United States Institute of Peace

The Iran Primer

Report: Parsing the Iran Deal

The final nuclear deal “provides well-defined limits on Iran’s nuclear program,” according to George Perkovich, Mark Hibbs, James Action, and Toby Dalton in a new report from the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace. But it also carries several risks, including the possibility that Iran will ramp up its nuclear activities once the restrictions end. The following is an excerpt of the report, which assesses the pros and cons of the deal.

On July 14, 2015, Iran and the five permanent members of the UN Security Council plus Germany (P5+1) concluded a Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) concerning the future of Iran’s nuclear program. The deal, which is the outcome of more than two years of negotiations, includes limits on Iran’s nuclear program as well as provisions for verification, implementation, procurement, sanctions relief, and peaceful nuclear cooperation. It singles out specific nuclear sites in Iran for particular scrutiny and restrictions, including the enrichment facilities at Natanz and Fordow and the heavy-water reactor, with its supporting facilities, at Arak. Unsurprisingly, the deal is complex—the text and its five annexes stretch to over 100 pages.
Our aim here is to analyze the deal as impartially and objectively as possible solely from a nonproliferation perspective. It is not to offer a final conclusion about whether the deal is a good or bad one, but instead to help readers make up their own minds.
As in many complex negotiations, parties to the JCPOA traded compromises between seemingly unrelated areas. Accordingly, we look at the benefits and risks of the agreement as a whole, as well as the pros and cons of individual provisions. Throughout we identify key questions and issues that will need to be addressed in the months and years ahead if the deal is to be implemented successfully.

Overall Assessment
Potential Benefits
The agreement provides well-defined limits on Iran’s nuclear program lasting between ten and fifteen years. If implemented, these restrictions would measurably enhance confidence during the term of the agreement that Tehran will not seek nuclear weapons. This will help avoid much-worse alternatives, including Iran’s resumption of threatening nuclear activities and war.
The JCPOA provides the basis for transparency of procurement and for verification of nuclear activities to enable the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) to determine that Iran’s nuclear program is wholly understood and is dedicated exclusively to peaceful uses.
The agreement demonstrates the viability of the rules-based nonproliferation regime created by the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) and including especially the IAEA safeguards system, notwithstanding the lacunae and imperfections of this regime. Indeed, the JCPOA buttresses the NPT. Whereas states may withdraw from the NPT and, in principle, then seek nuclear weapons, in the JCPOA Iran has committed not to ever seek nuclear weapons under any circumstances. And whereas the NPT does not include specific restrictions on activities that could contribute to the design and development of a nuclear explosive device, the JCPOA does.
The preface of the JCPOA establishes expectations that Iran’s peaceful nuclear program should evolve at a “reasonable pace,” “consistent with international non-proliferation norms. . . . [and] practical needs”—benchmarks that the Iranian program previously did not meet. It establishes a channel for open diplomatic engagement between the United States and Iran after thirty-seven years.
Potential Risks
Other states could be encouraged to follow the Iranian example of acquiring uranium enrichment and other dual-use capabilities that would significantly shorten the time required to produce a nuclear weapon.
One or more parties to the agreement may not implement provisions as required or perform to the satisfaction of other parties. Failures to perform may result in disputes that the parties will not resolve peacefully.
After the restrictions on its nuclear program end, Iran, like any party to the NPT, but endowed with capabilities advanced during the period the JCPOA was in force, may exercise its right to resume nuclear behavior that the international community finds provocative. This could potentially give it the capability to break its commitments and manufacture a small number of nuclear weapons in a relatively short period of time.

Click here for the full report
Tags: Reports

Iranian Lawmakers Petition to Review Deal

On August 16, a member of Iran’s parliamentary Presiding Board read a petition signed by 201 out of 290 lawmakers calling on the government to present a bill on the nuclear deal. The lawmakers argued that the agreement between Iran and the world’s six major powers needs the approval of parliament and the Guardian Council. The following is a translation of the petition, signed by some 69 percent of the assembly, as published by Entekhab News and translated by Iran Front Page.

In line with our legal obligations, we, the deputies of the Islamic Consultative Assembly, who have signed this petition announce that:
1. We thank the nuclear negotiating team for its tireless efforts in the course of the talks.
2. Under Articles 77 and 125 of the Constitution, the review of the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action falls under the purview of the Islamic Consultative Assembly and requires cooperation from all relevant institutions.
3. The executive branch should immediately present the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action in the form of a bill.
4. Any voluntary measures and implementation of the deal – be it temporary, permanent or conditional – would be illegal before the approval of the Islamic Consultative Assembly and subsequent confirmation of the Guardian Council.

