United States Institute of Peace

The Iran Primer

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Sanctions: What the US Cedes for a Deal

            Since 2006, the United States has imposed more sanctions on Iran than any other country, so it may have to cede the most ground to get a nuclear deal in 2014. Over the years, Republican and Democratic administrations have issued at least 16 executive orders, and Congress has passed 10 statutes imposing punitive sanctions. What does Tehran want? What are the six major powers considering as incentives—and what isn’t on the table? What will the White House and Congress separately have to do to lift them? The following are the main points from an expert panel assembled by eight Washington think tanks held July 8 at the U.S. Institute of Peace.

Suzanne Maloney
Senior Fellow, The Brookings Institution
·      Sanctions have significantly contracted Iran’s economy and led to product shortages as well as rising inflation and increasing unemployment. Factories have been shut down.
·      Financial measures have constricted Iran’s ability to repatriate oil revenues, to sell oil abroad and deal with the international financial system generally.
·      Sanctions have had an indirect but serious impact on the pocketbooks of ordinary Iranians and on government revenues.
·      The unprecedented impact of sanctions during the past four years may have led to some overly ambitious understandings of what such punitive measures can achieve.
·      Under sanctions, Iran’s trade is largely restricted to bartering, mostly with countries with which it has significant oil revenue deposits because of the difficulty in repatriating revenues. Iran wants access to its revenues in banks worldwide and the ability to use the SWIFT electronic payments system.
·      Iran is unlikely to receive everything it wants on sanctions relief. Relief would be directly linked to concessions on the nuclear issue and fulfillment of commitments.
·      A nuclear deal would not likely alter the embargo on U.S. business with Iran, which mainly dates from the Clinton era. Sanctions have been applied for many reasons other than the nuclear issue and in many cases predate it.
·      So even in the best circumstances, and only gradually over time, the sanctions regime would end up applying very disproportionately to American businesses while international businesses would have more freedom to transact with Iran.
·      Iran knows how to get around sanctions, but it does not know the complex legalities of them as well as the United States. 
·      The length of a deal is a potential sleeper issue. Iran wants sanctions lifted as soon as possible. But the world’s six major powers —Britain, China, France, Germany, Russia and the United States — want to lift sanctions gradually and extend the time period covered by a deal.
Kenneth Katzman
Specialist in Middle East Affairs, Congressional Research Service
·      Separating nuclear-related sanctions from others tied to Iran’s support for terrorism and human rights violations is incredibly difficult. All U.S. sanctions are closely interrelated.
·      Iran likely wants all sanctions that were aimed at bringing it to the negotiating table lifted or suspended, basically all sanctions imposed since U.N. Security Council Resolution 1929. Sanctions were ratcheted up dramatically after it was passed in June 2010.
·      Iran will almost certainly demand that the ceiling on its oil exports be lifted. The sanctions contained in the 2012 National Defense Authorization Act cut Iran’s exports down to one million barrels a day from about 2.5 million barrels a day.
·      Iran needs financial, oil, gas, and shipping sanctions lifted at the same time so that it can sell to foreign countries and repatriate revenues.
·      If the two sides come to an agreement, President Obama would likely suspend sanctions using his waiver authority. Almost all of the sanctions laws, due to the constitutional separation of powers, give the president the ability to suspend them. He must certify that suspension is in the national interest, and many of the laws stipulate other certifications.
·      One question about suspending sanctions is whether the president can preemptively issue a blanket waiver that would apply in case of future violations. Current law allows a presidential waiver once a violation has occurred.
·      A precedent for automatically waiving sanctions does exist. In 1998, European companies Total and Petronas were involved in a project to develop Iran’s South Pars gas field that was determined to be in violation of U.S. sanctions. The European Union threatened to take the United States to the World Trade Organization and file a case. They settled the issue by agreeing that if the European Union cooperates with the United States on opposing Iran’s proliferation activities and support for terrorism, all subsequent similar E.U. projects would be waived.
·      After a year or more of compliance with a deal on Iran’s part, it may ask for permanent relief, which would require Congress to repeal or rewrite sanctions laws.

