On August 28, Secretary of State John Kerry released a statement marking the four-year anniversary of U.S. citizen Amir Hekmati’s detention in Iran. Iranian authorities arrested Hekmati—a dual U.S.-Iranian citizen born in Arizona and a former Marine— in August 2011 for allegedly working for the CIA. A 2012 retrial overturned the espionage conviction and instead charged him with “cooperating with hostile governments.” He was sentenced to 10 years in prison. The following is the full text of Kerry’s statement and information on recent Congressional action on this issue.
The following are excerpted statements by U.S. officials on the final nuclear deal that was announced by the world’s six major powers and Iran on July 14.
Ambassador to the United Nations Samantha Power
"If the United States rejects this deal, we would instantly isolate ourselves from the countries that spent nearly two years working with American negotiators to hammer out its toughest provisions. Those partners believe that this is a sound deal—with a rigorous set of inspection measures that would allow us to know if Iran is not playing by the rules. And those countries have been very clear that they are not prepared to walk away from this deal to try to secure different terms. So if we walk away, there is no diplomatic door number two. No do over. No rewrite of the deal on the table."
"In the case of Iran, the United States persuaded other countries to apply pressure for a purpose—in order to secure significant, long-term constraints that would cut off all of Iran’s pathways to a nuclear weapon. If we move the goalpost now—arguing, for example, that there should not be sanctions relief until Iran stops supporting terrorist proxies or until it permanently gives up nuclear enrichment for peaceful purposes—we would give detractors a powerful tool to try to obstruct our future efforts on issues unrelated to Iran. Our efforts to reach this deal have affirmed the view of the United States as a tough but principled leader; rejecting it would be read in many quarters as a superpower intent on inflicting pain for its own sake."
"The Iran nuclear deal has been championed by the president of the United States, every one of America’s European friends and countless other countries around the world. If Congress rejects the deal, we will project globally an America that is internally divided, unreliable and dismissive of the views of those with whom we built Iran’s sanctions architecture in the first place."
—Aug. 26, 2015, in an op-ed in Politico
Secretary of State John Kerry
—July 19, 2015, on CNN’s State of the Union
Under Secretary of State Wendy Sherman
“Today’s Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) is an historic deal that will cut off all pathways to a nuclear weapon, cements intrusive inspections that will be at an unprecedented level, and ensures that Iran’s nuclear program will be exclusively peaceful. This significant accomplishment would not have been possible without strong and rigorously applied economic sanctions, which were designed and enforced by the United States, the European Union, and the United Nations, alongside many others worldwide. These sanctions disrupted Iran's access to the materials and infrastructure necessary to develop its nuclear program, more than halved its oil exports, and severed its banking system from the world – providing the leverage necessary to compel Iran to negotiate in a constructive and serious way.
Supporters of the Deal
Opponents of the Deal
Minority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV)
Minority Whip Dick Durbin (D-IL)
"This Iran agreement is our opportunity to test diplomacy, and I invite Israel, our friends and allies in Israel, to join us in holding Iran to the letter of the law in this agreement.
—August 5, 2015, in a hearing
Sherrod Brown (D-OH)
"It’s critical that we prevent Iran from developing or acquiring a nuclear weapon. This agreement is the only viable option to achieve that goal."
—August 14, 2015 in a statement
Barbara Boxer (D-CA)
Al Franken (D-MN)
"After careful review, I have decided that I will vote in support of the agreement the United States and our international partners reached with Iran last month."
—August 13, 2015, in a statement
Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH)
“I’ve concluded that this is the best available option we have for preventing Iran from obtaining a nuclear weapon. When this agreement comes to the Senate floor in September, I intend to support it.”Tammy Baldwin (D-WI)
“I will support this international agreement because it will best serve America’s national security interests and it is built on verification with a robust inspections and compliance regime that will cut off all of Iran’s potential pathways to a nuclear weapon.”
