United States Institute of Peace

The Iran Primer

The Final Deal: Congress Reacts

The announcement of a final nuclear deal on July 14 prompted mixed reactions from members of Congress. House Speaker John Boehnor (R-OH) said, "if in fact it’s as bad a deal as I think it is at this moment, we’ll do everything we can to stop it.” Senate minority whip Richard Durbin (D-IL), however, said "I commend our negotiators for this critical effort. Finding a diplomatic solution will make our country, our allies, and the world a safer place.”

Once the official document is delivered to Congress, lawmakers will have 60 days to review the agreement, according to the Iran Nuclear Agreement Review Act that was signed into law in May. If lawmakers disapprove, they can pass a resolution to block the deal from being implemented. President Obama, however, has said he will veto any efforts to block the deal. Congress would then need a two-thirds majority to override the veto.

The following are excerpted remarks from lawmakers on the final nuclear deal.

Leadership
 
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY)
 
“The comprehensive nuclear agreement announced today appears to further the flawed elements of April’s interim agreement because the Obama Administration approached these talks from a flawed perspective: reaching the best deal acceptable to Iran, rather than actually advancing our national goal of ending Iran's nuclear program. 
 
“The Senate must now weigh why a nuclear agreement should result in reduced pressure on the world's leading state sponsor of terror. We’ll hold hearings and examine the agreement, including several aspects that are particularly integral to understanding what concessions the Iranians were able to secure from the Obama Administration...The test of the agreement should be whether it leaves our country and our allies safer.”
—July 14, 2015, in a statement
 
Senate Majority Whip John Cornyn (R-TX)
 
“From the beginning there has been bipartisan concern with how the Obama Administration has approached these negotiations. Iran has done nothing to demonstrate to the American people that we should trust them. Unfortunately, this deal abandons longstanding U.S. policy to prevent Iran from acquiring a nuclear weapon in favor of one that merely delays it.
 
“While the Obama Administration might think any deal is better than no deal, allowing Iran a clear path to develop nuclear weapons would sacrifice sound policy for a short-sighted political victory for the President. Thanks to a strong bipartisan vote earlier this year, we will now put this deal under the microscope on behalf of the American people, and if it jeopardizes our national security interests, Congress may have no choice but to vote it down.”
—July 14, 2015, in a statement
 
Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV)
 
“Today’s historic accord is the result of years of hard work by President Barack Obama and his administration. The world community agrees that a nuclear-armed Iran is unacceptable and a threat to our national security, the safety of Israel and the stability of the Middle East. Now it is incumbent on Congress to review this agreement with the thoughtful, level-headed process an agreement of this magnitude deserves.”
—July 14, 2015, in a statement
 
Senate Minority Whip Richard Durbin (D-IL)
 
“The United States, working with our allies, has reached a historic agreement with Iran that, according to President Obama and Secretary Kerry, will prevent Iran from obtaining a nuclear weapon. I commend our negotiators for this critical effort. Finding a diplomatic solution will make our country, our allies, and the world a safer place.”
—July 14, 2015, in a statement
 
Democratic Policy Committee Chair and Senate Banking Committee Member Charles Schumer (D-NY)
 
“Over the coming days, I intend to go through this agreement with a fine-tooth comb, speak with administration officials, and hear from experts on all sides. I supported legislation ensuring that Congress would have time and space to review the deal, and now we must use it well. Supporting or opposing this agreement is not a decision to be made lightly, and I plan to carefully study the agreement before making an informed decision.”
—July 14, 2015, in a statement
 
House Speaker John Boehner (R-OH)
 
“You know, at the outset of the Iran negotiations, the Obama administration said that a good deal would affirm that Iran does not have the right to enrich. They also said that keeping sanctions in place until Iran met concrete, verifiable standards. And, they believed that they had to stop Iran’s drive for a nuclear bomb. 
 
“Listen, the president has abandoned all of those goals, and that’s why the deal that we have out there, in my view, from what I know of it thus far, is unacceptable. It’s going to hand a dangerous regime billions of dollars in sanctions relief while paving the way for a nuclear Iran.
 
“This isn’t about Democrats or Republicans. It’s not a partisan issue at all. It’s about right versus wrong. And we’re going to do everything we can to get to the details. And, if in fact it’s as bad a deal as I think it is at this moment, we’ll do everything we can to stop it.”
—July 14, 2015, in a statement
 
House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-CA)
 
“As I—and the President—have said before, no deal that allows Iran to get nuclear weapons is acceptable. A nuclear Iran would put America and our allies at grave risk. Congress intends to thoroughly review this deal, as provided for in the Iran Nuclear Agreement Review Act. The details are critical to understanding what concessions this Administration has made and how damaging they will be to U.S. national security interests around the world. Nothing in the deal announced today eliminates Iran’s ability to eventually become a nuclear threshold power. It just delays the day and rewards the Iranians with billions of dollars in sanctions relief until that day comes.
 
“This Administration has said repeatedly that no deal is better than a bad deal. Now, they must be held accountable. We already know that as a result of this deal, the U.S. and our allies will be forced to confront a richer, more resilient Iran that will continue its quest for regional hegemony. Congress must and will take time to properly review this deal, but early reports are gravely disconcerting."
—July 14, 2015, in a statement
 
House Majority Whip Steve Scalise (R-LA)
 
“The Obama Administration wanted a deal with Iran at any cost, and they got one -- at a dangerous cost. In their rush to strike a deal, the only thing they have managed to accomplish is to build upon the concessions granted in April’s deeply flawed nuclear framework with Iran. I was strongly opposed to the Obama Administration’s capitulation to Iran in April and I remain so today. Iran is a rogue regime that sponsors terror, threatens the security of America and our ally Israel, and works to destabilize the entire Middle East region. Congress has been crystal clear up to this point: Iran must not have the capability to develop and build a nuclear weapon. This deal allows them to get up to the one yard line without cheating. If allowed to move forward, history will look back on this bad deal as the sanctioned beginning of Iran’s path to a nuclear weapon. I will do everything I can to fight the implementation of any deal that exposes Americans to unacceptable risks."
—July 14, 2015, in a statement
 
House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-CA)
 
“The historic nuclear agreement announced today is the product of years of tough, bold and clear-eyed leadership from President Obama. I commend the President for his strength throughout the historic negotiations that have led to this point. I join him in commending Secretary Kerry and Secretary Moniz for their leadership.
 
“A nuclear-armed Iran is unacceptable to the United States, unacceptable to Israel, and unacceptable to the world. Aggressive restrictions and inspections offer the best long-term plan to stop Iran from building a nuclear weapon. Congress will closely review the details of this agreement.
 
“We have no illusions about the Iranian regime – or the destabilizing influence Iran continues to have in the region. We must maintain our vigilance. All options remain on the table should Iran take any steps toward a nuclear weapon or deviate from the terms of this agreement.”
—July 14, 2015, in a statement

House Minority Whip Steny Hoyer (D-MD)
 
“With the announcement today of an agreement with Iran, it is now up to Members of Congress to work carefully through every detail, particularly given Iran’s likelihood to exploit any ambiguity or loophole to its benefit and to the detriment of the security of America, Israel, and our allies in Europe and the Gulf.  I have been very clear about what I believe must be included, and I will now be examining the agreement unveiled today to see if it meets those criteria.
 
“I am pleased that the White House worked with Senators Cardin and Corker to ensure that Congress will have the opportunity it deserves to review this agreement.  As Congress now turns to the business of examining this agreement with great scrutiny, I want to express my appreciation to the countless U.S. officials who have been working tirelessly on these negotiations.”
—July 14, 2015, in a statement
 
Committee Leaders
 
Senate Armed Services Committee Chairman John McCain (R-AZ)
 
“The most concerning concessions – on sanctions, sunset, inspections and verification, research and development, and Iran’s enrichment capability, among others – were made long ago. To those concessions, it now appears that the Administration has made still more, especially the repeal of the international arms embargo on Iran. The result, I fear, is that this agreement will strengthen Iran’s ability to acquire conventional weapons and ballistic missiles, while retaining an industrial scale nuclear program, without any basic change to its malign activities in the Middle East."
 
“Ultimately, the problem with this agreement is that it is built far too much on hope – on the belief that somehow the Iranian government will fundamentally change in the next several years, such that it can be trusted with a growing arsenal, a huge influx of cash, and the infrastructure of a nuclear program. This is delusional and dangerous, especially as we see Iran on the offensive in Iraq, Syria, Lebanon, Yemen, and elsewhere in the region. Instead, I fear this agreement could undermine the very goals we have maintained for 35 years – weakening the Islamic Republic, constraining its threatening influence, strengthening Israel and our Arab partners, lessening regional tensions, and preventing Iran from acquiring a nuclear weapons capability.”
—July 14, 2015, in a statement

Senate Armed Services Committee Ranking Member Jack Reed (D-RI)
 
“This agreement demonstrates the power of American-led diplomacy and establishes a strict and robust monitoring and verification system. If fully implemented, this deal will help control Iran’s pathways to a nuclear weapon.”
 
