United States Institute of Peace

The Iran Primer

Iran Nuclear Plan: Obama Statement

On April 2, President Barack Obama delivered the following statement on the outcome of nuclear talks between Iran and the world’s six major powers.

Good afternoon, everybody.  Today, the United States -- together with our allies and partners -- has reached a historic understanding with Iran, which, if fully implemented, will prevent it from obtaining a nuclear weapon. 

As President and Commander-in-Chief, I have no greater responsibility than the security of the American people.  And I am convinced that if this framework leads to a final, comprehensive deal, it will make our country, our allies, and our world safer.
 
This has been a long time coming.  The Islamic Republic of Iran has been advancing its nuclear program for decades.  By the time I took office, Iran was operating thousands of centrifuges, which can produce the materials for a nuclear bomb -- and Iran was concealing a covert nuclear facility.  I made clear that we were prepared to resolve this issue diplomatically, but only if Iran came to the table in a serious way.  When that did not happen, we rallied the world to impose the toughest sanctions in history -- sanctions which had a profound impact on the Iranian economy.
 
Now, sanctions alone could not stop Iran’s nuclear program. But they did help bring Iran to the negotiating table.  Because of our diplomatic efforts, the world stood with us and we were joined at the negotiating table by the world’s major powers -- the United Kingdom, France, Germany, Russia, and China, as well as the European Union.
 
Over a year ago, we took the first step towards today’s framework with a deal to stop the progress of Iran’s nuclear program and roll it back in key areas.  And recall that at the time, skeptics argued that Iran would cheat, and that we could not verify their compliance and the interim agreement would fail. Instead, it has succeeded exactly as intended.  Iran has met all of its obligations.  It eliminated its stockpile of dangerous nuclear material.  Inspections of Iran’s program increased.  And we continued negotiations to see if we could achieve a more comprehensive deal.
 
Today, after many months of tough, principled diplomacy, we have achieved the framework for that deal.  And it is a good deal, a deal that meets our core objectives.  This framework would cut off every pathway that Iran could take to develop a nuclear weapon.  Iran will face strict limitations on its program, and Iran has also agreed to the most robust and intrusive inspections and transparency regime ever negotiated for any nuclear program in history.  So this deal is not based on trust, it’s based on unprecedented verification. 
 
Many key details will be finalized over the next three months, and nothing is agreed to until everything is agreed.  But here are the basic outlines of the deal that we are working to finalize.
 
First, Iran will not be able to pursue a bomb using plutonium, because it will not develop weapons-grade plutonium.  The core of its reactor at Arak will be dismantled and replaced. The spent fuel from that facility will be shipped out of Iran for the life of the reactor.  Iran will not build a new heavy-water reactor.  And Iran will not reprocess fuel from its existing reactors -- ever.
 
Second, this deal shuts down Iran’s path to a bomb using enriched uranium. Iran has agreed that its installed centrifuges will be reduced by two-thirds.  Iran will no longer enrich uranium at its Fordow facility.  Iran will not enrich uranium with its advanced centrifuges for at least the next 10 years.  The vast majority of Iran’s stockpile of enriched uranium will be neutralized.
 
Today, estimates indicate that Iran is only two or three months away from potentially acquiring the raw materials that could be used for a single nuclear bomb.  Under this deal, Iran has agreed that it will not stockpile the materials needed to build a weapon.  Even if it violated the deal, for the next decade at least, Iran would be a minimum of a year away from acquiring enough material for a bomb.  And the strict limitations on Iran’s stockpile will last for 15 years.
 
Third, this deal provides the best possible defense against Iran’s ability to pursue a nuclear weapon covertly -- that is, in secret.  International inspectors will have unprecedented access not only to Iranian nuclear facilities, but to the entire supply chain that supports Iran’s nuclear program -- from uranium mills that provide the raw materials, to the centrifuge production and storage facilities that support the program.  If Iran cheats, the world will know it.  If we see something suspicious, we will inspect it.  Iran’s past efforts to weaponize its program will be addressed.  With this deal, Iran will face more inspections than any other country in the world.
 
So this will be a long-term deal that addresses each path to a potential Iranian nuclear bomb.  There will be strict limits on Iran’s program for a decade.  Additional restrictions on building new facilities or stockpiling materials will last for 15 years.  The unprecedented transparency measures will last for 20 years or more.  Indeed, some will be permanent.  And as a member of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, Iran will never be permitted to develop a nuclear weapon.
 