Elizabeth Rosenberg
Senior Fellow and Director of Energy, Environment and Security Program, Center for a New American Security
·      Iran is an attractive business investment opportunity with a well-educated and relatively young population of 80 million. Its large middle class is interested in buying foreign consumer goods. And it has the world’s fourth-largest proven oil reserves and second-largest natural gas reserves.
·      Iran has been courting investors, hosting foreign trade delegations and sending people abroad to discuss new business opportunities. Sanctions relief under a comprehensive nuclear deal could be a game changer for Iran’s economy.
·      International businesses, however, would not likely flood Iran the day after a deal for five key reasons:
1)      Businesses and investors would hesitate unless they are convinced that an agreement will hold and that Iran’s government will enforce it over time.
2)      The sanctions regime would not immediately evaporate the day after a deal. Nuclear sanctions would be lifted gradually, and sanctions for terrorism support, human rights violations and attempts at regional destabilization would stay in place. Also, compliance  is complicated for companies because a range of measures apply to various private and government entities in Iran.
3)      Violating sanctions is expensive and damaging to reputations of international companies. In June, French bank BNP had to pay $9 billion for sanctions violations and agree to cease U.S. dollar clearing activities for a period of time. HSBC had to pay $1.9 billion in 2012. 

4)      Iran presents a challenging business environment. Corruption is widespread. The government would need to make changes to its investment and regulatory regimes to be hospitable to international investors. Relationships would take time to be rebuilt.
5)      Congress could undermine a potential deal by either rejecting an agreement or by imposing new sanctions not related to the nuclear issue. Tehran would likely interpret any new sanctions as ill will aimed at sabotaging a deal.
·      The private sector would prefer a coordinated lifting of sanctions by the international community. For example, a company that conducts business in both Europe and the United States could risk losing its U.S. business by investing in Iran if the European Union lifts sanctions before the United States.
·      The so-called P5+1 powers should be careful to overpromise on sanctions relief. Underperformance by the private sector could create a credibility problem for the P5+1 if Iran does not feel the other side is fulfilling its obligations.
Robin Wright (Moderator and discussant)
Joint Fellow, U.S. Institute of Peace and the Woodrow Wilson Center for International Scholars
·      Sanctions have not had the same impact that they did during the 1980-1988 Iran-Iraq War, when the government was faced with huge shortages of gasoline, meat and other basic commodities. 
·      Enormous wealth still exists in some sectors. Porsche dealers in Tehran are selling 911 S Carreras for $300,000, and they cannot keep them in stock.
·      At the same time, Ahmadinejad did major damage to the economy— even though more than half of Iran’s oil revenues since the discovery of oil were earned under his presidency.
·      Mismanagement may have been just as important a factor as sanctions in ruining the economy.
·      The Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (recently renamed the Islamic State) may be a dark horse factor in negotiations. A circle of Salafi or Wahhabi militant organizations, including the Taliban, now surrounds Iran. Ironically, Tehran feels less secure after U.S. withdrawals from Afghanistan and Iraq.
            To assess this period of pivotal diplomacy, an unprecedented coalition of eight Washington think tanks and organizations is hosting discussions to coincide with the last rounds of talks.
            Click here for a rundown of the first event on the disparate issues to be resolved and the many formulations for potential solutions.
            Click here for a rundown of the second event on U.S.-Iran tensions over timetables and terms.
           The coalition includes the U.S. Institute of Peace, RAND, the Woodrow Wilson Center, the Arms Control Association, the Center for a New American Security, the Stimson Center, the Partnership for a Secure America, and the Ploughshares Fund.

Latest on Nuke Talks: What Iran, P5+1 Say

            Leaders from Iran and the six major powers have indicated that significant gaps remain between the two sides in the run-up to the July 20 deadline for a nuclear deal. Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei has insisted that Iran would need to expand its uranium enrichment program to satisfy its long-term energy needs. Enrichment is one of the most divisive issues in the negotiations. French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius has also reported a difference in Russia’s approach compared to Britain, China, France, Germany and the United States’ positions. The following are excerpted remarks by officials on the Vienna nuclear talks, which began on July 3.

Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei
            “As for nuclear issue, the other side is pressuring Iran to be content with the least. In negotiations, the country’s future needs should be considered. We trust the nuclear negotiating team; they will not allow encroaching on the nation’s rights.
            “On the issue of enrichment capacity, their [the West's] aim is make Iran accept 10,000 SWU (separative work units). Our officials say we need 190,000 SWU. We might not need this [capacity] this year or in the next two or five years but this is our absolute need and we need to meet this need."
             July 7, 2014 in a meeting with government officials
Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif
           “We haven’t resolved any problem, but we have made some important headway in probably removing some of the misconceptions and moving forward with making more serious decisions.”
            July 13, 2014 to the press            
            “Of course, we are not ready to achieve a solution at any cost. We insist on our rights and at the same time try to achieve an acceptable, dignified, logical, long-term and lasting solution.”
            July 9, 2014 according to Press TV

Iranian President Hassan Rouhani
           “We have a win-win strategy but if the enemy raises excessive demands, the world will know that the side which has raised excessive demands should merely be blamed for the possible failure of the negotiations.”
           July 7, 2014 in a meeting with Supreme Leader Khamenei

Chief of Iran’s Atomic Energy Organization Ali Akbar Salehi
            “Our needs for an agreed time frame, for the next eight years, to secure annual fuel for Bushehr nuclear power plant, is approximately 190,000 SWU, so that after the end of the contract with Russia, fuel for this power plant, the Tehran research center and the Arak reactor is secure.
            “We don’t define the enrichment needs on the basis of the number of centrifuge machines, but based on their units, meaning we define it by its SWU. It is based on the type of centrifuge machine to see how much centrifuge machines equals 190,000 SWU.
“If the capacity of each centrifuge is three SWU, approximately 60,000 centrifuges are needed. If the ability of each centrifuge is 10 SWU, we need 19,000 centrifuges. If the machines of the centrifuge from our latest generation have the ability of 24 SWU, we need less than 10,000 centrifuges.”
            July 8, 2014 to Iranian news agencies (translation via Al Monitor)
French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius
            “We had some profound discussions on the Iranian nuclear issue but we still don't have an agreement. We will continue talking but I think these discussions were useful.”
          July 13, 2014 to the press
            “Until now the P5+1 (six powers) were homogenous, but over the last few days my representatives in the negotiations have seen a certain number of different approaches - and I hope they won't remain - between some of the P5+1 and our Russian partners.
            “We want to preserve the unity among the P5+1 because that is how we reached a deal before.”
            July 8, 2014 to parliament
British Foreign Minister William Hague
            “Achieving an agreement is far from certain. Significant differences remain ... which are yet to be bridged. But I am convinced that the current negotiations are the best opportunity we have had in years to resolve this issue.”
            June 10, 2014 in an interview with Austrian newspaper Wiener Zeitung
E.U. spokesperson Michael Mann
            The group of six major powers “has been united and is still united. We are working very hard, we are working on drafting the text. But there are still obvious, serious gaps to close and we are determined to work hard to try and close those gaps.”
            E.U. foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton is “thinking about when to engage the ministers as we move the process forward. It would be an opportunity to take stock of where we are in the process.”
            June 9, 2014 to reporters
Russian Foreign Ministry spokesperson
            “The discussions are extremely difficult but on the face of it there is some progress. We hope to work out a final text of the agreement - despite all the difficulties - by the July 20 deadline.”
            July 10, 2014 in a news conference

Chinese Deputy Foreign Minister Li Baodong
“We urge all the parties to show their flexibility and a political will to reach an agreement as soon as possible and also we have hope… that we can achieve that...of course we have some difficulties, some hurdles so that is why we have to work together and in the spirit of cooperation and mutual respect.”
            July 13, 2014 to the press


German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier
            “We discussed all proposals today once again. The main thing is for everyone on the part of the P5+1 who conducts talks to work out a single position and reach out with it to Iran. It happened today.
           “It is time when an agreement could be struck for the decade of talks.”
           July 14, 2014 according to press

Congress Asks Obama for Consultation on Iran

            On July 10, House Foreign Affairs Committee Chief Ed Royce (R-CA) and the Committee’s Ranking Member Eliot Engel (D-NY), along with 342 other House Members, sent a letter to President Obama emphasizing that any permanent sanctions relief for Iran would require congressional approval. The letter called for closer consultation as the July 20 deadline for a nuclear deal approaches. The following is the full text of the letter with a link to the list of signers.