“As President Obama points out, the accord is not built on trust, but on verification. Any attempt by Iran to break the rules or covertly pursue nuclear weapons must be met with swift, forceful, and decisive action by the United States and the international community.
 
“In the weeks ahead, Congress has a solemn obligation to carefully review the details of this historic agreement and to independently confirm that we are meeting our common goal of stopping Iran from building a nuclear weapon and making our nation, and the world, a safer place.”
—July 14, 2015, in a statement
 
Senate Foreign Relations Committee Chairman Bob Corker (R-TN)
 
“I want to read the agreement in detail and fully understand it, but I begin from a place of deep skepticism that the deal actually meets the goal of preventing Iran from obtaining a nuclear weapon. In the coming days, Congress will need to scrutinize this deal and answer whether implementing the agreement is worth dismantling our painstakingly-constructed sanctions regime that took more than a decade to establish. Iran continues to be the lead sponsor of terrorism in the world and relieving sanctions would make the Tehran regime flush with cash and could create a more dangerous threat to the United States and its allies."
 
“Throughout these negotiations, I have expressed significant concerns to the administration about the crossing of red line after red line as we have moved from a goal of dismantling Iran’s nuclear capabilities to managing its proliferation."
—July 14, 2015, in a statement

Senate Foreign Relations Committee Ranking Member Ben Cardin (D-MD)
 
“It is in America’s national security interest that Iran is blocked from ever having a nuclear weapon. Congress has an obligation to vigorously and judiciously review the deal announced today with a seriousness of purpose. Negotiators have spent painstaking time and untold effort working on this accord. Congress in turn must fulfill its oversight responsibilities and conduct a thorough, rigorous, and evenhanded review. There is no trust when it comes to Iran. In our deliberations we need to ensure the negotiations resulted in a comprehensive, long-lasting, and verifiable outcome that also provides for snap-back of sanctions should Iran deviate from its commitments. Congress faces a solemn charge that I expect will be fulfilled to the best of our abilities and at the highest of standards beginning today.”
—July 14, 2015, in a statement
 
House Foreign Affairs Committee Chairman Ed Royce (R-CA) and
House Homeland Security Committee Chairman Michael McCaul (R-TX)
 
"Mr. President: Now that the five permanent members of the United Nations Security Council, Germany (the “P5+1”) and Iran have reached an agreement on the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, we write to urge you to delay any action by the United Nations Security Council to approve of the deal – including a significant weakening of the U.N. arms embargos on ballistic missiles and conventional weapons – until the Congressional review is complete.  Simply, the United States Congress should be given the opportunity to consider the final text of this hugely consequential agreement before action at the United Nations. 
 
Any U.S.-supported effort to lift UN sanctions before Congress has weighed-in on the terms of the agreement would undermine our oversight responsibilities and violate the spirit of the Iran Nuclear Agreement Review Act of 2015, which you signed into law.  It is distressing that your Administration would afford Russia and China the opportunity to vote on the final agreement before the American people’s representatives do.  The full 60 day review period and parliamentary procedures prescribed by the Iran Nuclear Agreement Review Act should be allowed to play out before action at the Security Council.   
 
Moreover, while we understand that you intend to veto any joint resolution of disapproval that Congress may send to your desk, it would be entirely inappropriate and divisive for your Administration to vote to lift UN-backed sanctions should Congress reject the final agreement and override a presidential veto to that effect."
—July 16, 2015, in a joint letter to President Obama
 
House Foreign Affairs Committee Ranking Member Eliot Engel (D-NY)
 
“When sanctions are eased, then Congress must use every tool at our disposal to prevent Iran from plowing its newfound wealth into violence and turmoil. Just last week, Syria’s President Assad accepted a $1billion line of credit from Iran to help sustain his murderous regime. Iran has transferred millions to Gaza in recent months, which will help Hamas rebuild the tunnels it uses to kidnap, kill, and terrorize Israelis. We need to make sure that a nuclear deal doesn’t make these problems worse.
 
“As Congress reviews this deal, we will have to consider what the alternatives are. We will not be choosing between this deal and a perfect deal. And if this deal goes through, Congress must be ready if Iran fails to comply with the agreement. In that case, we can’t only rely on snapback sanctions provided for in the agreement.   Congress should be ready to complement those provisions with increased pressure on Iran. A good starting point would be the Nuclear Free Iran Act, which Chairman Royce and I passed in the last Congress. This legislation would target Iran’s remaining oil exports, prevent access to its overseas reserves, and blacklist certain strategic sectors of the Iranian economy. The House passed this legislation by a vote of 400 to 20 in July 2013.
 
“If Iran fails to comply and the international sanctions regime collapses—and that’s a real possibility, given recent actions by Russia and China—we will have to consider the whole range of options if Iran races toward a bomb. A military strike would have severe consequences for our allies and interests in the region, and is by no means the only alternative to a deal. But a credible threat to destroy Iran’s nuclear program must remain on the table, as it always has been.”
—July 14, 2015, in a statement
 
House Armed Services Committee Chairman Mac Thornberry (R-TX)
 
"If Iran decides to build a nuclear weapon, this deal only extends the timeline for Iran to break-out by 9 months – and that assumes that the agreement is being implemented precisely by all parties, which is dubious when we know Iran failed to adhere to the terms of the interim deal. In exchange, Iran will receive billions in sanctions relief, a windfall to pursue its aggressive, destabilizing agenda in the region and beyond. Whatever the claimed gains we get from this deal, it clearly does not outweigh the risks to the security in the region and to the United States and its interests."
—July 14, 2015, in a statement
 
House Armed Services Committee Ranking Member Adam Smith (D-WA)
 
"I applaud the Administration for all of its hard work.  From the harsh sanctions that brought Iran to the table, to the strenuous and lengthy negotiations that have brought us to this point, the Administration has worked tirelessly to prevent Iran from obtaining a nuclear weapon. 
 
"I look forward to thoroughly reviewing the agreement announced today. We cannot let our desire for a deal allow us to accept a bad deal. And we cannot allow politics to stand in the way of a good deal. In the coming days, Congress will have the opportunity to scrutinize the deal presented today. It is my hope that Congress takes advantage of this time to honestly review the deal and determine whether it is in the best interest of the United States to move forward. This potential agreement comes on the heels of a long history of mistrust and cheating by Iran. Consolation with our allies and a strong inspections and verification regime will be vital to the success of this agreement.
—July 14, 2015, in a statement

House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence Chairman Devin Nunes (R-CA)
 
“The Obama administration has achieved the rare feat of uniting Israel with a wide array of Arab nations. Unfortunately, the issue that unites them is opposition to the Iran deal. I don’t know what information the Obama administration possesses that indicates this deal will actually prevent Iran from getting a nuclear weapon or will cause the mullahs to reduce their support for worldwide terrorism, but it sure isn’t the same intelligence we’re seeing in the Intelligence Committee. Iran has killed hundreds of U.S. soldiers, tried to conduct a terrorist attack in the United States, and is committed to annihilating Israel. This deal will guarantee Iran the capability to carry out its clear intent." 
—July 14, 2015, in a statement
 
House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence Ranking Member Adam Schiff (D-CA)
 
"As the terms and consequences of this agreement become clear during the period of Congressional review, I would urge my colleagues to give the measure the serious thought it deserves. If the agreement is flawed it should be rejected; at the same time, we must not compare the proposal to an ideal, but rather to any credible alternative. Will rejection of the deal lead to additional sanctions and an Iran willing to concede more, or to renewed enrichment and a path to war? These are the stakes and our decision should be made with sober thought and a minimum of partisan demagoguery."
—July 14, 2015, in a statement
 
Committee Members
 
Senate Armed Services Committee Member Roger Wicker (R-MS)
 
“I remain skeptical that the Iranian regime will cooperate with international inspectors and live up to its obligations. History has taught us that Iran does not make good on its word, going to great lengths to cover up and deceive the world about its nuclear ambitions and ballistic capabilities.
 
