The U.S. Senate Where They Stand on the Iran Deal? (Those Who Favor Diplomacy and Peace, Those That Seek Confrontation and Likely War, and Those that Stand Still Aside after Weeks of Knowledge of the Text and Arguments.)

by
Harry C. Blaney

The moment of decision by the Congress is fast approaching and we have decided to make it easy for our readers how their Senators (and in time some of their Representatives) stand on the vital issue of supporting the Iran agreement. There are those who are against it, and those that seem still unable to take a stand despite having had weeks of classified and unclassified briefing, reading the texts (we hope), and reading the argument favored by many knowledgeable experts, former generals, former White House national security advisers, and a host of the best scientists in America. This along with over 100 former Ambassadors, experts on non-proliferation, the Middle East, and strategic nuclear issues, who have argued for support based on substantiate security grounds.

Some in Congress undoubtedly have been “briefed” by the opponents of the agreement. Many of these are the same people who lead our nation into the mistake of the Iraq war with all its cost in blood of our troops and wasted resources. None, and I mean none, have been able to propose a truly realistic alternative to the breakup of this agreement that would not lead to Iran more easily building an atomic bomb in short order and being released of the many constraints and oversight that this agreement contains.

So we commend to our readers how our political decision making, and lack thereof, may lead either to a diplomatic and comprehensive deal that has real teeth, or the path which can only bring great conflict and danger, not just to America and Europe, but also to Israel as has been noted in the statements of Israeli security service chiefs. 

The question we need to ask is why those who oppose, and those on the fence, have chosen to disapprove or have not taken a stand on the Iran Nuclear Deal despite the overwhelming evidence that this agreement will restrain any possible military nuclear program compared with an alternative that allows nearly all restraints to disappear? 

In the coming days we will post some new key quotes on the Iran issue by Congresspersons in favor, against, and on the fence. We will continue to highlight the debate over the next few weeks and its results. Go to our recent RNS post on quotes on this issue of experts, documents giving the arguments of expert groups, and quotes on this issue by our presidential candidates.

Senators Committed Yes on Iran Nuclear Deal

  1. Tammy Baldwin (D-Wis.)
  2. Michael Bennet (D-Co.)
  3. Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn)
  4. Cory Booker (D-NJ)
  5. Barbara Boxer (D-Calif.)
  6. Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio)
  7. Tom Carper (D-Dl)
  8. Bob Casey (D-Pa.)
  9. Chris Coons (D-Del.)
  10. Joe Donnelly (D-Ind.)
  11. Dick Durbin (D-Ill.)
  12. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.)
  13. Al Franken (D-Minn.)
  14. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.)
  15. Heidi Heitkamp (D-ND)
  16. Martin Heinrich (D-N.M.)
  17. Mazie Hirono (D-Hawaii)
  18. Tim Kaine (D-Va.)
  19. Angus King (I-Maine)
  20. Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.)
  21. Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.)
  22. Edward Markey (D-Mass.)
  23. Claire McCaskill (D-Mo.)
  24. Jeff Merkely (D-Ore)
  25. Barbara Mikulski (D-Md.)
  26. Chris Murphy (D-Conn.)
  27. Patty Murray (D-Wash.)
  28. Bill Nelson (D-Fla.)
  29. Gary Peters (D-Mich.)
  30. Jack Reed (D-R.I.)
  31. Harry Reid (D-Nev.)
  32. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.)
  33. Brian Schatz (D-Hawaii)
  34. Jeanne Shaheen (D-N.H.)
  35. Debbie Stabenow (D-Mich.)
  36. Jon Tester (D-Mont.)
  37. Tom Udall (D-N.M.)
  38. Mark Warner (D-Va.)
  39. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.)
  40. Sheldon Whitehouse (D-R.I.)
  41. Ron Wyden (D-Ore.)

Senators Committed No on Iran Nuclear Deal

  1. Roy Blunt (R-Mo.)
  2. Bob Corker (R-Tenn.)
  3. Tom Cotton (R-Ark.)
  4. Ted Cruz (R-Tex.)
  5. Jeff Flake (R-Ariz.)
  6. Cory Gardner (R-Colo.)
  7. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.)
  8. John Hoeven (R-N.D.)
  9. Jim Inhofe (R-Okla.)
  10. Mark Kirk (R-Ill.)
  11. Bob Menendez (D-N.J.)
  12. Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska)
  13. Rand Paul (R-Ky.)
  14. David Perdue (R-Ga.)
  15. Jim Risch (R-Idaho)
  16. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.)
  17. Ben Sasse (R-Neb.)
  18. Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.)
  19. Dan Sullivan (R-Alaska)
  20. Thom Tillis (R-N.C.)
  21. Pat Toomey (R-Pa.)
  22. Roger Wicker (R-Miss.)
  23. David Vitter (R-La.)

Senators Not Decided on Iran Nuclear Deal

  1. Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.)
  2. Kelly Ayotte (R-N.H.)
  3. John Barrasso (R-Wyo.)
  4. John Boozman (R-Ark.)
  5. Richard Burr (R-N.C.)
  6. Maria Cantwell (D-Wash.)
  7. Ben Cardin (D-Md.)
  8. Bill Cassidy (R-La.)
  9. Dan Coats (R-Ind.)
  10. Thad Cochran (R-Miss.)
  11. Susan Collins (R-Maine)
  12. John Cornyn (R-Tex.)
  13. Mike Crapo (R-Idaho)
  14. Steve Daines (R-Mont.)
  15. Mike Enzi (R-Wyo.)
  16. Joni Ernst (R-Iowa)
  17. Deb Fischer (R-Neb.)
  18. Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa)
  19. Orrin Hatch (R-Utah)
  20. Dean Heller (R-Nev.)
  21. Johnny Isakson (R-Ga.)
  22. Ron Johnson (R-Wis.)
  23. James Lankford (R-Okla.)
  24. Mike Lee (R-Utah)
  25. Joe Manchin (D-W.V.)
  26. John McCain (R-Ariz.)
  27. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.)
  28. Jerry Moran (R-Kan.)
  29. Shelley Moore Capito (R-W.Va.)
  30. Rob Portman (R-Ohio)
  31. Pat Roberts (R-Kan.)
  32. Mike Rounds (R-S.D.)
  33. Tim Scott (R-S.C.)
  34. Jeff Sessions (R-Ala.)
  35. Richard Shelby (R-Ala.)
  36. John Thune (R-S.D.)
  37. Mark Warner (D-Va.)

We welcome from you new quotes on these issue by candidates…send them on with citations!

Nominations for the Most Outrageous and Wrongheaded Quotes by Presidential Candidates on the Iran Nuclear Deal

Image: Politico

By: Harry C. Blaney III

To prove that this summer has become the “silly season” we have selected a few of the most wrongheaded and crazy quotes by the presidential hopefuls. This is not just for summer fun and amusement but also for reflection on the quality of the debate regarding the agreement that can prevent Iran from getting a nuclear weapon all together, rather than in just three months without a deal as most experts predict.

We have for the more attentive, world-weary reader, and super curious a full set of  pro and con quotes on an earlier blog here.

We welcome from our readers their own nominations for this proud honor!

HERE ARE THE INITIAL WRONGHEADED OR OUTRAGEOUS QUOTES:

Sen. Ted Cruz

“If this deal goes through, the Obama administration, President Obama, Hillary Clinton, John Kerry, will become the leading global financiers of radical Islamic terrorism.”

“You know one entity, one person with whom there is no ambiguity in terms of whether Iran wants a nuclear weapon is the Ayatollah Khamenei. Is President Rouhani. Both of whom explicitly said they are developing nuclear weapons. There is no doubt about it.”  (Comment: not true.)

“The Iranian nuclear deal is catastrophic — the single greatest national security threat facing America. To allow a country led by a theocratic zealot ….. to have a weapon that could in the flash of an eye murder millions of Americans. We have to stop this deal.” (Comment: read assessment of our Ambassadors, national security advisors, scientists in the context of this quote…all say the deal prevents just what Cruz says will happen.)

 

Jeb Bush

“The Obama Administration’s negotiating strategy with Iran is called appeasement. We should walk away.” “The nuclear agreement announced by the Obama Administration today is a dangerous, deeply flawed, and short sighted deal. The people of Iran, the region, Israel, America, and the world deserve better than a deal that consolidates the grip on power of the violent revolutionary clerics who rule Tehran with an iron fist.”

“The Obama-Clinton-Kerry Iran policy has failed not only because its weak negotiating strategy will not stop Iran from developing a nuclear weapons capability.”

(Comment: “appeasement” when supported and signed off by our Generals, former Ambassadors, expert scientists, the EU, Russia, China, NATO, and most real nuclear experts, etc? This one is a special prize!]

 

Sen. Bob Corker

“It’s very easy to cover up nuclear weapons. I believe you have crossed a new threshold in U.S. foreign policy where it is now our policy to enable a sponsor of terror to gain a sophisticated nuclear program.”

“And then, after 10 years, there’s something called the Iranian nuclear development program…. I actually think the deadline was working in Iran’s favor.  Iran will cheat by inches.” 

“I want to read the agreement in detail ….  but I begin from a place of deep skepticism that the deal actually meets the goal of preventing Iran from obtaining a nuclear weapon.”

“It’s very easy to cover up nuclear weapons. I believe you have crossed a new threshold in U.S. foreign policy where it is now our policy to enable a sponsor of terror to gain a sophisticated nuclear program.”

“Throughout the negotiations, the Administration routinely asserted that ‘no deal is better than a bad deal’ and threatened to walk away if necessary, so clearly there was always another option for the White House — and it wasn’t war.”

 

Sen. Lindsey Graham

“This is the most dangerous, irresponsible step I have ever seen in the history of watching the Mideast. Barack Obama, John Kerry, have been dangerously naive.”

“This is North Korea in the making.”

“My initial impression is that this deal is far worse than I ever dreamed it could be.”

“You have created a possible death sentence for Israel.”

“This is a virtual declaration of war against Sunni Arabs.” (FYI Saudi Arabia support the deal)

“I don’t believe it’s a deal that until I get to look at it, so that’s the problem here. I betch a dollar if you looked at it, it would be a joke.”

“It’s incredibly dangerous for our national security, and it’s akin to declaring war on Sunni Arabs and Israel by the P5+1 because it ensures their primary antagonist Iran will become a nuclear power and allows them to rearm conventionally.”

“This is a bad deal, the worst possible outcome. You’ve created a nuclear arms race in the Middle East. You put Israel at risk and you put us at risk” 

“I would keep the interim deal in place. The interim deal has worked better than I thought it would, so hats off to John Kerry.” 

“This interim deal gives the Iranians $7 billion in cash and leaves in place one of the most sophisticated enrichment programs around.” (Comment: Not true.)

 

Sen. Marco Rubio

“We already know that this deal is not in the interests of the United States. It will not keep Americans safer. It will only embolden the world’s foremost sponsor of terrorism as it expands its influence and sows instability across the Middle East.”

“If he [Obama] instead chooses to conclude a deal that ensures that Iran will be a nuclear threshold state, I am confident that a majority of both houses of Congress will join me in opposing it, which will lay the foundation for our next President to undo this disaster.”

(Comment: How does a nation that could build the bomb without this agreement and now won’t be able to under the agreement be more of a threat to the region or us?)

Mike Huckabee

“This president’s foreign policy is the most feckless in American history. It is so naive that he would trust the Iranians. By doing so, he will take the Israelis and march them to the door of the oven.”

“You don’t negotiate with people, especially a pyromaniac who’s standing there with a can of gasoline and a book of matches in his hand, and expect him not to start a fire.”

“This president thinks he was anointed king. I don’t know where his crown is, but this is frustrating”

 

Donald Trump

“I think it’s an outrage, I think it’s done by people of gross incompetence, I think it’s a tremendous win for Iran and many of our enemies and I think it’s something that shouldn’t be allowed.”

“Iran is taking over Iraq 100%, just like I predicted years ago. I say this, I didn’t want to go there in the first place. Now we take the oil.”

“We should have kept the oil. Now we go in, we knock the hell out of them, take the oil, we thereby take their wealth. They have so much money.”

“They have better internet connections than we do in the United States. They’re training our kids through the internet. We have to knock out their wealth.”

(Comment: ”incompetence” by the man who said Obama was not born in the United States? Take the oil how?)

Scientists’ Letter to Obama on Iran Nuclear Deal

Dear Mr. President,

As scientists and engineers with understanding of the physics and technology of nuclear power and of nuclear weapons, we congratulate you and your team on the successful completion of the negotiations in Vienna. We consider that the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) the United States and its partners negotiated with Iran will advance the cause of peace and security in the Middle East and can serve as a guidepost for future non-­‐proliferation agreements.

This is an innovative agreement, with much more stringent constraints than any previously negotiated non-­‐proliferation framework. It limits the level of enrichment of the uranium that Iran can produce, the amount of enriched uranium it can stockpile, and the number and kinds of centrifuges it can develop and operate. The agreement bans reconversion and reprocessing of reactor fuel, it requires Iran to redesign its Arak research reactor to produce far less plutonium than the original design, and specifies that spent fuel must be shipped out of the country without the plutonium being separated and before any significant quantity can be accumulated.

A key result of these restrictions is that it would take Iran many months to enrich uranium for a weapon. We contrast this with the situation before the interim agreement was negotiated in Lausanne: at that time Iran had accumulated enough 20 percent enriched uranium that the required additional enrichment time for weapons use was only a few weeks.

The JCPOA also provides for innovative approaches to verification, including monitoring of uranium mining, milling, and conversion to hexafluoride. Centrifuge manufacturing and R&D will be monitored as well. For 15 years the Natanz facility will be the only location where uranium enrichment is allowed to take place and it will be outfitted with real-­‐time monitoring to assure rapid notice of any violation. The authority is provided for real-­‐time monitoring of spent fuel as well.

Concerns about clandestine activities in Iran are greatly mitigated by the dispute resolution mechanism built into the agreement. The 24-­‐day cap on any delay to access is unprecedented, and will allow effective challenge inspection for the suspected activities of greatest concern: clandestine enrichment, construction of reprocessing or reconversion facilities, and implosion tests using uranium. The approach to resolving “Possible Military Dimensions” is innovative as well: the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) must be satisfied that it is fully informed about any previous activities, in order to guide its future verification plans, but Iran need not be publicly shamed. This agreement, also for the first time, explicitly bans nuclear weapons R&D, rather than only their manufacture as specified in the text of the Non-­‐Proliferation Treaty (NPT).

Some have expressed concern that the deal will free Iran to develop nuclear weapons without constraint after ten years. In contrast we find that the deal includes important long-­‐term verification procedures that last until 2040, and others that last indefinitely under the NPT and its Additional Protocol. On the other hand, we do believe that it would be valuable to strengthen these durable international institutions. We recommend that your team work with the IAEA to gain agreement to implement some of the key innovations included in the JCPOA into existing safeguards agreements. This will reduce the proliferation risks associated with national fuel cycle facilities worldwide. Thus in the future, when Iran is treated the same as all non-­‐nuclear weapons states with nuclear energy programs, all such programs will be more stringently constrained and verified.

As you have stated, this deal does not take any options off the table for you or any future president. Indeed it will make it much easier for you or a future president to know if and when Iran heads for a bomb, and the detection of a significant violation of this agreement will provide strong, internationally supported justification for intervention.

In conclusion, we congratulate you and your team on negotiating a technically sound, stringent and innovative deal that will provide the necessary assurance in the coming decade and more that Iran is not developing nuclear weapons, and provides a basis for further initiatives to raise the barriers to nuclear proliferation in the Middle East and around the globe.

Sincerely,

Richard L. Garwin, IBM Fellow Emeritus

Robert J. Goldston, Princeton University

Scott Kemp, Massachusetts Institute of Technology

Rush Holt, American Association for the Advancement of Science

Frank von Hippel, Princeton University

Also signed by:

John F. Ahearne

Director, Ethics Program at Sigma Xi, The Scientific Research Society

Philip W. Anderson

Professor Emeritus, Princeton University

Christopher Chyba

Princeton University

Leon N. Cooper

Brown University

Pierce S. Corden

Former Director, Office of International Security Negotiations, Bureau of Arms Control: Department of State

John M. Cornwall

Professor of Physics and Astronomy, UCLA

Sidney D. Drell Stanford University

Freeman Dyson

Professor Emeritus, Institute for Advanced Study, Princeton University

Harold A. Feiveson

Princeton University

Michael E. Fisher

Professor Emeritus, Cornell University and University of Maryland

Howard Georgi

Harvard University

Sheldon L. Glashow

Boston University

Lisbeth Gronlund

Union of Concerned Scientists

David Gross

Professor of Theoretical Physics, Kavli Institute for Theoretical Physics, UCSB

Sigfried S. Hecker

Center for International Security and Cooperation, Stanford University

Martin E. Hellman

Professor Emeritus of Electrical Engineering, Stanford University

Ernest Henley

University of Washington

Gregory Loew

Emeritus Deputy Director and Professor, SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory

Kumar N. Patel

Professor Emeritus of Experimental Condensed Matter, UCLA

Burton Richter

Stanford University

Myriam Sarachik

City College of New York, CUNY

Roy F. Schwitters

The University of Texas at Austin

Frank Wilczek

Massachusetts Institute of Technology

David Wright

Union of Concerned Scientists

Remarks by the President on the Iran Nuclear Deal

American University
Washington, D.C.

