weapon is cut off. In the inspection and transparency regime necessary to verify that objective will be put in place. Because of this deal Iran will not produce the highly enriched uranium weapons grade plutonium that form the raw materials necessary for a nuclear bomb. Because of this deal Iran will remove two-thirds of its installed centrifuges, the machines necessary to produce highly enriched uranium for a bomb, and store them under constant international supervision. Iran will not use its advanced centrifuges to produce enriched uranium for the next decade. Iran will also get rid of 98 percent of its stockpile of enriched uranium.

To put that in perspective Iran currently has a stockpile that can produce up to 10 nuclear weapons. Because of this deal, that stockpile will be reduced to a fraction of what would be required for a single weapon. This stockpile limitation will last for 15 years. Because of this deal, Iran will modify the core of its reactor in Iraq so that it will not produce weapons-grade plutonium. And it has agreed to ship the spent fuel from the reactor out of the country for the lifetime of the reactor. For at least the next 15 years, Iran will not build any new heavy water reactors.

Because of this deal we will for the first time be in a position to verify all of these commitments. That means this deal is not built on trust. It is built on verification. Inspectors will have 24/7 access to Iran’s key nuclear facilities. Iran will have access to Iran’s entire nuclear supply chain — its uranium mines and mills, its conversion facility and its centrifuge manufacturing and storage facilities. This ensures that Iran will not be able to divert materials from known facilities to covert ones. Some of these transparency measures will be in place for 25 years. Because of this deal inspectors will also be able to access any suspicious location.

Put simply, the organization responsible for the inspections, the IAEA, will have access where necessary, when necessary. That arrangement is permanent. And the IAEA has also reach an agreement with Iran to get access that it needs to complete its investigation into the possible military dimensions of Iran’s past nuclear research.

Finally, Iran is permanently prohibited from pursuing a nuclear weapon under the nuclear nonproliferation treaty, which provided the basis for the international community’s efforts to apply pressure on Iran. As Iran takes steps to implement this deal, it will receive relief from the sanctions that we put in place because of Iran’s nuclear program — both Americans’ own sanctions and sanctions imposed by the United Nations Security Council. This relief will be phased in. Iran must complete key nuclear steps before it begins to receive new sanctions relief. And over the course of the next decade, Iran must abide by the deal before additional sanctions are lifted, including five years for restrictions related to arms and eight years for restrictions related to ballistic missiles. All of this will be memorialized and endorsed in a new United Nations Security Council resolution. And if Iran violates the deal, all of these sanctions will snap back into place — so there’s a very clear and senate for Iran to fall through. And there are very real consequences for a violation.

That’s the deal. It has the full backing of the international community. Congress will now have an opportunity to review the details and my administration’s stands ready to provide extensive briefings on how this will move forward. As the American people and Congress review the deal, it will be important to consider the alternative. Consider what happens in a world without this deal. Without this deal, there is no scenario where the world joins us in sanctioning Iran until it completely dismantles its nuclear program. Nothing we know about the Iranian government suggest that it would simply capitulate under that kind of pressure. And the world would not support an effort to permanently sanction Iran into submission. We put sanctions in place to get a diplomatic resolution. And that is what we have done.

Without this deal, there would be no agreed-upon limitations for the Iranian nuclear program. Iran could produce, operate and test more and more centrifuges. Iran could fuel a reactor capable of producing plutonium for a bomb and we would not have any of the inspections that allow us to detect a covert nuclear weapons program. In other words, no deal means no lasting constraints on Iran’s nuclear program. Such a scenario would make it more likely that other countries in the region would feel compelled to pursue their own nuclear programs, threatening a nuclear arms race in the most volatile region of the world. It would also present the United States with fewer and less-effective options to prevent Iran from obtaining a nuclear weapon.

I’ve been president and commander in chief for over six years now. Time and again I have faced decisions about whether or not to use military force. It’s the greatest decision that any president has to make. Many times, in multiple countries, I have decided to use force. I’ll never hesitate to do so when it is in our national security interest. I strongly believe that our national security interest now depends upon preventing Iran from obtaining a nuclear weapon — which means that without a diplomatic resolution, either I or a future U.S. president would face a decision about whether or not to allow Iran to obtain a nuclear weapon or whether to use our military to stop it. Put simply, no deal means a greater chance of more war in the Middle East.