In return for Iran’s actions, the international community has agreed to provide Iran with relief from certain sanctions -- our own sanctions, and international sanctions imposed by the United Nations Security Council.  This relief will be phased as Iran takes steps to adhere to the deal.  If Iran violates the deal, sanctions can be snapped back into place.  Meanwhile, other American sanctions on Iran for its support of terrorism, its human rights abuses, its ballistic missile program, will continue to be fully enforced.         
 
Now, let me reemphasize, our work is not yet done.  The deal has not been signed.  Between now and the end of June, the negotiators will continue to work through the details of how this framework will be fully implemented, and those details matter.  If there is backsliding on the part of the Iranians, if the verification and inspection mechanisms don’t meet the specifications of our nuclear and security experts, there will be no deal.  But if we can get this done, and Iran follows through on the framework that our negotiators agreed to, we will be able to resolve one of the greatest threats to our security, and to do so peacefully.
 
Given the importance of this issue, I have instructed my negotiators to fully brief Congress and the American people on the substance of the deal, and I welcome a robust debate in the weeks and months to come.  I am confident that we can show that this deal is good for the security of the United States, for our allies, and for the world.
 
For the fact is, we only have three options for addressing Iran’s nuclear program.  First, we can reach a robust and verifiable deal -- like this one -- and peacefully prevent Iran from obtaining a nuclear weapon.
 
The second option is we can bomb Iran’s nuclear facilities, thereby starting another war in the Middle East, and setting back Iran’s program by a few years -- in other words, setting it back by a fraction of the time that this deal will set it back.  Meanwhile we’d ensure that Iran would race ahead to try and build a bomb.
 
Third, we could pull out of negotiations, try to get other countries to go along and continue sanctions that are currently in place or add additional ones, and hope for the best -- knowing that every time we have done so, Iran has not capitulated but instead has advanced its program, and that in very short order, the breakout timeline would be eliminated and a nuclear arms race in the region could be triggered because of that uncertainty.  In other words, the third option leads us very quickly back to a decision about whether or not to take military action, because we’d have no idea what was going on inside of Iran. 
 
Iran is not going to simply dismantle its program because we demand it to do so.  That’s not how the world works, and that’s not what history shows us.  Iran has shown no willingness to eliminate those aspects of their program that they maintain are for peaceful purposes, even in the face of unprecedented sanctions.  Should negotiations collapse because we, the United States, rejected what the majority of the world considers a fair deal, what our scientists and nuclear experts suggest would give us confidence that they are not developing a nuclear weapon, it’s doubtful that we can even keep our current international sanctions in place. 
 
So when you hear the inevitable critics of the deal sound off, ask them a simple question:  Do you really think that this verifiable deal, if fully implemented, backed by the world’s major powers, is a worse option than the risk of another war in the Middle East?  Is it worse than doing what we’ve done for almost two decades, with Iran moving forward with its nuclear program and without robust inspections?  I think the answer will be clear.
 
Remember, I have always insisted that I will do what is necessary to prevent Iran from acquiring a nuclear weapon, and I will.  But I also know that a diplomatic solution is the best way to get this done, and offers a more comprehensive -- and lasting -- solution.  It is our best option, by far.  And while it is always a possibility that Iran may try to cheat on the deal in the future, this framework of inspections and transparency makes it far more likely that we’ll know about it if they try to cheat -- and I, or future Presidents, will have preserved all of the options that are currently available to deal with it.
 
To the Iranian people, I want to reaffirm what I’ve said since the beginning of my presidency.  We are willing to engage you on the basis of mutual interests and mutual respect.  This deal offers the prospect of relief from sanctions that were imposed because of Iran’s violation of international law.  Since Iran’s Supreme Leader has issued a fatwa against the development of nuclear weapons, this framework gives Iran the opportunity to verify that its program is, in fact, peaceful.  It demonstrates that if Iran complies with its international obligations, then it can fully rejoin the community of nations, thereby fulfilling the extraordinary talent and aspirations of the Iranian people.  That would be good for Iran, and it would be good for the world.
 