Dear Mr. President:
Iran’s nuclear program poses a grave threat to the national security of the United States and our allies. As the July 20th deadline for a “comprehensive solution” to prevent Iran from acquiring a nuclear weapon approaches, we urge greater consultation with Congress on a potential sanctions relief package that may be part of a final agreement.
Our two branches of government have long been partners in working to prevent Iran from acquiring a nuclear weapons capability. However, as these hugely consequential national security decisions are made, greater cooperation between Congress and the Executive Branch is essential, given that any permanent sanctions relief demands congressional approval.
When asked if your Administration would come to Congress to secure legislative relief of sanctions in a final agreement with Iran, in a recent Congressional hearing, Secretary of State John Kerry responded: “(w)ell, of course. We would be obligated to under the law.” He added that “what we do will have to pass muster with Congress.” We strongly agree with the Secretary’s assessment, and believe the final agreement must verifiably ensure that Iran is denied an undetectable nuclear weapons breakout capability.
Your Administration has committed to comprehensively lifting “nuclear-related” sanctions as part of a final P5+1 agreement with Tehran. Yet the concept of an exclusively defined “nuclear-related” sanction on Iran does not exist in U.S. law. Almost all sanctions related to Iran’s nuclear program are also related to Tehran’s advancing ballistic missile program, intensifying support for international terrorism, and other unconventional weapons programs. Similarly, many of these sanctions are aimed at preventing Iranian banks involved in proliferation, terrorism, money laundering and other activities from utilizing the U.S. and global financial systems to advance these destructive policies.
Iran's permanent and verifiable termination of all of these activities - not just some - is a prerequisite for permanently lifting most congressionally-mandated sanctions. This often unnoted reality necessitates extensive engagement with Congress before offers of relief are made to Iran, and requires Congressional action if sanctions are to be permanently lifted. With the July 20 negotiating deadline on the near horizon, we hope that your Administration will now engage in substantive consultations with Congress on the scope of acceptable sanctions relief.
It would be wise for Congress and the Executive Branch to work closely together to end the threat that Iran’s efforts to acquire a nuclear weapons capability pose to U.S. national security. We look forward to working constructively with your Administration on a solution to the Iranian nuclear threat. Thank you for your attention to our concerns.
Click here for a list of signers.

Sanctions Factsheet: What the US Cedes

            Sanctions have been the policy tool of choice used by six presidents to deal with Iran. Since the 1979 revolution, the White House has issued at least 16 executive orders, and Congress has passed ten statutes imposing punitive sanctions on Iran in four waves, according to Ali Vaez, of the International Crisis Group, in The Iran Primer.