It is a great honor to be back at American University, which has prepared generations of young people for service in public life.  I want to thank President Kerwin and the American University family for hosting us here today.

Fifty-two years ago, President Kennedy, at the height of the Cold War, addressed this same university on the subject of peace.  The Berlin Wall had just been built.  The Soviet Union had tested the most powerful weapons ever developed.  China was on the verge of acquiring a nuclear bomb.  Less than 20 years after the end of World War II, the prospect of nuclear war was all too real.  With all of the threats that we face today, it’s hard to appreciate how much more dangerous the world was at that time.

In light of these mounting threats, a number of strategists here in the United States argued that we had to take military action against the Soviets, to hasten what they saw as inevitable confrontation.  But the young President offered a different vision.  Strength, in his view, included powerful armed forces and a willingness to stand up for our values around the world.  But he rejected the prevailing attitude among some foreign policy circles that equated security with a perpetual war footing.  Instead, he promised strong, principled American leadership on behalf of what he called a “practical” and “attainable peace” — a peace “based not on a sudden revolution in human nature but on a gradual evolution in human institutions — on a series of concrete actions and effective agreements.”

Such wisdom would help guide our ship of state through some of the most perilous moments in human history.  With Kennedy at the helm, the Cuban Missile Crisis was resolved peacefully.  Under Democratic and Republican Presidents, new agreements were forged — a Non-Proliferation Treaty that prohibited nations from acquiring nuclear weapons, while allowing them to access peaceful nuclear energy; the SALT and START Treaties which bound the United States and Soviet Union to cooperation on arms control.  Not every conflict was averted, but the world avoided nuclear catastrophe, and we created the time and the space to win the Cold War without firing a shot at the Soviets.

The agreement now reached between the international community and the Islamic Republic of Iran builds on this tradition of strong, principled diplomacy.  After two years of negotiations, we have achieved a detailed arrangement that permanently prohibits Iran from obtaining a nuclear weapon.  It cuts off all of Iran’s pathways to a bomb.  It contains the most comprehensive inspection and verification regime ever negotiated to monitor a nuclear program.  As was true in previous treaties, it does not resolve all problems; it certainly doesn’t resolve all our problems with Iran.  It does not ensure a warming between our two countries.  But it achieves one of our most critical security objectives.  As such, it is a very good deal.

Today, I want to speak to you about this deal, and the most consequential foreign policy debate that our country has had since the invasion of Iraq, as Congress decides whether to support this historic diplomatic breakthrough, or instead blocks it over the objection of the vast majority of the world.  Between now and the congressional vote in September, you’re going to hear a lot of arguments against this deal, backed by tens of millions of dollars in advertising.  And if the rhetoric in these ads, and the accompanying commentary, sounds familiar, it should — for many of the same people who argued for the war in Iraq are now making the case against the Iran nuclear deal.

Now, when I ran for President eight years ago as a candidate who had opposed the decision to go to war in Iraq, I said that America didn’t just have to end that war — we had to end the mindset that got us there in the first place.  It was a mindset characterized by a preference for military action over diplomacy; a mindset that put a premium on unilateral U.S. action over the painstaking work of building international consensus; a mindset that exaggerated threats beyond what the intelligence supported.  Leaders did not level with the American people about the costs of war, insisting that we could easily impose our will on a part of the world with a profoundly different culture and history.  And, of course, those calling for war labeled themselves strong and decisive, while dismissing those who disagreed as weak — even appeasers of a malevolent adversary.

More than a decade later, we still live with the consequences of the decision to invade Iraq.  Our troops achieved every mission they were given.  But thousands of lives were lost, tens of thousands wounded.  That doesn’t count the lives lost among Iraqis.  Nearly a trillion dollars was spent. Today, Iraq remains gripped by sectarian conflict, and the emergence of al Qaeda in Iraq has now evolved into ISIL.  And ironically, the single greatest beneficiary in the region of that war was the Islamic Republic of Iran, which saw its strategic position strengthened by the removal of its long-standing enemy, Saddam Hussein.

I raise this recent history because now more than ever we need clear thinking in our foreign policy.  And I raise this history because it bears directly on how we respond to the Iranian nuclear program.

That program has been around for decades, dating back to the Shah’s efforts — with U.S. support — in the 1960s and ‘70s to develop nuclear power.  The theocracy that overthrew the Shah accelerated the program after the Iran-Iraq War in the 1980s, a war in which Saddam Hussein used chemical weapons to brutal effect, and Iran’s nuclear program advanced steadily through the 1990s, despite unilateral U.S. sanctions.  When the Bush administration took office, Iran had no centrifuges — the machines necessary to produce material for a bomb — that were spinning to enrich uranium.  But despite repeated warnings from the United States government, by the time I took office, Iran had installed several thousand centrifuges, and showed no inclination to slow — much less halt — its program.

Among U.S. policymakers, there’s never been disagreement on the danger posed by an Iranian nuclear bomb.  Democrats and Republicans alike have recognized that it would spark an arms race in the world’s most unstable region, and turn every crisis into a potential nuclear showdown.  It would embolden terrorist groups, like Hezbollah, and pose an unacceptable risk to Israel, which Iranian leaders have repeatedly threatened to destroy.  More broadly, it could unravel the global commitment to non-proliferation that the world has done so much to defend.

The question, then, is not whether to prevent Iran from obtaining a nuclear weapon, but how.  Even before taking office, I made clear that Iran would not be allowed to acquire a nuclear weapon on my watch, and it’s been my policy throughout my presidency to keep all options — including possible military options — on the table to achieve that objective.  But I have also made clear my preference for a peaceful, diplomatic resolution of the issue — not just because of the costs of war, but also because a negotiated agreement offered a more effective, verifiable and durable resolution.

And so, in 2009, we let the Iranians know that a diplomatic path was available.  Iran failed to take that path, and our intelligence community exposed the existence of a covert nuclear facility at Fordow.

Now, some have argued that Iran’s intransigence showed the futility of negotiations.  In fact, it was our very willingness to negotiate that helped America rally the world to our cause, and secured international participation in an unprecedented framework of commercial and financial sanctions.  Keep in mind unilateral U.S. sanctions against Iran had been in place for decades, but had failed to pressure Iran to the negotiating table.  What made our new approach more effective was our ability to draw upon new U.N. Security Council resolutions, combining strong enforcement with voluntary agreements from nations like China and India, Japan and South Korea to reduce their purchases of Iranian oil, as well as the imposition by our European allies of a total oil embargo.

Winning this global buy-in was not easy — I know.  I was there.  In some cases, our partners lost billions of dollars in trade because of their decision to cooperate.  But we were able to convince them that absent a diplomatic resolution, the result could be war, with major disruptions to the global economy, and even greater instability in the Middle East.  In other words, it was diplomacy — hard, painstaking diplomacy — not saber-rattling, not tough talk that ratcheted up the pressure on Iran.

With the world now unified beside us, Iran’s economy contracted severely, and remains about 20 percent smaller today than it would have otherwise been.  No doubt this hardship played a role in Iran’s 2013 elections, when the Iranian people elected a new government that promised to improve the economy through engagement with the world.  A window had cracked open.  Iran came back to the nuclear talks.  And after a series of negotiations, Iran agreed with the international community to an interim deal — a deal that rolled back Iran’s stockpile of near 20 percent enriched uranium, and froze the progress of its program so that the P5+1 — the United States, China, Russia, the United Kingdom, Germany, France, and the European Union — could negotiate a comprehensive deal without the fear that Iran might be stalling for time.

Now, let me pause here just to remind everybody that when the interim deal was announced, critics — the same critics we’re hearing from now — called it “a historic mistake.”  They insisted Iran would ignore its obligations.  They warned that sanctions would unravel.  They warned that Iran would receive a windfall to support terrorism.

The critics were wrong.  The progress of Iran’s nuclear program was halted for the first time in a decade.  Its stockpile of dangerous materials was reduced.  The deployment of its advanced centrifuges was stopped.  Inspections did increase. There was no flood of money into Iran, and the architecture of the international sanctions remained in place.  In fact, the interim deal worked so well that the same people who criticized it so fiercely now cite it as an excuse not to support the broader accord.  Think about that.  What was once proclaimed as a historic mistake is now held up as a success and a reason to not sign the comprehensive deal.  So keep that in mind when you assess the credibility of the arguments being made against diplomacy today.

Despite the criticism, we moved ahead to negotiate a more lasting, comprehensive deal.  Our diplomats, led by Secretary of State John Kerry, kept our coalition united.  Our nuclear experts — including one of the best in the world, Secretary of Energy Ernie Moniz — worked tirelessly on the technical details.  In July, we reached a comprehensive plan of action that meets our objectives.  Under its terms, Iran is never allowed to build a nuclear weapon.  And while Iran, like any party to the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, is allowed to access peaceful nuclear energy, the agreement strictly defines the manner in which its nuclear program can proceed, ensuring that all pathways to a bomb are cut off.

Here’s how.  Under this deal, Iran cannot acquire the plutonium needed for a bomb.  The core of its heavy-water reactor at Arak will be pulled out, filled with concrete, and replaced with one that will not produce plutonium for a weapon.  The spent fuel from that reactor will be shipped out of the country, and Iran will not build any new heavy-water reactors for at least 15 years.

Iran will also not be able to acquire the enriched uranium that could be used for a bomb.  As soon as this deal is implemented, Iran will remove two-thirds of its centrifuges.  For the next decade, Iran will not enrich uranium with its more advanced centrifuges.  Iran will not enrich uranium at the previously undisclosed Fordow facility, which is buried deep underground, for at least 15 years.  Iran will get rid of 98 percent of its stockpile of enriched uranium, which is currently enough for up to 10 nuclear bombs, for the next 15 years.  Even after those 15 years have passed, Iran will never have the right to use a peaceful program as cover to pursue a weapon.

And, in fact, this deal shuts off the type of covert path Iran pursued in the past.  There will be 24/7 monitoring of Iran’s key nuclear facilities.  For decades, inspectors will have access to Iran’s entire nuclear supply chain — from the uranium mines and mills where they get raw materials, to the centrifuge production facilities where they make machines to enrich it.  And understand why this is so important:  For Iran to cheat, it has to build a lot more than just one building or a covert facility like Fordow.  It would need a secret source for every single aspect of its program.  No nation in history has been able to pull off such subterfuge when subjected to such rigorous inspections.  And under the terms of the deal, inspectors will have the permanent ability to inspect any suspicious sites in Iran.

And finally, Iran has powerful incentives to keep its commitments.  Before getting sanctions relief, Iran has to take significant, concrete steps like removing centrifuges and getting rid of its stockpile.  If Iran violates the agreement over the next decade, all of the sanctions can snap back into place.  We won’t need the support of other members of the U.N. Security Council; America can trigger snapback on our own.  On the other hand, if Iran abides by the deal and its economy begins to reintegrate with the world, the incentive to avoid snapback will only grow.

So this deal is not just the best choice among alternatives -– this is the strongest non-proliferation agreement ever negotiated.  And because this is such a strong deal, every nation in the world that has commented publicly, with the exception of the Israeli government, has expressed support.  The United Nations Security Council has unanimously supported it.  The majority of arms control and non-proliferation experts support it.  Over 100 former ambassadors — who served under Republican and Democratic Presidents — support it.  I’ve had to make a lot of tough calls as President, but whether or not this deal is good for American security is not one of those calls.  It’s not even close.

Unfortunately, we’re living through a time in American politics where every foreign policy decision is viewed through a partisan prism, evaluated by headline-grabbing sound bites. And so before the ink was even dry on this deal — before Congress even read it — a majority of Republicans declared their virulent opposition.  Lobbyists and pundits were suddenly transformed into arm-chair nuclear scientists, disputing the assessments of experts like Secretary Moniz, challenging his findings, offering multiple — and sometimes contradictory — arguments about why Congress should reject this deal.  But if you repeat these arguments long enough, they can get some traction.  So let me address just a few of the arguments that have been made so far in opposition to this deal.

First, there are those who say the inspections are not strong enough because inspectors can’t go anywhere in Iran at any time with no notice.

Well, here’s the truth:  Inspectors will be allowed daily access to Iran’s key nuclear sites.  If there is a reason for inspecting a suspicious, undeclared site anywhere in Iran, inspectors will get that access, even if Iran objects.  This access can be with as little as 24 hours’ notice.  And while the process for resolving a dispute about access can take up to 24 days, once we’ve identified a site that raises suspicion, we will be watching it continuously until inspectors get in.  And by the way, nuclear material isn’t something you hide in the closet.  It can leave a trace for years.  The bottom line is, if Iran cheats, we can catch them — and we will.

Second, there are those who argue that the deal isn’t strong enough because some of the limitations on Iran’s civilian nuclear program expire in 15 years.  Let me repeat:  The prohibition on Iran having a nuclear weapon is permanent.  The ban on weapons-related research is permanent.  Inspections are permanent.  It is true that some of the limitations regarding Iran’s peaceful program last only 15 years.  But that’s how arms control agreements work.  The first SALT Treaty with the Soviet Union lasted five years.  The first START Treaty lasted 15 years.  And in our current situation, if 15 or 20 years from now, Iran tries to build a bomb, this deal ensures that the United States will have better tools to detect it, a stronger basis under international law to respond, and the same options available to stop a weapons program as we have today, including — if necessary — military options.

On the other hand, without this deal, the scenarios that critics warn about happening in 15 years could happen six months from now.  By killing this deal, Congress would not merely pave Iran’s pathway to a bomb, it would accelerate it.

Third, a number of critics say the deal isn’t worth it because Iran will get billions of dollars in sanctions relief.  Now, let’s be clear:  The international sanctions were put in place precisely to get Iran to agree to constraints on its program.  That’s the point of sanctions.  Any negotiated agreement with Iran would involve sanctions relief.  So an argument against sanctions relief is effectively an argument against any diplomatic resolution of this issue.

It is true that if Iran lives up to its commitments, it will gain access to roughly $56 billion of its own money — revenue frozen overseas by other countries.  But the notion that this will be a game-changer, with all this money funneled into Iran’s pernicious activities, misses the reality of Iran’s current situation.  Partly because of our sanctions, the Iranian government has over half a trillion dollars in urgent requirements — from funding pensions and salaries, to paying for crumbling infrastructure.  Iran’s leaders have raised the expectations of their people that sanctions relief will improve their lives.  Even a repressive regime like Iran’s cannot completely ignore those expectations.  And that’s why our best analysts expect the bulk of this revenue to go into spending that improves the economy and benefits the lives of the Iranian people.

Now, this is not to say that sanctions relief will provide no benefit to Iran’s military.  Let’s stipulate that some of that money will flow to activities that we object to.  We have no illusions about the Iranian government, or the significance of the Revolutionary Guard and the Quds Force.  Iran supports terrorist organizations like Hezbollah.  It supports proxy groups that threaten our interests and the interests of our allies — including proxy groups who killed our troops in Iraq.  They try to destabilize our Gulf partners.  But Iran has been engaged in these activities for decades.  They engaged in them before sanctions and while sanctions were in place.  In fact, Iran even engaged in these activities in the middle of the Iran-Iraq War — a war that cost them nearly a million lives and hundreds of billions of dollars.

The truth is that Iran has always found a way to fund these efforts, and whatever benefit Iran may claim from sanctions relief pales in comparison to the danger it could pose with a nuclear weapon.

Moreover, there’s no scenario where sanctions relief turns Iran into the region’s dominant power.  Iran’s defense budget is eight times smaller than the combined budget of our Gulf allies. Their conventional capabilities will never compare with Israel’s, and our commitment to Israel’s qualitative military edge helps guarantee that.  Over the last several years, Iran has had to spend billions of dollars to support its only ally in the Arab World — Bashar al-Assad — even as he’s lost control of huge chunks of his country.  And Hezbollah has suffered significant blows on the same battlefield.  And Iran, like the rest of the region, is being forced to respond to the threat of ISIL in Iraq.

So contrary to the alarmists who claim that Iran is on the brink of taking over the Middle East, or even the world, Iran will remain a regional power with its own set of challenges.  The ruling regime is dangerous and it is repressive.  We will continue to have sanctions in place on Iran’s support for terrorism and violation of human rights.  We will continue to insist upon the release of Americans detained unjustly.  We will have a lot of differences with the Iranian regime.

But if we’re serious about confronting Iran’s destabilizing activities, it is hard to imagine a worse approach than blocking this deal.  Instead, we need to check the behavior that we’re concerned about directly:  By helping our allies in the region strengthen their own capabilities to counter a cyber-attack or a ballistic missile; by improving the interdiction of weapons shipments that go to groups like Hezbollah; by training our allies’ special forces so that they can more effectively respond to situations like Yemen.  All these capabilities will make a difference.  We will be in a stronger position to implement them with this deal.  And, by the way, such a strategy also helps us effectively confront the immediate and lethal threat posed by ISIL.

Now, the final criticism — this sort of a catch-all that you may hear — is the notion that there’s a better deal to be had.  “We should get a better deal” — that’s repeated over and over again.  “It’s a bad deal, need a better deal” — (laughter) — one that relies on vague promises of toughness, and, more recently, the argument that we can apply a broader and indefinite set of sanctions to squeeze the Iranian regime harder.