Of course, this deal alone -- even if fully implemented -- will not end the deep divisions and mistrust between our two countries.  We have a difficult history between us, and our concerns will remain with respect to Iranian behavior so long as Iran continues its sponsorship of terrorism, its support for proxies who destabilize the Middle East, its threats against America’s friends and allies -- like Israel.  So make no mistake: We will remain vigilant in countering those actions and standing with our allies. 
 
It’s no secret that the Israeli Prime Minister and I don't agree about whether the United States should move forward with a peaceful resolution to the Iranian issue.  If, in fact, Prime Minister Netanyahu is looking for the most effective way to ensure Iran doesn’t get a nuclear weapon, this is the best option.  And I believe our nuclear experts can confirm that.
 
More importantly, I will be speaking with the Prime Minister today to make clear that there will be no daylight, there is no daylight, when it comes to our support for Israel’s security and our concerns about Iran’s destabilizing policies and threats toward Israel.  That’s why I've directed my national security team to consult closely with the new Israeli government in the coming weeks and months about how we can further strengthen our long-term security cooperation with Israel, and make clear our unshakeable commitment to Israel’s defense.
 
Today, I also spoke with the King of Saudi Arabia to reaffirm our commitment to the security of our partners in the Gulf.  And I’m inviting the leaders of the six countries who make up the Gulf Cooperation Council -- Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar, and Bahrain -- to meet me at Camp David this spring to discuss how we can further strengthen our security cooperation, while resolving the multiple conflicts that have caused so much hardship and instability throughout the Middle East. 
 
Finally, it’s worth remembering that Congress has, on a bipartisan basis, played a critical role in our current Iran policy, helping to shape the sanctions regime that applied so much pressure on Iran and ultimately forced them to the table.  In the coming days and weeks, my administration will engage Congress once again about how we can play -- how it can play a constructive oversight role.  I’ll begin that effort by speaking to the leaders of the House and Senate today. 
 
In those conversations, I will underscore that the issues at stake here are bigger than politics.  These are matters of war and peace, and they should be evaluated based on the facts and what is ultimately best for the American people and for our national security.  For this is not simply a deal between my administration and Iran.  This is a deal between Iran, the United States of America, and the major powers in the world -- including some of our closest allies.  If Congress kills this deal -- not based on expert analysis, and without offering any reasonable alternative -- then it’s the United States that will be blamed for the failure of diplomacy.  International unity will collapse, and the path to conflict will widen.
 
The American people understand this, which is why solid majorities support a diplomatic resolution to the Iranian nuclear issue.  They understand instinctively the words of President Kennedy, who faced down the far greater threat of communism, and said:  “Let us never negotiate out of fear, but let us never fear to negotiate.”  The American people remember that at the height of the Cold War, Presidents like Nixon and Reagan struck historic arms control agreements with the Soviet Union, a far more dangerous adversary -- despite the fact that that adversary not only threatened to destroy our country and our way of life, but had the means to do so.  Those agreements were not perfect.  They did not end all threats.  But they made our world safer.  A good deal with Iran will do the same.
 
Today, I’d like to express my thanks to our international partners for their steadfastness and their cooperation.  I was able to speak earlier today with our close allies, Prime Minister Cameron and President Hollande and Chancellor Merkel, to reaffirm that we stand shoulder-to-shoulder in this effort. 
 
And most of all, on behalf of our nation, I want to express my thanks to our tireless -- and I mean tireless -- Secretary of State John Kerry and our entire negotiating team.  They have worked so hard to make this progress.  They represent the best tradition of American diplomacy.  Their work -- our work -- is not yet done and success is not guaranteed.  But we have an historic opportunity to prevent the spread of nuclear weapons in Iran, and to do so peacefully, with the international community firmly behind us.  We should seize that chance.
 
Thank you.  God bless you.  God bless the United States of America.
 
Kerry Statement
 

The following is an excerpt from Secretary of State John Kerry’s statement on the nuclear talks between Iran and the world’s six major powers.

The journey towards a diplomatic solution began years ago.  And I can tell you that I’ve personally been involved for about four years, beginning from the time that I was serving in the United States Senate.  Others have been on this journey, and some of the others in our team, for even longer than that. 
 