·         The first wave of U.S. sanctions, from 1979 to 1995, was a response to the U.S. embassy hostage crisis and Tehran’s support for extremist groups in the region.
·         The second wave of sanctions, from 1995 to 2006, sought to weaken the Islamic Republic by targeting its oil and gas industry and denying it access to nuclear and missile technology. U.S. sanctions also targeted any company in a third country that invested in Iran’s energy sector, a move to compel allies to adopt a unified stance against Iran.
·         The third wave, from 2006 to 2010, was imposed chiefly due to concerns over Tehran’s nuclear ambitions, but also included punitive measures for Iran’s human rights violations.
·         The latest wave of sanctions, since 2010 includes, some of the toughest restrictions the United States has ever imposed on any country. They target Iran’s Central Bank and its ability to repatriate oil revenues as well as many transportation, insurance, manufacturing and financial sectors.
            The first two waves of sanctions were unilaterally imposed by Washington. But the last two included similar measures imposed by U.S. allies and the United Nations, generating almost a global sanctions regime against Iran. Many U.S. sanctions are tied to Iran’s non-nuclear policies, such as human rights abuses and support for terrorism. 
Quick Factoids: Sanctions Impact
·         U.S. and E.U. sanctions have cost Iran over $100 billion in lost sales since 2011. Treasury Undersecretary David S. Cohen April 2014
·         Iran’s economy contracted by about six percent in 2013 and is expected to perform badly in 2014 as well. Treasury Undersecretary David S. Cohen April 2014
·         Sanctions have cut oil export earnings by more than 60 percent since 2011. State Department Undersecretary Wendy Sherman February 2014
·         Oil revenues plummeted from $100 billion in 2011 to $35 billion in 2013.  Kenneth Katzman, Congressional Research Service   May 2014
·         Iran’s currency, the rial, has lost about 60 percent of its value since 2011. State Department briefing November 2013
Congressional Sanctions
·         The Iran-Iraq Arms Nonproliferation Act of 1992: Sanctions foreign countries that transfer goods or technology that knowingly contribute to Iran acquiring chemical, biological, nuclear or advanced conventional weapons.
·         Iran Sanctions Act of 1996: Sanctions investment in Iran’s energy sector. (Amended and expanded since then.)
·         Iran Nonproliferation Act of 2000: Sanctions foreign individuals and entities helping Iran with developing weapons of mass of destruction.
·         Iran Freedom Support Act of 2006: Sanctions entities that contribute to Iran’s ability to acquire chemical, biological or nuclear weapons. 
·         Comprehensive Iran Sanctions, Accountability, and Divestment Act of 2010: Sanctions sale of gasoline and gasoline production equipment to Iran, sanctions banks that transact with the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps, and blacklists individuals involved with human rights abuses related to the crackdown on protestors following the June 2009 presidential election.
·         Iran-Syria-North Korea Nonproliferation Act of 2011: Sanctions entities and individuals supporting weapons of mass destruction or cruise or ballistic missile programs.
·         Section 311 of the USA Patriot Act: Identifies Iran as a jurisdiction of primary money laundering concern and prohibits the opening or maintaining of correspondent accounts by any domestic financial institution or agency for or on behalf of a foreign banking institution, if the account involves Iran.
·         National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2012: Sanctions foreign banks that transact with Iran’s Central Bank. Exemptions can be issued to banks whose parent countries have substantially curtailed purchases of Iranian oil.
·         Iran Threat Reduction and Syria Human Rights Act of 2012: Expands sanctions on foreign banks dealing in Iran’s energy sector and on entities involved with human rights abuses in Syria
·         National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2013: Expands sanctions on energy, shipping and shipbuilding sectors for ties to proliferation activities.
White House Executive Orders
Executive Order 12170 (November 1979): Declares a national emergency related to the events of 1979 and blocks Iranian government property subject to U.S. jurisdiction.
Executive Order 12957 (March 1995): Prohibits persons under U.S. jurisdiction from entering into certain transactions with respect to Iranian petroleum resources.
Executive Order 12959 (May 1995): Expands national emergency set forth in E.O. 12957 and prohibits entering into new investment with Iran. Food and medical products are exempt.
Executive Order 13059 (August 1997): Prohibits most imports from Iran, exports to Iran, new investment, transactions relating to Iran-origin goods regardless of their location.
Executive Order 13224 (September 2001): Declares a national emergency in aftermath of September 11, and blocks property and prohibits transactions with persons who commit, threaten to commit, or support terrorism.
Executive Order 13382 (June 2005): Expands national emergency set forth in E.O. 12938; blocks property of WMD proliferators and their supporters.
Executive Order 13553 (September 2010): Expands national emergency set forth in E.O. 12957; blocks property of certain persons with respect to human rights abuses by the government of Iran. Generates a list of designated individuals for whom property under U.S. jurisdiction is blocked. Imposes sanctions on those who enter into transactions with designated individuals.
Executive Order 13572 (April 2011): Blocks property of the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps for human rights abuses in Syria.
Executive Order 13574 (May 2011): Expands national emergency set forth in E.O. 12957; implements new sanctions added to ISA. Prohibits U.S. financial institutions from making loans or credits, or engaging in foreign exchange transactions. Prohibits imports from, and blocks property of, sanctioned persons.
Executive Order 13590 (November 2011): Expands national emergency set forth in E.O. 12957; blocks property of those who trade in goods, services, technology, or support for Iran’s energy and petrochemical sectors. Prohibits Ex-Im Bank from entering into transactions with sanctioned persons. Requires Federal Reserve to deny goods and services. Prohibits U.S. financial institutions from making most loans or credits.
Executive Order 13599 (February 2012): Expands national emergency set forth in E.O. 12957; blocks property of the government of Iran and Iranian financial institutions, including the Central Bank of Iran.
Executive Order 13606 (April 2012): Expands national emergency set forth in E.O. 12957; blocks property and suspends entry into the U.S of Iranian and Syrian officials engaged in human rights abuses.
Executive Order 13608 (May 2012): Expands national emergency set forth in E.O. 12957; prohibits transactions with and suspends entry into the U.S. foreign sanctions evaders.
Executive Order 13622 (July 2012): Expands national emergency set forth in E.O. 12957; authorizes sanctions on foreign financial institutions that finance activities with National Iranian Oil Company. Prohibits Ex-Im Bank financing, designation as a primary dealer of U.S. debt instruments, access to U.S. financial institutions. Blocks property, denies imports and exports.
Executive Order 13628 (October 2012): Expands national emergency set forth in E.O. 12957. Further prohibits U.S. financial institutions from making loans or credits, foreign exchange transactions, and transfers or credits between financial institutions. Blocks property of those who deal in equity or debt instruments of a sanctioned person. Prohibits imports, exports. Extends sanctions to other officers of sanctioned entities. Blocks property affiliated with human rights abusers. Denies access to certain financing tools, property, and imports, if one engaged in expansion of Iran’s refined petroleum sector. Blocks entry into the U.S. of those engaged in human rights abuses.