Report: Battleground Issues on Iran Deal

Despite imperfections, the Iran nuclear deal “will prevent Iran from becoming a nuclear-armed state for the foreseeable future,” according to Robert Einhorn, a senior fellow at the Brookings Institution and former member of President Obama’s Iran negotiating team. “The questions and concerns raised by the battleground issues can be addressed by U.S. policies that supplement the deal and bolster its overall effectiveness,” he notes in a new Brookings brief that addresses six key questions in the debate over the deal. The following are excerpts with a link to the full text.
1. What happens to Iran’s nuclear program after the deal’s first decade?
An issue likely to receive much attention, deservedly so, is what happens in the “out years”—the later years of the deal, when some key restrictions on Iran’s enrichment capacity begin to expire. JCPOA limits will ensure that, at least for 10 years, Iran would need at least one year to produce enough weapons-grade uranium to build a bomb, if it decides to breach the agreement. But as Iran becomes free to increase the number of operating centrifuges and introduce more advanced types (after 10 years) and to increase its enrichment level and stocks of enriched uranium (after 15 years), breakout time will decrease and eventually shrink to a matter of weeks—leaving Iran with a “threshold” nuclear weapons capability. …
Even if Iranian leaders, after 15 years or more, believed their national interests were best served by having nuclear weapons, they would run major risks in going forward, with no guarantee of success. Even in the ‘out years,’ the JCPOA’s rigorous monitoring arrangements will remain in force. The world will have gained intimate knowledge of Iran’s nuclear program, which would give the United States prompt warning of any Iranian effort to make a dash for the bomb. Even if breakout time had declined to a few weeks, the United States would likely have sufficient time to intervene militarily to stop them.
2. How does the deal address concerns about the possible military dimensions of Iran’s past nuclear work?
Another battleground issue involves persistent IAEA efforts, long frustrated by Iranian stonewalling, to gain a better understanding of past Iranian research, experimentation, and procurement believed to be related to the development of nuclear weapons. On July 14, 2015, Iran and the IAEA agreed on a “roadmap” aimed at resolving all outstanding issues related to the “possible military dimensions” (PMD) of Iran’s nuclear program. …
Iran’s completion of all agreed roadmap steps by October 15 is a prerequisite—along with Iran’s implementation of several other nuclear-related commitments—for the suspension of U.S., EU, and U.N. sanctions. The confidential nature of Iran’s roadmap steps reflects the IAEA’s standard practice of confidentiality on safeguards matters, but this has understandably caused a stir on Capitol Hill, especially because sanctions relief depends on fulfillment of those steps.
3. Is IAEA access to sensitive sites timely enough?
Another battleground issue that has gained prominence in recent weeks is whether the JCPOA’s provisions on IAEA access to suspect sites—beyond those declared sites that will be subject to continuous verification—can effectively deter and detect covert violations of the agreement. The text of the agreement has largely put to rest concerns that the IAEA might be denied access to such suspect sites—concerns heightened by statements from Iran’s supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, that access to military sites would cross one of his redlines. The JCPOA’s provisions for resolving access disputes—under which a Joint Commission can, by majority vote, require Iran to grant access or face the Security Council’s restoration of sanctions—provide assurance that Tehran cannot get away with blocking access to any location in the country. …
In the absence of no-notice, surprise inspections—which have only been achieved in a case like Iraq, where the Security Council was in a position to dictate terms to a defeated country—no inspection system can reliably ensure on-site confirmation of small-scale, non-nuclear activities. Even a system requiring access to be granted in a week or even several days, which some of the critics advocate, could not provide such assurance. The inspection system established under the JCPOA is not perfect, but it is timely enough to prevent the removal or concealment of incriminating evidence of the kind of illicit activities that would be of greatest concern and would most significantly lessen Iran’s breakout time.
4. What is the significance of restrictions on conventional arms transfers and ballistic missile activities?
An issue that was only resolved in the final days of negotiations and has become controversial since then is the question of restrictions on Iran’s export and import of conventional arms and on its ballistic missile program. These restrictions were part of the Security Council sanctions in place prior to the conclusion of the JCPOA. Iran, supported by Russia and China, pressed for eliminating them at the same time other Security Council sanctions are removed, but the United States insisted on preserving them in a new council resolution. A compromise was reached on their duration, with the conventional arms embargo lasting five more years and the ballistic missile restrictions lasting eight more years. …
Even after the renewed Security Council restrictions expire, the United States will have other legal authorities and policy tools to address Iranian arms transfers to its proxies and imports of sensitive technologies. Existing U.N. embargoes on transfers to Hezbollah, the Yemeni Houthis, and Shiite militants in Iraq require U.N. members to prevent prohibited transfers from or through their territory. Other available policy tools include the Proliferation Security Initiative which facilitates international cooperation in interdicting illicit transfers, U.S. sanctions laws which target certain Iranian conventional arms and missile activities, and the Missile Technology Control Regime which coordinates the missile export policies of the major missile supplying governments, including Russia.
5. What are the implications of sanctions relief, including release of $100-plus billion in restricted assets?
The nuclear deal’s provisions on sanctions relief have generated many important questions—including whether relief would be conditioned on Iran’s performance, whether major and early relief would forfeit too much leverage needed to incentivize continued Iranian compliance, whether sanctions can be restored in the event of non-compliance, and whether Iran will be penalized for behavior outside the nuclear realm.
Obama administration officials have addressed many of these questions—not to the full satisfaction of the deal’s critics but enough to allay some of the most serious concerns. They have pointed out that, under the nuclear deal:
  • Sanctions relief will follow, not precede, Iran’s implementation of key nuclear commitments.
  • Existing sanctions for non-nuclear-related Iranian behavior (e.g., support for terrorism, human rights abuses) will remain in force, and additional sanctions can be imposed, including on entities no longer sanctioned for nuclear reasons.
  • A substantial number of entities on the U.S. sanctions list will remain on the list for eight years or indefinitely (including the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps—IRGC—and its regional arm, the Quds Force, and various military and missile entities).
  • Foreign banks and other entities dealing with those that remain on the sanctions list will be subject to being cut off from the U.S. financial system.
  • U.S. sanctions can be restored in a matter of days if Iran violates its commitments, and Security Council sanctions can be snapped back automatically within 30 days if a single JCPOA party charges Iran with significant non-performance of its commitments.
  • Entities that legally enter into contracts before the snap-back of Security Council sanctions will be subject to sanctions if they do not stop or wind down the implementation of any such contracts covered by the restored sanctions. Contrary to an impression created by convoluted language in the JCPOA text, those contracts will not be grandfathered.

  • 6. What are the consequences of rejecting the deal?
    [I]n the worst case, congressional rejection could thrust the United States into a damaging standoff, threatening and possibly imposing sanctions against the world’s leading economies in the uncertain hope of forestalling a rapid hemorrhaging of oil sanctions. In the best case, the United States could win grudging support for token additional reductions. But the likelihood of persuading Iran’s principal customers to accept dramatic new cuts in purchases—on a scale that could pressure Iran to make major concessions it has been unwilling to make under the devastating sanctions it has faced for years—is extremely small, especially when all those customers view the negotiated deal as reasonable and would resent Washington’s decision to walk away from it.
    Meanwhile, the United States would be trying to maintain existing sanctions in areas other than crude oil. It would be assisted in this effort by the cautious approach many entities could be expected to take when considering whether to buck the current sanctions regime. Major international banks might be especially guarded, fearing a cutoff from the U.S. financial system if they ran afoul of U.S. sanctions.
    Click here for the full text.  
Tags: Reports

Obama on War and Peace

Robin Wright (for The New Yorker)

President Obama was in a reflective mood when he met with a group of journalists at the White House on Wednesday afternoon, a few hours after he delivered a combative speech defending the Iran deal. He is, in private meetings, a congenial stoic, even as he chews Nicorette gum to stay ahead of an old vice.


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

Open Letters in Support of Deal: Scientists, Generals & Ambassadors

Groups of scientists, nonproliferation specialists, former generals and former ambassadors have authored open letters in support of the nuclear deal between Iran and the world’s six major powers. One group of former generals has also written an open letter.

On August 8, 29 top U.S. scientists wrote to President Barack Obama in support of the Iran nuclear deal. The “innovative agreement” has “much more stringent constraints than any previously negotiated non-proliferation framework,” according to the co-signers, who include six Nobel laureates, nuclear experts and former White House advisers. The following is the complete text.