But as Foreign Minister Zarif and High Representative Mogherini announced moments ago, today we have reached a critical milestone in that quest.  We, our P5+1, EU partners, and Iran have arrived at a consensus on the key parameters of an arrangement that, once implemented, will give the international community confidence that Iran’s nuclear program is and will remain exclusively peaceful.  And over the coming weeks, with all of the conditions of the 2013 Joint Plan of Action still in effect from this moment forward, our experts will continue to work hard to build on the parameters that we have arrived at today and finalize a comprehensive deal by the end of June.
 
Now we have said from the beginning – I think you’ve heard me say it again and again – that we will not accept just any deal, that we will only accept a good deal.  And today, I can tell you that the political understanding with details that we have reached is a solid foundation for the good deal that we are seeking.  It is the foundation for a deal that will see Iran reduce its stockpile of enriched uranium by 98 percent for 15 years.  It is a deal in which Iran will cut its installed centrifuges by more than two-thirds for 10 years.  It is a deal that will increase Iran’s breakout time, which was confirmed publicly today to be two to three months, and that is the time that it would take Iran to speed up its enrichment in order to produce enough fissile material for one potential nuclear weapon.  And that will be expanded now, under this deal, to one year from those two to three months.  That is obviously as much as six times what it is today, and what it has been for the past three years. 
 
I’d like also to make one more point very, very clear because it has been misinterpreted and misstated, misrepresented for much of this discussion:  There will be no sunset to the deal that we are working to finalize – no sunset, none.  The parameters of this agreement will be implemented in phases.  Some provisions will be in place for 10 years; others will be in place for 15 years; others still will be in place for 25 years.  But certain provisions, including many transparency measures, will be in place indefinitely into the future.  They will never expire.  And the bottom line is that, under this arrangement, the international community will have confidence that Iran’s nuclear program is exclusively peaceful, providing, of course, that the provisions are adhered to.  And if they aren’t, we have provisions that empower us to deal with that.
 
Ultimately, the parameters that we have agreed to will do exactly what we set out to do – make certain that all pathways to make enough fissile material for one nuclear weapon have been cut off, including the uranium pathway at Natanz and Fordow, and the plutonium pathway at Arak, and, of course, the covert pathway. 
 
Now we, our partners, and Iran have agreed that the only uranium-enrichment facility Iran will operate moving forward will be the facility at Natanz.  And even that one will undergo dramatic changes.  The vast majority of the centrifuges and their infrastructure will be removed.  And for at least the next 15 years, the stockpile will remain at 300 kilograms.  And any uranium that is enriched at Natanz will be capped at 3.67 percent, which is a typical level of enrichment for civilian nuclear power, but doesn’t even begin to approach the enrichment level necessary for a weapon.
 
We have agreed that the facility at Fordow will halt all uranium enrichment, period – all uranium enrichment, and in fact, there will not even be any fissile material present at the site and no enrichment R&D.  Instead, the facility will be converted into a nuclear physics and technology center. 
 
We have also agreed that Iran will redesign and rebuild its heavy-water reactor at Arak so that it will no longer produce any weapons-grade plutonium.  And the United States will be able to sign off, certify, the reactor’s final design, redesign.  And through international cooperation, it will be transformed into a reactor supporting only peaceful nuclear research and nuclear medicine.  And the calandria, as you heard earlier, will be taken out and destroyed.
 
We have agreed that Iran will ship all of its spent fuel from the Arak reactor out of the country for the reactor’s lifetime.  And Iran has agreed to refrain from building any additional heavy-water reactors for the next 15 years at least – “at least” means still open for beyond that period in the course of the next three months. 
 
And we have agreed that Iran will face regular and comprehensive inspections, which is the best possible way to detect any attempt to covertly produce a weapon.  Not only will inspectors have regular access to all of Iran’s declared facilities indefinitely, but they will also be able to monitor the facilities that produce the centrifuges themselves and the uranium that supports the nuclear program.  And they will be able to do that for at least 20 years.
This critical step will help to guard against diversion of those materials to any clandestine location or plant.  In addition, Iran has agreed to allow IAEA to investigate any suspicious site or any allegations of covert nuclear activities anywhere.
 
So these are just a few of the key – and I mean a few – of the key measures that will make up an extraordinarily comprehensive monitoring and transparency regime when and if it is finally signed and completed over the course of the next months.  Now we have been very clear, both publicly and privately, a final agreement will not rely on promises.  It will rely on proof. 
 