“This deal is not yet final. Congress and the American people now have the opportunity to review the agreement. Ultimately, preventing Iran from acquiring a nuclear weapon should be our top priority. I am deeply concerned that this arrangement does not achieve that vital national security goal.”
—July 14, 2015, in a statement
 
Senate Armed Services Committee and Foreign Relations Committee Member Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH)
 
“Throughout negotiations, I’ve been adamant that the United States must prevent Iran from obtaining a nuclear weapon and that hardnosed diplomacy is the preferred means of doing so. Earlier this year, Congress passed legislation, which I supported, that allows the House and Senate to consider this weighty agreement in all its detail. It is critical that Congress take the time necessary to conduct this review. My support for this deal hinges on whether we can verify that Iran’s paths to obtaining a nuclear weapon are thoroughly blocked. I want to congratulate Secretary Kerry, Secretary Moniz and the rest of the negotiating team for their tremendous persistence in reaching this agreement, and I look forward to a thorough review with my colleagues on the Foreign Relations Committee.”
—July 14, 2015, in a statement


Senate Foreign Relations Committee Member Ron Johnson (R-WI)
 
“I have often stated that I believe this negotiation was lost from the start when President Obama capitulated and agreed that Iran would not have to dismantle its nuclear program. Initial reports of the deal do not change my opinion. That said, I will carefully review the details before rendering my final judgment.”
—July 14, 2015, in a statement

 

Senate Foreign Relations Committee Member Barbara Boxer (D-CA)
 
"I look forward to robust hearings in the Senate Foreign Relations Committee and, if this agreement is what the Administration says it is, it is a major, historic diplomatic breakthrough."
—July 14, 2015, in a statement
 
Senate Banking Committee and Foreign Relations Committee Member Robert Menendez (D-NJ)
 
“This is an opportunity for Congress to exert its responsibility to review the agreement and I look forward to thoroughly analyzing the details when submitted because, in this case, how it is written has enormous consequences. But I’m concerned that the deal ultimately legitimizes Iran as a threshold-nuclear state. I’m concerned the redlines we drew have turned into green-lights; that Iran will be required only to limit rather than eliminate its nuclear program, while the international community will be required to lift the sanctions, and that it doesn’t provide for anytime-any-place inspections of suspected sites. The bottom line is: The deal doesn’t end Iran’s nuclear program – it preserves it.”
—July 14, 2015, in a statement

Senate Banking Committee Member Mark Kirk (R-IL)
 
“I am gravely concerned that the nuclear agreement will condemn the next generation to living with an Iranian nuclear power in the Persian Gulf and ultimately endanger the security of the United States, Israel, and other regional allies over the long term.
 
“This agreement will enrich and empower Iran, the world’s foremost sponsor of terrorism, because it will dismantle the international sanctions regime against Iran, give Iran back over $100 billion in frozen assets, and lift a U.N. arms embargo that has banned Iran from buying and selling conventional weapons and ballistic missiles.
 
“Worse, this agreement will pave Iran’s path to nuclear weapons because it requires Iran to take temporary and reversible steps that keep it at the threshold of acquiring nuclear weapons, and will allow Iran to obstruct and veto inspections at suspect nuclear facilities instead of imposing zero-notice nuclear inspections anytime and at any place in Iran, including military sites.”
—July 14, 2015, in a statement
 
Senate Banking Committee Member Dean Heller (R-NV)
 
“I have some serious reservations regarding the deal reached on Iran’s nuclear program and will review it carefully, as will the public. For more than three decades, America has stood up against Iran and implemented sanctions enacted by Congress to prevent them from further developing a nuclear weapon. Yet, this work may be unraveled by an agreement that crosses red lines the U.S. had previously set, putting our nation and its allies like Israel at risk,” said Senator Dean Heller. “I’m sure this is a proud day for the Iranian negotiators. The leadership our nation now needs is for Congress to act decisively in the review process to ensure we are doing everything within our power to prevent Iran from acquiring nuclear weapons capability.”
—July 14, 2015, in a statement
 
Senate Banking Committee and Armed Services Committee Member Tom Cotton (R-AR)
 
“The deal announced by President Obama today is a grievous, dangerous mistake. It will give Iran tens of billions of dollars to finance its sponsorship of terrorism against the United States and our allies. It will lift embargoes on conventional weapons and ballistic-missile sales to Iran. And, ultimately, it will pave the way for Iran to obtain a nuclear weapon. If this deal is approved, it will represent a historic defeat for the United States.
 
“When I was a platoon leader in Iraq, my soldiers and I faced deadly roadside bombs, made and supplied by Iran. I tried to reassure them, but I could only tell them to hope it wasn’t our day to die by Iran’s roadside bombs. If Iran obtains a nuclear weapon, I fear the United States will only be able to hope it isn’t our day to die by an Iranian nuclear bomb.
 
"If President Obama wants to liken this deal to the Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty or the Nuclear Non-proliferation Treaty then he should have followed our constitutional process and negotiated it as a treaty. Instead, he went at it alone and is now threatening to veto any attempts by Congress to conduct oversight. Over the coming weeks, I will work tirelessly to protect America from this deal and to stop Iran from obtaining nuclear-weapons capability. I am confident that the American people will repudiate this dangerous deal and Congress will kill the deal.”
—July 14, 2015, in a statement
 
Senate Banking Committee and Select Committee on Intelligence Member Mark Warner (D-VA)
 
“I will review this agreement with the utmost attention to detail, given the incredible importance of getting an agreement of this magnitude right. Under the Iran Nuclear Agreement Review Act, which I supported, Congress will have 60 days to analyze this agreement and carefully consider whether it substantially advances the goal of preventing Iran from acquiring a nuclear weapon. In particular, I will pay close attention to the dismantling of Iran’s illegal nuclear weapons program; ensuring an intrusive and reliable verification process; and ensuring a graduated process of sanctions relief entirely dependent upon Iran’s compliance, along with a process for re-imposing U.S. and international sanctions if Iran violates terms of the agreement.”
—July 14, 2015, in a statement
 
Senate Banking Committee Member Elizabeth Warren (D-MA)
 
"A nuclear-armed Iran represents a significant threat to the United States, to our allies in the Middle East, and to the world. Diplomacy represents our best hope of ending that threat, far better than the alternative of escalating tensions and war. President Obama, Secretary Kerry, and Secretary Moniz deserve great credit for working with our allies to reach a negotiated solution to prevent a nuclear-armed Iran without resorting to military action. In the coming weeks, I look forward to reviewing the details of this agreement to determine whether they are tough, verifiable, and effective."
—July 14, 2015, in a statement
 
House Foreign Affairs Committee Member Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-FL)
 
“As expected, the Obama administration has capitulated to the demands of the Iranians and has negotiated a weak and dangerous nuclear deal that undermines our national security and poses a threat to our allies in the region, especially the democratic Jewish State of Israel. We were repeatedly and forcefully told in Congress that this deal would only cover Iran's nuclear program, but now it is clear that Obama has agreed to lifting all UN Security Council sanctions, including the arms embargo on Iran and its ballistic missile technology.
 
“The President has moved the goal post back so many times on his own previous red lines on the nuclear deal that now Iran gets to keep its facilities at Fordow and Natanz and its Arak reactor will remain open for business. This deal sets in place every key component of a nuclear program that Iran needs to develop a weapon and, according to reports, the only mechanism for inspections will come as a result of consultations with Iran. Iran has been caught cheating throughout the negotiations, but the Obama administration has not been open or forthcoming. Obama officials have come to Iran’s defense every time so it will only embolden Iran to continue its illicit activities. Congress must do our due diligence to examine this deal before the President can take it to the UN for a binding vote.”
—July 14, 2015, in a statement
 
House Foreign Affairs Committee Member Brad Sherman (D-CA)
 
“A comprehensive agreement, even if it is a better-than-expected agreement, does not end our problem with Iran’s nuclear program, to say nothing of Iran’s other nefarious activities.  An agreement with Iran will only buy us time. We will need both constant focus on enforcement, as well as continued efforts to stop Iran’s support for terrorism and its efforts to undermine allies and friendly countries in the Middle East.

“If the deal does not provide fully adequate safeguards for decades to come, then Congress must make sure that it is not binding on future Congresses and future Administrations.”
—July 14, 2015, in a statement

Iran and UN Watchdog Agree on Roadmap

On July 14, International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) chief Yukiya Amano and Head of the Atomic Energy Organization of Iran Ali Akbar Salehi agreed on a road map to resolve “past and present outstanding issues” on Iran’s nuclear program. Amano said the road map laid out a plan for the next several months, with the goal to complete a final report by December 15.

The agreement followed the announcement of a historic nuclear deal between Iran and the world’s six major powers. Diplomats indicated that the IAEA’s report, which will cover the possible military dimensions of Iran’s nuclear activities, will precede sanctions relief. The following is the text of the roadmap, followed by excerpted remarks from Amano and Salehi.

Road-map for the clarification of past and present outstanding issues regarding Iran’s nuclear program
 
IAEA Director General Yukiya Amano and the Vice-President of the Islamic Republic of Iran, President of the Atomic Energy Organization of Iran, Ali Akbar Salehi agreed on 14 July 2015 the following:
 
The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) and the Islamic Republic of Iran (Iran) agree, in continuation of their cooperation under the Framework for Cooperation, to accelerate and strengthen their cooperation and dialogue aimed at the resolution, by the end of 2015, of all past and present outstanding issues that have not already been resolved by the IAEA and Iran.
 
In this context, Iran and the Agency agreed on the following:
 
1. The IAEA and Iran agreed on a separate arrangement that would allow them to address the remaining outstanding issues, as set out in the annex of the 2011 Director’s General report (GOV/2011/65). Activities undertaken and the outcomes achieved to date by Iran and the IAEA regarding some of the issues will be reflected in the process.
 
2. Iran will provide, by 15 August 2015, its explanations in writing and related documents to the IAEA, on issues contained in the separate arrangement mentioned in paragraph 1.
 
3. After receiving Iran’s written explanations and related documents, the IAEA will review this information by 15 September 2015, and will submit to Iran questions on any possible ambiguities regarding such information.
 
4. After the IAEA has submitted to Iran questions on any possible ambiguities regarding such information, technical-expert meetings, technical measures, as agreed in a separate arrangement, and discussions will be organized in Tehran to remove such ambiguities.
 