Dear Mr. President,
As scientists and engineers with understanding of the physics and technology of nuclear power and of nuclear weapons, we congratulate you and your team on the successful completion of the negotiations in Vienna. We consider that the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) the United States and its partners negotiated with Iran will advance the cause of peace and security in the Middle East and can serve as a guidepost for future non-proliferation agreements.
This is an innovative agreement, with much more stringent constraints than any previously negotiated non-proliferation framework. It limits the level of enrichment of the uranium that Iran can produce, the amount of enriched uranium it can stockpile, and the number and kinds of centrifuges it can develop and operate. The agreement bans reconversion and reprocessing of reactor fuel, it requires Iran to redesign its Arak research reactor to produce far less plutonium than the original design, and specifies that spent fuel must be shipped out of the country without the plutonium being separated and before any significant quantity can be accumulated.
A key result of these restrictions is that it would take Iran many months to enrich uranium for a weapon. We contrast this with the situation before the interim agreement was negotiated in Lausanne: at that time Iran had accumulated enough 20 percent enriched uranium that the required additional enrichment time for weapons use was only a few weeks.
The JCPOA also provides for innovative approaches to verification, including monitoring of uranium mining, milling, and conversion to hexafluoride. Centrifuge manufacturing and R&D will be monitored as well. For 15 years the Natanz facility will be the only location where uranium enrichment is allowed to take place and it will be outfitted with real-time monitoring to assure rapid notice of any violation. The authority is provided for real-time monitoring of spent fuel as well.
Concerns about clandestine activities in Iran are greatly mitigated by the dispute resolution mechanism built into the agreement. The 24-day cap on any delay to access is unprecedented, and will allow effective challenge inspection for the suspected activities of greatest concern: clandestine enrichment, construction of reprocessing or reconversion facilities, and implosion tests using uranium. The approach to resolving “Possible Military Dimensions” is innovative as well: the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) must be satisfied that it is fully informed about any previous activities, in order to guide its future verification plans, but Iran need not be publicly shamed. This agreement, also for the first time, explicitly bans nuclear weapons R&D, rather than only their manufacture as specified in the text of the Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT).
Some have expressed concern that the deal will free Iran to develop nuclear weapons without constraint after ten years. In contrast we find that the deal includes important long-term verification procedures that last until 2040, and others that last indefinitely under the NPT and its Additional Protocol. On the other hand, we do believe that it would be valuable to strengthen these durable international institutions. We recommend that your team work with the IAEA to gain agreement to implement some of the key innovations included in the JCPOA into existing safeguards agreements. This will reduce the proliferation risks associated with national fuel cycle facilities worldwide. Thus in the future, when Iran is treated the same as all non-nuclear weapons states with nuclear energy programs, all such programs will be more stringently constrained and verified.
As you have stated, this deal does not take any options off the table for you or any future president. Indeed it will make it much easier for you or a future president to know if and when Iran heads for a bomb, and the detection of a significant violation of this agreement will provide strong, internationally supported justification for intervention.
In conclusion, we congratulate you and your team on negotiating a technically sound, stringent and innovative deal that will provide the necessary assurance in the coming decade and more that Iran is not developing nuclear weapons, and provides a basis for further initiatives to raise the barriers to nuclear proliferation in the Middle East and around the globe.
Richard L. Garwin, IBM Fellow Emeritus
Robert J. Goldston, Princeton University
R. Scott Kemp, Massachusetts Institute of Technology
Rush Holt, American Association for the Advancement of Science Frank von Hippel, Princeton University
John F. Ahearne, Director, Ethics Program at Sigma Xi, The Scientific Research Society
Philip W. Anderson, Professor Emeritus, Princeton University
Christopher Chyba, Princeton University
Leon N. Cooper, Brown University
Pierce S. Corden, Former Director, Office of International Security Negotiations, Bureau of Arms Control: Department of State
John M. Cornwall, Professor of Physics and Astronomy, UCLA
Sidney D. Drell, Stanford University
Freeman Dyson, Professor Emeritus, Institute for Advanced Study, Princeton University
Harold A. Feiveson, Princeton University
Michael E. Fisher, Professor Emeritus, Cornell University and University of Maryland
Howard Georgi, Harvard University
Sheldon L. Glashow, Boston University
Lisbeth Gronlund, Union of Concerned Scientists
David Gross, Professor of Theoretical Physics, Kavli Institute for Theoretical Physics, UCSB
Sigfried S. Hecker Center for International Security and Cooperation, Stanford University
Martin E. Hellman, Professor Emeritus of Electrical Engineering, Stanford University
Ernest Henley, University of Washington
Gregory Loew, Emeritus Deputy Director and Professor, SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory
C. Kumar N. Patel, Professor Emeritus of Experimental Condensed Matter, UCLA
Burton Richter, Stanford University
Myriam Sarachik, City College of New York, CUNY
Roy F. Schwitters, The University of Texas at Austin
Frank Wilczek, Massachusetts Institute of Technology
David Wright, Union of Concerned Scientists
Click here for a PDF version.  
On July 16, more than 100 former U.S. ambassadors sent the following letter to President Obama in support of the agreement:
Letter to the President from over 100 former American Ambassadors on the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action on Iran’s Nuclear Program
Dear Mr. President:
The Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) with Iran stands as a landmark agreement in deterring the proliferation of nuclear weapons. If properly implemented, this comprehensive and rigorously negotiated agreement can be an effective instrument in arresting Iran’s nuclear program and preventing the spread of nuclear weapons in the volatile and vitally important region of the Middle East. Without your determination and the admirable work of Secretary of State Kerry and his team, this agreement would never have been reached.
As former American diplomats, we have devoted much of our lives to ensuring that the President had available the best possible diplomatic approaches to dealing with challenges to our nation’s security, even while recognizing that a strong military is essential to help the President and the Congress to carry out their duties to protect the nation and its people. Effective diplomacy backed by credible defense will be critically important now, during the period of inspection and verification of Iran’s compliance with the agreement.
The JCPOA touches on some of America’s most important national objectives: non proliferation and the security of our friends in the Middle East particularly Israel. Ensuring the cooperation and implementation of this agreement by a hostile nation will require constant, dedicated U.S. leadership and unflagging attention.
We recognize that the JCPOA is not a perfect or risk-free settlement of this problem. However, we believe without it, the risks to the security of the United States and our friends and allies would be far greater. We are satisfied that the JCPOA will put in place a set of constraints and inspections that can assure that Iran’s nuclear program during the terms of the agreement will remain only for peaceful purposes and that no part of Iran is exempt from inspection. As with any negotiated settlement, the most durable and effective agreement is one that all sides will commit to and benefit from over the long term.
We support close Congressional involvement in the oversight, monitoring and enforcement of this agreement. Congress must be a full partner in its implementation and must evaluate carefully the value and feasibility of any alternative that would claim better to protect U.S. security and more effectively to prevent Iran from acquiring a nuclear weapon. In particular, Congress must give careful attention to evaluating whether alternatives would be more or less likely to narrow the options for resolving this issue without the use of force.