—August 7, 2015, in a statement
Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY)
“Our goal has been, and remains, to prevent Iran from developing a nuclear weapon. We have far more ability to achieve that outcome if we approve this deal.”
Tim Kaine (D-VA)
Angus King (I-ME)
“I have concluded that the terms of this agreement are preferable to the alternatives and that it would be in the best interest of the United States to join our partners in approving it.”
—August 5, 2015, in a statement
Amy Klobuchar (D-MN)
“While the agreement is by no means perfect, I have concluded that it is our best available option to put the brakes on Iran’s development of a nuclear weapon and that is why I will support it.”
—August 10, 2015, in a statement
Patrick Leahy (D-VT)
"The hasty critics of this agreement are long on scorn but short on alternatives."
—August 5, 2015, in a statement
Martin Heinrich (D-NM)
“I am optimistic this accord is in the best interest of our nation and our allies.”
—July 30, 2015, in an op-ed
Chris Murphy (D-CT)
Bill Nelson (D-FL)
"Unless there is an unexpected change in the conditions and facts before the vote is called in September...I will support the nuclear agreement."
—August 4, 2015, according to the press
Bernie Sanders (I-VT)
“If Iran moves toward a nuclear weapon, all available options remain on the table. I think it is incumbent upon us, however, to give the negotiated agreement a chance to succeed. That is why I will support the agreement.
—August 7, 2015, in a statement
Brian Schatz (D-HI)
“Iran must never be allowed to have a nuclear weapon, and that is why I support this agreement. This is the best possible way to deny Iran from acquiring the bomb.”
—August 10, 2015, in a statement
Elizabeth Warren (D-MA)
“Those who oppose this deal…have presented no realistic alternatives. Because I believe that this deal is our best available option, I support it.”
—August 4, 2015, according to the press
Tom Udall (D-NM)
“I urge my colleagues to support this agreement. We have a choice between this deal and no deal. I do not believe we will get another chance.”
—July 30, 2015, in a hearing
Jon Tester (D-MT)
Mazie Hirono (D-HI)
"This agreement is the best option to halt Iran’s nuclear weapon program."
Jack Reed (D-RI)
“I support the JCPOA because it cuts off Iran’s pathways to a nuclear weapon and gives international inspectors unprecedented access to Iran’s nuclear infrastructure and supply chains."
Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI)
"I’ve decided to support the P5+1 agreement with Iran, not because it assures anything on its own, but because -- with persistent watchfulness and effort -- it could open a new doorway in the precarious Middle East."
Ed Markey (D-MA)
“I have concluded that diplomacy remains our best tool to secure a nuclear-weapon-free Iran. That’s why I intend to support the Iran nuclear agreement when it comes before Congress in September.”
Joe Donnelly (D-IN)
"Despite having questions about Iran’s intentions, I am willing to give this agreement the opportunity to succeed."
Claire McCaskill (D-MO)
“I have become convinced that it is more dangerous to Israel, America and our allies to walk away [from this agreement] in the face of unified world wide support.”
Debbie Stabenow (D-MI)
"I have determined that the imminent threat of Iran having a nuclear weapon outweighs any flaws I see in the international agreement. For this reason, I must support the agreement.”
—Aug. 24, 2015, in a statement
Patty Murray (D-WA)
Tom Carper (D-DE)
"Most Iranians want a better relationship with America and the world. They’re ready to take yes for an answer. We should, too. This is a good deal for America and our allies, including Israel, one of our closest allies. And, oh yes. It beats the likely alternative – war with Iran – hands down.”
—Aug. 28, 2015, in an op-ed
Democratic Policy Committee Chair Chuck Schumer (D-NY)
“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.”
Bob Corker (R-TN)
"This deal...leaves the United States vulnerable to a resurgent Iran wealthier and more able to work its will in the Middle East. Congress should reject this deal and send it back to the president."
—August 17, 2015, in an op-ed
Bob Menendez (D-NJ)
"I will vote to disapprove the agreement and, if called upon, would vote to override a veto."