It is important to note that Iran, to date, has honored all of the commitments that it made under the Joint Plan of Action that we agreed to in 2013.  And I ask you to think about that against the backdrop of those who predicted that it would fail and not get the job done. 
And in return for Iran’s future cooperation, we and our international partners will provide relief in phases from the sanctions that have impacted Iran’s economy.  And if we find at any point that Iran is not complying with this agreement, the sanctions can snap back into place.  So together these parameters outline a reasonable standard that Iran can readily meet, and it is the standard that Iran has now agreed to meet. 
 
Throughout history, diplomacy has been necessary to prevent wars and to define international boundaries, to design institutions, and to develop global norms.  Simply demanding that Iran capitulate makes a nice soundbite, but it’s not a policy.  It is not a realistic plan.  So the true measure of this understanding is not whether it meets all the desires of one side at the expense of the other.  The test is whether or not it will leave the world safer or more secure than it would be without this agreement.  And there can be no question that the comprehensive plan that we are moving toward will more than pass that test.
 
This isn’t just my assessment.  It isn’t just the assessment of the United States delegation and our experts.  It is the assessment of every one of our P5+1 partners who stood up here a little while ago in front of the flags of their nations.  It is the assessment of our negotiating partners – Germany, the UK, China, France, and Russia – and all of our experts who have analyzed every aspect of this issue also join in that assessment.
 
From the beginning, we have negotiated as a team, and we are all agreed that this is the best outcome achievable.  No viable alternatives – not one – would be nearly as effective at preventing Iran from obtaining a nuclear weapon than – over a period of time than the parameters, providing they get completed and are signed.
 
Our political understanding arrived at today opens the door for a long-term resolution to the international community’s concerns about Iran’s nuclear program.  Now, we have no illusions about the fact that we still have a ways to travel before we’ll arrive at the destination that we seek.  We still have many technical details to work out on both sides and still some other issues that we acknowledge still have to be resolved; for example, the duration of the UN arms and ballistic missile restrictions on Iran and the precise timing of and mechanism for the conversion of the Arak reactor and Fordow site.  And of course, once we’re able to finalize a comprehensive deal, the process of implementation then remains in front of us as well.  But that’s a good challenge to have, frankly.
 
Throughout this negotiation, we have made a diligent effort to consult with our allies, our partners, including Israel and the Gulf states, and we have vigorously reaffirmed our enduring commitment to their security.  No one should mistake that.  And we will continue to stand by that commitment in the years and days ahead.
 
Obviously, we remain deeply concerned about Iran’s destabilizing actions in the region, and we remain fully committed to addressing the full slate of issues that we currently have with Iran.  But it is because we are so concerned about those issues and about the region’s security.  Precisely because of that concern that we believe this deal is critical.  The status quo with respect to Iran’s nuclear program is unacceptable.  
 
And certainly, we will continue to consult closely in the days ahead with the United States Congress.  They and we understand that an Iran that had a nuclear weapon in the context of today’s troubles would be even more problematic.  I spent almost 30 years in the United States Senate, and I had the privilege and the responsibility of chairing the Foreign Relations Committee when we put tough sanctions in place when this regime was put in place.  And that is the regime that indeed has brought this negotiation about. 
 
We are deeply grateful for Congress’s support of the diplomatic path to date, and we appreciate their patience.  There were those agitating to take action earlier.  Responsible voices held off and they helped us to get to this moment, and we appreciate that.  We sincerely hope that members will continue to give us the time and the space that we need to fully explain the political agreement that we have reached and to work out the remaining details of a final deal. 
 
Before I take a few questions, I just want to take a moment to thank some very important people.  The team that has been assembled throughout this process is really made up of an extraordinary group of public servants, and believe me, they have served their country and the world well in these days.  I want to thank my Cabinet colleague, Secretary of Energy Ernie Moniz, who was indispensable in his knowledge and his technical expertise to be able to sit down and work through some very complex issues.  His background as a nuclear scientist and his expertise was essential in helping us to arrive at this moment.  I also particularly want to thank my colleague at the State Department, the Under Secretary of State Wendy Sherman.  She has been absolutely superb, indefatigable, organized, strong, clear, visionary, and we are grateful.
 