In our judgment the JCPOA deserves Congressional support and the opportunity to show it can work. We firmly believe that the most effective way to protect U.S. national security, and that of our allies and friends is to ensure that tough-minded diplomacy has a chance to succeed before considering other more costly and risky alternatives.
With respect,
Amb. (ret.) Diego C. Asencio, Ambassador to Colombia and Brazil
Amb. (ret.) Adrian Basora, Ambassador to Czechoslovakia
J. Brian Atwood, Administrator of USAID and Under Secretary of State for Management
Amb. (ret.) William M. Bellamy, Ambassador to Kenya
Amb. (ret.) John R. Beyrle, Ambassador to Russia and Bulgaria
Amb. (ret.) James Keough Bishop, Ambassador to Niger, Liberia and Somalia
Amb. (ret.) Barbara K. Bodine, Ambassador to Yemen
Amb. (ret.) Avis Bohlen, Assistant Secretary for Arms Control
Amb. (ret.) Eric J. Boswell, Assistant Secretary of State for Diplomatic Security
Amb. (ret.) Stephen Bosworth, Ambassador to the Republic of Korea
Amb. (ret.) Richard Boucher, Assistant Secretary of State for South and Central Asia
Amb. (ret.) Kenneth C. Brill, Ambassador to the IAEA, UN and founder of the U.S. National Counterproliferation Center
Amb (ret.) Kenneth L. Brown, Ambassador to Republic of Congo, Cote d’Ivoire, and Ghana
Amb. (ret.) A. Peter Burleigh, Ambassador and Deputy Permanent Representative to the United Nations
Amb. (ret.) Nicholas Burns, Undersecretary of State for Political Affairs, Ambassador to Greece and NATO
Amb. (ret.) James F. Collins, Ambassador to the Russian Federation and Ambassador at Large for the New Independent States
Amb. (ret.) Edwin G. Corr, Ambassador to Peru, Bolivia and El Salvador
Amb. (ret.) William Courtney, Commissioner, Bilateral Consultative Commission to implement the Threshold Test Ban Treaty
Amb. (ret.) Ryan Crocker, Ambassador to Afghanistan, Iraq, Pakistan, Syria, Kuwait, and Lebanon
Amb. (ret.) James B. Cunningham, Ambassador to Israel, Afghanistan and the United Nations
Amb. (ret.) Walter L. Cutler, Ambassador to Saudi Arabia, Tunisia
Amb. (ret.) Ruth A. Davis, Ambassador to the Republic of Benin and Director General of the Foreign Service
Amb. (ret.) John Gunther Dean, Ambassador to India
Amb. (ret.) Shaun Donnelly, Ambassador to Sri Lanka
Amb. (ret.) Harriet L. Elam-Thomas, Ambassador to Senegal
Amb. (ret.) Theodore L. Eliot Jr., Ambassador to Afghanistan
Amb. (ret.) Nancy Ely-Raphel, Ambassador to Slovenia
Amb. (ret.) Chas W. Freeman, Jr., Assistant Secretary of Defense and Ambassador to Saudi Arabia
Amb. (ret.) Robert Gallucci, Ambassador at Large
Amb. (ret.) Robert S. Gelbard, President’s Special Representative for the Balkans
David C. Gompert, former Acting Director of National Intelligence
Amb. (ret.) James E. Goodby, Special Representative of the President for Nuclear Security and Dismantlement, and Ambassador to Finland
Amb. (ret.) Marc Grossman, Under Secretary of State for Political Affairs and Ambassador to Turkey
Amb. (ret.) Brandon Grove, Director Foreign Service Institute
Amb. (ret.)William Harrop, Ambassador to Israel, Guinea, Kenya, and Seychelles
Amb. (ret.) Ulric Haynes, Jr. Ambassador to Algeria
Amb. (ret.) Donald Hays, Ambassador to the United Nations
Amb. (ret.) Heather M. Hodges, Ambassador to Ecuador and Moldova
Amb. (ret.) Karl Hofmann, Ambassador to Togo
Amb. (ret.) Thomas C. Hubbard, Ambassador to the Republic of Korea
Amb. (ret.) Vicki Huddleston, Ambassador to Mali and Madagascar
Thomas L. Hughes, former Assistant Secetary of State for Intelligence and Research
Amb. (ret.) Dennis Jett, Ambassador to Mozambique and Peru
Amb. (ret.) Beth Jones, Assistant Secretary of State for Europe and Eurasia
Amb. (ret.) James R. Jones, Ambassador to Mexico and formerly Member of Congress and White House Chief of Staff
Amb. (ret.) Theodore Kattouf, Ambassador to Syria and United Arab Emirates
Amb. (ret.) Richard D. Kauzlarich, Ambassador to Azerbaijan, Bosnia and Herzegovina
Amb. (ret.) Kenton W. Keith, Ambassador to Qatar
Amb. (ret.) Roger Kirk, Ambassador to Romania and Somalia
Amb. (ret.) John C. Kornblum, Ambassador to Germany and U.S. Assistant Secretary of State for European Affairs
Amb. (ret.) Eleni Kounalakis, Ambassador to Hungary
Amb. (ret.) Daniel Kurtzer, Ambassador to Israel and Egypt
Amb. (ret.) Bruce Laingen, Chargé d’Affaires in Tehran (1979)
Frank E. Loy, Under Secretary of State for Global Affairs
Amb. (ret.) William Luers, Ambassador to Czechoslovakia and Venezuela
Amb. (ret.) Princeton N. Lyman, Assistant Secretary of State for International Organization Affairs
Amb. (ret.) John F. Maisto, Ambassador to Organization of American States, Venezuela, Nicaragua
Amb. (ret.) Jack Matlock, Ambassador to the Soviet Union, Czechoslovakia, and Special Assistant to the President for National Security
Amb. (ret.) Donald F. McHenry, United States Permanent Representative to the United Nations
Amb. (ret.) Thomas E. McNamara, Assistant Secretary of State for Political-Military Affairs, Ambassador to Colombia, and at Large for Counterterrorism
Amb. (ret.) William B. Milam, Ambassador to Pakistan and Bangladesh
Amb. (ret.) Tom Miller, Ambassador to Greece and Bosnia-Herzegovina
Amb. (ret.) George E. Moose, Assistant Secretary of State for African Affairs, Ambassador to Benin, Senegal
Amb. (ret.) Cameron Munter, Ambassador to Pakistan and Serbia
Amb. (ret.) Richard Murphy, Assistant Secretary of State for Near Eastern and South Asian Affairs and Ambassador to Saudi Arabia
Amb. (ret.) Ronald E. Neumann, Ambassador to Afghanistan, Algeria, and Bahrain
Amb. (ret.) Thomas M. T. Niles, Assistant Secretary of State for Europe and Canada and Ambassador to Greece
Phyllis E. Oakley, Assistant Secretary, Bureau of Intelligence and Research
Amb. (ret.) W. Robert Pearson, Ambassador to Turkey
Amb. (ret.) Robert H. Pelletreau, Assistant Secretary of State for Near East Affair
Amb. (ret.) Pete Peterson, Ambassador to Vietnam
Amb. (ret.) Thomas Pickering, Undersecretary of State for Political Affairs, Ambassador to Israel, Russia, India, United Nations, El Salvador, Nigeria and Jordan
Amb. (ret.) Joan M. Plaisted, Ambassador to the Republic of the Marshall Islands and Kitibati
Amb. (ret.) Nicholas Platt, Ambassador to Pakistan, Philippines, and Zambia
Amb. (ret.) Anthony Quainton, Assistant Secretary of State for Diplomatic security or Director General of the Foreign Service
Amb. (ret.) Robin L. Raphel, Assistant Secretary of State for South Asia
Amb. (ret.) Charles A. Ray, Ambassador to Zimbabwe and Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for POW/Missing Personnel Affairs
Amb (ret.) Arlene Render, Ambassador to The Gambia, Zambia and Cote d’Ivoire
Amb. (ret.) Julissa Reynoso, Ambassador to Uruguay
Amb. (ret.) Francis J. Ricciardone, Ambassador to Egypt, Turkey, the Philippines, and Palau
Amb. (ret.) Rozanne L. Ridgway, Assistant Secretary for Europe and Canada and Counselor of the Department
Amb. (ret.) Peter F. Romero, Assistant Secretary of State
Amb. (ret.) Theodore Sedgwick, Ambassador to Slovakia
Amb. (ret.) J. Stapleton Roy, Ambassador to China and Indonesia
Amb. (ret.) William A. Rugh, Ambassador to Yemen and the United Arab Emirates
Amb. (ret.) Janet A Sanderson, Ambassador to Algeria and Haiti
Amb. (ret.) Teresita C. Schaffer, Ambassador to Sri Lanka
Amb. (ret.) Howard B. Schaffer, Ambassador to Bangladesh
Amb. (ret.) Raymond G. H. Seitz, Ambassador to the United Kingdom
Amb. (ret.) John Shattuck, Ambassador to the Czech Republic
Amb. (ret.) Ronald I. Spiers, Ambassador to Pakistan, Turkey and Assistant Secretary for Politico-Military Affairs
Amb. (ret.) William Lacy Swing, Ambassador to South Africa, Nigeria, Haiti, Congo-DRC, Liberia, and Republic of Congo
Amb. (ret.) Patrick Nickolas Theros, Ambassador to the State of Qatar
Arturo A. Valenzuela, Assistant Secretary of State for Western Hemisphere Affairs and Special Assistant to the President for National Security Affairs
Amb. (ret.) William J. Vanden Heuvel, Deputy Permanent United States Representative to the United Nations
Amb. (ret.) Nicholas A. Veliotes, Assistant Secretary of State for Near Eastern and South Asian Affairs
Amb. (ret.) Richard N. Viets, Ambassador to Jordan
Amb. (ret.) Edward S. Walker, Jr., Ambassador to Israel, Egypt and United Arab Emirates
Amb. (ret.) Alexander F. Watson, Assistant Secretary of State for Western Hemisphere Affairs, and Ambassador to Peru
Amb. (ret.) Melissa Wells, Ambassador to Estonia, DRC-Congo, Mozambique, Guinea Bissau
Amb. (ret.) Philip C. Wilcox Junior, Ambassador at Large for Counter Terrorism
Molly K. Williamson, Deputy Assistant Secretary of State, Defense, and Commerce
Amb. (ret.) Frank Wisner, Ambassador to India, Egypt, the Philippines and Zambia, and Under Secretary of State for International Security Affairs
Amb. (ret.) John Wolf, Assistant Secretary for Nonproliferation