Moreover, we give nothing up by testing whether or not this problem can be solved peacefully. If, in the worst-case scenario, Iran violates the deal, the same options that are available to me today will be available to any U.S. president in the future. And I’ve no doubt that 10 or 15 years from now the person who holds this office will be in a far stronger position with Iran further away from my weapon and with the inspections and transparency that allow us to monitor the Iranian program. For this reason, I believe it would be irresponsible to walk away from this deal. But, on such a tough issue, it is important to the American people and their representatives in Congress get a full opportunity to review the deal. After all, the details matter. And we’ve had some of the finest nuclear scientists in the world working through those details. And we’re dealing with a country, Iran, that has been a sworn adversary of the United States for over 35 years.

So I welcome a robust debate in Congress on this issue and I welcome scrutiny of the details of this agreement. But I will remind Congress the you don’t make deals like this with your friends. We negotiated arms control agreements with the Soviet Union when that nation was committed to our destruction. And those agreements ultimately made us safer. I am confident that this deal will meet at the national security interest of the United States and our allies. So I will veto any legislation that prevents the successful implementation of this deal. We do not have to accept an inevitable spiral into conflict and we certainly shouldn’t seek it. And precisely because the stakes are so high, this is not the time for politics or posturing. Tough talk from Washington does not solve problems. Hard-nosed diplomacy leadership that has united the world’s major powers, offers a more effective way to verify that Iran is not pursuing a nuclear weapon.

Now, that doesn’t mean that this deal will resolve all of our differences with Iraq. We share the concerns expressed by many of our friends and Middle East, including Israel and the Gulf States, about Iran’s support for terrorism and its use of proxies to destabilize the region. That is precisely why we are taking this step. Because an Iran armed with a nuclear weapon would be far more destabilizing and far more dangerous to our friends and to the world. Meanwhile, we will maintain our own sanctions related to Iran’s support for terrorism, its ballistic missile program and its human rights violations. We will continue our unprecedented efforts to strengthen Israel’s security, efforts that go beyond what any American administration has done before. And we will continue the work we began at Camp David — to elevate our partnership with the gulf states to strengthen their capabilities to counter threats from Iran or terrorist groups like ISIL. However, I believe that we must continue to test whether or not this region, which is known so much suffering, so much bloodshed, can move in a different direction.

Time and again I’ve made clear to the Iranian people that we will always be open to engagement on the basis of mutual interests and mutual respect. Our differences are real. And the difficult history between our nations cannot be ignored. But it is possible to change. The path of violence and rigid ideology, a foreign policy based on threats to attack your neighbors or eradicate Israel — that’s a dead end. A different path, one of tolerance, and peaceful resolution of conflict, leads to more integration into the global economy, more engagement with the international community, and the ability of the Iranian people to prosper and thrive.

This deal offers an opportunity to move in a new direction. We should seize it. We have come a long way to reach this point. Decades of an Iranian nuclear program, many years of sanctions and many months of intense negotiations. Today, I want to thank the members of Congress from both parties who helped us put in place the sanctions that have proven so effective, as well as the other countries who joined us in that effort. I want to thank our negotiating partners — the United Kingdom, France, Germany, Russia, China — as well as the European Union, for our unity in this effort, which showed that the world can do remarkable things when we share a vision of peacefully addressing conflicts. We showed what we can do when we do not split apart.

And finally, I want to thank the American negotiating team. We had a team of experts working for several weeks straight on this, including our Secretary of Energy, Ernie Moniz. And I want to particularly thank John Kerry, our secretary of state, who began his service to this country more than four decades ago when he put on our uniform and went off to war. He’s now making this country safer through his commitment to strong-principled American diplomacy. History shows that America must lead, not just with our might, but with our principles. It shows we are stronger not when we are alone but when we bring the world together. Today’s announcement marks one more chapter in this pursuit of a safer and more helpful, more hopeful world. Thank you. God bless you. And god bless the United States of America.”

Check out the latest article on the Iran deal from the New York Times here.

FACT SHEET: JOINT COMPREHENSIVE PLAN OF ACTION (JCPOA) FOR IRAN NUCLEAR PROGRAM

 After intensive negotiations, the P5+1 group and Iran have reached a first-step agreement on Iran's nuclear program. (http://news.xinhuanet.com/)
After intensive negotiations, the P5+1 group and Iran have reached a first-step agreement on Iran’s nuclear program. (http://news.xinhuanet.com/)

By: Harry C. Blaney III

Below is the summary “fact sheet” from the White House outlining the recent framework agreement on Iran’s nuclear program.  While there are some issues that still need added agreement and clarification, and lots of very technical elements that need to be spelled out, the outline makes it clear that the critical elements in the framework achieve the needed bottom line that Iran would need at least one year before being able to build a bomb, also that key avenues to build a bomb have been blocked for some 10-25 years, that inspections are all that we truly need along with key “full scope” IAEA inspections, all facilities would be inspected by IAEA including the secret Fordow facility, in short a high level of guaranteed transparency,. Further, key nuclear weapons technology will be either be “mothballed” or dismantled like the Arak heavy water reactor and rebuilt in a way that would not produce weapons-grade plutonium, further, its 10,00 kilograms of low-enriched uranium would be reduced to 300 kilograms, and centrifuges would be reduced to just 6,104 from 19,000. See below for more details.