5. Iran and the IAEA agreed on another separate arrangement regarding the issue of Parchin.
 
6. All activities, as set out above, will be completed by 15 October 2015, aimed at resolving all past and present outstanding issues, as set out in the annex of the 2011 Director General’s report (GOV/2011/65).
 
7. The Director General will provide regular updates to the Board of Governors on the implementation of this Road-map.
 
8. By 15 December 2015, the Director General will provide, for action by the Board of Governors, the final assessment on the resolution of all past and present outstanding issues, as set out in the annex of the 2011 Director General’s report (GOV/2011/65). A wrap up technical meeting between Iran and the Agency will be organized before the issuance of the report.
 
9. Iran stated that it will present, in writing, its comprehensive assessment to the IAEA on the report by the Director General.
 
10. In accordance with the Framework for Cooperation, the Agency will continue to take into account Iran’s security concerns.
July 14, 2015, from the International Atomic Energy Agency
 
International Atomic Energy Agency Chief Yukiya Amano
 
“I have just signed the Road-map between the Islamic Republic of Iran and the IAEA for the clarification of past and present outstanding issues regarding Iran’s nuclear programme. The text has been signed on behalf of Iran by the country’s Vice-President, and President of the Atomic Energy Organization of Iran, Mr Ali Akbar Salehi. This is a significant step forward towards clarifying outstanding issues regarding Iran’s nuclear programme.
 
The Road-map sets out a process, under the November 2013 Framework for Cooperation, to enable the Agency, with the cooperation of Iran, to make an assessment of issues relating to possible military dimensions to Iran’s nuclear programme by the end of 2015.
 
It sets out a clear sequence of activities over the coming months, including the provision by Iran of explanations regarding outstanding issues. It provides for technical expert meetings, technical measures and discussions, as well as a separate arrangement regarding the issue of Parchin.
 
This should enable me to issue a report setting out the Agency’s final assessment of possible military dimensions to Iran’s nuclear programme, for the action of the IAEA Board of Governors, by 15 December 2015. “I will keep the Board regularly updated on the implementation of the Road-map.
 
Implementation of this Road-map will provide an important opportunity to resolve the outstanding issues related to Iran’s nuclear programme.”
—July 14, 2015, in a statement
 
"I congratulate Iran, China, France, Germany, Russia, the United Kingdom, the United States, and the European Union for reaching this joint comprehensive agreement following many months of tireless negotiations.”
 
"I welcome this agreement which will facilitate the IAEA’s further verification work in Iran.”
 
"We will be asked to monitor and verify the nuclear-related measures set out in the agreement. I will then report to and consult the IAEA’s Board of Governors on this request and on how to secure the necessary financial resources for the Agency.”
 
"I am confident in our ability to do this important work. The IAEA stands ready to undertake the necessary monitoring and verification activities when requested.”
 
"With respect to the clarification of outstanding issues related to the possible military dimensions to Iran’s nuclear programme, the IAEA and Iran have, earlier today, agreed a Road-map as part of the Framework for Cooperation between the Agency and Iran.”
 
"Under this Road-map, and with the cooperation of Iran, the IAEA will be able to establish an understanding of the whole picture concerning these issues and report our assessment to our Board of Governors by the end of the year."
 
"This is a significant step forward toward clarifying outstanding issues regarding Iran's nuclear program.”
—July 14, 2015, according to the press
 
Head of the Atomic Energy Organization of Iran Ali Akbar Salehi
 
"All past issues will be resolved completely after Iran and the Agency adopt some measures.”
 
"I hope that a new chapter in relations and cooperation between Iran and the IAEA will start after the settlement of the past issues.”
—July 14, 2015, according to the press
 
"All agreements, including the agreed arrangements for the issue of Parchin, will be implemented while fully observing the country's red lines.”
—July 14, 2015, according to the press
 

Photo credits: IAEA flag via Wikimedia Commons, Salehi by U.S. Dept of State via Flickr Commons (cropped), Amano by Cancillería del Ecuador via Flickr Commons (cropped), [(CC BY-SA 2.0]

Tags: IAEA, Nuclear

An Iran Deal, At Last

Robin Wright (for The New Yorker)

After nineteen days of marathon negotiations and four missed deadlines, Iran and the world’s six major powers announced a nuclear deal in Vienna this morning. The exhaustive and elusive diplomacy—sustained by an unsettling combination of Twizzlers, gelato, string cheese, and Rice Krispies treats—was dicey to the end. Secretary of State John Kerry wasn’t sure that the often volatile talks would succeed, until Iran’s foreign minister, Mohammad Javad Zarif, showed up at Kerry’s working quarters, in Room 103 of the opulent Palais Coburg, just before midnight Monday.

 

Click here to read the full article in The New Yorker.
 

The Final Deal: White House Background Briefing

On July 14, senior administration officials held a background conference call to discuss the final nuclear agreement with Iran. The following are excerpts from the transcript.

SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL:  I’m going to start and then turn it over to my colleague to sort of walk you through at least the top lines on the nuclear elements of this. 

Just to say, since you all have heard me many times before over these almost two years -- more than two years, actually -- this has been like a Rubik’s Cube, and we have been waiting for the pieces to click into place.  And in the early morning hours of the 14th of July in 2015, the last block of the cube clicked into place.  It has been an incredibly arduous, incredibly complex, multilateral effort with partners not only in the P5+1 and the European Union, but throughout the world:  Partners who helped enforce sanctions.  Partners who urged Iran to come to the negotiating table.  Partners who hosted us in the talks.  And even partners who criticized what we were doing, who pressed us to think more about what we were doing, be tougher, be more precise, ensure that we were indeed doing what the President of the United States asked us to do, and that was to close down all the pathways to fissile material for a nuclear weapon, which the President said today is indeed what has occurred in this agreement.
 
In this deal that has been reached, there is a principle of simultaneity in that Iran will take a series of nuclear-related steps to assure the world that its program is exclusively peaceful.  We will do our preparations.  And at the appropriate time when the IAEA has verified that those steps have been taken, we will begin a sanctions-lifting process that will be phased over time.  We have unbelievable and really extraordinary and unprecedented transparency measures to understand what’s happening in Iran’s program, both in terms of its peaceful nature and to ensure there is not a covert process.
 
We have international nuclear cooperation that will help to ensure that partners will be on the ground and will have increased and additional visibility beyond what the IAEA will do for that transparency.
 
This a long-term, durable deal.  There are many phases to it.  Some of the milestones are 10 years, some are 15 years, some are 20, some are 25, and some are forever.  Iran will adopt the Additional Protocol early in this process, and there are additional transparency mechanisms beyond that that have been negotiated.
 
And then the last two points I want to make -- we’ll be introducing, probably as soon as next week, a resolution at the Security Council that is supported by the P5, along with our German colleagues who have been part of the P5+1 process.  That will establish timelines for all of the issues under the U.N. Security Council resolutions.  We are confident that we have kept in place under Article 41 both arms restrictions as well as missile restrictions that will go on for some period of time, as well as a number of other pieces of the puzzle here.
 
And then the last point I want to make is really to endorse what was said at the beginning of this call.  This has been an amazing whole-of-government effort.  The team that we’ve had out here in Vienna, some who have been here for over a month -- I, myself, have been here for 27 long days and long nights; we’re all very, very tired -- is just extraordinary.  It comes from across our government.  It involves all of our laboratories that work in support of Dr. Moniz and our national security team.  The Treasury colleagues, Commerce colleagues, the National Security Council, the Defense Department, the intelligence community.  So for every team member that’s here, there are literally dozens and dozens and dozens -- hundreds of people who have helped to support and validate everything that we are doing here.
 
I couldn’t be prouder of the team.  I couldn’t be more honored to have been here under the leadership of Secretary Kerry and Secretary Moniz.  And I could not be more grateful to the courage that the President of the United States has taken to give us a chance to do this deal.
 
Negotiating with Iran is tough -- very tough.  There are decades and decades and decades of mistrust.  But through a very, very difficult process, we have come to know each other a little bit better.  We have worked hard to reach these agreements.  It is not perfect for anyone, but we believe it will be durable.  There will be bumps along the way.  There will be problems.  But we -- because this is a very complex deal over many, many years.  But we believe we have the mechanisms in place to snap back sanctions, if there is significant non-compliance, to have access beyond the Additional Protocol through an access agreement to ensure that we know what is going on.
 
So we are confident in the elements of this deal.  We will have to see day by day if we can be confident in the durability of this over time.  But we will have a way to know what is going on, and a unified P5+1 and international community, bolstered by the U.N. Security Council to take action, and by the support, I hope, of the United States Congress who has been essential, as Secretary Kerry said today and as the President said -- essential to getting the sanctions regime that helped get Iran to the negotiating table.
 
So let me stop here and turn it over to my colleague to talk about some of the highlights of this really extraordinary deal that has been struck.
 