Those making this argument are either ignorant of Iranian society, or they’re just not being straight with the American people.  Sanctions alone are not going to force Iran to completely dismantle all vestiges of its nuclear infrastructure — even those aspects that are consistent with peaceful programs.  That oftentimes is what the critics are calling “a better deal.”  Neither the Iranian government, or the Iranian opposition, or the Iranian people would agree to what they would view as a total surrender of their sovereignty.

Moreover, our closest allies in Europe, or in Asia — much less China or Russia — certainly are not going to agree to enforce existing sanctions for another 5, 10, 15 years according to the dictates of the U.S. Congress.  Because their willingness to support sanctions in the first place was based on Iran ending its pursuit of nuclear weapons.  It was not based on the belief that Iran cannot have peaceful nuclear power.  And it certainly wasn’t based on a desire for regime change in Iran.

As a result, those who say we can just walk away from this deal and maintain sanctions are selling a fantasy.  Instead of strengthening our position as some have suggested, Congress’s rejection would almost certainly result in multilateral sanctions unraveling.  If, as has also been suggested, we tried to maintain unilateral sanctions, beefen them up, we would be standing alone.  We cannot dictate the foreign, economic and energy policies of every major power in the world.

In order to even try to do that, we would have to sanction, for example, some of the world’s largest banks.  We’d have to cut off countries like China from the American financial system.  And since they happen to be major purchasers of or our debt, such actions could trigger severe disruptions in our own economy and, by the way, raise questions internationally about the dollar’s role as the world’s reserve currency.

That’s part of the reason why many of the previous unilateral sanctions were waived.  What’s more likely to happen, should Congress reject this deal, is that Iran would end up with some form of sanctions relief without having to accept any of the constraints or inspections required by this deal.  So in that sense, the critics are right:  Walk away from this agreement and you will get a better deal — for Iran.  (Applause.)

Now, because more sanctions won’t produce the results that the critics want, we have to be honest.  Congressional rejection of this deal leaves any U.S. administration that is absolutely committed to preventing Iran from getting a nuclear weapon with one option — another war in the Middle East.

I say this not to be provocative.  I am stating a fact. Without this deal, Iran will be in a position — however tough our rhetoric may be –- to steadily advance its capabilities.  Its breakout time, which is already fairly small, could shrink to near zero.  Does anyone really doubt that the same voices now raised against this deal will be demanding that whoever is President bomb those nuclear facilities?

And as someone who does firmly believes that Iran must not get a nuclear weapon, and who has wrestled with this issue since the beginning of my presidency, I can tell you that alternatives to military action will have been exhausted once we reject a hard-won diplomatic solution that the world almost unanimously supports.

So let’s not mince words.  The choice we face is ultimately between diplomacy or some form of war — maybe not tomorrow, maybe not three months from now, but soon.  And here’s the irony.  As I said before, military action would be far less effective than this deal in preventing Iran from obtaining a nuclear weapon.  That’s not just my supposition.  Every estimate, including those from Israeli analysts, suggest military action would only set back Iran’s program by a few years at best, which is a fraction of the limitations imposed by this deal.  It would likely guarantee that inspectors are kicked out of Iran.  It is probable that it would drive Iran’s program deeper underground.  It would certainly destroy the international unity that we’ve spent so many years building.

Now, there are some opponents — I have to give them credit; there are opponents of this deal who accept the choice of war.  In fact, they argue that surgical strikes against Iran’s facilities will be quick and painless.  But if we’ve learned anything from the last decade, it’s that wars in general and wars in the Middle East in particular are anything but simple.  (Applause.)  The only certainty in war is human suffering, uncertain costs, unintended consequences.  We can also be sure that the Americans who bear the heaviest burden are the less than 1 percent of us, the outstanding men and women who serve in uniform, and not those of us who send them to war.

As Commander-in-Chief, I have not shied from using force when necessary.  I have ordered tens of thousands of young Americans into combat.  I have sat by their bedside sometimes when they come home.  I’ve ordered military action in seven countries.  There are times when force is necessary, and if Iran does not abide by this deal, it’s possible that we don’t have an alternative.

But how can we in good conscience justify war before we’ve tested a diplomatic agreement that achieves our objectives; that has been agreed to by Iran; that is supported by the rest of the world; and that preserves our options if the deal falls short? How could we justify that to our troops?  How could we justify that to the world or to future generations?

In the end, that should be a lesson that we’ve learned from over a decade of war.  On the front end, ask tough questions.  Subject our own assumptions to evidence and analysis.  Resist the conventional wisdom and the drumbeat of war.  Worry less about being labeled weak; worry more about getting it right.

I recognize that resorting to force may be tempting in the face of the rhetoric and behavior that emanates from parts of Iran.  It is offensive.  It is incendiary.  We do take it seriously.  But superpowers should not act impulsively in response to taunts, or even provocations that can be addressed short of war.  Just because Iranian hardliners chant “Death to America” does not mean that that’s what all Iranians believe.  (Applause.)

In fact, it’s those hardliners who are most comfortable with the status quo.  It’s those hardliners chanting “Death to America” who have been most opposed to the deal.  They’re making common cause with the Republican caucus.  (Laughter and applause.)

The majority of the Iranian people have powerful incentives to urge their government to move in a different, less provocative direction — incentives that are strengthened by this deal.  We should offer them that chance.  We should give them that opportunity.  It’s not guaranteed to succeed.  But if they take it, that would be good for Iran, it would be good for the United States.  It would be good for a region that has known too much conflict.  It would be good for the world.

And if Iran does not move in that direction, if Iran violates this deal, we will have ample ability to respond.  The agreements pursued by Kennedy and Reagan with the Soviet Union, those agreements, those treaties involved America accepting significant constraints on our arsenal.  As such, they were riskier.  This agreement involves no such constraints.  The defense budget of the United States is more than $600 billion.  To repeat, Iran’s is about $15 billion.  Our military remains the ultimate backstop to any security agreement that we make.  I have stated that Iran will never be allowed to obtain a nuclear weapon.  I have done what is necessary to make sure our military options are real.  And I have no doubt that any President who follows me will take the same position.

So let me sum up here.  When we carefully examine the arguments against this deal, none of them stand up to scrutiny.  That may be why the rhetoric on the other side is so strident.  I suppose some of it can be ascribed to knee-jerk partisanship that has become all too familiar; rhetoric that renders every decision that’s made a disaster, a surrender — “you’re aiding terrorists; you’re endangering freedom.”

On the other hand, I do think it’s important to acknowledge another, more understandable motivation behind the opposition to this deal, or at least skepticism to this deal, and that is a sincere affinity for our friend and ally, Israel — an affinity that, as someone who has been a stalwart friend to Israel throughout my career, I deeply share.

When the Israeli government is opposed to something, people in the United States take notice.  And they should.  No one can blame Israelis for having a deep skepticism about any dealings with a government like Iran’s — which includes leaders who have denied the Holocaust, embrace an ideology of anti-Semitism, facilitate the flow of rockets that are arrayed on Israel’s borders, are pointed at Tel Aviv.  In such a dangerous neighborhood, Israel has to be vigilant, and it rightly insists that it cannot depend on any other country — even its great friend the United States — for its own security.  So we have to take seriously concerns in Israel.

But the fact is, partly due to American military and intelligence assistance, which my administration has provided at unprecedented levels, Israel can defend itself against any conventional danger — whether from Iran directly or from its proxies.  On the other hand, a nuclear-armed Iran changes that equation.

And that’s why this deal ultimately must be judged by what it achieves on the central goal of preventing Iran from obtaining a nuclear weapon.  This deal does exactly that.  I say this as someone who has done more than any other President to strengthen Israel’s security.  And I have made clear to the Israeli government that we are prepared to discuss how we can deepen that cooperation even further.  Already we’ve held talks with Israel on concluding another 10-year plan for U.S. security assistance to Israel.  We can enhance support for areas like missile defense, information sharing, interdiction — all to help meet Israel’s pressing security needs, and to provide a hedge against any additional activities that Iran may engage in as a consequence of sanctions relief.

But I have also listened to the Israeli security establishment, which warned of the danger posed by a nuclear-armed Iran for decades.  In fact, they helped develop many of the ideas that ultimately led to this deal.

So to friends of Israel, and to the Israeli people, I say this:  A nuclear-armed Iran is far more dangerous to Israel, to America, and to the world than an Iran that benefits from sanctions relief.

I recognize that Prime Minister Netanyahu disagrees — disagrees strongly.  I do not doubt his sincerity.  But I believe he is wrong.  I believe the facts support this deal.  I believe they are in America’s interest and Israel’s interest.  And as President of the United States, it would be an abrogation of my constitutional duty to act against my best judgment simply because it causes temporary friction with a dear friend and ally.  I do not believe that would be the right thing to do for the United States.  I do not believe it would be the right thing to do for Israel.  (Applause.)

Over the last couple weeks, I have repeatedly challenged anyone opposed to this deal to put forward a better, plausible alternative.  I have yet to hear one.  What I’ve heard instead are the same types of arguments that we heard in the run-up to the Iraq War:  Iran cannot be dealt with diplomatically; we can take military strikes without significant consequences; we shouldn’t worry about what the rest of the world thinks, because once we act, everyone will fall in line; tougher talk, more military threats will force Iran into submission; we can get a better deal.

I know it’s easy to play on people’s fears, to magnify threats, to compare any attempt at diplomacy to Munich.  But none of these arguments hold up.  They didn’t back in 2002 and 2003; they shouldn’t now.  (Applause.)  The same mindset, in many cases offered by the same people who seem to have no compunction with being repeatedly wrong, led to a war that did more to strengthen Iran, more to isolate the United States than anything we have done in the decades before or since.  It’s a mindset out of step with the traditions of American foreign policy, where we exhaust diplomacy before war, and debate matters of war and peace in the cold light of truth.

“Peace is not the absence of conflict,” President Reagan once said.  It is “the ability to cope with conflict by peaceful means.”  President Kennedy warned Americans, “not to see conflict as inevitable, accommodation as impossible, and communication as nothing more than the exchange of threats.”  It is time to apply such wisdom.  The deal before us doesn’t bet on Iran changing, it doesn’t require trust; it verifies and requires Iran to forsake a nuclear weapon, just as we struck agreements with the Soviet Union at a time when they were threatening our allies, arming proxies against us, proclaiming their commitment to destroy our way of life, and had nuclear weapons pointed at all of our major cities — a genuine existential threat.

We live in a complicated world — a world in which the forces unleashed by human innovation are creating opportunities for our children that were unimaginable for most of human history.  It is also a world of persistent threats, a world in which mass violence and cruelty is all too common, and human innovation risks the destruction of all that we hold dear.  In this world, the United States of America remains the most powerful nation on Earth, and I believe that we will remain such for decades to come.  But we are one nation among many.

And what separates us from the empires of old, what has made us exceptional, is not the mere fact of our military might.  Since World War II, the deadliest war in human history, we have used our power to try to bind nations together in a system of international law.  We have led an evolution of those human institutions President Kennedy spoke about — to prevent the spread of deadly weapons, to uphold peace and security, and promote human progress.

We now have the opportunity to build on that progress.  We built a coalition and held it together through sanctions and negotiations, and now we have before us a solution that prevents Iran from obtaining a nuclear weapon, without resorting to war.  As Americans, we should be proud of this achievement.  And as members of Congress reflect on their pending decision, I urge them to set aside political concerns, shut out the noise, consider the stakes involved with the vote that you will cast.

If Congress kills this deal, we will lose more than just constraints on Iran’s nuclear program, or the sanctions we have painstakingly built.  We will have lost something more precious: America’s credibility as a leader of diplomacy; America’s credibility as the anchor of the international system.

John F. Kennedy cautioned here, more than 50 years ago, at this university, that “the pursuit of peace is not as dramatic as the pursuit of war.”  But it’s so very important.  It is surely the pursuit of peace that is most needed in this world so full of strife.

My fellow Americans, contact your representatives in Congress.  Remind them of who we are.  Remind them of what is best in us and what we stand for, so that we can leave behind a world that is more secure and more peaceful for our children.

THE IRAN DEBATES IN THEIR OWN WORDS: AGAIN THE GOOD AND THE UGLY!

“And I learned in war the price that is paid when diplomacy fails.” – Secretary of State John Kerry

Photo: CNN

by: Harry C. Blaney III

Below are a wide selection of quotes both pro and con to the Iran nuclear agreement. In my opinion, they show the disparity of intellectual, factual, and realist thought between those who oppose the deal and their generally vitriolic and highly partisan positions, and the other side’s views that have conviction and also deep analysis of the realities of this issue and the Middle East. The latter is also based on a long-term analysis of U.S. security issues and that of our allies including Israel.

What the largely Republican responses to these serious issues of the Iran nuclear deal have shown is that the entire batch of the now 17 major candidates do not understand the provisions of the agreement.  They can’t see the obvious advantages to our security or of our allies, and they have likely not read personally the text or even the White House summary fact sheet. Many of the opposition quoted are the same that led us into the Iraq war and now want to do the same again with Iran.

What is also depressing is none, and I do mean none, of the Republican candidates have even a small inkling of any of the issues, the risks, the strategic context, or what this deal means for Middle East nuclear non-proliferation and its changing in our favor the strategic landscape of this region.

On the pro side we do see analysis by the most respected experts and professionals, including over 100 U.S. Ambassadors and former Republican officials in favor of this deal and giving substantive reasons for their positions. We will continue to watch this debate and provide updates on its trajectory with new quotes and alerts while following the Congressional process. For global security and the future of non-proliferation this agreement is key to a strategy of building a more peaceful and less dangerous world.

—- STATEMENTS IN FAVOR OF IRAN NUCLEAR AGREEMENT

Retired Generals and Admirals

“On July 14, 2015, after two years of intense international negotiations, an agreement was announced by the United States, the United Kingdom, France, Germany, China and Russia to contain Iran’s nuclear program. We, the undersigned retired military officers, support the agreement as the most effective means currently available to prevent Iran from obtaining nuclear weapons.

The international deal blocks the potential pathways to a nuclear bomb, provides for intrusive verification, and strengthens American national security. America and our allies, in the Middle East and around the world, will be safer when this agreement is fully implemented. It is not based on trust; the deal requires verification and tough sanctions for failure to comply.

There is no better option to prevent an Iranian nuclear weapon. Military action would be less effective than the deal, assuming it is fully implemented. If the Iranians cheat, our advanced technology, intelligence and the inspections will reveal it, and U.S. military options remain on the table. And if the deal is rejected by America, the Iranians could have a nuclear weapon within a year. The choice is that stark.

We agree with the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, General Martin Dempsey, who said on July 29, 2015, “[r]elieving the risk of a nuclear conflict with Iran diplomatically is superior than trying to do that militarily.” If at some point it becomes necessary to consider military action against Iran, gathering sufficient international support for such an effort would only be possible if we have first given the diplomatic path a chance. We must exhaust diplomatic options before moving to military ones. For these reasons, for the security of our Nation, we call upon Congress and the American people to support this agreement.”

29 Leading Scientists

“As scientists and engineers with understanding of the physics and technology of nuclear power and of nuclear weapons, we congratulate you and your team on the successful completion of the negotiations in Vienna. We consider that the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) the United States and its partners negotiated with Iran will advance the cause of peace and security in the Middle East and can serve as a guidepost for future non-­‐proliferation agreements.

This is an innovative agreement, with much more stringent constraints than any previously negotiated non-­‐proliferation framework. It limits the level of enrichment of the uranium that Iran can produce, the amount of enriched uranium it can stockpile, and the number and kinds of centrifuges it can develop and operate. The agreement bans reconversion and reprocessing of reactor fuel, it requires Iran to redesign its Arak research reactor to produce far less plutonium than the original design, and specifies that spent fuel must be shipped out of the country without the plutonium being separated and before any significant quantity can be accumulated.

A key result of these restrictions is that it would take Iran many months to enrich uranium for a weapon. We contrast this with the situation before the interim agreement was negotiated in Lausanne: at that time Iran had accumulated enough 20 percent enriched uranium that the required additional enrichment time for weapons use was only a few weeks.

The JCPOA also provides for innovative approaches to verification, including monitoring of uranium mining, milling, and conversion to hexafluoride. Centrifuge manufacturing and R&D will be monitored as well. For 15 years the Natanz facility will be the only location where uranium enrichment is allowed to take place and it will be outfitted with real-­‐time monitoring to assure rapid notice of any violation. The authority is provided for real-­‐time monitoring of spent fuel as well.

Concerns about clandestine activities in Iran are greatly mitigated by the dispute resolution mechanism built into the agreement. The 24-­‐day cap on any delay to access is unprecedented, and will allow effective challenge inspection for the suspected activities of greatest concern: clandestine enrichment, construction of reprocessing or reconversion facilities, and implosion tests using uranium. The approach to resolving “Possible Military Dimensions” is innovative as well: the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) must be satisfied that it is fully

informed about any previous activities, in order to guide its future verification plans, but Iran need not be publicly shamed. This agreement, also for the first time, explicitly bans nuclear weapons R&D, rather than only their manufacture as specified in the text of the Non-­‐Proliferation Treaty (NPT).