Amb. (ret.) Kenneth Yalowitz, Ambassador to Belarus and Georgia
On August 11, three dozen retired generals and admirals released the following letter:
The Iran Deal Benefits U.S. National Security
An Open Letter from Retired Generals and Admirals
On July 14, 2015, after two years of intense international negotiations, an agreement was announced by the United States, the United Kingdom, France, Germany, China and Russia to contain Iran’s nuclear program. We, the undersigned retired military officers, support the agreement as the most effective means currently available to prevent Iran from obtaining nuclear weapons.
The international deal blocks the potential pathways to a nuclear bomb, provides for intrusive verification, and strengthens American national security. America and our allies, in the Middle East and around the world, will be safer when this agreement is fully implemented. It is not based on trust; the deal requires verification and tough sanctions for failure to comply.
There is no better option to prevent an Iranian nuclear weapon. Military action would be less effective than the deal, assuming it is fully implemented. If the Iranians cheat, our advanced technology, intelligence and the inspections will reveal it, and U.S. military options remain on the table. And if the deal is rejected by America, the Iranians could have a nuclear weapon within a year. The choice is that stark.
We agree with the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, General Martin Dempsey, who said on July 29, 2015, “[r]elieving the risk of a nuclear conflict with Iran diplomatically is superior than trying to do that militarily.”
If at some point it becomes necessary to consider military action against Iran, gathering sufficient international support for such an effort would only be possible if we have first given the diplomatic path a chance. We must exhaust diplomatic options before moving to military ones.
For these reasons, for the security of our Nation, we call upon Congress and the American people to support this agreement.
GEN James “Hoss” Cartwright, U.S. Marine Corps
GEN Joseph P. Hoar, U.S. Marine Corps GEN Merrill “Tony” McPeak, U.S. Air Force
GEN Lloyd W. "Fig" Newton, U.S. Air Force
LGEN Robert G. Gard, Jr., U.S. Army LGEN Arlen D. Jameson, U.S. Air Force LGEN Frank Kearney, U.S. Army
LGEN Claudia J. Kennedy, U.S. Army LGEN Donald L. Kerrick, U.S. Army LGEN Charles P. Otstott, U.S. Army LGEN Norman R. Seip, U.S. Air Force LGEN James M. Thompson, U.S. Army VADM Kevin P. Green, U.S. Navy VADM Lee F. Gunn, U.S. Navy
MGEN George Buskirk, US Army
MGEN Paul D. Eaton, U.S. Army
MGEN Marcelite J. Harris, U.S. Air Force MGEN Frederick H. Lawson, U.S. Army
MGEN William L. Nash, U.S. Army MGEN Tony Taguba, U.S. Army
RADM John Hutson, U.S. Navy
RADM Malcolm MacKinnon III, U.S. Navy
RADM Edward "Sonny" Masso, U.S. Navy
RADM Joseph Sestak, U.S. Navy
RADM Garland “Gar” P. Wright, U.S. Navy
BGEN John Adams, U.S. Air Force
BGEN Stephen A. Cheney, U.S. Marine Corps
BGEN Patricia "Pat" Foote, U.S. Army BGEN Lawrence E. Gillespie, U.S. Army BGEN John Johns, U.S. Army
BGEN David McGinnis, U.S. Army BGEN Stephen Xenakis, U.S. Army RDML James Arden "Jamie" Barnett, Jr., U.S. Navy
RDML Jay A. DeLoach, U.S. Navy
RDML Harold L. Robinson, U.S. Navy RDML Alan Steinman, U.S. Coast Guard
Click here for a PDF version.
On August 26, an open letter from nearly 200 retired generals and admirals who oppose the deal was published. It was addressed to Speaker of the House John A. Boehner, Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid.  
Letter to Congressional Leadership from Nearly 200 Retired Generals and Admirals
Dear Representatives Boehner and Pelosi and Senators McConnell and Reid:
As you know, on July 14, 2015, the United States and five other nations announced that a Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) has been reached with Iran to prevent it from developing nuclear weapons. In our judgment as former senior military officers, the agreement will not have that effect. Removing sanctions on Iran and releasing billions of dollars to its regime over the next ten years is inimical to the security of Israel and the Middle East. There is no credibility within JCPOA’s inspection process or the ability to snap back sanctions once lifted, should Iran violate the agreement. In this and other respects, the JCPOA would threaten the national security and vital interests of the United States and, therefore, should be disapproved by the Congress.
The agreement as constructed does not “cut off every pathway” for Iran to acquire nuclear weapons. To the contrary, it actually provides Iran with a legitimate path to doing that simply by abiding by the deal. JCPOA allows all the infrastructure the Iranians need for a nuclear bomb to be preserved and enhanced. Notably, Iran is allowed to: continue to enrich uranium; develop and test advanced centrifuges; and continue work on its Arak heavy-water plutonium reactor. Collectively, these concessions afford the Iranians, at worst, a ready breakout option and, at best, an incipient nuclear weapons capability a decade from now.
The agreement is unverifiable. Under the terms of the JCPOA and a secret side deal (to which the United States is not privy), the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) will be responsible for inspections under such severe limitations as to prevent them from reliably detecting Iranian cheating. For example, if Iran and the inspectors are unable to reach an accommodation with respect to a given site, the result could be at least a 24-day delay in IAEA access. The agreement also requires inspectors to inform Iran in writing as to the basis for its concerns about an undeclared site, thus further delaying access. Most importantly, these inspections do not allow access to Iranian military facilities, the most likely location of their nuclear weapons development efforts. In the JCPOA process, there is substantial risk of U.S. intelligence being compromised, since the IAEA often relies on our sensitive data with respect to suspicious and/or prohibited activity.
While failing to assure prevention of Iran’s nuclear weapons development capabilities, the agreement provides by some estimates $150 billion dollars or more to Iran in the form of sanctions relief. As military officers, we find it unconscionable that such a windfall could be given to a regime that even the Obama administration has acknowledged will use a portion of such funds to continue to support terrorism in Israel, throughout the Middle East and globally, whether directly or through proxies. These actions will be made all the more deadly since the JCPOA will lift international embargoes on Iran’s access to advanced conventional weapons and ballistic missile technology.
In summary, this agreement will enable Iran to become far more dangerous, render the Mideast still more unstable and introduce new threats to American interests as well as our allies. In our professional opinion, far from being an alternative to war, the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action makes it likely that the war the Iranian regime has waged against us since 1979 will continue, with far higher risks to our national security interests. Accordingly, we urge the Congress to reject this defective accord.
1. Admiral David Architzel, US Navy, Retired
2. Admiral Stanley R. Arthur, US Navy, Retired
3. General William Begert, US Air Force, Retired
4. General J.B. Davis, US Air Force, Retired
5. Admiral William A. Doughert, US Navy, Retired
6. Admiral Leon A. “Bud” Edney, US Navy, Retired
7. General Alfred G. Hansen US Air Force, Retired
8. Admiral Thomas Hayward, US Navy, Retired
9. Admiral James Hogg, US Navy, Retired
10. Admiral Jerome Johnson, US Navy, Retired
11. Admiral Timothy J. Keating, US Navy, Retired
12. Admiral Robert J. Kelly, US Navy, Retired
13. Admiral Thomas Joseph Lopez, US Navy, Retired
14. Admiral James A. “Ace” Lyons, US Navy, Retired
15. Admiral Richard Macke, US Navy, Retired
16. Admiral Henry Mauz, US Navy, Retired
17. General Lance Smith, US Air Force, Retired
18. Admiral Leighton Smith, US Navy, Retired
19. Admiral William D. Smith, US Navy, Retired
20. General Louis C. Wagner, Jr., US Army, Retired
21. Admiral Steve White, US Navy, Retired
22. General Ronald W. Yates, US Air Force, Retired
23. Lieutenant General Teddy G. Allen, US Army, Retired
24. Lieutenant General Edward G. Anderson, III, US Army, Retired
25. Lieutenant General Marcus A. Anderson, US Air Force, Retired
26. Lieutenant General Spence M. Armstrong, US Air Force, Retired
27. Lieutenant General Harold W. Blot, US Marine Corps, Retired
28. Vice Admiral Michael Bowman, US Navy, Retired
29. Lieutenant General William G. “Jerry” Boykin, US Army, Retired
30. Vice Admiral Edward S. Briggs, US Navy, Retired
31. Lieutenant General Richard E. “Tex” Brown III, US Air Force, Retired