Pathways to a Bomb
 
SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL:  I will turn to the issues of -- organize around this idea of blocking various pathways to a weapon might be the easiest the way to organize the discussion.  And the President gave us a very clear set -- organizing principle around the so-called breakout time as defined as time to accumulate the nuclear material required for a nuclear explosive.  I want to emphasize that that is a more descriptive definition than the usual breakout time definition of time to a weapon, which would, of course, add more time.  But the President’s directive was that a one-year breakout time for 10 years was the minimum requirement, and I can assure you that that has been met.
 
So if I just say a little bit about the various pathways.  A lot of this is going to be very similar to what came out of Lausanne on April 2nd, and of course, that's the good news, in a sense, that the Lausanne framework has been preserved, elaborated on, and in fact, expanded. 
 
So, number one, the issue of centrifuges and enrichment, the same fundamental parameters apply as in April:  the 5,000 or so IR-1s in Natanz; the ending of enrichment at Fordow -- very importantly, the restriction of their stockpile of enriched uranium -- enriched first only to 3.67 percent or less, and secondly, only 300 kilograms for 15 years.  And to get a scale, they are now roughly at 10,000 kilograms of uranium -- enriched uranium -- not to mention some additional uranium enriched to 20 percent, all of which must be gone or put into fabricated fuel plates that would not be easily reversed.
 
So that's the core of the uranium approach.  Plutonium -- that is the Arak reactor -- they have agreed that we will redesign that reactor to produce an order of magnitude less plutonium, non-weapons-grade plutonium.  So here, the breakout time, if you like, actually would be many, many years.  So in addition, I should add, we continue to have the obligation on their part to send the plutonium-bearing eradiated fuel out of the country.  So they will not reprocess, but they won't even have the material to reprocess.
Third, of course, is the covert path.  And there -- of course, because up to now I've been discussing their declared nuclear facilities.  There’s a lot more color, as you’ll see in the plan.  But going to the covert pathway, the issue there, of course, is transparency and monitoring.  The Additional Protocol was already mentioned.  That's something that they will implement essentially immediately while -- it may take a little more time to have ratification in their parliament, but they will observe it starting immediately.  And that is a forever commitment in terms of providing the enhanced transparency relative to normal national safeguards agreements with the IAEA.
 
However, we add substantially to that as well.  For one thing, within the -- I should say, for the declared facilities, there is agreement in the deployment of advanced technologies for verification and containment and surveillance.  But in terms of covert, the important thing is that we have measures that go well beyond the Additional Protocol in terms of, on the one hand, going back to the Iranian supply chain, back to the Iranian ore concentrate and tracking that, all the way to having surveillance of things like centrifuge manufacturing, loader manufacturing, et cetera.  So we will have a significant set of tools for verifying their peaceful process.
 
Finally, let me talk about R&D.  In R&D, their program plan is significantly scaled back for this decade to, for example, what are called complete lead centrifuges of more advanced centrifuges than the IR-1.  Those will complete their work and then be taken out entirely.  And their plan for moving forward with even more advanced centrifuges -- IR-6, IR-8 - those are pushed back so that they can only do single machines and small to intermediate cascades in this decade.  And so that's also a major scale-back of their R&D program.
 
So I think, again, that's all in line with Lausanne.  I would just add that there have been additional areas covered since Lausanne.  One of them is, if I may go back to breakout time, again, as I emphasized, we are counting breakout time as only production of material.  However, to actually go to a nuclear explosive, of course, requires other activities, and there, again, we have a declaration that Iran will not pursue a number of activities that would be required to get there.  For example, restrictions on doing any kind of metallurgy with uranium or plutonium; restrictions on not developing certain neutron initiators, which you would want for a nuclear weapon; multipoint detonation systems -- so a whole set of activities will not be pursued.  And of course, this adds to the complexity of any attempt that they might make to go towards a nuclear explosive.
So that's kind of an overview, I think, of blocking the pathways to nuclear weapons.
 
Sanctions
 
SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL:  I want to briefly speak to the three sanctions issues that received the most attention:  First, which sanctions will be relieved as part of this deal and which will not.  Second, how the relief will be phased.  And third, what we are prepared to do in the event of a breach of the JCPOA.
 
The first, as Under Secretary Sherman and others have noted, only when international inspectors are able to verify that Iran has taken all of the necessary steps to ensure that it will not develop a nuclear weapon will we and the international community relieve sanctions. 
 
Not all sanctions are to be lifted.  On the U.S. side, we've agreed to relieve nuclear-related secondary sanctions on Iran.  Generally, what this means is the set of sanctions that have been imposed over the last five years that target foreign actors, not American actors, doing business with Iran, such as those transacting with Iran’s central bank or those who purchased Iranian oil.
 
All of the details are spelled out in Annex 2 of the JCPOA.  But let me be clear about what we will not be relieving.  We are not removing our trade embargo on Iran.  U.S. persons and banks will still be generally prohibited from all dealings with Iranian companies, including investing in Iran, facilitating cleared country trade with Iran.  The only adjustment we will make to those sanctions at the implementation date will be to allow the import of food and carpets from Iran and the export of civilian aircraft and parts to Iran, which has one of the worst airline safety records in the world.
 
In addition, we are not lifting our sanctions that target Iran’s support for terrorist groups like Hezbollah, its regional interventions in Syria or Yemen, or its abuse of human rights back home.  Indeed, we have made clear to Iran that we will continue to impose sanctions aggressively to combat these activities.  And while Iran can expect to see real relief when nuclear-related secondary sanctions are lifted, some entities, including certain Iranian banks and energy firms will still remain off limits because of their past support for terrorism or because they are owned by groups like the IRGC or the Quds Force.
 
A few important points on the timing or phasing of relief.  For those who are focused on sanctions compliance, what was prohibited yesterday remains prohibited today.  All that we have done this morning is to extend the interim measures that have been in place since January 2014.  The first adjustments to our core sanctions will only occur in several -- on what is being called implementation day.  That is, once the IEA confirms that Iran has taken all of its key nuclear steps, we will suspend the nuclear-related secondary measures I was describing.  And only many years later, once Iran has demonstrated that it is living up to its commitments for a significant period of time will those suspended sanctions be terminated.
 
Finally, on snapback, while our focus and expectation in concluding this JCPOA is on successful implementation, we are mindful that Iran may not uphold its side of the deal.  In the event that Iran violates its commitments after we have suspended sanctions, we have the legal authority, the will and the leverage to snap them back.  Reserving that option isn't about planning for failure; to the contrary, it's about maximizing the chances of successful implementation.  We know that the range of international and national-level sanctions on Iran cover a whole range of concerns and threats and intersect in complicated ways. As we move forward, we'll publish clear guidance to ensure that when sanctions relief does come into effect, foreign governments, foreign companies will fully understand the scope of U.S. sanctions, what they prohibit and what they allow.

Questions
 
Q: Can I ask a question about the press’s assertion that this cuts off all avenues or pathways for a nuclear weapon, when, in fact, after 10 years and depending on what happens along the way, there are other pathways?  The criticism has been that it does not completely shut down the nuclear program.  Whether you feel you can respond to people as -- this morning as Netanyahu said this is a historic mistake?
 
SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL:  Well, first of all, on that last comment, I might note that similar comments were made with the JPOA, and that has proved to be quite successful.  But to get to your main point, clearly the -- first of all, Iran, for the long term, in the NPT and with the Additional Protocol, of course, is obligated to not pursue a weapon.  But for now a considerable period of time, we will -- we have, with implementation, really blocked all those pathways and rolled back significantly their capabilities for pursuing a weapon.
 
We have to pursue this, so we have very rigorous constraints for 10 years, 15 years; additional constraints going to 20 and 25 years.  And 25 years from now, they will still have the obligations under the Additional Protocol -- but, of course, by that time, we also hope that it will be a different situation in terms of confidence in their program and where they’re going.  But if it’s not, we will still have our options available at any time. 
 
SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL:  I’d just quickly add, from the President’s perspective and how he looks at this, the absolute strictest limitations within the deal have a duration of a decade.  That puts the program significantly further away from a nuclear -- from having enough nuclear material for a weapon.  There are additional limitations that go for 15 years; for instance, the limitation on the Iranian stockpile.
 
So, in any case, as the President said in his remarks today, we are in a much better position 15 years from now than we are today with respect to the Iranian nuclear program.  We will also have benefitted from 15 years of an extensive and comprehensive transparency and verification regime that will allow us not only to monitor Iranian compliance, but again, to look across the entire supply chain of the Iranian nuclear program and to have access to suspicious sites as necessary.
 
Then, beyond that duration, the transparency and verification measures, many of them stay in place, including the Additional Protocol which is permanent -- which means that on the back end of this deal there is absolutely no permission slip for Iran, they’re still prohibited from pursuing a nuclear weapon under the NPT, and there is still the transparency and verification to monitor whether or not they are pursuing a program that is consistent with peaceful purposes.  And any U.S. President -- 15, 20, 25 years from now -- will have all the same options that are available to the President of the United States today, but we believe we’re putting that President in a much stronger position from having these 15 years of strict limitations and, frankly, the type of transparency and verification measures that were not in place before this deal and that will endure beyond those 15 years of limitations.
 