The end produces an agreement that, subject to any changes, provides truly the safeguards against an unknown “breakout” by Iran and also provides for phased sanctions relief which still need to be agreed as to its phasing and extent.  This can and must be a “Win-Win” outcome for both sides since this balanced document can only be the basis for a viable international agreement.

This is a significant agreement and a positive step away from war. Our more detained analysis and assessment will follow.


Parameters for a Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action Regarding the Islamic Republic of Iran’s Nuclear Program

Below are the key parameters of a Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) regarding the Islamic Republic of Iran’s nuclear program that were decided in Lausanne, Switzerland. These elements form the foundation upon which the final text of the JCPOA will be written between now and June 30, and reflect the significant progress that has been made in discussions between the P5+1, the European Union, and Iran. Important implementation details are still subject to negotiation, and nothing is agreed until everything is agreed. We will work to conclude the JCPOA based on these parameters over the coming months.

Enrichment

  • Iran has agreed to reduce by approximately two-thirds its installed centrifuges. Iran will go from having about 19,000 installed today to 6,104 installed under the deal, with only 5,060 of these enriching uranium for 10 years. All 6,104 centrifuges will be IR-1s, Iran’s first-generation centrifuge.
  • Iran has agreed to not enrich uranium over 3.67 percent for at least 15 years.
  • Iran has agreed to reduce its current stockpile of about 10,000 kg of low-enriched uranium (LEU) to 300 kg of 3.67 percent LEU for 15 years.
  • All excess centrifuges and enrichment infrastructure will be placed in IAEA monitored storage and will be used only as replacements for operating centrifuges and equipment.
  • Iran has agreed to not build any new facilities for the purpose of enriching uranium for 15 years.
  • Iran’s breakout timeline – the time that it would take for Iran to acquire enough fissile material for one weapon – is currently assessed to be 2 to 3 months. That timeline will be extended to at least one year, for a duration of at least ten years, under this framework.

Iran will convert its facility at Fordow so that it is no longer used to enrich uranium

  • Iran has agreed to not enrich uranium at its Fordow facility for at least 15 years.
  •  Iran has agreed to convert its Fordow facility so that it is used for peaceful purposes only – into a nuclear, physics, technology, research center.
  • Iran has agreed to not conduct research and development associated with uranium enrichment at Fordow for 15 years.
  • Iran will not have any fissile material at Fordow for 15 years.
  • Almost two-thirds of Fordow’s centrifuges and infrastructure will be removed. The remaining centrifuges will not enrich uranium. All centrifuges and related infrastructure will be placed under IAEA monitoring.

Iran will only enrich uranium at the Natanz facility, with only 5,060 IR-1 first-generation centrifuges for ten years.

  • Iran has agreed to only enrich uranium using its first generation (IR-1 models) centrifuges at Natanz for ten years, removing its more advanced centrifuges.
  • Iran will remove the 1,000 IR-2M centrifuges currently installed at Natanz and place them in IAEA monitored storage for ten years.
  • Iran will not use its IR-2, IR-4, IR-5, IR-6, or IR-8 models to produce enriched uranium for at least ten years. Iran will engage in limited research and development with its advanced centrifuges, according to a schedule and parameters which have been agreed to by the P5+1.
  • For ten years, enrichment and enrichment research and development will be limited to ensure a breakout timeline of at least 1 year. Beyond 10 years, Iran will abide by its enrichment and enrichment R&D plan submitted to the IAEA, and pursuant to the JCPOA, under the Additional Protocol resulting in certain limitations on enrichment capacity.