Some have expressed concern that the deal will free Iran to develop nuclear weapons without constraint after ten years. In contrast we find that the deal includes important long-­‐term verification procedures that last until 2040, and others that last indefinitely under the NPT and its Additional Protocol. On the other hand, we do believe that it would be valuable to strengthen these durable international institutions. We recommend that your team work with the IAEA to gain agreement to implement some of the key innovations included in the JCPOA into existing safeguards agreements. This will reduce the proliferation risks associated with national fuel cycle facilities worldwide. Thus in the future, when Iran is treated the same as all non-­‐nuclear weapons states with nuclear energy programs, all such programs will be more stringently constrained and verified.

As you have stated, this deal does not take any options off the table for you or any future president. Indeed it will make it much easier for you or a future president to know if and when Iran heads for a bomb, and the detection of a significant violation of this agreement will provide strong, internationally supported justification for intervention.

In conclusion, we congratulate you and your team on negotiating a technically sound, stringent and innovative deal that will provide the necessary assurance in the coming decade and more that Iran is not developing nuclear weapons, and provides a basis for further initiatives to raise the barriers to nuclear proliferation in the Middle East and around the globe.”

New York Times Editorial Board

” The exaggerations and half-truths that some Republicans are using to derail President Obama‘s important and necessary nuclear deal with Iran are beyond ugly. Invoking the Holocaust, Mike Huckabee, a contender for the Republican presidential nomination, has accused Mr. Obama of marching Israelis “to the door of the oven.” Tom Cotton, a senator from Arkansas, has compared Secretary of State John Kerry, who helped negotiate the deal, to Pontius Pilate.

What should be a thoughtful debate has been turned into a vicious battle against Mr. Obama, involving not just the Republicans but Israel’s prime minister, Benjamin Netanyahu. The unseemly spectacle of lawmakers siding with a foreign leader against their own commander in chief has widened an already dangerous breach between two old allies.

Policy considerations aside, what is most striking about the demagoguery is how ahistorical, if not downright hypocritical, it is. Negotiating with adversaries to advance a more stable world has long been a necessity, and Republican presidents have been among its most eager practitioners.

Critics complain that the nuclear deal fails to eradicate all of Iran’s nuclear program, even for peaceful energy production, and provides sanctions relief, including access to $50 billion in Iranian assets frozen in foreign banks.

But what these critics do not mention is that the basic bargain Mr. Obama agreed to — benefits in exchange for nuclear limits — was endorsed by President George W. Bush and the other major powers in 2006. Though Mr. Bush was certainly opposed to allowing Iran to build a nuclear weapon, the proposal did not demand that Iran totally dismantle its nuclear enrichment and reprocessing activities (as critics now do); it instead offered assurances that Iran would have fuel for its civilian energy program and be integrated into the international economy. Two years later, the proposal was further enhanced, but talks with Tehran never went anywhere.

Negotiating with enemies is an essential component of statecraft and can be a crucial alternative to war. Even when America was at the height of its powers, its leaders — including Republicans — knew that any successful deal would involve some compromise with the other side, not complete capitulation. Yet that is exactly what the Republicans are demanding of Iran today as they lay plans to repudiate Mr. Obama’s hard-won accord in pursuit of some mythical “better” deal.

The accord has shortcomings, as all do, and there are risks in any decision. But a preponderance of responsible opinion — the five major powers, the United Nations Security Council, most American nuclear experts and scores of leading American diplomats — have endorsed the pact as the best way to ensure that Iran does not get a nuclear weapon.

America is stronger when important national security decisions have bipartisan consensus. None of that seems to matter to the accord’s opponents, many of whom never intended to vote for the deal and made clear during congressional hearings last week that facts will not change their minds.”

Rep. Nancy Pelosi “A nuclear-armed Iran is unacceptable to the United States, unacceptable to Israel, and unacceptable to the world. Aggressive restrictions and inspections offer the best long-term plan to stop Iran from building a nuclear weapon. Congress will closely review the details of this agreement.” “I’ve closely examined this document, and it will have my strong support. [It’s] a good product. Not only better than the status quo, not only the best possible option, but a strong, effective proposal for keeping the peace and stopping the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction.” The deal is “a diplomatic masterpiece.”

Sen. Dick Durbin “The United States, working with our allies, has reached a historic agreement with Iran that, according to President Obama and Secretary Kerry, will prevent Iran from obtaining a nuclear weapon. I commend our negotiators for this critical effort. Finding a diplomatic solution will make our country, our allies, and the world a safer place.” “We know the cost of war. We know it in human lives. We know it in the casualties that return. We know it in the cost to the American people. Given a choice between the invasion of Iran or working in a diplomatic fashion toward a negotiation so that we can lessen this threat to the world, I think President Obama made the right choice. I support this Administration’s decision to go forward with this agreement. I’ll be adding my vote to many in the Senate in the hope that we can see a new day dawning. In the hope, too, that like President Nixon, like President Reagan, and like other presidents before us who have sat down to negotiate with our enemies, at the end of the day we’ll be a safer and stronger nation because of it.” “There’s no alternative to this agreement. If for some reason it does not go through, and Iran closes the doors on their development of a nuclear weapon, how could Israel or any nation feel any safer? Absent an agreement, we believe Iran will set out to develop a nuclear weapon. We can’t just let Republicans just criticize the agreement without at least suggesting what the alternative would be.” “#IranDeal provides safeguards & inspections to prevent Iran from building nuclear weapons now or in the future.”

Sen. Dianne Feinstein “The agreement announced today between the world’s major powers and Iran is historic. It offers a verifiable, diplomatic resolution to one of our most pressing national security challenges. This is a strong agreement that meets our national security needs and I believe will stand the test of time. I stand behind the U.S. negotiating team and will support this agreement in the Senate.” “I support the #IranDeal because Iran’s pathways to a nuclear bomb are blocked through the agreement.”

Sen. Chris Murphy “The best way to stop Iran from obtaining a nuclear weapon is through diplomacy, not war. At a time when the Middle East is awash in crippling violence, we have an opportunity to address one of the most dangerous threats to the United States and the region through a negotiation, and I congratulate President Obama, Secretary Kerry, and their team for the agreement that was reached today.”

Sen. Bernie Sanders  “I congratulate President Obama, Secretary Kerry and the leaders of other major nations for producing a comprehensive agreement to prevent Iran from obtaining a nuclear weapon. This is a victory for diplomacy over saber-rattling and could keep the United States from being drawn into another never-ending war in the Middle East. I look forward to learning more about the complex details of this agreement to make sure that it is effective and strong.”

Sen. Elizabeth Warren “Diplomacy is our best hope of ending the threat of a nuclear-armed Iran, far better than the alternative of escalating tensions & war.”

Arms Control Association “The agreement will establish long-term, verifiable restrictions on Iran’s sensitive nuclear fuel cycle activities… If Congress somehow blocks implementation of this hard-won, balanced and effective multilateral deal, the United States will have broken from its European allies, the necessary international support for Iran-related sanctions would melt away, Iran would be able to rapidly and significantly expand its capacity to produce bomb-grade material; we would lose out on securing enhanced inspections needed to detect a clandestine weapons effort. The risk of a nuclear-armed Iran would thereby increase.”

Atlantic Council “The Iran Task Force of the Atlantic Council supports the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) announced in Vienna this week and applauds the bold intent and intense efforts of President Barack Obama and his team of diplomats and scientists who worked so hard to bring it to fruition. At the same time we support the JCPOA, we believe it is necessary to view the agreement with a clear-eyed, realistic perspective, wishing for the best outcome but also being prepared for less-favorable scenarios given past Iranian conduct. We hope that our colleagues in Congress will share this objective with a non-partisan appraisal of the agreement. This agreement is better than the alternatives if the JCPOA is rejected.”

Center for American Progress “The agreement between the P5+1 and Iran that constrains Iran’s nuclear program is a historic achievement for the United States and its partners. Iran’s nuclear program will now fall under unprecedented international scrutiny to ensure that Tehran cannot pursue nuclear weapons. It represents the strongest possible outcome for the United States and its partners, avoiding both the passive appeasement of Iran and the dangers of military action. It is the best way to stop Iran from getting a nuclear weapon.”

Center for American Progress “The nuclear agreement gives the United States and its allies their best shot at reining in Iran’s nuclear program. It offers a longer delay than any military option and places restrictions on Iran’s nuclear activities that would be absent without an agreement.”

Center for Arms Control and Non-Proliferation “Americans support a good deal, and Congress must do the same. The announced deal: Increases the time Iran might ‘break out’ of the deal and obtain a nuclear weapon from two months to more than one year, provides the U.S. and the international community with ample time and capability to detect any potential violations of Iran’s commitments, stipulates an IAEA report by the end of the year on the possible military dimensions of Iran’s prior nuclear program, allows inspectors access to military facilities if they inspect suspicious nuclear activity, [and] places Iran’s nuclear program under lock, key, and camera, including its centrifuge factories and uranium supply chains.”

Council on Peace and Security “Although the agreement signed in Vienna between the world powers and Iran is not optimal, it should remove the immediate threat of an Iranian break-out leading to a nuclear military capability within a few months, as the situation without the agreement and prior to the interim agreement was evaluated. The agreement is expected to lengthen the break-out time to 12 months for at least 10 years.”

Just Foreign Policy “This is a good deal for America that makes the world safer by blocking potential Iranian pathways to a nuclear weapon, thereby removing any excuse for another disastrous war of choice. As Congress reviews the deal over the next two months, we will defend the deal and challenge Democrats and war-skeptic Republicans to defend it as well.”

National Iranian American Council “With a nuclear deal in hand, we who urged that the U.S. and Iran must give diplomacy a chance have been proven right. Peace was possible, provided that the right policies were adopted and backed with sufficient political will. Make no mistake: if Congress rejects this good deal with Iran, there will be no better deal forthcoming and Congress will be left owning an unnecessary war.”

Truman National Security Project “Many of us witnessed firsthand the damage done by an unnecessary war fought in the Middle East in the name of nuclear non-proliferation. This time, through tough American-led diplomacy, we have closed off Iran’s pathways to a nuclear weapon without risking American lives.”

100 Former Ambassadors, including Amb. Thomas Pickering (ret.), Fmr. Amb. to Israel; Amb. Daniel Kurtzer (ret.), Fmr. Amb. to Israel; Amb. Nicholas Burns (ret.), Fmr. Amb. to NATO; and Amb. Ryan Crocker (ret.), Fmr. Amb. to Afghanistan and Iraq “The JCPOA deserves Congressional support. We firmly believe that the most effective way to protect U.S. national security, and that of our allies and friends is to ensure that tough-minded diplomacy has a chance to succeed before considering other more costly alternatives. We are satisfied that the JCPOA will put in place a set of constraints and inspections that can assure that Iran’s nuclear program… will remain only for peaceful purposes and that no part of Iran is exempt from inspection.”

60 National Security Leaders, including Madeleine Albright, Fmr. Secretary of State; Samuel Berger, Fmr. National Security Advisor; William Perry; Fmr. Secretary of Defense; Admiral Eric Olson (ret.), Fmr. Commander of U.S. Special Operations Command; Amb. Edward J. Walker, Jr. (ret.), Amb. to Israel, Egypt, and UAE “We applaud the announcement that a Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) has been reached with Iran to limit its nuclear program. We congratulate President Obama and all the negotiators for a landmark agreement unprecedented in its importance for preventing the acquisition of nuclear weapons by Iran. Though primarily a nonproliferation agreement, the JCPOA has significant implications for some of America’s most important national objectives:regional stability in the Middle East, Israel’s security, dealing with an untrustworthy and hostile nation, and U.S. leadership on major global challenges.”

70 members of the European Leadership Network, including Des Browne, Chair of ELN; George Robertson, Fmr. Secretary General of NATO; Michel Rocard, Fmr. Prime Minister of France; Jaap de Hoop Scheffer, Fmr. Secretary General of NATO; Volker Ruhe, Fmr. German Defense Minister “We urge all the parties to implement it in good faith and call on all European states and the wider international community to support it. We believe that this agreement provides a sound framework for ending the crisis over the Iranian nuclear program and a foundation for re-integrating Iran into the international community. At the same time, the adoption of the document is just a first step in a process which must increase the level of the security of all countries in the Middle East, Europe and beyond.”

7 Former Under Secretaries of State and Former American Ambassadors to Israel “We are persuaded that this agreement will put in place a set of constraints and monitoring measures that will arrest Iran’s nuclear program for at least fifteen years and assure that this agreement will leave Iran no legitimate avenue to produce a nuclear weapon during the next ten to fifteen years. This landmark agreement removes the threat that a nuclear-armed Iran would pose to the region and to Israel specifically. No agreement between multiple parties can be perfect or without risks. We believe that without this agreement, however, the risks will be much higher for the United States and Israel.  We see no fatal flaws that should call for the rejection of this agreement and have not heard any  viable alternatives from those who oppose the implementation of the JCPOA. The rejection of this agreement could lead to the U.S. having to use military force  without the support of other allies and without the understanding of the international community.”

Madeleine Albright, Fmr. Secretary of State “When the next president is elected, I hope that she will be in a position to make sure the deal is carried out. This agreement offers the opportunity to look at other parts of a bilateral relationship.”

Yossi Alpher, Fmr. senior official of Mossad “The Iran nuclear deal makes the Middle East a safer place in one extremely important dimension and for a reasonable period of time. If Netanyahu were wise, he would exploit the deal to Israel’s strategic advantage. Meanwhile, in the short term security is liable to deteriorate in other regional dimensions.”

Yukiya Amano, Director General of the IAEA “I am confident in our ability to do this important work. The IAEA stands ready to undertake the necessary monitoring and verification activities when requested.”

Steve Andreasen, National Security Council “The most likely alternative to this agreement is not some other agreement; rather, it is the unraveling of the international coalition in support of sanctions against Iran, less transparency into Iran’s activities, and a potential war between the United States and Iran. If Congress votes to kill this deal, the United States will be widely perceived as scuttling an accord negotiated over many years and supported by Europe, Russia, China, and much of the rest of the world. A verifiable agreement that Iran’s nuclear program is peaceful would provide a foundation for strategic patience and at least delay if not obviate such a fateful course. The technical details of this agreement matter. However, what matters at least equally is what is not written down on paper: Iran’s capacity to produce a nuclear weapon cannot be erased by any agreement; an agreement with Iran can buy valuable time; and war with Iran is perhaps the most likely alternative to this deal.”

Kofi Annan, Fmr. Secretary-General of the United Nations “The countries of the world can be grateful for the… hope that this agreement has brought. It is vital that tangible and early progress is now made on implementation, in particular on watertight verification mechanisms and the lifting of sanctions on Iran.”

Ami Ayalon, Fmr. Director of Shin Bet (Israel’s internal security service) “Reaching the agreement wasn’t a mistake. It is the best of the available options, even though it strengthens Iran as a troublemaker.”

Avishay Ben Sasson-Gordis, Molad “Thanks to the talks, Iran’s nuclear program has been scaled back for the first time in over a decade. There is no better option. Netanyahu claims that the agreement places Iran on the nuclear threshold in ten years – but without the deal, it would be there by now.”

Barry Blechman, Stimson “This is an historic agreement which stops Iran’s nuclear program in its tracks for at least ten years, and probably for many more. It includes all necessary technical measures to ensure that Iran is complying with its commitments, provides sanctions relief only as those commitments are demonstrated, and will make the U.S. and its friends in the region far more secure than they would be in any other scenario.”

Hans Blix, Fmr. Head of the IAEA “I think it is a remarkably far-reaching and detailed agreement. And I think it has a potential for stabilizing and improving the situation in the region as it gradually gets implemented. The alternative mind you, as Obama says, the alternative really is toward war.”

Butch Bracknell and Adam Tiffen, Truman National Security Project “Serving in the U.S. armed forces during a time of conflict was a real honor. It also gave us front-row seats to one of the most significant foreign policy blunders in American history: Operation Iraqi Freedom. Tough U.S.-led diplomacy to reach an enforceable, verifiable agreement preventing Iran from acquiring a nuclear weapon is essential to ensuring more of our fellow service members and frontline civilians are not placed in harm’s way in yet another ill-defined Middle East conflict.”

Michael Breen, Truman National Security Project “Keeping Iran from acquiring a nuclear weapon is of central importance to American security. This agreement demonstrates the power of tough, principled diplomacy — and will make America and our allies safer and stronger if properly implemented and enforced. American leadership made this agreement possible. Through tough American-led diplomacy, we have charted a better, smarter course.”

David Cameron, Prime Minister of the United Kingdom “The international community has delivered a historic deal with Iran. A deal which secures our fundamental aim – to keep Iran from developing a nuclear weapon – and that will help to make our world a safer place.” “I think that if there wasn’t a deal, I think we would face Iran with a nuclear weapon.  And that would’ve given a terrible choice to the West of either enabling that, allowing that to happen, or a very difficult decision to take military action. So, this the better outcome. It keeps Iran away from a nuclear weapon. It’s a successful negotiation for the allies. And I think we should be proud of a good deal done.”

Hillary Clinton, Fmr. Secretary of State “This is an important step in putting a lid on Iran’s nuclear program. In the agreement we have the access for inspections and the transparency that was absolutely necessary. As president [I would] be absolutely devoted to ensure that the agreement is followed.”

Avner Cohen, Israeli expert on nuclear issues “It’s good because it contains the potential to drastically change the Israeli agenda and the Israeli condition. The removal of the ‘Iranian threat’ can provide a huge positive impact on Israeli politics and on the entire public agenda and quality of life in the country. That perhaps is the real reason why Netanyahu has been whimpering that the accord is a bad one. If the pact works, it could change all of our priorities and force us to deal with Israel’s real pressing issues.”