Q: Can you guys provide any color on how the President was informed about the deal and also his personal involvement in it in the last few weeks, and give any other tick-tock details along those lines both in Vienna and at the White House?  Thank you.
 
SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL:  Secretary Kerry, Secretary Moniz, Under Secretary Sherman, the whole team felt extraordinarily supported by the President and by the White House.  We had in the middle of the last few days a very long SVTC, secure video teleconference, with the President, with the national security team to go over where we were in the deal, get further guidance from him in the deal. 
 
His knowledge of these issues, the depth of his knowledge, the breadth of his knowledge is really quite extraordinary.  It is clear he has dug into this.  He has spent the time.  He knows it well.  He’s very clear about the strategy frame in his own mind about what we’re doing here, why we did it, what we’re trying to accomplish.  That’s incredibly critical for any negotiation.
 
The White House and all of its resources have been available to all of us.  Secretary Kerry has spoken to him many times during the time he’s been here in Vienna.  They spoke again last evening, or early this morning -- I don’t remember.  There is no sense of time here anymore; the days and nights all have flowed together.
 
SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL:  Just to give you the sense of this, the President met with Secretary Kerry before he went out to Vienna.  This is in keeping with the pattern of these negotiations.  Before critical rounds, we will have a session in the White House Situation Room with Secretary Kerry and the key members of the negotiating team -- Secretary Moniz, Wendy Sherman -- on the VTC from Vienna, because she’s been there even longer than Secretary Kerry and Moniz, and review essentially our bottom lines.  And so the President had that session with Secretary Kerry and the negotiating team before they went out to Vienna.  They reviewed the remaining gaps in the negotiations.  They discussed what our important bottom line positions are.  The President was very focused on needing to meet the framework from Lausanne completely, as our negotiators have done, in terms of the pathways to a weapon and the transparency and verification regime. 
 
After Secretary Kerry and Secretary Moniz went out to Vienna, he was in regular contact with them and he was receiving regular briefings here.  I’d say that every morning the President’s daily briefing was largely dedicated to giving the President updates on the Iran talks.  And he was also updated throughout the day when there were key developments by Susan Rice.
 
We also have White House representation on the State-led team out there -- Rob Malley, our coordinator for the Middle East.  And so we’re in regular contact with all the members of the team, including Rob.
 
I would say that Secretary Kerry and the President have been in frequent contact over the last couple of weeks.  They’ve had phone calls as necessary.  They’ve exchanged messages.  And Secretary Kerry has kept him updated about the status of the talks.  When he needed additional guidance, he was able to reach out to the President.  The President’s direction was he would be available any time Secretary Kerry or the negotiated team needed him. 
 
We did have this secure video conference several days ago that we read out to you all.  I think it’s fair to say, and our negotiators would say, that we were really entering the end game of the negotiations at that point, and that was a critical time to step back and review what our most important bottom lines were as we closed out remaining issues.  So the President was able to give guidance to the team.
 
I’d say his guidance throughout the last several weeks was to not worry about deadlines.  And I know there’s been a lot of focus on extensions -- short-term extensions, but the President’s view was, I don’t care about any particular deadline; I care about the quality of the deal.  And I know that was the view of Secretary Kerry as well.  And the President wanted the negotiating team to make very clear that we were not going to be driven by a June 30th deadline, we were not going to be driven by a July 9th deadline with respect to the reporting requirement to Congress.  We needed to take as long as necessary to get the right deal.  And if we couldn’t get it, we were prepared to walk away from the table.  And so that was guidance, I think, that he relayed throughout this process.
 
With respect to how he was notified, yesterday we had received reports from the team that the final details were completed late yesterday afternoon here.  So a number of the members of the President’s senior national security team here went in to notify him of the fact that the deal was complete.  He, however, wanted to hear it directly from Secretary Kerry, and so he immediately called Secretary Kerry.  He got the report from Secretary Kerry that he’d reached a final deal.  And the President was able to congratulate him.  He told Secretary Kerry how proud he was of him and of the whole negotiating team.  And then, of course, immediately was focused on preparing his announcement for early this morning.
 
Q: I have two questions.  One, can you walk through a little bit about what the President is going to be doing over the next couple days in terms of reaching out to Congress and also to the Israelis, the Saudis, and other countries who have been skeptical of the deal?  And I also wonder if you expect any progress on any of the issues that came up on the sidelines of these talks, most notably the detained Americans -- if you expect any issues on those issues now that you’ve resolved the nuclear deal.
 
SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL:  With respect to the President’s involvement, last night he was able to call the leadership of the House and the Senate and to provide them with the update that we expect that the deal to be announced this morning.  And he will be doing additional engagements with members of Congress throughout the week. 
 
The President feels very confident in the quality of this deal.  Frankly, he has commented that it exceeds what we thought we could get at the beginning of this process.  And so he is welcoming a debate here about the quality of this deal.
 
So again, I’d expect him to be talking to members of Congress very actively.  I can also say that senior members of his national security team will also be calling members of Congress to brief them on the contents of the deal.
 
Beyond that, I’d expect the President to be reaching out to a number of his foreign counterparts as well.  We don’t have any specific calls to read out for you yet, but I would certainly anticipate that the President would want to speak to our key European allies who were with us every step of the way in this process.  He will certainly speak to the Prime Minister of Israel.  They have clear differences about this deal, there is no question about that.  But given the nature of our relationship with Israel and our commitment to their security, he will certainly want to have that conversation.  And I certainly expect that he would speak to the King of Saudi Arabia. 
 
I would note that the Camp David summit was a very important opportunity for us to brief the Gulf States on the contents of the nuclear deal, because at that point we had the Lausanne framework.  I think they left that summit feeling much more assured about the deal itself, but having grave concerns as they always have, and as we do, about other Iranian activity in the region. 
 
And what we committed to do coming out of that summit was to work with them to develop the capabilities necessary to counter any malign Iranian activity in the region, or to counter threats from terrorist organizations like ISIL.  And that will be an ongoing process that we discuss of developing those Gulf State capabilities.
 
And then going forward, I'm sure the President will be speaking to other foreign leaders about this topic, so we’ll be reading out those calls for you.  So again, we certainly expect him to be talking to members of Congress.  We certainly expect him to be talking to his foreign counterparts.  And frankly, he will look for opportunities to make this case directly to the American people -- because even as a lot of the attention is on Congress, it’s important for the American people to understand why this is a good deal for our security.
 
And frankly, there has been a heated debate here in Washington, but I think we’ve seen repeated public opinion surveys that indicate broad support among the American people for a diplomatic resolution to the Iranian nuclear issue.  And I think the President is confident in the case that he can put forward before the American people.
 
SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL:  On the detained Americans, as I think most of you know, every time we have a negotiation round with the Iranians we have on the margins of those discussions about the detained Americans in Iran, as well as our concerns about missing American, Robert Levinson.  And both Secretary Kerry and myself, both separately and together, have had more than one conversation during the course of this negotiating round. 
 
Secretary Kerry, in fact, had yet another conversation today with Minister Zarif, and there are other people on the delegation that have close ties to other parts of the Iranian government with whom we speak as well. 
 
We believe very strongly that this is an opportunity for Iran to let the Americans come home.  We don’t believe they belong in jail in Iran now.  We believe that Iran ought to help to find Robert Levinson and bring him home.  We certainly want to make sure that the treatment of Americans who are now being detained is the best until they get home, and that should be immediately.  And we are doing whatever we possibly can to get Americans home.  And we think that this is a moment where Iran has a really important opportunity to make a humanitarian gesture and bring the Americans home.
 
Q: I wonder if you could talk a little bit about the sanctions on conventional weapons and ballistic missiles.  Looking at what General Dempsey and Secretary Carter said last week, under no circumstances should we relieve pressure on Iran relative to ballistic missile capabilities and we want to keep them isolated as a military.  Can you explain to us how you’re going to tell Congress that this deal meets those concerns? 
 
SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL:  We will be introducing a U.N. Security Council resolution perhaps as early as next week in negotiations with all of our other colleagues.  Here in Vienna, we have a draft resolution that will be the basis.  The U.S. was penholder on that resolution.  We had a very extensive negotiation with the Iranians and with all of our partners in the P5 in particular on what UNSCR, what that U.N. Security Council resolution should look like. 
 
In fact, I think many people believed we’d come into these negotiations, we wouldn’t be able to hold on to the arms restrictions, we wouldn’t be able to get any missile restrictions whatsoever.  And indeed, we accomplished both.  We accomplished both under Article 41, which means that all of the enforcement mechanisms are brought to bear.  We had, as Secretary Kerry said today in answering a question, three of our partners believed -- two of our partners believed that there should be zero arms restrictions from day one.  Other partners had varying interest in this.  Our partners had different views about what the missile restriction should be.
 
In the final analysis, there are five years of arms restrictions, there are eight years of missile restrictions both under Article 41.  In addition, the United States has its own unilateral arms restrictions, missile restrictions, further non-proliferation restrictions, asset control restrictions.  My colleague can go into some of the details on that, and my State Department colleague is here as well as regards those.
 