Executive Order 13645 (June 2013): Expands national emergency in E.O. 12957; imposes restrictions on foreign financial institutions engaged in transactions relating to, or maintaining accounts dominated by, Iran’s currency. Prohibits opening or maintaining U.S.-based payable-through correspondent accounts. Blocks property under U.S. jurisdiction. Imposes restrictions on those, including foreign financial institutions, found to be materially assisting in any way an Iran-related specially designated natinoal. Imposes restrictions on those found to engage in transactions related to Iran’s petroleum or related products. Requires the Secretary of State to impose restrictions on financing (Federal Reserve, Ex-Im Bank, commercial banks) on those found to engage in significant transactions related to Iran’s automotive sector. Blocks property of those found to have engaged in diversion of goods and services intended for Iran’s people.
4 United Nations resolutions
UNSC Resolution 1737 (December 2006)
UNSC Council Resolution 1747 (March 2007)
UNSC Council Resolution 1803 (March 2008)
UNSC Council Resolution 1929 (June 2010)
            The four Security Council resolutions include the following sanctions:
·         Imposing asset freezes on individuals and companies for involvement in ballistic missile programs and nuclear programs.
·         Imposing asset freezes on individuals, companies and banks affiliated with the Revolutionary Guards.
·         Requires states to prohibit procurement of arms and related material from Iran and require states to restrict supply of specified arms and combat equipment to Iran.
·         Calls on states to exercise vigilance in entering new public financial support commitments with Iran.
·         Calls on states to exercise vigilance over Iranian bank transactions in their territories.
Tags: Sanctions

Kerry & Zarif: Rivaling Op-eds on Nuke Talks

            Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif and Secretary of State John Kerry have published rival op-eds in the run-up to another round of nuclear talks scheduled for July 2 to 20. Zarif highlighted the “unique opportunity” to strike a deal with the world’s six major powers. But he also warned against maximalist demands by the opposite side that could jeopardize the talks. “I appeal for these illusions not to derail a process that could put an end to a pointless crisis,” Zarif wrote in French daily Le Monde. In a YouTube video message, Zarif also warned against “pursuing a game of chicken in an attempt to extract last minute concessions.” The two sides must reach an agreement before July 20 or agree to extend the negotiating period for six months.

      Secretary Kerry framed the talks in terms of two choices for Iran’s leaders. “They can agree to the steps necessary to assure the world that their country's nuclear program will be exclusively peaceful and not be used to build a weapon," he wrote in The Washington Post. Or “they can squander a historic opportunity to end Iran's economic and diplomatic isolation and improve the lives of their people.”
      On July 2, British Foreign Secretary William Hague also warned that the world’s six major powers “will not accept a deal at any price” in a statement. The following are excerpts from Zarif and Kerry’s op-eds with a transcript of Zarif’s video message and transcript Hague’s statement.