I also want to thank the remarkable team of experts who haven’t slept in days, who’ve kept working, who have chased down numbers on – instantaneous call at any hour, and that goes for the team back home in the United States in the laboratories, in the White House, in the State Department, all of whom have contributed to our ability to be able to know what we are doing and to be able to put this initial agreement together. 
 
Now I want to thank the delegations also from the P5+1 countries.  As I said earlier, this is a team effort, partnership, and each and every one of their political directors, each and every one of their experts, was essential to help chase down details, help us create a consensus, help us check our own figures and our own thoughts about this effort.  And I particularly thank Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius of France, Foreign Secretary Hammond from the United Kingdom, Foreign Minister Lavrov from Russia, Foreign Minister Steinmeier from Germany, and Foreign Minister Wang Yi from China.  Every one of them showed an extraordinary commitment to this effort, and they have all contributed to this outcome.  And it has been a real partnership, with every country weighing in, every country concerned, every country making suggestions.  And I believe that their presence here tonight, their affirmation of this opportunity to try to finalize a deal over the next three months, is a critical component of credibility that should be given to this effort. 
 
I also want to thank the EU for its facilitation of these talks.  That begins with Dame Cathy Ashton, who spent many, many hours over several years helping to guide these talks.  She worked all the way through last December, and her efforts were essential in getting the formal negotiations structured.  Her successor, Federica Mogherini, has seized the baton and done an excellent job of filling right in and helping to move the process forward, and we thank both of them.  And Federica’s deputy has just been superb.  Helga Schmid, who has been the critical link between the EU and the entire P5+1 – we are very, very grateful for her stamina and her creativity and commitment.
 
Finally, I want to acknowledge the hard work of the Iranian delegation led by Foreign Minister Zarif and Dr. Salehi.  From the beginning, they have approached these talks with great professionalism and with seriousness of purpose.  They’ve been difficult – at times extremely intense; at times emotional; always challenging.  Not all of our meetings were easy.  In fact, many were quite difficult because the passions are there for everybody.  But we have shown, I think, diligence and respect on all sides and always kept the objective, which is a peaceful resolution of this issue, in mind.
 
I emphasize:  We still have a lot of work to do.  We have agreed on the most challenging and overarching issues, but now there are a number of technical decisions that need to be made, and there are still policy decisions that have to be made.  But we have the outline; we have the basic framing, if you will – the construction.  And as we continue on, the United States and our P5+1 partners will exhibit the same vigilance, the same unity of purpose, the same comprehensive approach, and the same good faith among us that has brought us this far.  So thank you, and I’d be happy to answer any questions.
 
QUESTION:  Secretary Kerry, can you tell us which gaps you were unable to reach understanding on, and are any elements not being made public?  How long will it take Iran to comply so that sanctions can be eased, and could the deal fall through over the next three months?  And lastly, will the three Americans being held in Iran be released as a goodwill measure if this deal is completed?  Thank you.
 
SECRETARY KERRY:  Well, yeah, of course.  I mean, we have acknowledged there are some gaps.  I just listed a few of them a moment ago for you.  There are issues that we have to resolve.  And I’m not going to go into all of them right now, but I think I listed several of them in my comments.  We have to finish dealing with Fordow, in some respects, with respect to transition.  That’s one of the things we’re going to be looking at and talking about.  We have other considerations with respect to the sanctions themselves and the rate and timing and so forth.  But I don’t think it serves any great purpose to go through all that now.  In the days ahead, there will be plenty of time to focus on that with Congress and others, and we look forward to those consultations. 
 
It’s really a matter of anywhere from probably six months to a year or so that it will take to begin to comply with all of the nuclear steps that need to be taken in order to then begin into the phasing.  Those steps have to happen first.  And in the meantime, the interim agreement – the JPOA, as it’s called, Joint Plan of Action – will continue to be implemented in full.  And so we believe there is a full continuity in the oversight and accountability that is necessary to proceed forward.
 
And finally, with respect to our citizens, we, of course, have had a number of conversations; and no meeting, no date when we come together, has been without conversation about our American citizens.  I’m not going to go into any details, except to say to you that that conversation is continuing.  We have a very specific process in place to try to deal with it.  And we call on Iran again today, now, in light of this, to release these Americans and let them get home with their families.  And we’re working on that and we will continue to be very focused on it.
 