So we think that we have, in fact, come out of this piece of the negotiation which did happen and finalized in the middle of the night, last night here -- early this morning -- with an agreement on all of the elements of the U.N. Security Council resolution agreed to by all the members of the P5 and Germany as well.
 
So we feel like we went further than what I think most people expected we would get out of the U.N. Security Council resolution.  There will also be a procurement channel that will be established through the Joint Commission of the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action so that, in fact, there are controls on what is needed for the changes that need to take place in Iran’s nuclear program.  There will be the snap-back mechanism if there is any significant non-compliance, as my colleague mentioned a moment ago. 
And we will continue to have the process of designation at the U.N., as well as our own unilateral and EU designations and other country designations for those proliferators and those arms agents that we feel are not really keeping international peace and security.
 
SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL:  First of all, it was always going to be an issue of when these restrictions were lifted, given the fact that the arms embargo and ballistic missile provisions were a part of the nuclear-related U.N. Security Council resolutions.  That is a premise that we accepted at the very beginning of this process when we decided to deal with the U.N. Security Council resolutions in the context of the negotiations.  And that was necessary, of course, to achieve the very comprehensive deal that we announced today.
 
I think the President’s guidance -- and this is one of the issues that we were discussing -- was that it was important to keep those restrictions in place for a substantial period of time, which was the marker we laid down in Lausanne, recognizing that Iran was taking a very firm position that those restrictions should be lifted as soon as other U.N. Security Council resolutions were suspended. 
 
So frankly, the fact that we will maintain eight years of a ballistic missile provision and five years of the arms embargo, we believe does allow us to have a substantial amount of time where we’re keeping those in place within the context of the deal. 
 
But I would note that we’re acting entirely consistent with the comments made by Secretary Carter and Chairman Dempsey in that we are not relaxing our pressure on Iran with respect to its ballistic missile program and its import and export of arms -- particularly export of arms to areas of great concern like Syria and Yemen and Libya.
And the fact is, we have a number of unilateral measures that are focused on applying sanctions on Iran for that activity.  We have a number of partnerships around the world that are dedicated to interdicting the export of dangerous material, particularly to conflict zones.  And we have an initiative that we are pursuing with the Gulf countries that is dedicated to countering Iranian malign activities.  So in this period of time as the deal is being implemented, we're also going to be bolstering the capabilities of our partners to provide for their own security and to counter malign Iranian influence.
 
So we will be continuing to use a range of tools available to us to address the arms question and Iranian ballistic missile program.  That will include the five years in which the arms embargo continues to be in place and the eight years of the ballistic missile provisions.  But it also includes a range of other unilateral and multilateral tools.
 
SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL:  Just to briefly fill in some of the tools that my colleague is referencing.  There’s a host of, obviously, international, multilateral regimes that restrict the transfer of missile parts, technology.  There’s the Missile Technology Control Regime; the Proliferation Security Initiative, which has 100-plus countries around the world signed on to it to help limit the imports and exports into Iran of missile-related items. 
 
On top of that, when you talk about arms transfers, it's not just the U.N. arms transfers restrictions on Iran, which my colleague was describing.  There are also restrictions on the transfer of weapons, as I think many of you know, to Yemen, to Iraq, to Lebanon, Sudan, Libya, North Korea -- so that we are not without an international framework that would govern and restrict those transfer if Iran is trying to move weapons to those countries.
 
On the unilateral side, we have executive orders that allow us to target those who are moving missile technology or other things that present proliferation concerns.  Executive Order 12938 and 13382, for example, as well as the Iran, North Korea, Syria Non-Proliferation Act -- INKSNA -- of 2006 -- all of those remain in place.
 
I will say that in my office we had some pretty extensive discussions both with our Gulf counterparts and with our Israeli counterparts about how to draw on these international and national-level regimes to be able to more effectively combat at the attempt at procurement and attempt at weapons sales.  And I think you're going to see that continue in the months ahead.
 
Q:    I was wondering if you could talk a little bit about you had maintained this strong P5+1 consensus on this deal. If you're having problems on getting the deal through Congress, I know you think you probably have enough votes to override a veto, but can you talk a little bit about what you fear the international implications might be if Congress were to reject this deal, if the U.S. was forced to walk away in some way, what that would do to the deal that you have on the table right now?
 
SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL:  As you know, this is a deal that has the full support of the international community through the P5+1.  It will be memorialized in a U.N. Security Council resolution.  It achieves the basic objectives that were set out in terms of preventing Iran from being able to obtain a nuclear weapon, ensuring that its program is for peaceful purposes. 
 
I think it's very important to note one of the comments the President made in his remarks, which is that some people have put forward the notion that we should not pursue this deal, but we should rather simply pursue additional sanctions.  In the first instance, we believe that history shows that when we just walk away from the table and impose sanctions, that in no way serves as a check on Iran’s nuclear program.  They steadily advanced their nuclear program under sanctions.  Ultimately, sanctions helped pressure them back to the table, but keep in mind, before the Joint Plan of Action, they were accumulating more stockpiles; they we're installing more centrifuges; they were developing more advanced centrifuges.  And that was happening while they were being sanctioned. 
 
So sanctions alone did not prevent them from making progress.  Sanctions could get them to the table to get this deal.  And this is the fundamental point.  The purpose of the sanctions was to get this deal.  They were imposed for nuclear-related purposes.  So, of course, they are going to receive sanctions relief.  But the whole purpose was rooted in our strategic decision that it was important to prevent Iran from getting a nuclear weapon and that that was our principal priority.  Because all the other things that Iran does that concerns us would be far more dangerous if they had a nuclear weapon.
 
And I say that because if there was a decision taken by Congress to kill this deal, there is not a scenario that anybody could see whereby the rest of the world would sign up for additional sanctions.  The world has had to make significant sacrifices, in some cases, to reduce their purchase of Iranian oil.  They did that in support of this negotiation.  So when we went around to Europe, to China, to India, to South Korea, to Japan, and got them and others to reduce their purchases of Iranian oil, the express purpose of that effort was to get this deal.  So if, having gotten this deal, we then kill it, it is hard to see why those countries would then go back along with additional sanctions. 
 
Again, the world signed up for sanctions to get a deal.  We have a deal.  It's a good deal.  It will be endorsed by the world via the U.N. Security Council resolution.  And so the question is a vote to kill this deal could potentially be a vote to kill the sanctions regime because it will make it far more difficult to bring those other countries along.  And frankly, sanctions are only effective if we are able to bring the world with us in enforcement.
 
Q:    I did want to ask you if you could talk a little bit about the President’s decision to have the Vice President at his side.  Was this meant to signal to Israel or to Congress sort of the validity of the deal?  And also, is there any chance that the President would consider traveling to Iran before the end of his presidency?  Or do you think no matter how well this goes, it will be too soon to contemplate that? 
 
And then finally, you don't need a majority, you just need enough to provide a veto override.  How confident are you that you have that?  And what’s your lobbying effort going to be to sustain that? 
 
SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL:  Well, first of all, the Vice President I think frequently stands with the President for particularly important announcements.  The Vice President has also worked on this issue for a long time, including in the Senate.  He’s worked on issues related to Iran, Iran sanctions, for decades.  And so given his foreign policy experience which focused on this issue and simply for the fact that this is a very significant moment for the administration, the President wanted the Vice President there standing by his side.  I think it sends a message about how united our entire administration is in support of this course of action. 
 
With respect to the question with respect to Congress, look, we will brief this extensively to Congress.  There will be briefings, there will be testimonies.  There are exhaustive documentation associated with this deal -- the main text and the annexes -- which will be submitted to Congress for its review.  We believe that it deserves the support of as many members of Congress as we can get. 
 
At the end of the day, as you say, the President made clear that he would veto any legislation that is intended to prevent the successful implementation of this deal.  So we're confident in our ability to get the support necessary to ensure the successful implementation of the deal.  But we take nothing for granted and we want to make sure that we're making the case to these members, many of whom, again, played a critical role in building the sanctions regime to help get us to the table.  So we have great respect for how deeply involved members of Congress have been on the Iranian issue over time.
 
On the travel, I would not -- the President has made clear, even as we're making this important deal, and even as this deal holds out the prospects of the possibility for Iran to take a different path, we continue to have very serious differences with Iran with respect to its support for terrorism, its threat towards Israel and its neighbors, its support for various proxies across the region that are destabilizing.  So, no, we are not considering travel.  What we're focused on is a deal that, frankly, prevents Iran from getting a nuclear weapon.
 
But, as the President said in his remarks, he’s consistently laid out two paths that are available to Iran, and there is a path whereby they choose a direction that will allow them to be more integrated with the global economy and international community.  It would be good for the United States, for the world, and above all, for the Iranian people if they took that path.  But in the meantime, we obviously continue to have very grave concerns with many aspects of Iranian policy.
 
Q:    On the list of individuals and entities who are seeing sanctions lifted include Soleimani and the Quds Force.  When were their names added to that?  And does that mean that all of the sanctions on Soleimani and the Quds Force are lifted?  Because as I recall, at least some of them had absolutely nothing to do with the nuclear program.  Soleimani was sanctioned in part because of his support of Assad, isn't that right?
 
SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL:  We’d have to get the specific information that -- we will continue to have significant sanctions on the Quds Force and their related entities.  And we will certainly continue to have sanctions on Qassem Soleimani for -- he’s the leader of the IRGC -- for a range of reasons, including support for terrorism and activities in Syria.  So Qassem Soleimani and the Quds Force will continue to be sanctioned entities. 
 
But if there are other specific designation questions related to U.N. designations, let us know and we can follow up with you on that.  But I'm confident on the notion that the Quds Force as an entity and -- but there are individual designations at the U.N. that are part of this -- and so we can follow up with you on the nature of those individual designations.  But that would not take away the sanctions that are on the Quds Force and Qassem Soleimani. 
 
*[Ghasem Soleimani is a different person from – and not to be confused with – IRGC commander Qassem Soleimani. Ghasem Soleimani who will be delisted at Phase 1, was listed at the United Nations for being Director of Uranium Mining Operations at the Saghand Uranium Mine (Saghand Mine).  He was listed in an annex to U.N. Security Council resolution 1803 of March 3, 2008, as a person linked to Iran's proliferation sensitive nuclear activities or development of nuclear weapon delivery systems.
 
In contrast, the IRGC Commander Qassem Soleimani will not be delisted at the United Nations at Phase 1; he will be delisted at the UN at Phase 2 when the underlying designation authority terminates. To be clear, Qassem Soleimani's UN delisting at Phase 2 will be a result of the termination of the UN sanctions at that point in time. It is important to note that Phase 2 is the last time at which UN sanctions can be lifted, after 8 years into the deal,  so sanctions are not being lifted early on Qassem Soleimani.
 
Further, given that Qassam Soleimani's domestic designation is due to his affiliation with the IRGC, among other non-nuclear bases, his designation under U.S. sanctions will in no way be impacted by the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action reached today.  Since secondary sanctions remain in place on the U.S. side, this means that sanctions on Qassam Soleimani will still have an international effect. Keep in mind, that secondary sanctions targets third-country actors doing business with Iranian persons on the U.S. SDN list.
 
Q: During this recent round of talks, did the President -- was he in contact with Khamenei or Rouhani?  And does he plan to be in contact today or in the coming days?
 
And just a quick second question.  Your colleague mentioned Article 41 with regard to U.N. Security Council resolutions.  Just to be clear, it would be a Chapter 7 resolution but without explicit reference to Article 42, but leaving the military path open in case of a breach -- is that right?
 
SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL:  On your first question, the President did not have communications during the course of this latest round with the Supreme Leader or President Rouhani.  He has in the past sent letters to both the Supreme Leader and to President Rouhani, including a letter to President Rouhani at the beginning of the negotiation, which was important I think in initiating this effort -- and then in occasional moments in the talks where we wanted to lay out our positions clearly, he has used letters to do so.  But he did not in recent weeks.
 
I don't have any additional plans going forward with respect to outreach to the Iranians.  We’d certainly keep you updated were that to take place.
 
With respect to the U.N. question, it's under Article 41.  If I understood your question correctly, you are also asking about our -- were you asking about our own military option?  You referenced the military option.  I'll speak to that and then my colleague can speak to the nature of the authority.
 
Obviously -- and again, forgive me if I misunderstood your question.  But with respect to the military option, as the President expressed today, our clear preference is to resolve this diplomatically.  We believe that this deal accomplishes that objective.  Going forward, this or any future U.S. President would have any option available to them, including military action, if they felt that that was necessary.  But with respect to the nuclear issue, if Iran is complying with this deal, we certainly believe that that would not be necessary to address the nuclear issue. 
 
In the case of a violation, the immediate consequence would be the snapback that is allowed for in the U.N. Security Council resolution.  So the immediate consequence for Iran for a significant amount of time would be a snapback of all the sanctions, including under the U.N. Security Council resolution. And then we reserve other options for consideration.
 
SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL:  The only thing I'd add is that U.N. Security Council sanctions restrictions that will remain in place, some of which are going to be basically repackaged from the old U.N. Security Council resolutions and reincorporated simultaneously into a new one, will still be under Chapter 7, Article 41.  So they have the full force and are binding on all member states.
 

The Final Deal: White House Infographics

After the announcement of a final nuclear deal between Iran and the world's six major powers on July 14, the White House published the following text and series of infographics describing "how the U.S. and the international community will block all of Iran's pathways to a nuclear weapon."

After many months of principled diplomacy, the P5+1 -- the United States, the United Kingdom, France, China, Russia and Germany -- along with the European Union, have achieved a long-term comprehensive nuclear deal with Iran that will verifiably prevent Iran from acquiring a nuclear weapon and ensure that Iran's nuclear program will be exclusively peaceful going forward.
 
This deal stands on the foundation of the Joint Plan of Action (JPOA), achieved in November of 2013, and the framework for this Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), announced in Lausanne on April 2, 2015 that set the requirements for the deal with the P5+ 1 and Iran, alongside the European Union announced today.
Now, with this deal in place, the U.S., our allies, and the international community can know that tough, new requirements will keep Iran from obtaining a nuclear weapon. Here's how:
 
Blocking the Four Pathways to a Nuclear Weapon 
 
Building a nuclear bomb requires either uranium or plutonium. But thanks to this deal, Iran’s four possible ways to leverage those fissile materials are blocked.
 

 
The Uranium pathways at Natanz and Fordow
 
Iran would needs two key elements to construct a uranium bomb: tens of thousands of centrifuges and enough highly enriched uranium to produce enough material to construct a uranium bomb.
 
There are currently two uranium enrichment facilities in the country: the Natanz facility and the Fordow facility.
 
Let’s take a look at Iran’s uranium stockpile first. Currently, Iran has a uranium stockpile to create 8 to ten nuclear bombs.
 
But thanks to this nuclear deal, Iran must reduce its stockpile of uranium by 98%, and will keep its level of uranium enrichment at 3.67% -- significantly below the enrichment level needed to create a bomb.
 
Iran also needs tens of thousands of centrifuges to create highly enriched uranium for a bomb. Right now, Iran has nearly 20,000 centrifuges between their Natanz and Fordow facilities. But under this deal, Iran must reduce its centrifuges to 6,104 for the next ten years. No enrichment will be allowed at the Fordow facility at all, and the only centrifuges Iran will be allowed to use are their oldest and least efficient models.
In short, here’s the difference this historic deal will make:
 
 
The Plutonium pathway at the Arak reactor
 
The third way Iran could build a nuclear weapon is by using weapons-grade plutonium. The only site where Iran could accomplish this is the Arak reactor, a heavy-water nuclear reactor. Right now, this reactor could be used in a weapons program, but under this deal, the Arak reactor will be redesigned so it cannot produce any weapons-grade plutonium. And all the spent fuel rods (which could also be source material for weapons-grade plutonium) will be sent out of the country as long as this reactor exists. What’s more, Iran will not be able to build a single heavy-water reactor for at least 15 years. That means, because of this deal, Iran will no longer have a source for weapons-grade plutonium.
 
A covert pathway to building a secret nuclear program
 
The previous three pathways occur at facilities that Iran has declared. But what if they try to build a nuclear program in secret? That’s why this deal is so important. Under the new nuclear deal, Iran has committed to extraordinary and robust monitoring, verification, and inspection. International inspectors from the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) will not only be continuously monitoring every element of Iran’s declared nuclear program, but they will also be verifying that no fissile material is covertly carted off to a secret location to build a bomb. And if IAEA inspectors become aware of a suspicious location, Iran has agreed to implement the Additional Protocol to their IAEA Safeguards Agreement, which will allow inspectors to access and inspect any site they deem suspicious. Such suspicions can be triggered by holes in the ground that could be uranium mines, intelligence reports, unexplained purchases, or isotope alarms.
 
Basically, from the minute materials that could be used for a weapon comes out of the ground to the minute it is shipped out of the country, the IAEA will have eyes on it and anywhere Iran could try and take it:

 

 

What Iran's Nuclear Program Would Look Like Without This Deal 
 
As it stands today, Iran has a large stockpile of enriched uranium and nearly 20,000 centrifuges, enough to create 8 to 10 bombs. If Iran decided to rush to make a bomb without the deal in place, it would take them 2 to 3 months until they had enough weapon-ready uranium (or highly enriched uranium) to build their first nuclear weapon. Left unchecked, that stockpile and that number of centrifuges would grow exponentially, practically guaranteeing that Iran could create a bomb—and create one quickly – if it so chose.
 
This deal removes the key elements needed to create a bomb and prolongs Iran’s breakout time from 2-3 months to 1 year or more if Iran broke its commitments. Importantly, Iran won’t garner any new sanctions relief until the IAEA confirms that Iran has followed through with its end of the deal. And should Iran violate any aspect of this deal, the U.N., U.S., and E.U. can snap the sanctions that have crippled Iran’s economy back into place.
 
Here’s what Iran has committed to:
 
 
The difference this deal is significant. Take a look at exactly what Iran’s nuclear program will look like now under this deal:
 
 
Click here for more information
 

Connect With Us

Our Partners

Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars Logo