—Aug. 18, 2015 in a speech
Mark Kirk (R-IL)
“If Congress doesn't stop this bad deal, the American people will be left with a nuclear Iran and a nuclear arms race in the Middle East. Congress can and should insist on a better deal.”
— July 20, 2015 in an op-ed
Marco Rubio (R-FL)
“In 10 years, in 12 years, when Iran has a nuclear weapon and we can’t target them, people are going to remember this vote that’s coming up and this deal as what laid the groundwork for it, and I keep hearing this notion that there is no other alternative and no other way forward, but I disagree.”
—July 30, 2015, in a hearing
Ted Cruz (R-TX)
Jeff Flake (R-AZ)
“While I have supported the negotiations that led to the JCPOA from the beginning, I cannot vote in support of this deal."
—August 15, 2015, in a statement
Jim Inhofe (R-OK)
“The president’s deal with Iran failed to meet the only standard that ensures the future safety of America and its allies, which is the complete dismantling of Iran’s capability to build a nuclear bomb.”
—July 14, 2015 in a statement
Tom Cotton (R-AR)
“No one understands the horrors of war more than a soldier who has fought one. That’s why I’m opposed to the President's deal.”
Thom Tillis (R-NC)
“The old American alliances are collapsing, and the only answer the Administration seems to have is a clear path to Iran obtaining a nuclear weapon.”
— July 22, 2015 in a floor statement
Lindsey Graham (R-SC)
David Perdue (R-GA)
“This is a bad deal. It does not achieve what the President himself said he wanted, and that is to preclude Iran from obtaining a nuclear weapon.”
—August 7, 2015, according to the press
Rand Paul (R-KY)
Roy Blunt (R-MO)
“This deal undermines the security of our friends and allies and legitimizes Iran’s unapologetic sponsorship of terrorism throughout the Middle East.”
—July 14, 2015, in a statement
Jim Risch (R-ID)
“To be able to walk away from this and say that this is a good deal was ludicrous. With all due respect, you guys have been bamboozled, and the American people are going to pay for that.”
—July 23, 2015 in an exchange with Secretary of State John Kerry during a Senate hearing
Dan Sullivan (R-AK)
“I think there’s plenty of better alternatives to this. And, you know, there’s this idea that it’s this agreement or war, and I just simply don’t accept that.”
—July 29, 2015 on MSNBC’s “Morning Joe”
David Vitter (R-LA)
“This agreement is a really, really bad deal for America, for Israel, and for freedom.”
— July 14, 2015 in a statement
Cory Gardner (R-CO)
“I think this is a bad deal for the American people, it’s a bad deal for our allies in the Middle East, and it has bipartisan opposition.”
— Aug. 10, 2015 on 710 KNUS’s “Kelley and Company”
Ben Sasse (R-NE)
John Hoeven (R-ND)
“I oppose the deal with Iran because it will not make our nation safer and does not prevent Iran from acquiring a nuclear weapon, the first and foremost requirement of any agreement.”
—Aug. 23, 2015, in an op-ed
Lisa Murkowski (R-AK)
“The administration claims this deal makes the world a safer place, but I have grave doubts. As such, I will vote against the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action when it comes before the Senate in September.”
—Aug. 21, 2015, in a statement
Pat Toomey (R-PA)
“I will actively support and vote for the Resolution of Disapproval to strike down the agreement.”
—Aug. 3, 2015, in an op-ed
Roger Wicker (R-MS)
“When you’re dealing with somebody, you consider the past conduct of who you’re negotiating with … the people in charge of Iran have shown no indication that they’re trustworthy.”