32. Lieutenant General William J. Campbell, US Air Force, Retired
33. Vice Admiral Edward Clexton, US Navy, Retired
34. Vice Admiral Daniel L. Cooper, US Navy, Retired
35. Vice Admiral William A. Dougherty, US Navy, Retired
36. Lieutenant General Brett Dula, US Air Force, Retired
37. Lieutenant General Gordon E. Fornell, US Air Force, Retired
38. Lieutenant General Thomas B. Goslin, US Air Force, Retired
39. Lieutenant General Earl Hailston, US Marine Corps, Retired
40. Vice Admiral Bernard M. Kauderer, US Navy, Retired
41. Lieutenant General Timothy A. Kinnan, US Air Force, Retired
42. Vice Admiral J. B . LaPlante, US Navy, Retired
43. Vice Admiral Tony Less, US Navy, Retired
44. Lieutenant General Bennett L. Lewis, US Army, Retired
45. Vice Admiral Michael Malone, US Navy, Retired
46. Vice Admiral John Mazach, US Navy, Retired
47. Lieutenant General Thomas McInerney, US Air Force, Retired
48. Lieutenant General Fred McCorkle, US Marine Corps, Retired
49. Vice Admiral Robert Monroe, US Navy, Retired
50. Vice Admiral Jimmy Pappas, US Navy, Retired
51. Vice Admiral J. Theodore Parker, US Navy, Retired
52. Lieutenant General Garry L. Parks, US Marine Corps, Retired
53. Lieutenant General Everett Pratt, US Air Force, Retired
54. Vice Admiral John Poindexter, US Navy, Retired
55. Lieutenant General Clifford "Ted" Rees, Jr., US Air Force, Retired
56. Vice Admiral William Rowden, US Navy, Retired
57. Vice Admiral Robert F. Schoultz, US Navy, Retired
58. Lieutenant General E.G. “Buck” Shuler, Jr., US Air Force, Retired
59. Lieutenant General Hubert 'Hugh" G. Smith, US Army, Retired
60. Vice Admiral Edward M. Straw, US Navy, Retired
61. Lieutenant General David J. Teal, US Air Force, Retired
62. Vice Admiral D.C. "Deese" Thompson, US Coast Guard, Retired
63. Lieutenant General William E. Thurman, US Air Force, Retired
64. Lieutenant General Billy Tomas, US Army, Retired
65. Vice Admiral John Totushek, US Navy, Retired
66. Vice Admiral Jerry Tuttle, US Navy, Retired
67. Vice Admiral Jerry Unruh, US Navy, Retired
68. Vice Admiral Timothy W. Wright, US Navy, Retired
69. Rear Admiral William V. Alford, Jr., US Navy, Retired
70. Major General Thurman E. Anderson, US Army, Retired
71. Major General Joseph T. Anderson, US Marine Corps, Retired
72. Rear Admiral Philip Anselmo, US Navy, Retired
73. Major General Joe Arbuckle, US Army, Retired
74. Rear Admiral James W. Austin, US Navy, Retired
75. Rear Admiral John R. Batzler, US Navy, Retired
76. Rear Admiral John Bayless, US Navy, Retired
77. Major General John Bianchi, US Army, Retired
78. Rear Admiral Donald Vaux Boecker, US Navy, Retired
79. Rear Admiral Jerry C. Breast, US Navy, Retired
80. Rear Admiral Bruce B. Bremner, US Navy, Retired
81. Major General Edward M. Browne, US Army, Retired
82. Rear Admiral Thomas F. Brown III, US Navy, Retired
83. Rear Admiral Lyle Bull, US Navy, Retired
84. Major General Bobby G. Butcher, US Marine Corps, Retired
85. Rear Admiral Jay A. Campbell, US Navy, Retired
86. Major General Henry D. Canterbury, US Air Force, Retired
87. Major General Carroll D. Childers, US Army, Retired
88. Rear Admiral Ronald L. Christenson, US Navy, Retired
89. Major General John R.D. Cleland, US Army, Retired
90. Major General Richard L. Comer, US Air Force, Retired
91. Rear Admiral Jack Dantone, US Navy, Retired
92. Major General William B. Davitte, US Air Force, Retired
93. Major General James D. Delk, US Army, Retired
94. Major General Felix Dupre, US Air Force, Retired
95. Rear Admiral Philip A. Dur, US Navy, Retired
96. Major General Neil L. Eddins, US Air Force, Retired
97. Rear Admiral Paul Engel, US Navy, Retired
98. Major General Vince Falter, US Army, Retired
99. Rear Admiral James H. Flatley, US Navy, Retired
100. Major General Bobby O. Floyd, US Air Force, Retired
101. Major General Paul Fratarangelo, US Marine Corps, Retired
102. Rear Admiral Veronica "Ronne" Froman, US Navy, Retired
103. Rear Admiral R. Byron Fuller, US Navy, Retired
104. Rear Admiral Frank Gallo, US Navy, Retired
105. Rear Admiral Albert A. Gallotta, Jr., US Navy, Retired
106. Rear Admiral James Mac Gleim, US Navy, Retired
107. Rear Admiral Robert H. Gormley, US Navy, Retired
108. Rear Admiral William Gureck, US Navy, Retired
109. Major General Gary L. Harrell, US Army, Retired
110. Rear Admiral Donald Hickman, US Navy, Retired
111. Major General Geoffrey Higginbotham, US Marine Corps, Retired
112. Major General Kent H. Hillhouse, US Army, Retired
113. Rear Admiral Tim Hinkle, US Navy, Retired
114. Major General Victor Joseph Hugo, US Army, Retired
115. Major General James P. Hunt, US Air Force, Retired
116. Rear Admiral Grady L. Jackson, US Navy, Retired
117. Major General William K. James, US Air Force, Retired
118. Rear Admiral John M. “Carlos” Johnson, US Navy, Retired
119. Rear Admiral Pierce J. Johnson, US Navy, Retired
120. Rear Admiral Steven B. Kantrowitz, US Navy, Retired
121. Major General Maurice W. Kendall, US Army, Retired
122. Rear Admiral Charles R. Kubic, US Navy, Retired
123. Rear Admiral Frederick L. Lewis, US Navy, Retired
124. Major General John D. Logeman, Jr., US Air Force, Retired
125. Major General Homer S. Long, Jr., US Army, Retired
126. Major General Robert M. Marquette, US Air Force, Retired
127. Rear Admiral Robert B. McClinton, US Navy, Retired
128. Rear Admiral W. J. McDaniel, MD, US Navy, Retired
129. Major General Keith W. Meurlin, US Air Force, Retired
130. Rear Admiral Terrence McKnight, US Navy, Retired
131. Major General John F. Miller, Jr., US Air Force, Retired
132. Major General Burton R. Moore, US Air Force, Retired
133. Rear Admiral David R. Morris, US Navy, Retired
134. Rear Admiral Ed Nelson, Jr., US Coast Guard, Retired
135. Major General George W. "Nordie" Norwood, US Air Force, Retired
136. Major General Everett G. Odgers, US Air Force, Retired
137. Rear Admiral Phillip R. Olson, US Navy, Retired
138. Rear Admiral Robert S. Owens, US Navy, Retired
139. Rear Admiral Robert O. Passmore, US Navy, Retired
140. Major General Richard E. Perraut, Jr., US Air Force, Retired
141. Rear Admiral W.W. Pickavance, Jr., US Navy, Retired
142. Rear Admiral L.F. Picotte, US Navy, Retired
143. Rear Admiral Thomas J. Porter, US Navy, Retired
144. Major General H. Douglas Robertson, US Army, Retired
145. Rear Admiral W.J. Ryan, US Navy, Retired
146. Rear Admiral Norman Saunders, US Coast Guard, Retired
147. Major General John P. Schoeppner, Jr., US Air Force, Retired
148. Major General Edison E. Scholes, US Army, Retired
149. Rear Admiral Hugh P. Scott, US Navy, Retired
150. Major General Richard Secord, US Air Force, Retired
151. Rear Admiral James M. Seely, US Navy, Retired
152. Major General Sidney Shachnow, US Army, Retired
153. Rear Admiral William H. Shawcross, US Navy, Retired
154. Rear Admiral Bob Shumaker, US Navy, Retired
155. Major General Willie Studer, US Air Force, Retired
156. Major General Larry Taylor, US Marine Corps, Retired
157. Rear Admiral Jeremy Taylor, US Navy, Retired
158. Major General Richard L. Testa, US Air Force, Retired
159. Rear Admiral Robert P. Tiernan, US Navy, Retired
160. Major General Paul E. Vallely, US Army, Retired
161. Major General Kenneth W. Weir, US Marine Corps, Retired
162. Major General John Welde, US Air Force, Retired
163. Rear Admiral James B. Whittaker, US Navy, Retired
164. Major General Geoffrey P. Wiedeman, Jr., MD, US Air Force, Retired
165. Rear Admiral H. Denny Wisely, US Navy, Retired
166. Brigadier General John R. Allen, Jr., US Air Force, Retired
167. Brigadier General John C. Arick, US Marine Corps, Retired
168. Brigadier General Loring R. Astorino, US Air Force, Retired
169. Rear Admiral Robert E. Besal, US Navy, Retired
170. Brigadier General William Bloomer, US Marine Corps, Retired
171. Brigadier General George P. Cole, Jr., US Air Force, Retired
172. Brigadier General Richard A. Coleman, US Air Force, Retired
173. Brigadier General James L. Crouch, US Air Force, Retired
174. Rear Admiral Marianne B. Drew, US Navy, Retired
175. Brigadier General Philip M. Drew, US Air Force, Retired
176. Brigadier General Larry K. Grundhauser, US Air Force, Retired
177. Brigadier General Thomas W. Honeywill, US Air Force, Retired
178. Brigadier General Gary M. Jones, US Army, Retired
179. Brigadier General Stephen Lanning, US Air Force, Retired
180. Brigadier General Thomas J. Lennon, US Air Force, Retired
181. Rear Admiral Bobby C. Lee, US Navy, Retired
182. Brigadier General Robert F. Peksens, US Air Force, Retired
183. Brigadier General Joe Shaefer, US Air Force, Retired
184. Brigadier General Graham E. Shirley, US Air Force, Retired
185. Brigadier General Stanley O. Smith, US Air Force, Retired
186. Brigadier General Hugh B. Tant III, US Army, Retired
187. Brigadier General Michael Joseph Tashjian, US Air Force, Retired
188. Brigadier General William Tiernan, US Marine Corps, Retired
189. Brigadier General Roger W. Scearce, US Army, Retired
190. Brigadier General Robert V. Woods, US Air Force, Retired