Roger Cohen, The New York Times “If implemented, the agreement constitutes the most remarkable American diplomatic achievement since the Dayton Accords put an end to the Bosnian war two decades ago. It increases the distance between Iran and a bomb as it reduces the distance between Iran and the world. It makes the Middle East less dangerous by forestalling proliferation.”

Matthew Duss, Foundation for Middle East Peace “The historic nuclear deal announced Tuesday in Vienna between the U.S. and its P5+1 partners and Iran demonstrates an alternative vision of the use of American power. It shows that our security and the security of our partners can be effectively advanced through multilateral diplomacy, and proves once again the importance of U.S. global leadership in addressing shared problems. The Vienna agreement is a victory for a better vision of foreign policy.”

Oded Eran, Institute for National Security Studies “The Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPA) reached on July 14, 2015 between Iran and the P5+1 and the EU High Representative may ultimately prove to be one of President Obama’s greatest achievements.”

Chuck Freilich, Fmr. deputy national security adviser in Israel “[The deal] is a compromise agreement that postpones an existential threat to Israel, opens the possibility for a strategic change in the Middle East and strengthens Israel’s security.

Thomas Friedman, New York Times “The diplomatic option structured by the Obama team — if properly implemented and augmented by muscular diplomacy — serves core American interests better than any options I hear coming from the deal’s critics. I believe America’s interests are best served now by focusing on how to get the best out of this deal and cushion the worst, rather than scuttling it.”

Leslie H. Gelb, Council on Foreign Relations “As for the heart of the nuclear agreement— for certain it is not perfect, but it does represent clear steps forward in holding Tehran to account on its nuclear efforts. All provisions regarding developing uranium or plutonium hold Iran way below where it is at present and where it’s been headed.”

Fawaz Gerges, London School of Economics “It’s a good day for diplomacy, it’s a good day for compromise, it’s a good day for a new beginning between Iran — a pivotal state in the Middle East — and the United States”

Philip Gordon, Council on Foreign Relations “A bipartisan group of experts and distinguished former U.S. officials, including some of my former colleagues from the administration’s Iran team, put forward a similar list. It will be interesting to see whether the signatories of the Washington Institute letter conclude the outcome in Vienna meets the necessary bar. On balance I think it does.”

Efraim Halevy, Fmr. head of the Mossad “Without an agreement, Iran will be free to do as it pleases, while the sanctions regime will anyway crumble, as many of the world’s countries will rush to Tehran to sign profitable contracts. Iran made concessions in a series of critical matters. A moment before we storm Capitol Hill, led by the Israeli ambassador to Washington, it’s important to hold a profound debate in Israel on whether no agreement is preferable to an agreement which includes components that are crucial for Israel’s security. There will be no other agreement and no other negotiations. What is better, a signed agreement or no agreement?” “I think the United States scored a great success in creating this international coalition to face down the nuclear threat. This is not a perfect agreement, but when you negotiate, you win some and you lose some.”

Philip Hammond, U.K. Foreign Secretary “After more than a decade of tough negotiations we have reached an historic agreement that will impose strict limits and inspections on Iran’s nuclear programme. Having reached this important agreement, our focus will now be on its swift and full implementation to make sure that a nuclear weapon remains beyond Iran’s reach. We hope, and expect, that this agreement will herald a step-change in Iran’s relations with its neighbours and with the international community.” “We wouldn’t have agreed to the deal unless we were sure that it had robust measures in place to deliver effective oversight on Iran’s nuclear program. This is the best and maybe to only way to build the trust that will allow a dialogue on the many other issues we have in Iran” 

William Hartung, Center for International Policy “The historic Iran nuclear deal is a positive development in its own right. This is a huge step away from the ill-considered calls for military action against Iran that have emanated from U.S. neoconservatives. It’s good for America, good for Iran, and good for the region.”

Nader Hashemi, Center for Middle East Studies “The agreement is good for the Iranian people. The easing of sanctions will benefit the Iranian middle class and civil society, which comprises the core support base for Iran’s pro-democracy movement. a more nuanced perspective is needed. And that means realizing that this nuclear deal represents a historic defeat for Iranian foreign policy — and that it potentially opens the door for the revival of Iran’s pro-democracy movement. A more nuanced perspective is needed. And that means realizing that this nuclear deal represents a historic defeat for Iranian foreign policy — and that it potentially opens the door for the revival of Iran’s pro-democracy movement.” 

Laicie Heeley, Stimson “The U.S. and its international partners have delivered a strong deal. Under this deal, the American people and the populations of our closest allies will be safer and more secure, since Iran’s nuclear program will remain verifiably constrained. Congress should look favorably upon this agreement, which has achieved the aims it set out to obtain, and more.” 

Francois Hollande, President of France “It’s a very important deal that was signed overnight, the world is making headway.”

Meir Javedanfar, Israeli expert on Iran “If Iran really wants a weapon, with Obama’s agreement we will have a one year waiting period for Iran to actually make one, if it decides to make one.  OK – with this deal, it will be one year breakout period.  With what Netanyahu is suggesting, which is the continuation of the current tensions with Iran until Iran completely capitulates…Iran would only need two months to make a nuclear weapon. So, what do we want to choose? A two-months warning period for Iran to make a weapon or one year?  We want one year. And this is the situation.  Nobody is trusting Iran, the Iranian regime. It’s not about trust – it’s about mistrust and verify.” 

Adel al-Jubeir, Foreign Minister of Saudi Arabia “We are currently in talks with the American government regarding these details, but it (the deal) generally seems to have achieved these objectives.” 

John Kerry, Secretary of State “The fact is that the agreement we’ve reached, fully implemented, will bring insight and accountability to Iran’s nuclear program – not for a small number of years but for the lifetime of that program. This is the good deal that we have sought. I will tell you, sanctioning Iran until it capitulates makes for a powerful talking point and a pretty good political speech, but it’s not achievable outside a world of fantasy. The true measure of this agreement is not whether it meets all of the desires of one side at the expense of the other; the test is whether or not it will leave the world safer and more secure than it would be without it. There can be no question that this agreement will provide a stronger, more comprehensive, and more lasting means of limiting Iran’s nuclear program than any realistic alternative. I learned in war the price that is paid when diplomacy fails. I believe this agreement actually represents an effort to avert an inevitability of conflict that would come were we not able to reach agreement.  I think that’s what diplomacy was put in place to achieve.”

“[If Congress failed to approve the deal], the U.S. will have lost all credibility. We will not be in the hunt. And if we then decided to use military [after a deal fails], do you believe the United Nations will be with us? Do you think our European colleagues will support us? Not on your life.”  “We set out to dismantle their ability to be able to build a nuclear weapon, and we’ve achieved that. The deal we believe will make our country and our allies safer. We believe this is a good deal for the world, a good deal for America, a good deal for our allies and friends in the region, and we think it does deserve your support.” 

“I believe this agreement actually represents an effort by the United States of America and all of its colleagues in the P5+1 to come together with Iran to avert an inevitability of conflict that would come were we not able to reach agreement. I think that’s what diplomacy was put in place to achieve, and I know that war is the failure of diplomacy and the failure of leaders to make alternative decisions.”

“We have the support of Russia, China, Great Britain, France, and Germany. If we suddenly went off by ourselves and said no to this, we’re not only going to lose the support of the international community, we’re going to lose the access, lose the accountability. We would have no mechanism to verify that Iran’s nuclear program is exclusively peaceful. Without this deal, Iran could go do what it wants unchecked by the international community.”

“To those who are thinking about opposing the deal because of what might happen in year 15 or 16 — remember that, if we walk away, year 15 starts tomorrow — and without any of the long-term verification or transparency safeguards that we have put in place to ensure that we prevent Iran from acquiring a nuclear weapon.”

“Remember that sanctions did not stop Iran’s nuclear program from growing steadily, to the point it had accumulated enough low enriched uranium that, if further enriched, could be used to produce about 10 nuclear bombs. The truth is that the Vienna plan will provide a stronger, more comprehensive, and more lasting means of limiting Iran’s nuclear program than any realistic alternative.” 

Ban Ki-Moon, UN Secretary General “I warmly welcome the historic agreement in Vienna today and congratulate the P5+1 and Iran for reaching this agreement. This is testament to the value of dialogue. I hope – and indeed believe – that this agreement will lead to greater mutual understanding and cooperation on the many serious security challenges in the Middle East.  As such it could serve as a vital contribution to peace and stability both in the region and beyond. The United Nations stands ready to fully cooperate with the parties in the process of implementing this historic and important agreement.” 

Joe Klein, TIME “Yes, the Iran deal is risky. But we have been taking all sorts of bellicose risks since Sept. 11, 2001. Almost all of our military ventures have failed. So many lives have been lost. It’s time, finally, to take a risk for peace.” 

Michael Krepon, Stimson “This agreement significantly reduces Iran’s capacity to build nuclear weapons for ten years or more. It contains effective monitoring provisions. It is far better than any of the alternatives before us. A divide over this agreement, mostly along partisan lines, and repeated attempts to block its implementation will diminish U.S. leadership, destabilize the Middle East, place even greater burdens on U.S. military forces and weaken the U.S. Treasury. Friends and allies of the United States in Europe and the Pacific need to know that they can trust in U.S. executive agreements. Friends in the Middle East need a bipartisan plan to address their concerns about Iran. Congress voted to rid Saddam Hussein of weapons of mass destruction that did not exist. Will it now vote against an agreement that verifiably limits Iran’s all-too-real nuclear capabilities?” 

Ellen Laipson, President and CEO of Stimson “Diplomacy – the long and hard slog of it – is one of the victors here. A negotiated agreement to change Iran’s policy and practice on issues with great regional security consequence could set a precedent for problem solving in a region where the resort to force is the default position. To make this agreement a truly lasting contribution to regional peace, all parties will need to support its implementation and Iran in particular could signal to its neighbors that it is willing to address other causes of tension and insecurity.” 

Sergei Lavrov, Russian Foreign Minister “[The deal] without a doubt will play an important role in ensuring non-proliferation in general and make the situation in the Middle East healthier.” 

Hon. Mel Levine, Former Member of Congress, AIPAC Board Member “The accord is the one path that provides a peaceful means of resolving the major threat of Iran’s achieving a nuclear weapon and will enhance the security of Israel and the world. Without this deal, the risk of war in the Middle East dramatically increases as well as the real risk of nuclear proliferation. I believe my friends in AIPAC and some of my friends in Israel have made a regrettable rush to judgment in immediately opposing the Iran agreement.” 

Jack Lew, Treasury Secretary  Iran will not receive any new relief until it fulfills all of the key nuclear-related commitments specified in the deal. Should Iran fully comply with the terms of the JCPOA, and should the IAEA verify this compliance, phased sanctions relief will come into effect”

“Should Iran fulfill all of the necessary conditions, we will have reached what it is known as “Implementation Day,” and phased relief will begin. At that time, the United States will suspend nuclear-related secondary sanctions. These are the sanctions that primarily target third-country parties conducting business with Iran — including in the oil, banking, and shipping sectors.”

“While our focus is on successfully implementing this deal, we must guard against the possibility that Iran does not uphold its side of the deal. That is why, should Iran violate its commitments once we have suspended sanctions, we have the mechanisms ready to snap them back into place. For U.S. sanctions, this can be done in a matter of days. Multilateral sanctions at the UN also can be re-imposed quickly, through a mechanism that does not allow any one country or any group of countries to prevent the reinstitution of the current UN Security Council sanctions if Iran violates the deal.”

Jeffrey Lewis, Center for Nonproliferation Studies “This deal might not be ideal, or as good as the one we could have achieved a decade ago, but compared with the invasion of Iraq, a nuclear-armed Iran, or even a deal we might be able to negotiate a few years down the road, it is incredibly strong.” 

Aaron David Miller, Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars “There’s no question the Obama administration got what it wanted out of this deal: a slower, smaller Iranian nuclear program more easily monitored and constrained for at least a decade. No chance now of a pre-emptive Israeli strike, and no need for an American one. For now, a putative nuclear crisis has been defused and kicked down the road.”

Federica Mogherini, EU High Representative and Javad Zarif, Iranian Foreign Minister “What we are announcing today is not only a deal but a good deal. And a good deal for all sides – and the wider international community. We call on the world community to support the implementation of this historic effort.” 

Federica Mogherini, EU High Representative “We agreed on a deal that is not based on trust, but on precise commitments, on transparency and verification. It is a deal made to withstand the challenge of time; a good deal, with no space for interpretations or doubts. A deal that, while implemented, will allow us to build trust and lay the foundations for a new relationship. The whole Middle East is in turmoil. We need to restart political processes to end wars.” 

Ernest Moniz, Secretary of Energy “We are better off forever in terms of Iranian nuclear activity under this agreement than we would be without it. What we have done is we have dramatically limited and constrained the program. We are very confident in our ability to detect the vestiges of any nuclear work beyond 24 days.” 

“The JCPOA prevents Iran from getting a nuclear weapon, provides strong verification measures that give us ample time to respond if Iran chose to violate its terms, and takes none of our options off the table. This deal is based on science and analysis. I am confident that this is a good deal for America, for our allies, and for our global security.” “The deal provides an agreement between the great powers and Iran that Iran will never develop or acquire a nuclear weapon, in turn providing a basis for an overwhelming response should it ever attempt to do so. The unity of purpose by the signatories — China, Russia, France, Germany, the United Kingdom, the European Union and the United States — is unprecedented. Most important, we got the science right. I spent 40 years as a nuclear physicist faculty member at MIT and much of this year negotiating with Iran’s nuclear experts. And I drew on exhaustive technical analysis by our leading nuclear experts at the Department of Energy’s national laboratories and nuclear sites. This deal moves them back from that threshold for a considerable period and raises our verification capabilities forever.” 

“The Arak reactor, which according to its original design would have been a source of plutonium for at least one nuclear weapon per year, will be transformed to produce far less plutonium than before and of a much lower quality.” 

“Iran already has an R&D program for a number of advanced centrifuges (IR-2m, IR4, IR-5, IR-6, IR-8). The pace of the program will be slowed substantially and will be carried out only at the Natanz site for 15 years, under close International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) monitoring. Iran will not pursue other approaches to uranium enrichment.”

This deal is not based on trust. It is based on unprecedented monitoring and verification. And the duration of the agreement is indefinite. Some provisions will be in place for 10 years, others for 15, and still others for 20 or 25. But transparency requirements and Iran’s most fundamental obligation — to forego a nuclear weapons program — are permanent.”

“Much has been made about a possible 24-day delay before inspectors could gain access to suspected undeclared nuclear sites. The IAEA can request access to any suspicious location with 24 hours’ notice. This this deal also creates a new mechanism to ensure that the IAEA gets the required access and sets a firm time limit to resolve access issues within 24 days. We have very high confidence that nuclear material used for advancing a nuclear program will detected in this time frame.”

Richard Nephew, Brookings “The deal negotiated by the P5+1 will create a one year or longer breakout timeline for Iran’s declared nuclear program for the first ten years of the implementation phase of the deal. We are far better off with the deal than without it.” 

President Barack Obama “This deal demonstrates that American diplomacy can bring about real and meaningful change. 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.”  “You should have some alternative to present. And I haven’t heard that. And the reason is because there really are only two alternatives here. Either the issue of Iran obtaining a nuclear weapon is resolved diplomatically through a negotiation or it’s resolved through force, through war. Those are the options. Now you’ll hear some critics say, ‘We could have negotiated a better deal.’ Well Ok, what does that mean?”  “It’s in everyone’s best interest to make sure this deal holds.  Because without this deal, there would be no limits on Iran’s nuclear program. There would be no monitoring, no inspections. The sanctions we rallied the world to impose would unravel.  Iran could move closer to a nuclear weapon. Other countries in the region might race to do the same.  And we’d risk another war in the most volatile region in the world. That’s what would happen without this deal.”  “”In the debate over this deal, we’re hearing the echoes of some of the same policies and mindset that failed us in the past. Some of the same politicians and pundits that are so quick to reject the possibility of a diplomatic solution to Iran’s nuclear program are the same folks who were so quick to go to war in Iraq, and said it would take a few months. And we know the consequences of that choice and what it cost us in blood and treasure. I believe there’s a smarter, more responsible way. We’ve done the hard and patient work [of diplomacy] instead of chest-beating which rejects the idea of even talking to our adversaries.”

Dr. Trita Parsi, National Iranian American Council “No other option comes even close to this deal when it comes to closing off all of Iran’s paths to a bomb. Military action in particular is far inferior — and far more risky. The deal will prevent a war with Iran.” 

Samantha Power, U.S. Ambassador to the U.N. “[The deal gives Iran] an opportunity to prove to the world that it intends to pursue a nuclear program solely for peaceful purposes. If Iran seizes that opportunity … then it will find the international community and the United States willing to provide a path out of isolation and toward greater engagement.” 

Vladimir Putin, President of Russia “We are satisfied that the solution found is based on the principle of phasing and mutuality, which our country has been consistently supporting at every stage of these complicated negotiations.” 

Susan Rice, National Security Advisor “We have complete ability on our own to go into the Security Council with evidence of a violation after a process and snap those sanctions back into place. [The verification time] is more than an adequate time and we shouldn’t be worried.”