QUESTION:  As the business correspondent for my channel, the single one question every Iranian, from ordinary Iranians to those in boardrooms of Iranian companies, have been asking me is if on July 1st we have a joint comprehensive plan of action how fast, in what sequence, and in what format will economic sanctions, more specifically banking sanctions, which have been hurting many Iranians inside and outside the country, will be removed?  I do understand you said that it will depend on compliance from Iran, but if you could just give us a bit more precise idea. 
 
And also if I can, second question is – you have been – Foreign Secretary Zarif seems to have the world record of having face time with you thanks to these negotiations.  Would you say these negotiations will help in future to improve ties between Iran and United States?
 
SECRETARY KERRY:  Well, on the latter question, all I can do is hope, like I think most citizens would hope.  I would assume, from what we pick up through the diaspora and otherwise with respect to Iran, there are many, many Iranians who hope that they can join the world.  But I’m not going to speculate on that.  I have no idea.  It would depend entirely on the resolution of a lot of things as we go forward.
 
The one thing we do know is that if we can eliminate this question of the nuclear issue, it begins to at some point, conceivably, provide an opportunity for change.  I’m not going to predict anything.  But I do know that stopping having a nuclear weapon makes the world safer, and that is what President Obama and all of us have been focused on.
With respect to the negotiations, I think – what was the first part of your question?  It was about -
 
QUESTION:  It’s about sanctions.
 
SECRETARY KERRY:  Oh, the sanctions, yes.  On the sanctions, as I said, they were phased.  There are a set of requirements, for instance, the dismantlement of some of the centrifuges and the dismantlement of the infrastructure that is associated with those centrifuges.  Iran has a responsibility to get the breakout time to the one year.  And they can do it as fast as they want, and I assume will try to do it very rapidly.  But we think that just the amount of work and the things they have to do will be somewhere in the vicinity of four (inaudible) months to a year, somewhere in there.  I can’t say for certain. 
 
But when that is done and certified by the IAEA that they have lived up to that nuclear responsibility, and we make that judgment with them, at that point in time the – there would begin the phasing of the sanctions.  And we have stated very clearly that that will begin with the suspension with respect to the economic and financial sanctions at that point in time. 
So there will be – I mean, this is part of the nature of any negotiation.  In exchange for the restraints and restrictions that Iran is putting in place here, we will, indeed, take the very tool that was calculated to bring people to negotiate, once it has succeeded in achieving the goal, we will begin to phase those out.  And that timing on other parts of that obviously remains still to be negotiated.  But on the finance and the banking component, the economic components, those the President has committed to move on when that first phase is complete, and we move on to the next phase of implementation.
 
QUESTION:  Sir, you just said they’re not merely technical issues that remain to be threshed out, but still some policy decisions that need to be made.  What are the most important policy issues that need to be confronted before there can be an agreement at the end of June?  And also, nothing here has been said on how Iran’s large stock of uranium is to be disposed of, either by shipping it out of the country or dealing with it inside the country.  How will that be done?
 
And lastly, on sanctions, Minister Zarif said the Security Council resolutions will be suspended or eliminated, but can you tell us some more how that will work, especially since they could take years for Iran to address the IAEA’s concerns over PMD?  And have you assured the Iranians that the White House will be able to persuade the Congress to revoke the sanctions it has imposed if Iran keeps its commitments?
 
SECRETARY KERRY:  The question of the sanctions, Michael, remains one of the issues of the timing – the exact timing and the exact process associated with it remains one of those issues that is going to be negotiated over the course of the next three months.  The commitment is to lift the economic and financial sanctions on the occasion of what I mentioned earlier on the nuclear side.  Beyond that, UN sanctions, others with respect to ballistic missile embargo, et cetera, those remain for negotiation.
 
With respect to the question of the IAEA process, et cetera, and what happens with respect to the stockpile, it has to either be diluted or sold on the international market, one of the two.  So whatever excess there is with respect to that will actually be returned right into uranium and not serve any fundamental purpose.  But the stockpile is going to have to be diluted or sold in the international marketplace, and that is agreed upon at this point in time.
So thank you all very, very much.
 
 

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