Transcript of video message "We Can Make History"
            In the next three weeks, we have a unique opportunity to make history: To forge a comprehensive agreement over Iran's nuclear energy program; and to end an unnecessary crisis that has distracted us from addressing together our common challenges, such as the horrifying events of past few weeks in Iraq.
            We could have resolved the nuclear issue in 2005. But then, people didn't believe me when I said that Iranians are allergic to pressure.
            The Bush administration torpedoed the deal by demanding that we abandon enrichment, altogether. They then opted for pressure and sanctions. For 8 years.
            The sanctions were crippling -- even deadly; literally.
            Iranian cancer patients could not buy medicine with their own money, because banks around the world had been bullied by the US Treasury to avoid transferring Iranian funds.
            But sanctions did not cripple our nuclear program.
            Neither did the murder of our nuclear scientists, the sabotage of our nuclear facilities - with potentially disastrous environmental ramifications - or the repeated military threats.
In fact, they achieved exactly the opposite:
            Insisting on no enrichment resulted in a 100-fold increase in our centrifuges: from less than 200 to almost 20,000;
            Refusing to sell fuel for our American-built research reactor, forced us to produce our own fuel by increasing enrichment levels: from 3.5% to 20%.
            Depriving Iranian cancer patients from medical radio-isotopes, compelled us to build a heavy water reactor, going from an idea then to a full-fledged plant, to be commissioned soon; and
            Threats to bomb our nuclear facilities out of existence, obliged us to build Fordow, which is protected by our mountains.
            Western governments cried foul, ignoring that they had brought this upon themselves.
            As we approach July 20th, I feel compelled to warn again that pursuing a game of chicken in an attempt to extract last minute concessions cannot achieve anything better than what it achieved in 2005.
            To those who continue to believe that sanctions brought Iran to the negotiating table, I can only say that pressure has been tried for the past 8 years, in fact for the past 35 years.
            It didn't bring the Iranian people to kneel in submission. And it will not now nor in the future. We still have time to exit this spiral of escalation.Try mutual respect. It works. We are trying to reach a deal. Not a good deal or a bad deal, but a doable and lasting deal. And any deal, by definition, is the outcome of mutual understanding—not imposition by one side or the other.
            We are willing to take concrete measures to guarantee that our nuclear program will always remain peaceful.
            We still have time to put an end to the myth that Iran is seeking to build a bomb. And we're backed by over 250 years of non-aggression to substantiate our assertion.
            My government remains committed to ending this unnecessary crisis by July 20th. I hope my counterparts are, too.
Excerpts from Foreign Miniser Zarif’s Op-ed in Le Monde
            Today we have got a unique opportunity for talks with the P5+1. But it is to regret that there are still some on the opposite side who would not stop dreaming.
            There is this political will to reach a comprehensive, long-term solution that is respected by both sides. But the negotiations can only become successful when the entire parties dedicate themselves to finding acceptable procedures which would be in agreement with the interim deal, that is, to guarantee that Iran’s nuclear program is exclusively peaceful as well as to remove the entire Security Council sanctions and the multilateral and national sanctions related to Iran’s nuclear program.
            We are willing to guarantee that our nuclear program is exclusively peaceful. But we will not compromise our technical advancement or our scientists.
            No one can go back in time. There has been sacrifice made. Today abilities have changed greatly than the past. There is know-how and expertise come by none of which could be forgotten. Pressure and sanctions have also proved ineffective.
            I appeal for these illusions not to derail a process that could put an end to a pointless crisis.
(Translation via the Young Journalists Club and AFP)
Excerpts from Secretary of State Kerry’s Op-ed in The Washington Post
            All along, these negotiations have been about a choice for Iran’s leaders. They can agree to the steps necessary to assure the world that their country’s nuclear program will be exclusively peaceful and not be used to build a weapon, or they can squander a historic opportunity to end Iran’s economic and diplomatic isolation and improve the lives of their people.
            Diplomacy and leadership are marked by tough calls. This shouldn’t be one of them.
            Iranian officials have stated repeatedly and unambiguously that they have no intention of building a nuclear weapon and that their nuclear activities are designed solely to fulfill civilian needs. Assuming that’s true, it’s not a hard proposition to prove.
            The United States and our partners have demonstrated to Iran how serious we are. During the negotiations to reach the Joint Plan of Action, we extended our hand to the Iranians and met with them directly to understand what Iran wanted from its nuclear program. Along with our international partners, we helped chart a path that would allow Iran to have a domestic program for exclusively peaceful purposes. We proved that we were flexible in offering financial relief.