Inspections and Transparency

  • The IAEA will have regular access to all of Iran’s nuclear facilities, including to Iran’s enrichment facility at Natanz and its former enrichment facility at Fordow, and including the use of the most up-to-date, modern monitoring technologies.
  • Inspectors will have access to the supply chain that supports Iran’s nuclear program. The new transparency and inspections mechanisms will closely monitor materials and/or components to prevent diversion to a secret program.
  • Inspectors will have access to uranium mines and continuous surveillance at uranium mills, where Iran produces yellowcake, for 25 years.
  • Inspectors will have continuous surveillance of Iran’s centrifuge rotors and bellows production and storage facilities for 20 years. Iran’s centrifuge manufacturing base will be frozen and under continuous surveillance.
  • All centrifuges and enrichment infrastructure removed from Fordow and Natanz will be placed under continuous monitoring by the IAEA.
  • A dedicated procurement channel for Iran’s nuclear program will be established to monitor and approve, on a case by case basis, the supply, sale, or transfer to Iran of certain nuclear-related and dual use materials and technology – an additional transparency measure.
  • Iran has agreed to implement the Additional Protocol of the IAEA, providing the IAEA much greater access and information regarding Iran’s nuclear program, including both declared and undeclared facilities.
  • Iran will be required to grant access to the IAEA to investigate suspicious sites or allegations of a covert enrichment facility, conversion facility, centrifuge production facility, or yellowcake production facility anywhere in the country.
  • Iran has agreed to implement Modified Code 3.1 requiring early notification of construction of new facilities.
  • Iran will implement an agreed set of measures to address the IAEA’s concerns regarding the Possible Military Dimensions (PMD) of its program.

Reactors and Reprocessing

  • Iran has agreed to redesign and rebuild a heavy water research reactor in Arak, based on a design that is agreed to by the P5+1, which will not produce weapons grade plutonium, and which will support peaceful nuclear research and radioisotope production.
  • The original core of the reactor, which would have enabled the production of significant quantities of weapons-grade plutonium, will be destroyed or removed from the country.
  • Iran will ship all of its spent fuel from the reactor out of the country for the reactor’s lifetime.
  • Iran has committed indefinitely to not conduct reprocessing or reprocessing research and development on spent nuclear fuel.
  • Iran will not accumulate heavy water in excess of the needs of the modified Arak reactor, and will sell any remaining heavy water on the international market for 15 years.
  • Iran will not build any additional heavy water reactors for 15 years.

Sanctions

  • Iran will receive sanctions relief, if it verifiably abides by its commitments.
  • U.S. and E.U. nuclear-related sanctions will be suspended after the IAEA has verified that Iran has taken all of its key nuclear-related steps. If at any time Iran fails to fulfill its commitments, these sanctions will snap back into place.
  • The architecture of U.S. nuclear-related sanctions on Iran will be retained for much of the duration of the deal and allow for snap-back of sanctions in the event of significant non-performance.
  • All past UN Security Council resolutions on the Iran nuclear issue will be lifted simultaneous with the completion, by Iran, of nuclear-related actions addressing all key concerns (enrichment, Fordow, Arak, PMD, and transparency).
  • However, core provisions in the UN Security Council resolutions – those that deal with transfers of sensitive technologies and activities – will be re-established by a new UN Security Council resolution that will endorse the JCPOA and urge its full implementation. It will also create the procurement channel mentioned above, which will serve as a key transparency measure. Important restrictions on conventional arms and ballistic missiles, as well as provisions that allow for related cargo inspections and asset freezes, will also be incorporated by this new resolution.
  • A dispute resolution process will be specified, which enables any JCPOA participant, to seek to resolve disagreements about the performance of JCPOA commitments.
  • If an issue of significant non-performance cannot be resolved through that process, then all previous UN sanctions could be re-imposed.
  • U.S. sanctions on Iran for terrorism, human rights abuses, and ballistic missiles will remain in place under the deal.

Phasing

  • For ten years, Iran will limit domestic enrichment capacity and research and development – ensuring a breakout timeline of at least one year. Beyond that, Iran will be bound by its longer-term enrichment and enrichment research and development plan it shared with the P5+1.
  • For fifteen years, Iran will limit additional elements of its program. For instance, Iran will not build new enrichment facilities or heavy water reactors and will limit its stockpile of enriched uranium and accept enhanced transparency procedures.
  • Important inspections and transparency measures will continue well beyond 15 years. Iran’s adherence to the Additional Protocol of the IAEA is permanent, including its significant access and transparency obligations. The robust inspections of Iran’s uranium supply chain will last for 25 years.
  • Even after the period of the most stringent limitations on Iran’s nuclear program, Iran will remain a party to the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT), which prohibits Iran’s development or acquisition of nuclear weapons and requires IAEA safeguards on its nuclear program.

We welcome your comments!