Hassan Rouhani, President of Iran “Negotiators have reached a good agreement and I announce to our people that our prayers have come true.”

Jacqueline Shire, Fmr. member of the U.N. Panel of Experts on Iran “This deal keeps Iran’s nuclear program confined, monitored from every angle, with narrow maneuvering room. It also provides a path for Iran to engage constructively with the world, more necessary now than ever before.” 

Javier Solana, Fmr. Secretary General of NATO “The successful outcome of the negotiations on Iran’s nuclear program provides a splendid validation for those who put their faith in diplomacy. The agreement – concluded after more than a decade of talks – highlights the value of persistence in addressing impasses that seem insurmountable, and provides hope for the many other initiatives that will be needed to bring lasting peace to the Middle East. The historic agreement with Iran is just one of many that will be required to bring peace and stability to the Middle East. The first hurdle has been overcome. We must now run the rest of the race.” 

Jens Stoltenberg, Secretary General of NATO “This agreement represents a historic breakthrough which, once fully implemented, will strengthen international security.” 

Greg Thielmann, Arms Control Association “The United States and its five negotiating partners have just extracted from Tehran what many thought was impossible — a comprehensive and verifiable deal that effectively closes off Iran’s pathways to nuclear weapons for many years. It is now time for the U.S. Congress to make sure the deal can be implemented. To prevent the further spread of nuclear weapons and to protect the security of the United States and of our allies in the region, Iowa’s senators and representatives in Congress should embrace the chance to vote ‘yes.’” 

John Tirman, Center for International Studies at MIT “The Iran nuclear accord has three legacies. The first is limiting Iran’s enrichment capacity. The second is bolstering moderates in Iran. The third is changing Iran’s relationship with the United States. The most immediate beneficiaries are none of the powers at the table in Vienna, but the brutalized peoples of the Middle East.” 

Alex Vatanka, Middle East Institute “The Iranian public is very optimistic and hopeful that the painful economic sanctions will soon begin to be rolled back. The United States, for its part, has succeeded in finding a diplomatic path forward.” 

Fareed Zakaria, The Washington Post “Obama’s critics say he is gambling that Iran will comply with the accord. In fact, the administration is making a calculated bet that Iran will be constrained by international pressure, intrusive inspections, verification mechanisms and the prospect of snapback sanctions. The deal’s opponents have conjured up a fantasy scenario.”

STATEMENTS IN OPPOSITION OF IRAN NUCLEAR AGREEMENT 

Rep. John Boehner “No deal is better than a bad deal. And from everything that’s leaked from these negotiations, the administration’s backed away from almost all of the guidelines that they set up for themselves. And so if, in fact, there’s no agreement, the sanctions are going to go back in place. And at some point, the Iranian regime, they’re going to have to change their behavior. Abandon their efforts to get a nuclear weapon, and stop being the largest state sponsor of terrorism in the world. [If the talks fail and Iran continues its nuclear ambitions], then we’ll have a standoff. But that’s a lot better than legitimizing this rogue regime.” “Iran, by all accounts, still isn’t serious about abandoning its nuclear weapons program.  When will the president and his negotiators stand strong?  We cannot accept a deal that hands Iran billions of sanctions relief while allowing it to retain the capability to build a bomb almost immediately. Iran is a global menace, Iran is the world’s largest state sponsor of terror. And I think it’s a pipe dream to think that the regime will ever be a responsible partner. I think it’s time for the administration to come back to earth.” “The president has abandoned his own goals.  His ‘deal’ will hand Iran billions in sanctions relief while giving it time and space to reach a break-out threshold to produce a nuclear bomb – all without cheating. Instead of making the world less dangerous, this ‘deal’ will only embolden Iran. I won’t support any agreement that jeopardizes the safety of the American people and all who value freedom and security.  This isn’t about Republicans versus Democrats.  It’s about right and wrong.  And we will fight a bad deal that is wrong for our national security and wrong for our country.” “The deal that we have out there, in my view, from what I know of it thus far, is unacceptable. It’s going to hand a dangerous regime billions of dollars in sanctions relief while paving the way for a nuclear Iran. If in fact it’s as bad a deal as I think it is at this moment, we’ll do everything we can to stop it.” “This is a bad deal.  It paves the way for a nuclear Iran. President Obama says it’s this deal or war.  Well, that’s a false choice.  The sanctions were working, and bringing Iran to its knees.  We’re going to continue to review this, but we’re going to fight a bad deal that’s wrong for our national security and wrong for our country.”

Sen. Bob Corker “Knowing that the administration appears to be continuing to cross red lines that they previously have set, we want to point that out and hopefully stiffen their spines so the deal doesn’t erode further. I do feel it moving in a nonpositive direction, and I feel like one of my responsibilities is to share publicly those concerns, and privately.”  “We have gone from dismantling their program to managing proliferation. That’s the biggest concern. There are numbers of issues. It’s been going on a negative trend for some time. As was mentioned, they’re going to have their sanctions relief. So, you’re going to have a country whose economy is growing rapidly that’s going to have all kinds of — over $100 billion of money to help create further terrorism in the region. And so they’re going to be growing. They’re going to be getting more established. And then, after 10 years, there’s something called the Iranian nuclear development program that’s been agreed to. And at that point, they’re basically going to be able to industrialize their program.”  “We know they were building a bomb, we just don’t know how far along they were. I actually think the deadline was working in Iran’s favor. Iran will cheat by inches.”  “I want to read the agreement in detail and fully understand it, but I begin from a place of deep skepticism that the deal actually meets the goal of preventing Iran from obtaining a nuclear weapon.”  “I think every responsible person here in Congress should begin with a skeptical outlook. We’re dealing with a country that is not trustworthy, a country that has killed thousands of Americans in Iraq. These people are not our friends today, and so the fact is we need to go through this and look at it in great detail.” “We started several months ago with Iran as a rogue nation and a boot on its neck. Our goal was to dismantle its program. We’ve ended up with a deal that codifies the industrialization of its nuclear program. Everyone here knows that there is no practical need for the program they are building. It’s very easy to cover up nuclear weapons. I believe you have crossed a new threshold in U.S. foreign policy where it is now our policy to enable a sponsor of terror to gain a sophisticated nuclear program.”

“Throughout the negotiations, the Administration routinely asserted that ‘no deal is better than a bad deal’ and threatened to walk away if necessary, so clearly there was always another option for the White House — and it wasn’t war.”

Sen. Ted Cruz “I think this deal that is being negotiated by the Obama administration is  profoundly dangerous both to the security of our friend and ally Israel, but also to American national security.”

“Today, the international community led by the United States has agreed to not only legitimize and perpetuate the Iranian nuclear program, but also to further arm and enrich the brutal theocratic regime that has oppressed the Iranian people for more than thirty years. Despite these facts, it seems President Obama would concede almost anything to get any deal – even a terrible deal. I urge all my fellow citizens to speak out and let their elected leaders know that even if President Obama won’t see it, we know the leaders of the Islamic Republic who lead crowds in chants of ‘Death to America’ and ‘Death to Israel’ are not our partners in peace, and must not be put on the path to a nuclear bomb.” 

“You know one entity, one person with whom there is no ambiguity in terms of whether Iran wants a nuclear weapon is the Ayatollah Khamenei. Is President Rouhani. Both of whom explicitly said they are developing nuclear weapons. There is no doubt about it.” 

“President Obama, John Kerry, Hillary Clinton couldn’t even be bothered to say before we even begin a conversation, release four hostages currently languishing in a hell hole. Those four hostages have been abandoned by the federal government. The projections are that one nuclear head in the atmosphere over the Eastern seaboard could result in tens of millions of Americans dying. That’s what is at risk… that millions of Americans will be murdered by radical theocratic zealots.” 

“If this deal goes through, the Obama administration, President Obama, Hillary Clinton, John Kerry, will become the leading global financiers of radical Islamic terrorism.”

“The Iranian nuclear deal is catastrophic — the single greatest national security threat facing America. To allow a country led by a theocratic zealot who chants ‘death to America’ to have a weapon that could in the flash of an eye murder millions of Americans. We have to stop this deal.” 

Sen. Lindsey Graham “We’re so far away from where we started from in these negotiations. We’re trying to make sure that the deal that’s being cut is a deal that’s worth a damn.”  “I would love to end the nuclear ambition of the Iranians without firing a shot, but you have to know who you’re talking to and what they actually want. This is North Korea in the making.”  “I don’t want a war but if that’s what you want, you’re gonna lose it. We’re gonna sink your navy and we’re gonna shoot your air force down”  “I really think there’s a better than 50/50 chance that we’ll get enough ‘no’ votes. If the Arabs come out and say this is a bad deal, if AIPAC says this is a bad deal, if public opinion says we don’t trust this deal, then our Democratic colleagues will hopefully come forward to say, ‘We can do better.’”  “My initial impression is that this deal is far worse than I ever dreamed it could be and will be a nightmare for the region, our national security and eventually the world at large. If the initial reports regarding the details of this deal hold true, there’s no way as president of the United States I would honor this deal. It’s incredibly dangerous for our national security, and it’s akin to declaring war on Sunni Arabs and Israel by the P5+1 because it ensures their primary antagonist Iran will become a nuclear power and allows them to rearm conventionally.” “This is a bad deal, the worst possible outcome. You’ve created a nuclear arms race in the Middle East. You put Israel at risk and you put us at risk”  “I would keep the interim deal in place. The interim deal has worked better than I thought it would, so hats off to John Kerry.”  “This interim deal gives the Iranians $7 billion in cash and leaves in place one of the most sophisticated enrichment programs around.”

  Sen. John McCain “The most concerning concessions – on sanctions, sunset, inspections and verification, research and development, and Iran’s enrichment capability, among others – were made long ago. To those concessions, it now appears that the Administration has made still more, especially the repeal of the international arms embargo on Iran. The result, I fear, is that this agreement will strengthen Iran’s ability to acquire conventional weapons and ballistic missiles, while retaining an industrial scale nuclear program, without any basic change to its malign activities in the Middle East.”

Sen. Mitch McConnell “I hope the Obama Administration will make the right decision now and press pause before heading further toward a bad deal with Iran. [The interim agreement] was bad enough, but apparently it was the high point—nearly every day since seems to bring news of a further weakening of an already-weakened Obama Administration position, encouraging hardliners in Tehran to insist upon additional concessions. We plan to pursue the policies and the programs that will be required to rebuild our military”  “It’s going to be a very hard sell. We already know that it’s going to leave Iran as a threshold nuclear state. We could have ratcheted up the sanctions even further because that’s what brought to the table in the first place.”  “The Senate must now weigh why a nuclear agreement should result in reduced pressure on the world’s leading state sponsor of terror. We’ll hold hearings and examine the agreement, including several aspects that are particularly integral to understanding what concessions the Iranians were able to secure from the Obama Administration.”

Sen. Robert Menendez “If Iran insists on these red lines in negotiations, then I strongly urge you to suspend negotiations rather than accept a bad deal with Iran.” “Well, I think we started off with the wrong premise. And the problem here is that we have gone from preventing Iran having a nuclear ability to managing it. And at the end of the day, I hope that notwithstanding a deal, that the president makes a very clear statement to Iran that as it relates to the future, we cannot accept Iran having a nuclear weapon, period. But we have to make very clear that there is a deterrence in the longer term because, if not, in 12, 13 years, we will be exactly back to where we are today. Except that Iran will have $100 billion to $150 billion in its pocket and is promoting its terrorism throughout the Middle East.”  “I’m concerned that the deal ultimately legitimizes Iran as a threshold-nuclear state. I’m concerned the redlines we drew have turned into green-lights; that Iran will be required only to limit rather than eliminate its nuclear program, while the international community will be required to lift the sanctions, and that it doesn’t provide for anytime-any-place inspections of suspected sites. The bottom line is: The deal doesn’t end Iran’s nuclear program – it preserves it.”

Sen. Marco Rubio “We already know that this deal is not in the interests of the United States. It will not keep Americans safer. It will only embolden the world’s foremost sponsor of terrorism as it expands its influence and sows instability across the Middle East. If the President were serious about negotiating a deal that advances our security and protects our allies, such as Israel, he would walk away from the table and impose new sanctions on Iran until the regime comes to the table ready to negotiate seriously. If he instead chooses to conclude a deal that ensures that Iran will be a nuclear threshold state, I am confident that a majority of both houses of Congress will join me in opposing it, which will lay the foundation for our next President to undo this disaster.” “The Obama Administration’s decision to extend nuclear talks with Iran for the second time in one week is just another sign that it is time for President Obama to walk away from the table. The stakes are too high for this diplomatic charade to continue. Iranian leaders continue to walk back previous commitments, even as they actively sponsor terrorism, pursue regional domination and hold American citizens hostage. It is time for the president to level with the American people and the world and admit that Iran’s government is not negotiating in good faith. Continued negotiations at this point will only lead to further U.S. concessions and a better deal for Iran that funds and emboldens this terrorist-sponsoring regime. It is now clearer than ever that only increased pressure on Iran will ensure a deal that prevents Iran from obtaining a nuclear weapon.”  “This deal violates promises the president made to the American people on multiple fronts. It is not an anytime, anywhere inspection process.”  “I can tell you that there is not much hope of this deal surviving the next presidency, and I hope the next president will reject the deal and reimpose sanctions because this deal is fundamentally and irreparably flawed. I believe it weakens our national security, and it makes the deal a more dangerous place. The world should know that this is this administration’s deal, and the next president is under no moral or legal obligation to live up to it. The world should know that the majority of Congress do not support this deal and that it can be undone the day that President Obama leaves office. I don’t fault you for pursuing diplomacy. I do fault the President for striking a terrible with Iran.” 

AIPAC “This proposed agreement fails to halt Iran’s nuclear quest. Instead, it would facilitate rather than prevent Iran from obtaining a nuclear weapon and would further entrench and empower the leading state sponsor of terror. We strongly believe that the alternative to this bad deal is a better deal. Congress should reject this agreement. Congress should insist on a better deal.” 

Republican Jewish Coalition “This deal meets zero of the criteria for a good deal – it is not enforceable, verifiable, or in America’s national security interest.  Unless Congress stops it, the world will be less safe as the United States will remove sanctions on Iran, and in return, Iran will still pursue nuclear weapons.  The Republican Jewish Coalition calls on all members of Congress to reject this deal.” 

Elliot Abrams, Middle Eastern Studies “Given Iran’s weak bargaining position, what is has achieved is remarkable. The structure of sanctions it took decades to build has been destroyed, but there is no end to the Iranian nuclear program. That program will continue, and eventually grow very large. Meanwhile, the arms embargo on Iran will be lifted after five years–the blink of an eye in international politics–and without requiring any change in Iran’s support for terror or its military actions in the region.” 

David Adesnik, Foreign Policy Initiative “If no deal is better than a bad deal, then rejecting a bad deal remains a viable option when Congress begins its deliberations. By threatening preemptively to veto any resolution of disapproval, President Obama has made it clear that he will not respect congressional determinations of whether this is a good deal or a bad one. In reality, the deal that has been reached may fuel Iran’s appetite for terrorism and conflict in the Middle East.” 

Jeb Bush, Fmr. Governor of Florida “Repeated concessions and desperate accommodation suggest the Obama Administration will do anything to secure a deal. I fear it will be a bad deal for the United States, Israel, and all who desire a stable Middle East. Iran foments instability and sectarian tension throughout the region. It is a delusion to believe, as the President does, that the current regime in Tehran can be a force for stability in the Middle East. The Obama-Clinton-Kerry Iran policy has failed not only because its weak negotiating strategy will not stop Iran from developing a nuclear weapons capability, but also because it has, from the beginning, ignored the comprehensive nature of the threat posed by Iran. The nuclear program is but one symptom of an underlying disease, and the Obama Administration has treated only this one symptom, and ineffectively at that. All of these challenges will, of course, be exponentially more difficult to address if, by consummating a bad nuclear deal with Iran, the Obama Administration squanders the international consensus and sanctions currently pressuring Iran’s leaders without securing a more fundamental shift in Iran’s behavior. “The Obama Administration’s negotiating strategy with Iran is called appeasement. We should walk away.” “The nuclear agreement announced by the Obama Administration today is a dangerous, deeply flawed, and short sighted deal. The people of Iran, the region, Israel, America, and the world deserve better than a deal that consolidates the grip on power of the violent revolutionary clerics who rule Tehran with an iron fist.”

Dick Cheney, Fmr. Vice President “I think [this deal] put us closer to use — actual use — of nuclear weapons than we’ve been at any time since Hiroshima and Nagasaki in World War II.”

Michael Doran, Hudson Institute, and Matthew Kroenig, The Atlantic Council “Some pundits have supported Bush’s caution and disparaged Walker’s statement as ‘lacking nuance’ but in reality, Walker’s position is correct. The Iran deal does not protect U.S. interests and one does not need access to classified intelligence briefings to understand this basic fact.”

Mark Dubowitz, Foundation for the Defense of Democracies “We think this deal is fundamentally flawed in its very design because it essentially is a deal, because of the sunsets and snapbacks, that gives Iran an expanding nuclear program over time”  If you vote yes for a deal that ends up failing in all of the ways the critics have been suggesting, then it’s your name on a deal that ends up being a national security disaster” 

Carly Fiorina, GOP Presidential Candidate “I would have walked away because if you can’t walk away from the negotiating table, the other side just keeps negotiating. We have caved on every major goal that President Obama set.” 