            Throughout these talks, Iran’s negotiators have been serious. Iran has also defied the expectations of some by meeting its obligations under the Joint Plan of Action, which has allowed time and space for the comprehensive negotiations to proceed. Specifically, Iran has been eliminating its stockpile of higher levels of enriched uranium, limited its enrichment capability by not installing or starting up additional centrifuges, refrained from making further advances at its enrichment facilities and heavy-water reactor, and allowed new and more frequent inspections. In exchange, the European Union and the P5+1 have provided limited financial relief to Iran, even as the architecture of international sanctions and the vast majority of sanctions themselves remained firmly in place.
            Now Iran must choose. During the comprehensive negotiations, the world has sought nothing more than for Iran to back up its words with concrete and verifiable actions. We have, over the past several months, proposed a series of reasonable, verifiable and easily achievable measures that would ensure Iran cannot obtain a nuclear weapon and that its program is limited to peaceful purposes. In return, Iran would be granted phased relief from nuclear-related sanctions.
            What will Iran choose? Despite many months of discussion, we don’t know yet. We do know that substantial gaps still exist between what Iran’s negotiators say they are willing to do and what they must do to achieve a comprehensive agreement. We also know that their public optimism about the potential outcome of these negotiations has not been matched, to date, by the positions they have articulated behind closed doors.
            These gaps aren’t caused by excessive demands on our part. On the contrary, the E.U. and P5+1 negotiators have listened closely to Iran’s questions and concerns and showed flexibility to the extent possible consistent with our fundamental goals for this negotiation. We have worked closely with Iran to design a pathway for a program that meets all of the requirements for peaceful, civilian purposes.
            There remains a discrepancy, however, between Iran’s professed intent with respect to its nuclear program and the actual content of that program to date. The divide between what Iran says and what it has done underscores why these negotiations are necessary and why the international community united to impose sanctions in the first place.
            Iran’s claim that the world should simply trust its words ignores the fact that the International Atomic Energy Agency has reported since 2002 on dozens of violations by Iran of its international nonproliferation obligations, starting in the early 1980s. The U.N. Security Council responded by adopting four resolutions under Chapter VII, requiring Iran to take steps to address these violations. These issues cannot be dismissed; they must be addressed by the Iranians if a comprehensive solution is to be reached. These are not just the expectations of any one country, but of the community of nations.
            To gain relief from sanctions, the world is simply asking Iran to demonstrate that its nuclear activities are what it claims them to be.
            If Iran is able to make these choices, there will be positive outcomes for the Iranian people and for their economy. Iran will be able to use its significant scientific know-how for international civil nuclear cooperation. Businesses could return to Iran, bringing much needed investment, jobs and many additional goods and services. Iran could have greater access to the international financial system. The result would be an Iranian economy that begins to grow at a significant and sustainable pace, boosting the standard of living among the Iranian population. If Iran is not ready to do so, international sanctions will tighten and Iran’s isolation will deepen.
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British Foreign Secretary Hague's July 2 statement

            “This is a crucial moment in international efforts to resolve one of the most challenging foreign policy issues of our day. The UK is fully committed to reaching an agreement which ensures Iran’s nuclear programme is exclusively peaceful. To achieve this, Iran will need to be realistic about the steps required to resolve the international community’s serious concerns about its nuclear programme. We will not accept a deal at any price. A deal that does not provide sufficient assurances that Iran will not develop a nuclear weapon is not in the interests of the UK, the region or the international community.
            “Achieving an agreement is far from certain. Significant differences remain between the E3+3 and Iran which are yet to be bridged. But I am convinced that the current negotiations are the best opportunity we have had in years to resolve this issue. Over the next three weeks, an intensive effort will be required by all sides. We will continue to work closely with our E3+3 partners to test to the full the scope for achieving the deal the international community requires. The benefits of a comprehensive deal for Iran are clear: if Iran is willing to take the steps needed, significant economic benefits will follow. Ultimately, this would lead to the lifting of all nuclear related sanctions and Iran being treated like any other non-nuclear weapons state.”


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