On August 17, more than 70 of the world’s leading nuclear nonproliferation specialists issued the following joint statement in support of the deal.

The Comprehensive P5+1 Nuclear Agreement With Iran:
A Net-Plus for Nonproliferation

Statement from Nuclear Nonproliferation Specialists
August 17, 2015
The Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) is a strong, long-term, and verifiable agreement that will be a net-plus for international nuclear nonproliferation efforts.
It advances the security interests of the P5+1 nations (China, France, Germany, Russia, the United Kingdom, and the United States), the European Union, their allies and partners in the Middle East, and the international community.
When implemented, the JCPOA will establish long-term, verifiable restrictions on Iran's enrichment facilities and research and development, including advanced centrifuge research and deployment. Taken in combination with stringent limitations on Iran’s low-enriched uranium stockpile, these restrictions ensure that Iran’s capability to produce enough bomb-grade uranium sufficient for one weapon would be extended to approximately 12 months for a decade or more.
Moreover, the JCPOA will effectively eliminate Iran’s ability to produce and separate plutonium for a nuclear weapon for at least 15 years, including by permanently modifying the Arak reactor, Iran’s major potential source for weapons grade plutonium, committing Iran not to reprocess spent fuel, and shipping spent fuel out of the country.
The JCPOA is effectively verifiable. The agreement will put in place a multi-layered monitoring regime across Iran’s entire nuclear supply chain, including centrifuge manufacturing sites (for 20 years), uranium mining and milling (for 25 years), and continuous monitoring of a larger number of nuclear and nuclear-related sites.
The JCPOA requires Iran to implement and ratify the additional protocol to Iran’s comprehensive safeguards agreement, which significantly enhances the International Atomic Energy Agency’s (IAEA) inspection regime. Among other measures, this will give international inspectors timely access to any Iranian facility of proliferation concern, including military sites, which the JCPOA will ensure cannot be stalled more than 24 days without serious consequences.
In addition, the JCPOA puts in place safeguards that require early notification of design changes or new nuclear projects by Iran (the modified code 3.1 provision). The additional protocol and code 3.1 monitoring and verification measures will remain in place indefinitely.
The JCPOA also requires that Iran cooperate with the IAEA to conclude its long-running investigation of Iran's past activities with possible military dimensions (PMDs) and permanently prohibits certain dual-use activities, which could contribute to the design and development of a nuclear explosive device.
Taken together, these rigorous limits and transparency measures will make it very likely that any future effort by Iran to pursue nuclear weapons, even a clandestine program, would be detected promptly, providing the opportunity to intervene decisively to prevent Iran from acquiring a nuclear weapon.
The agreement requires that Iran undertake major steps—including to reduce its uranium enrichment capacity, modify the Arak reactor, allow for more intrusive international monitoring, and cooperate with the IAEA’s PMD investigation—before UN Security Council, U.S., and EU economic and financial sanctions are suspended or terminated, and it provides for swift consequences in the event of noncompliance.
If all sides comply with and faithfully implement their multi-year obligations, the agreement will reduce the risk of a destabilizing nuclear competition in a troubled region – giving time and space to address other regional problems without fear of an Iran armed with nuclear weapons—and head off a catastrophic military conflict over Iran's nuclear program.
Though all of us could find ways to improve the text, we believe the JCPOA meets key nonproliferation and security objectives and see no realistic prospect for a better nuclear agreement.
We urge the leaders of the P5+1 states, the European Union, and Iran to take the steps necessary to ensure timely implementation and rigorous compliance with the JCPOA.
Endorsed by:
Amb. Nobuyasu Abe, Commissioner of the Japan Atomic Energy Commission* and former United Nations Under-Secretary-General for Disarmament Affairs, former Director-General for Arms Control and Science Affairs of the Japanese Ministry of Foreign Affairs
James Acton, Co-Director, Nuclear Policy Program, Carnegie Endowment for International Peace*
John Ahearne, former Chairman of the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission
Steve Andreasen, former Director for Defense Policy and Arms Control on the National Security Council staff (1993-2001) consultant to the Nuclear Threat Initiative*