—Aug. 18, 2015, according to the press
By #IranDeal whose approval is of question either here or there,they intended to find a way to infiltrate into the country.We shut this way.— Khamenei.ir (@khamenei_ir) August 17, 2015
Leader addressing Cabinet: Concluding #IranTalks was of main accomplishments and we hope any possible problem for it would be resolved— Khamenei.ir (@khamenei_ir) August 26, 2015
Tactics of hostility and detriment might have changed and been revised, but all authorities must beware of playing role in enemy’s plots.— Khamenei.ir (@khamenei_ir) August 26, 2015
President Hassan Rouhani
U.N. Security Council Resolution 2231 “is an unprecedented event in the history of the Islamic republic of Iran. Iran's goal was to attain its legal right to enrich uranium and today, the UNSC has explicitly accepted this."
"We were in a [football] field where our diplomats were on one side, and on the other, the six world powers were present. In this competition, the referee favored the other side; we won this competition."
—July 22, 2015, in a cabinet meeting
Parliamentary Speaker Ali Larijani
“This is definitely a trade-off, and no one would claim a maximal gain for Iran in the JCPOA. However, the major issues of concern for Iran had been well-balanced vis-à-vis the Western demands, which is first to retain the enrichment right and second removal of sanctions, which will not be without its own consequences.”
—Aug. 8, 2015 in an address to Parliament’s Joint Budget Commission as reported by Khorosan
The nuclear deal is a “national achievement” that should lead to growth in production and prosperity in the cultural, defense and science fields.
—July 23, 2015 according to IRIB News
Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif
Iran achieved its goals of “maintaining Iran’s dignity and might, establishing the nuclear program [of the country], enrichment and retaining the heavy-water reactor.”
“For 12 years, great powers have tried to prevent an Iranian nuclear program. But today they should tolerate thousands of centrifuges spinning, plus the continuation of research and development. This shows our power.”
Vice President Masoumeh Ebtekar
“This is ultimately a step forward. This agreement is a step for the future of not only Iran and the region, but for peace at the global level.”
“I think that there is this internal debate and you can hear these different voices - some criticizing the agreement, and some opposing it entirely.”
“But in general... the majority of the Iranian people view this as a successful step forward.”
—August 2015 in an interview with the BBC
Deputy Foreign Minister Abbas Araghchi, chief nuclear negotiator
“I completely support this agreement, and honest to God, I believe we should celebrate [it].”
—Aug. 9, 2015 at a public event in Tehran via Al Monitor
Revolutionary Guards Commander Major General Mohammad Ali Jafari
“Some parts of the [U.N. resolution] draft have clearly crossed the Islamic republic's red lines, especially in Iran's military capabilities… We will never accept it.”
—July 20, 2015 via Reuters
Kayhan Editor Hossein Shariatmadari
“Even by simply looking at the deal you can see some vital red lines of the Islamic Republic have not been preserved.”
—July 2015 in an editorial
Ibrahim Karkhaneh, a member of the parliamentary committee to review the nuclear deal
“The limitations [imposed on Iran] go beyond the NPT [Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty].”
—Aug. 1, 2015 according to Fars New Agency
Foad Izadi, University of Tehran professor
“People realize that Iran has given away a lot of things. The nuclear program has become a symbol of national pride – and people didn’t like that the agreement came at a great price.”
—July 2015 in an interview with The Telegraph
Hossein Nejabat, a member of the parliamentary committee to review the nuclear deal
“We will not allow any intrusion to our defense and military installations… There are points of contention in the agreement.”
—July 26, 2015 via Tasnim News
Commander of Iran's Basij Force Brigadier General Mohammad Reza Naqdi
“Any Iranian who reads the Vienna documents will hate the US 100 times more [than in the past].”
“All paragraphs of the resolution that the U.S. proposed to the U.N. Security Council are full of enmity towards Iran and show the U.S.’ deep grudge against the Iranian nation.”
“The U.S. needs the agreement merely to legalize the sanctions and continue pressure against Iran.”
—July 21, 2015, according to Fars News Agency
Garrett Nada is the assistant editor of The Iran Primer at USIP.
Iranian Lawmakers on Nuclear Deal
Photo credits: Khamenei via Facebook/Khamenei.ir, Posters via Nojavan.Khamenei.ir