Mike Huckabee “This president’s foreign policy is the most feckless in American history. It is so naive that he would trust the Iranians. By doing so, he will take the Israelis and march them to the door of the oven. This is the most idiotic thing, this Iran deal. It should be rejected by both Democrats and Republicans in Congress and by the American people. I read the whole deal. We gave away the whole store. It’s got to be stopped.” 

“You don’t negotiate with people, especially a pyromaniac who’s standing there with a can of gasoline and a book of matches in his hand, and expect him not to start a fire.”

“This president thinks he was anointed king. I don’t know where his crown is, but this is frustrating, because Chuck Schumer is an honorable guy when it comes to issues in the Middle East, nobody is a more staunch supporter of Israel. I — and I know this was painful for Schumer because he would like to be a good party guy and go along, but what Chuck Schumer did was significant, because it’s an act of statesmanship, not an act of blind partisanship, and God knows we need some more of that in Washington right now.”

Jeffrey Goldberg, The Atlantic “I worry that Obama’s negotiators might have given away too much to the Iranians. The dirty little secret of this whole story is that it is very difficult to stop a large nation that possesses both natural resources and human talent, and a deep desire for power, from getting the bomb.” 

Benjamin Netanyahu, Prime Minister of Israel “[The agreement is] bad mistake of historic proportions. Iran is going to receive a sure path to nuclear weapons. When willing to make an agreement at any cost, this is the result.”  “The deal agreed to in Vienna, I regret to say, paves this terrorist regime’s path to the bomb. Unfortunately, the current deal allows Iran to avoid making that choice between a path to the bomb and sanctions relief. That’s not a triumph for diplomacy, but a failure of diplomacy.”  “This deal paves Iran’s path to a nuclear arsenal. I feel it’s my obligation as the prime minister of Israel to speak out against something that endangers the survival of my country, the security of the region, the security of the world. I think the right thing to do is not to do this bad deal.” 

“The nuclear deal with Iran doesn’t block Iran’s path to the bomb — it actually paves Iran’s path to the bomb.”

“Worse, it gives Iran two paths to a bomb: Iran can get to a bomb by keeping the deal or Iran can get to the deal by violating the deal.”

“Don’t let the world’s foremost terrorist regime get its hands on the worst most dangerous weapons. Oppose this bad deal.”

“That’s utterly false. We in Israel don’t want war — we want peace.”

“The alternative to this bad deal is still no deal or a better deal. … I don’t oppose this deal because I want war. I oppose this deal because I want to prevent war.”

“And this deal will bring war that will spark a nuclear arms race in the region and it will feed Iran’s terrorism and aggression that would make war, perhaps the most horrific war of all, far more likely.”

Mitt Romney, Fmr. Governor of Massachusetts “The generational calamity that will result from President Obama’s nuclear deal with Iran will last a very long time indeed. Iran is led by suicidal, apocalypse-seeking, America-hating, Israel-denying theocratic fanatics. If these ayatollahs have nuclear weapons, they will use them, someday, somewhere. The Obama deal prescribes a pathway for Iran to develop nuclear weapons. Iran will be a nuclear monster.” [7/2]

Jennifer Rubin, The Washington Post “With the concessions Iran obtained this year, it can now resume enrichment after eight years. This is only one reason the deal must be thwarted before it begins. In sum, the deal would radically and quickly shift leverage to Iran, would infuse the Middle East with Iranian weapons and money and thereby severely diminish the non-military options for thwarting Iran. It is essential to stop the deal before these complicating factors are set in motion.”  “Unless and until Congress receives all the information (whether from the administration or the IAEA) and can determine whether the Swiss cheese inspections system is acceptable, it must block the deal from proceeding.” 

Dr. Max Singer, Hudson Institute “The P5+1 agreement with Iran is almost certainly a mistake and bad for Israel.” 

Donald Trump “I think it’s an outrage, I think it’s done by people of gross incompetence, I think it’s a tremendous win for Iran and many of our enemies and I think it’s something that shouldn’t be allowed.” “It’s outrageous that a deal like this is going forward and can be allowed to go forward. With proper negotiators we could have had a great deal.” “We have people that have no concern about the views of our country. It’s incredible. Only very stupid people are in favor of it. It’s incredible the way this thing was just rammed through and how they gave up so many points at the end. Did you see the last day? They just gave up so many points at the end. It’s a very, very incredible situation and frankly our representatives should be ashamed of themselves. It looks like they’re not going to be able to stop it because the veto is not going to get overridden based on everything I see and hear. That’s a real bad mark on our politicians including the Republicans that can’t get the votes.”

“Iran is taking over Iraq 100%, just like I predicted years ago. I say this, I didn’t want to go there in the first place. Now we take the oil.”

“We should have kept the oil. Now we go in, we knock the hell out of them, take the oil, we thereby take their wealth. They have so much money.”

“They have better internet connections than we do in the United States. They’re training our kids through the internet. We have to knock out their wealth.”

Gov. Scott Walker “It’s a bad deal for us, it’s a bad deal for Israel, it’s a bad deal for the world. It will accelerate the nuclear arms race, and it is empowering Iran to do what they’re going to do.” 

Ted Deutch “After a decade in public life working to stop Iran from ever acquiring nuclear weapons, I cannot support a deal giving Iran billions of dollars in sanctions relief — in return for letting it maintain an advanced nuclear program and the infrastructure of a threshold nuclear state.”

Chuck Schumer 

“Every several years or so a legislator is called upon to cast a momentous vote in which the stakes are high and both sides of the issue are vociferous in their views.

Over the years, I have learned that the best way to treat such decisions is to study the issue carefully, hear the full, unfiltered explanation of those for and against, and then, without regard to pressure, politics or party, make a decision solely based on the merits.

I have spent the last three weeks doing just that: carefully studying the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, reading and re-reading the agreement and its annexes, questioning dozens of proponents and opponents, and seeking answers to questions that go beyond the text of the agreement but will have real consequences that must be considered.

Advocates on both sides have strong cases for their point of view that cannot simply be dismissed. This has made evaluating the agreement a difficult and deliberate endeavor, and after deep study, careful thought and considerable soul-searching, I have decided I must oppose the agreement and will vote yes on a motion of disapproval.

While we have come to different conclusions, I give tremendous credit to President Obama for his work on this issue. The President, Secretary Kerry and their team have spent painstaking months and years pushing Iran to come to an agreement. Iran would not have come to the table without the President’s persistent efforts to convince the Europeans, the Russians, and the Chinese to join in the sanctions. In addition, it was the President’s far-sighted focus that led our nation to accelerate development of the Massive Ordinance Penetrator (MOP), the best military deterrent and antidote to a nuclear Iran. So whichever side one comes down on in this agreement, all fair-minded Americans should acknowledge the President’s strong achievements in combatting and containing Iran.

In making my decision, I examined this deal in three parts: nuclear restrictions on Iran in the first ten years, nuclear restrictions on Iran after ten years, and non-nuclear components and consequences of a deal. In each case I have asked: are we better off with the agreement or without it?

In the first ten years of the deal, there are serious weaknesses in the agreement. First, inspections are not “anywhere, anytime”; the 24-day delay before we can inspect is troubling. While inspectors would likely be able to detect radioactive isotopes at a site after 24 days, that delay would enable Iran to escape detection of any illicit building and improving of possible military dimensions (PMD) — the tools that go into building a bomb but don’t emit radioactivity.

Furthermore, even when we detect radioactivity at a site where Iran is illicitly advancing its bomb-making capability, the 24-day delay would hinder our ability to determine precisely what was being done at that site.

Even more troubling is the fact that the U.S. cannot demand inspections unilaterally. By requiring the majority of the 8-member Joint Commission, and assuming that China, Russia, and Iran will not cooperate, inspections would require the votes of all three European members of the P5+1 as well as the EU representative. It is reasonable to fear that, once the Europeans become entangled in lucrative economic relations with Iran, they may well be inclined not to rock the boat by voting to allow inspections.

Additionally, the “snapback” provisions in the agreement seem cumbersome and difficult to use. While the U.S. could unilaterally cause snapback of allsanctions, there will be instances where it would be more appropriate to snapback some but not all of the sanctions, because the violation is significant but not severe. A partial snapback of multilateral sanctions could be difficult to obtain, because the U.S. would require the cooperation of other nations. If the U.S. insists on snapback of all the provisions, which it can do unilaterally, and the Europeans, Russians, or Chinese feel that is too severe a punishment, they may not comply.

Those who argue for the agreement say it is better to have an imperfect deal than to have nothing; that without the agreement, there would be no inspections, no snapback. When you consider only this portion of the deal — nuclear restrictions for the first ten years — that line of thinking is plausible, but even for this part of the agreement, the weaknesses mentioned above make this argument less compelling.

Second, we must evaluate how this deal would restrict Iran’s nuclear development after ten years.

Supporters argue that after ten years, a future President would be in no weaker a position than we are today to prevent Iran from racing to the bomb. That argument discounts the current sanctions regime. After fifteen years of relief from sanctions, Iran would be stronger financially and better able to advance a robust nuclear program. Even more importantly, the agreement would allow Iran, after ten to fifteen years, to be a nuclear threshold state with the blessing of the world community. Iran would have a green light to be as close, if not closer to possessing a nuclear weapon than it is today. And the ability to thwart Iran if it is intent on becoming a nuclear power would have less moral and economic force.

If Iran’s true intent is to get a nuclear weapon, under this agreement, it must simply exercise patience. After ten years, it can be very close to achieving that goal, and, unlike its current unsanctioned pursuit of a nuclear weapon, Iran’s nuclear program will be codified in an agreement signed by the United States and other nations. To me, after ten years, if Iran is the same nation as it is today, we will be worse off with this agreement than without it.

In addition, we must consider the non-nuclear elements of the agreement. This aspect of the deal gives me the most pause. For years, Iran has used military force and terrorism to expand its influence in the Middle East, actively supporting military or terrorist actions in Israel, Syria, Lebanon, Yemen, Iraq, and Gaza. That is why the U.S. has labeled Iran as one of only three nations in the world who are “state sponsors of terrorism.” Under this agreement, Iran would receive at least $50 billion dollars in the near future and would undoubtedly use some of that money to redouble its efforts to create even more trouble in the Middle East, and, perhaps, beyond.

To reduce the pain of sanctions, the Supreme Leader had to lean left and bend to the moderates in his country. It seems logical that to counterbalance, he will lean right and give the Iranian Revolutionary Guard (IRGC) and the hardliners resources so that they can pursue their number one goal: strengthening Iran’s armed forces and pursuing even more harmful military and terrorist actions.

Finally, the hardliners can use the freed-up funds to build an ICBM on their own as soon as sanctions are lifted (and then augment their ICBM capabilities in 8 years after the ban on importing ballistic weaponry is lifted), threatening the United States. Restrictions should have been put in place limiting how Iran could use its new resources.

When it comes to the non-nuclear aspects of the deal, I think there is a strong case that we are better off without an agreement than with one.

Using the proponents’ overall standard — which is not whether the agreement is ideal, but whether we are better with or without it — it seems to me, when it comes to the nuclear aspects of the agreement within ten years, we might be slightly better off with it. However, when it comes to the nuclear aspects after ten years and the non-nuclear aspects, we would be better off without it.

Ultimately, in my view, whether one supports or opposes the resolution of disapproval depends on how one thinks Iran will behave under this agreement.

If one thinks Iran will moderate, that contact with the West and a decrease in economic and political isolation will soften Iran’s hardline positions, one should approve the agreement. After all, a moderate Iran is less likely to exploit holes in the inspection and sanctions regime, is less likely to seek to become a threshold nuclear power after ten years, and is more likely to use its newfound resources for domestic growth, not international adventurism.

But if one feels that Iranian leaders will not moderate and their unstated but very real goal is to get relief from the onerous sanctions, while still retaining their nuclear ambitions and their ability to increase belligerent activities in the Middle East and elsewhere, then one should conclude that it would be better not to approve this agreement.

Admittedly, no one can tell with certainty which way Iran will go. It is true that Iran has a large number of people who want their government to decrease its isolation from the world and focus on economic advancement at home. But it is also true that this desire has been evident in Iran for thirty-five years, yet the Iranian leaders have held a tight and undiminished grip on Iran, successfully maintaining their brutal, theocratic dictatorship with little threat. Who’s to say this dictatorship will not prevail for another ten, twenty, or thirty years?

To me, the very real risk that Iran will not moderate and will, instead, use the agreement to pursue its nefarious goals is too great.

Therefore, I will vote to disapprove the agreement, not because I believe war is a viable or desirable option, nor to challenge the path of diplomacy. It is because I believe Iran will not change, and under this agreement it will be able to achieve its dual goals of eliminating sanctions while ultimately retaining its nuclear and non-nuclear power. Better to keep U.S. sanctions in place, strengthen them, enforce secondary sanctions on other nations, and pursue the hard-trodden path of diplomacy once more, difficult as it may be.

For all of these reasons, I believe the vote to disapprove is the right one.”

STATEMENTS IN FAVOR OF THE IRAN NUCLEAR AGREEMENT

Dear Readers,

We are now entering a season of debates about the Iranian nuclear agreement which has already had considerable push-back among the Republicans in Congress, many presidential candidates and the usual; suspects in the media. What has been missing is full coverage of the views of the most expert individuals with either deep knowledge of nuclear issues or those who have a long history and career of foreign affairs and the Middle East region as well as non-proliferation and strategic issues. I think the quotes below indicate a wide range of the top experts. We have posted the full statement of the 100 plus former ambassadors and high level officials who have endorsed the agreement.  My views are found elsewhere on this blog but we welcome your comments on this issue.

 

A special thanks goes to my National Security intern Allison Gerns who complied this excellent list. Please pass it on to others.

———————————————————————————————————————————————————–Letter from the American Ambassadors

“If properly implemented, this comprehensive and rigorously negotiated agreement can be an effective instrument in arresting Iran’s nuclear program and preventing the spread of nuclear weapons in the volatile and vitally important region of the Middle East.”

“We believe that without it, the risks to the security of the United States and our friends and allies would be far greater.”

“Deserves congressional support and the opportunity to show it can work.”

Click here to read the entire letter.

Fawaz Gerges, professor of Middle East studies at The London School of Economics

“It’s a good day for diplomacy, it’s a good day for compromise, it’s a good day for a new beginning between Iran — a pivotal state in the Middle East — and the United States.”

Hillary Clinton

“This agreement can make the United States, Israel and our Arab partners safer.”

Ban Ki-Moon

“I know that an immense amount of work went into this and I admire the determination and the commitment of the negotiators as well as the courage of the leaders who approved the deal that was so painstakingly worked out by their teams in Vienna and elsewhere.”

 “I hope, and indeed believe, that this agreement will lead to greater mutual understanding and cooperation on the many serious security challenges in the Middle East.”

Director General of the IAEA

“I welcome this agreement which will facilitate the IAEA’s further verification work in Iran.”

Secretary General of NATO Jens Stoltenberg


“This agreement represents a historic breakthrough which, once fully implemented, will strengthen international security.” 

French President Francois Hollande

“It’s a very important deal that was signed overnight, the world is making headway.”

British Foreign Secretary Philip Hammond

“We hope, and expect, that this agreement will herald a step-change in Iran’s relations with its neighbors and with the international community.”

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov

“actively participating in the practical steps for the realizations of the agreement.” 

“without a doubt will play an important role in ensuring non-proliferation in general”

“make the situation in the Middle East healthier.” 
“A Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action consisting of the main document and five technical and totally specific annexes has been coordinated, and a draft resolution of the Security Council which all negotiating parties will submit for consideration by the UN Security Council as co-authors has been coordinated too.” 

 Joint Statement by EU High Representative Federica Mogherini and Iranian Foreign Minister Javad Zarif

“With courage, political will, mutual respect and leadership, we delivered on what the world was hoping for: a shared commitment to peace and to join hands in order to make our world safer. This is an historic day also because we are creating the conditions for building trust and opening a new chapter in our relationship.”

“This achievement is the result of a collective effort.”

“We have always been aware we had a responsibility to our generation and the future ones.”

“We know that this agreement will be subject to intense scrutiny. But what we are announcing today is not only a deal but a good deal. And a good deal for all sides – and the wider international community.”

“We call on the world community to support the implementation of this historic effort.”

“This is the conclusion of our negotiations, but this is not the end of our common work. We will keep doing this important task together.”

President Obama

“I will veto any legislation that prevents the successful implementation of this deal.”

“We have cut off every pathway for Iran to develop a nuclear weapon.”

“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.”

“Without this deal, there is no scenario where the world joins us in sanctioning Iran until it completely dismantles its nuclear program.”

“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.”

“I am confident that this deal will meet at the national security interest of the United States and our allies.”

“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.” (White House, July 14, 2015)

Secretary Kerry

“Iran will not produce or acquire highly enriched uranium or plutonium for at least 15 years.”

“The real fear of that region should be that you don’t have the deal.” 

 “Now they’ve done more than just come to negotiations; they’ve actually negotiated a deal. And three of the seven nations thought they shouldn’t, therefore, be held to any kind of restraint. We prevailed and insisted, no, they have to be.”