Dr. Bruce Blair, Research Scholar, Program on Science and Global Security, Princeton University

Dr. Barry Blechman, Co-Founder, Stimson Center*

Hans Blix, former Director General of the IAEA

Avis Bohlen, former Assistant Secretary of State for Arms Control, U.S. Department of State
Amb. (ret.) Kenneth C. Brill, Ambassador to the IAEA (2001-2004) and Founding Director of the U.S. National Counterproliferation Center (2005-2009)

Matthew Bunn, Professor of Practice, Harvard Kennedy School, and former adviser to the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy

Susan F. Burk, former Special Representative of the President for Nuclear Nonproliferation, and former Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for Nonproliferation, U.S. Department of State
Sandra Ionno Butcher, Executive Director, Pugwash Conferences on Science & World Affairs (International)*
John Carlson, Counselor, Nuclear Threat Initiative, former Director General, Australian Safeguards and Nonproliferation Office

Joseph Cirincione, President, Ploughshares Fund

Tom Z. Collina, Director of Policy, Ploughshares Fund, and former Executive Director and Co-Founder of the Institute for Science and International Security and the Director of the Global Security Program at the Union of Concerned Scientists

Avner Cohen, Professor of Nonproliferation Studies at the Middlebury Institute of International Studies at Monterey*

Philip E. Coyle, former Associate Director for National Security and International Affairs, White House Office of Science and Technology Policy
Toby Dalton, Co-Director, Nuclear Policy Program, Carnegie Endowment for International Peace*
Kelsey Davenport, Director for Nonproliferation Policy, Arms Control Association
Amb. Jayantha Dhanapala, former United Nations Under-Secretary-General for Disarmament Affairs
Amb. Sergio Duarte, former United Nations Under-Secretary-General for Disarmament Affairs
Robert J. Einhorn, former U.S. Department of State Special Advisor for Nonproliferation and Arms Control and former negotiator on the Iran nuclear talks
Dina Esfandiary, MacArthur Fellow, Centre for Science and Security Studies, Department of War Studies, Kings College London
Trevor Findlay, Senior Research Fellow, Project on Managing the Atom, Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs, Harvard University
Richard L. Garwin, former Chair of the Arms Control and Nonproliferation Advisory Board of the U.S Department of State
Ellie Geranmayeh, Policy Fellow, European Council on Foreign Relations*
Ilan Goldenberg, former Iran Team Chief, Office of the Secretary of Defense, U.S. Department of Defense
Dr. Lisbeth Gronlund, Co-Director and Senior Scientist, Global Security Program, Union of Concerned Scientists
Morton H. Halperin, former Director of Policy Planning, U.S. Department of State
Laicie Heeley, Fellow, Stimson Center*
Paul Ingram, Executive Director, British American Security Information Council
Raymond Jeanloz, Chair, National Academy of Sciences Committee on International Security and Arms Control*
Togzhan Kassenova, Associate, Nuclear Policy Program, Carnegie Endowment for International Peace*
R. Scott Kemp, assistant professor of nuclear science and engineering at MIT, former science advisor to the U.S. Department of State’s Special Advisor for Nonproliferation and Arms Control
Daryl G. Kimball, Executive Director, Arms Control Association
Michael Krepon, Co-Founder, Stimson Center*
Ellen Laipson, President and CEO, Stimson Center*
Dr. Edward Levine, former Senior Professional Staff Member, Senate Foreign Relations Committee (1997-2011) and Senate Select Committee on Intelligence (1976-1997)
Dr. Jeffrey Lewis, Middlebury Institute of International Studies at Monterey* and Director of East Asia Non-Proliferation Program at the Center for Nonproliferation Studies*
Jan Lodal, former Principal Deputy Under Secretary of Defense, U.S. Department of Defense
Jessica T. Mathews, Distinguished Fellow, former President, Carnegie Endowment for International Peace*
Fred McGoldrick, former Director of the Office of Nonproliferation and Export Policy, U.S. Department of State
Oliver Meier, Deputy Head, International Security Division, German Institute for International and Security Affairs (SWP)*
Dr. Zia Mian, Director of the Project on Peace and Security in South Asia at the Program on Science and Global Security, Princeton University
Adam Mount, Stanton Nuclear Security Fellow, Council on Foreign Relations*
Richard Nephew, former Principal Deputy Coordinator for Sanctions Policy at the Department of State, and Director for Iran on the National Security Staff
George Perkovich, Vice President for Studies, Carnegie Endowment for International Peace*
Amb. Thomas R. Pickering, former Under Secretary of State for Political Affairs, and former U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, Russian Federation, India, Israel, and Jordan
Steve Pifer, Senior Fellow, Brookings Institution, and retired career Foreign Service officer
Paul R. Pillar, former U.S. National Intelligence Officer for the Near East and South Asia
Valerie Plame, former covert CIA operations officer
William Potter, Sam Nunn and Richard Lugar Professor of Nonproliferation Studies at the Middlebury Institute of International Studies at Monterey*
Tariq Rauf, former Head of Verification and Security Policy Coordination, Office reporting to the Director General, International Atomic Energy Agency, and Director of the Disarmament, Arms Control and Non-Proliferation Programme at the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI)*
Laura Rockwood, Executive Director, Vienna Center for Disarmament and Non-Proliferation,* and former section head for nonproliferation and policymaking in the Office of Legal Affairs of the IAEA (1985-2013)
Joan Rohlfing, President and Chief Operating Officer, Nuclear Threat Initiative*
Dr. Randy Rydell, former Senior Political Affairs Officer in the Office of the High Representative for Disarmament, United Nations
Scott D. Sagan, The Caroline S.G. Munro Professor of Political Science, Stanford University
Thomas Shea, former IAEA Safeguards Official, and former Head of the IAEA Trilateral Initiative Office, and former Sector Head of Defense Nuclear Nonproliferation Programs, Pacific Northwest National Laboratory
Shen Dingli, Professor and Director, Program on Arms Control and Regional Security, and Associate Dean, Institute of International Studies, Fudan University, Shanghai, China
Jacqueline Shire, former member of United Nations Panel of Experts (Iran) established under Security Council Resolution 1929 (2010)
Leonard S. Spector, Deputy Director, Center for Nonproliferation Studies at the Middlebury Institute of International Studies,* and former Assistant Deputy Administrator for Arms Control and Nonproliferation at the U.S. National Nuclear Security Administration
Sharon Squassoni, Senior Fellow and Director, Proliferation Prevention Program, Center for Strategic and International Studies*
Ariane M. Tabatabai, Visiting Assistant Professor in the Security Studies Program at the Georgetown University Edmund A. Walsh School of Foreign Service*
Honorable Ellen O. Tauscher, former Under Secretary of State for Arms Control and International Security, U.S. Department of State, seven-term Member of House of Representatives, and Chairman of the Strategic Forces Subcommittee of the House Armed Services Committee (2006-2009)
Greg Thielmann, former Director of the Strategic, Proliferation and Military Affairs Office in the U.S. Department of State’s Bureau of Intelligence and Research
Dr. Ali Vaez, Senior Iran Analyst, International Crisis Group
Frank von Hippel, former Assistant Director for National Security, White House Office of Science and Technology Policy
Dr. James Walsh, Research Associate at the Security Studies Program, Massachusetts Institute of Technology
Honorable Andy Weber, former Assistant Secretary of Defense for Nuclear, Chemical and Biological Defense Programs, U.S. Department of Defense
Larry Weiler, former Special Assistant to the Director of the U.S. Arms Control and Disarmament Agency and a negotiator of the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty
Amb. Joseph Wilson (ret.), former Special Assistant to President Bill Clinton and Senior Director at the National Security Council

Joel S. Wit, Visiting Scholar at U.S.-Korea Institute at SAIS, Senior Research Fellow at Columbia University Weatherhead Institute for East Asian Studies, and former Coordinator for the U.S.-North Korea Agreed Framework (1995-1999)

Dr. David Wright, Co-Director and Senior Scientist, Global Security Program, Union of Concerned Scientists
Amb. Norman A. Wulf, U.S. Department of State (ret.), and Special Representative of the President for Nuclear Nonproliferation (1999-2002)
*Institution listed for identification purposes only.

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