 “The simple reality is that if you’re going to push back against Iran it is better to push back against an Iran that doesn’t have a nuclear weapon rather than one that does.”

 “The same way that Ronald Reagan negotiated with the Soviet Union, and the same way that Richard Nixon negotiated with what we then called Red China, we have now negotiated with somebody who took our embassy over, took hostages, killed Americans, many of the things you hear people say, supported terrorism but what we need to recognize is that an Iran that we want to stop the behavior of with a nuclear weapon is a very different Iran than an Iran without a nuclear weapon.”

President Vladimir Putin

“We are satisfied that the solution found is based on the principle of phasing and mutuality, which our country has been consistently supporting at every stage of these complicated negotiations.”

Jeffrey Lewis, the Center for Nonproliferation Studies

“If you want to give the international community decent tools to reduce the chances of Iran getting a nuclear weapon, it’s a great deal.”

Robert Einhorn, senior fellow with the Arms Control and Non-Proliferation Initiative at the Brookings Institution

“The day [Obama] walked in . . . Iran was already a nuclear threshold state. Full rollback, to zero centrifuges, was not a realistic or obtainable objective.” 

Energy Secretary Ernest Moniz

“We are better off forever in terms of Iranian nuclear activity under this agreement than we would be without it.

House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi

“[It’s] a good product –– not only better than the status quo, not only the best possible option, but a strong, effective … proposal for keeping the peace and stopping the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction.”

Dianne Feinstein

“This is our one opportunity.”

Arms Control Association

 “The agreement will establish long-term, verifiable restrictions on Iran’s sensitive nuclear fuel cycle activities… If Congress somehow blocks implementation of this hard-won, balanced and effective multilateral deal, the United States will have broken from its European allies, the necessary international support for Iran-related sanctions would melt away, Iran would be able to rapidly and significantly expand its capacity to produce bomb-grade material; we would lose out on securing enhanced inspections needed to detect a clandestine weapons effort. The risk of a nuclear-armed Iran would thereby increase.”

60 National Security Leaders, including Madeleine Albright, Fmr. Secretary of State; Samuel Berger, Fmr. National Security Advisor; William Perry; Fmr. Secretary of Defense; Admiral Eric Olson (ret.), Fmr. Commander of U.S. Special Operations Command; Amb. Edward J. Walker, Jr. (ret.), Amb. to Israel, Egypt, and UAE

“We applaud the announcement that a Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) has been reached with Iran to limit its nuclear program. We congratulate President Obama and all the negotiators for a landmark agreement unprecedented in its importance for preventing the acquisition of nuclear weapons by Iran. Though primarily a nonproliferation agreement, the JCPOA has significant implications for some of America’s most important national objectives: regional stability in the Middle East, Israel’s security, dealing with an untrustworthy and hostile nation, and U.S. leadership on major global challenges.”

Barry Blechman, The Stimson Center

“This is an historic agreement which stops Iran’s nuclear program in its tracks for at least ten years, and probably for many more. It includes all necessary technical measures to ensure that Iran is complying with its commitments, provides sanctions relief only as those commitments are demonstrated, and will make the U.S. and its friends in the region far more secure than they would be in any other scenario.”

David Cameron, Prime Minister of the United Kingdom

“The international community has delivered a historic deal with Iran. A deal which secures our fundamental aim – to keep Iran from developing a nuclear weapon – and that will help to make our world a safer place.”

Roger Cohen, The New York Times

“If implemented, the agreement constitutes the most remarkable American diplomatic achievement since the Dayton Accords put an end to the Bosnian war two decades ago. It increases the distance between Iran and a bomb as it reduces the distance between Iran and the world. It makes the Middle East less dangerous by forestalling proliferation.”

Matthew Duss, Foundation for Middle East Peace

“The historic nuclear deal announced Tuesday in Vienna between the U.S. and its P5+1 partners and Iran demonstrates an alternative vision of the use of American power. It shows that our security and the security of our partners can be effectively advanced through multilateral diplomacy, and proves once again the importance of U.S. global leadership in addressing shared problems. The Vienna agreement is a victory for a better vision of foreign policy.”

Philip Hammond, U.K. Foreign Secretary

“After more than a decade of tough negotiations we have reached an historic agreement that will impose strict limits and inspections on Iran’s nuclear programme. Having reached this important agreement, our focus will now be on its swift and full implementation to make sure that a nuclear weapon remains beyond Iran’s reach. We hope, and expect, that this agreement will herald a step-change in Iran’s relations with its neighbours and with the international community.”

“We wouldn’t have agreed to the deal unless we were sure that it had robust measures in place to deliver effective oversight on Iran’s nuclear program. This is the best and maybe to only way to build the trust that will allow a dialogue on the many other issues we have in Iran”

William Hartung, Center for International Policy

“The historic Iran nuclear deal is a positive development in its own right. This is a huge step away from the ill-considered calls for military action against Iran that have emanated from U.S. neoconservatives. It’s good for America, good for Iran, and good for the region.”

Joe Klein, TIME

“Yes, the Iran deal is risky. But we have been taking all sorts of bellicose risks since Sept. 11, 2001. Almost all of our military ventures have failed. So many lives have been lost. It’s time, finally, to take a risk for peace.”

Michael Krepon, The Stimson Center

“This agreement significantly reduces Iran’s capacity to build nuclear weapons for ten years or more. It contains effective monitoring provisions. It is far better than any of the alternatives before us. A divide over this agreement, mostly along partisan lines, and repeated attempts to block its implementation will diminish U.S. leadership, destabilize the Middle East, place even greater burdens on U.S. military forces and weaken the U.S. Treasury. Friends and allies of the United States in Europe and the Pacific need to know that they can trust in U.S. executive agreements. Friends in the Middle East need a bipartisan plan to address their concerns about Iran. Congress voted to rid Saddam Hussein of weapons of mass destruction that did not exist. Will it now vote against an agreement that verifiably limits Iran’s all-too-real nuclear capabilities?”

“A ‘nay’ vote by Republicans against the Iran deal can have grave consequences even if they cannot override a presidential veto. Division, mostly along party lines, is never cost-free on national security issues. If Republicans block implementation of this agreement, Tehran will be off the hook. The United States and its friends and allies will then face the worst of both worlds: an Iran that is under no obligations to limit its nuclear capabilities and that welcomes foreign investment.”

Ellen Laipson, President and CEO of Stimson

“Diplomacy – the long and hard slog of it – is one of the victors here. A negotiated agreement to change Iran’s policy and practice on issues with great regional security consequence could set a precedent for problem solving in a region where the resort to force is the default position. To make this agreement a truly lasting contribution to regional peace, all parties will need to support its implementation and Iran in particular could signal to its neighbors that it is willing to address other causes of tension and insecurity.”

Susan Rice, National Security Advisor

“We have complete ability on our own to go into the Security Council with evidence of a violation after a process and snap those sanctions back into place. [The verification time] is more than an adequate time and we shouldn’t be worried.”

Alex Vatanka, Middle East Institute

“The Iranian public is very optimistic and hopeful that the painful economic sanctions will soon begin to be rolled back. The United States, for its part, has succeeded in finding a diplomatic path forward.”

Sen. Chris Murphy

“The best way to stop Iran from obtaining a nuclear weapon is through diplomacy, not war. At a time when the Middle East is awash in crippling violence, we have an opportunity to address one of the most dangerous threats to the United States and the region through a negotiation, and I congratulate President Obama, Secretary Kerry, and their team for the agreement that was reached today.”

Atlantic Council

“The Iran Task Force of the Atlantic Council supports the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) announced in Vienna this week and applauds the bold intent and intense efforts of President Barack Obama and his team of diplomats and scientists who worked so hard to bring it to fruition. At the same time we support the JCPOA, we believe it is necessary to view the agreement with a clear-eyed, realistic perspective, wishing for the best outcome but also being prepared for less-favorable scenarios given past Iranian conduct. We hope that our colleagues in Congress will share this objective with a non-partisan appraisal of the agreement. This agreement is better than the alternatives if the JCPOA is rejected.” 

National Iranian American Council

“With a nuclear deal in hand, we who urged that the U.S. and Iran must give diplomacy a chance have been proven right. Peace was possible, provided that the right policies were adopted and backed with sufficient political will. Make no mistake: if Congress rejects this good deal with Iran, there will be no better deal forthcoming and Congress will be left owning an unnecessary war.” 

Ami Ayalon, Fmr. Director of Shin Bet (Israel’s internal security service)

“Reaching the agreement wasn’t a mistake. It is the best of the available options, even though it strengthens Iran as a troublemaker.” 

Hans Blix, Fmr. Head of the IAEA

“I think it is a remarkably far-reaching and detailed agreement. And I think it has a potential for stabilizing and improving the situation in the region as it gradually gets implemented. The alternative mind you, as Obama says, the alternative really is toward war.” 

Chuck Freilich, Harvard Kennedy School

“[The deal] is a compromise agreement that postpones an existential threat to Israel, opens the possibility for a strategic change in the Middle East and strengthens Israel’s security.” 

Leslie H. Gelb, Council on Foreign Relations

“As for the heart of the nuclear agreement— for certain it is not perfect, but it does represent clear steps forward in holding Tehran to account on its nuclear efforts. All provisions regarding developing uranium or plutonium hold Iran way below where it is at present and where it’s been headed.” 

Philip Gordon, Council on Foreign Relations 

“A bipartisan group of experts and distinguished former U.S. officials, including some of my former colleagues from the administration’s Iran team, put forward a similar list. It will be interesting to see whether the signatories of the Washington Institute letter conclude the outcome in Vienna meets the necessary bar. On balance I think it does.”

Efraim Halevy, Fmr. head of the Israeli National Security Council

“Without an agreement, Iran will be free to do as it pleases, while the sanctions regime will anyway crumble, as many of the world’s countries will rush to Tehran to sign profitable contracts. Iran made concessions in a series of critical matters. A moment before we storm Capitol Hill, led by the Israeli ambassador to Washington, it’s important to hold a profound debate in Israel on whether no agreement is preferable to an agreement which includes components that are crucial for Israel’s security. There will be no other agreement and no other negotiations. What is better, a signed agreement or no agreement?” 

Aaron David Miller, Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars 

“There’s no question the Obama administration got what it wanted out of this deal: a slower, smaller Iranian nuclear program more easily monitored and constrained for at least a decade. No chance now of a pre-emptive Israeli strike, and no need for an American one. For now, a putative nuclear crisis has been defused and kicked down the road.” 

Samantha Power, U.S. Ambassador to the U.N.

“[The deal gives Iran] an opportunity to prove to the world that it intends to pursue a nuclear program solely for peaceful purposes. If Iran seizes that opportunity … then it will find the international community and the United States willing to provide a path out of isolation and toward greater engagement.”

Senator Dick Durbin

“The agreement before us is a comprehensive solution.” 

“Given a choice between the invasion of Iran or working in a diplomatic fashion toward a negotiation so that we can lessen this threat to the world, I think President Obama made the right choice.”
“There are critics, we’ve heard a lot of them in the Senate, but there isn’t a single critic that’s stepped up with a better idea.” 

IRAN NUCLEAR NEGOTIATIONS: YES (AT LAST!)

Photo: Times of Israel

By:
Harry C. Blaney III

The agreed deal with Iran is a good one for both Iran and for the rest of the world including America and yes Israel. It is, in short, a “win-win” for all despite some compromises by both sides. It does exactly what President Obama said he wanted, namely, closing off all likely paths for Iran to obtain nuclear weapons over the next ten years and likely, from my perspective, even beyond.

We have already posted the details of the agreement and its requirements for both Iran and the international community. The key issues of these very difficult negotiations were addressed: inspections and verification; the phasing out of sanctions and how they might be brought back in case of violations; and the institutionalizing of the verification requirements of the “Additional Protocol” of the NPT. The “Additional Protocol” is unlimited and makes a “breakout” highly unlikely without the West knowing exactly what is taking place. The deal restricts research and development on more advanced centrifuges.  It keeps in place and adds major limits on the amount of low enriched uranium while significantly reducing the number and function of existing or future centrifuges during the agreement’s specified time period.

In short, as President Obama said “This deal meets every single one of the bottom lines that we established when we achieved a framework this spring,” furthermore he said, “Every pathway to a nuclear weapon is cut off, and the inspection and transparency regime necessary to verify that objective will be put in place.”

What we need now to focus on first is the implementation of the accord and not let it unravel either in Tehran or in Washington. Above all we need to not  let the caustic and irresponsible utterances of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s assessment that the accord was an historical mistake and that Iran would still get a nuclear weapon out of the agreement deter us.

The sad part of all this is that the main beneficiary of this accord is Israel, as without the agreement there would be no limitations on Iran building an atomic bomb. The other alternative is seen by most to be ultimately war.  Now there is time and perhaps the willingness to work towards a long-term security structure for the entire Middle East. Israel is far more secure now unless it acts foolishly. This agreement has reduced a likely un-winnable war which would have catastrophic results for the entire region not least Israel.

I see the impact of this accord at a number of levels. For example, a possible rapprochement and security framework for the Middle East, implications for non-proliferation efforts and the NPT, and recognition of the role of and need for new intense diplomacy and what it can accomplish in determined hand, rather than cries for war. American leadership in wise hands can accomplish a lot. We may have an opening to widen political and economic possibilities should both sides decide that engagement, compromise, stability and true security is in the common interest. I argued at the start of these negotiations that an agreement was likely in the end because on any “net assessment” both sides could gain.

THE MIDDLE EAST IMPLICATIONS

Looking beyond this agreement, we have repeatedly written long ago that a possible agreement might lead to other diplomatic actions by both sides. While it remains uncertain if new cooperation might be possible, this agreement could, with hard work, have profound impact on the Middle East hopes for reconciliation and security.

Out of this now established dialogue with much difficulty, a larger set of solutions to the many conflicts and bitter rivalries between the Sunni and the Shia, and also more security for Israel. We need to have the Arab states themselves see a better way forward. Both sides now need to grasp at the momentum of the July 14th deal and start looking at fundamental issues that can be resolved for again a “win-win” solution. Courage on all sides will be required.

NUCLEAR AND NPT IMPLICATIONS AND OPPORTUNITIES AND SECURITY IN THE REGION

It is clear the move towards a world with less nuclear weapons and the possible use of them has likely gained by this agreement if implemented. But for this to happen there is a need for a deeper and wider look at other “nuclear actors” and to try to create a structure where non-proliferation and nuclear weapons are seen more as a mortal danger rather than an instrument of security and national safety. That means frankly we need to look hard again at India, Pakistan, North Korea, China, Israel and at those that might be potential proliferators in the future. America and Russia need to look for further reductions in their nuclear weapons. Here the lesson is that the instruments of diplomacy need to be fully engaged in new and creative ways. If America with the other powers and Iran can sit down together and hammer out this agreement then other nuclear regimes and nexus of conflict can and should also be addressed in new and stronger ways.

LARGER POLITICAL AND ECONOMIC AND DIPLOMATIC DIMENSIONS

From this agreement new possibilities for cooperation can arise for areas like economic growth, trade, addressing poverty and unemployment, and new views on building mutual security. There is need to get at the more fundamental causes of conflict, hate, prejudices, and long standing conditions that breed terrorism and mass violence.

America saw this after World War II with the Marshal Plan. This initiative moved away from retribution and punishment to rebuilding societies including former enemies, helping nurture cooperation and institutions like the UN, the World Bank, NATO, the EU and so many other organizations to cement cooperation and sharing of burdens and risks.

Some in America, especially among the far right today in the Republican Party, have long natured a move towards military adventurism, a hate of multilateral diplomacy especially by a democratic President, and thought war was the main or only effective instrument of global engagement. That has proved to be a disaster for all. Already Republican leaders have stated their blind opposition without even reading the text, their motivation being not the national interest but their distaste for our president.

President Obama and Secretary Kerry have proven these naysayers and critics wrong. Time and time again strong diplomacy gained as with the New SALT agreement, lowering our military footprint in Iraq and Afghanistan, reaching out to countries like India, Burma, Cuba and our pivot to Asia, and in many other ways.  We should strengthen our efforts to deal with incipient conflicts in many areas, with what I call “preventive diplomacy” as a less costly alternative to military action.

We need to strengthen the use of our many diplomacy tools, and yes, that does mean sanctions when necessary, and also the application of “carrots” and “sticks” when needed. It includes wise development assistance and listening to others.

Efforts by this administration at mediation, engagement, and dialogue show to the American people that under Obama America is still, as he said, a kind of “indispensable nation” but also with others, in creating a more peaceful world. By addressing arising conflicts rather than ignoring our problems we have made some progress in a difficult environment. This approach is better than  putting, as some Republicans seem to want, either putting our heads in the sand in isolationism or seeing mindlessly putting “troops on the ground” as the simplistic answer to every problem.

We need to recognize the necessity of strengthening, reforming, providing more resources and in general making more effective international institutions. The IAEA has played a vital role in the Iran nuclear agreement and its inspection and verification role. But also International Organizations like UNHCR, UNRRA, The World Bank, NATO, World Food program, and the United Nations as a whole and the Security Council, which voted sanctions which led to this agreement. We also need new strong instruments of multilateral diplomacy, of effective peacekeeping and peacemaking. All of these instruments of “diplomacy” can in time bring our now dangerous and conflict ridden world a bit of peace and security that all can share.

We welcome your comments!

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