United States Institute of Peace

The Iran Primer

Rouhani CBS Interview on Nuclear Deal, US

Iran and the United States have “taken the first steps” toward decreasing enmity by negotiating the nuclear deal announced in July, President Hassan Rouhani told CBS in an interview. But he emphasized that establishing trust between Tehran and Washington would take a long time given decades-long tensions. Rouhani also said there were no plans for him to meet President Barack Obama later in September during the U.N. General Assembly opening in New York. “I think many more steps should be taken in order to reach this stage,” he said in a “60 Minutes” interview that aired on September 20. The following is a partial transcript of the interview from Rouhani’s official website.  


President Hassan Rouhani: I am very pleased of this opportunity in order to have a chat together regarding issues which are important for all of us today on the current situations around the world and of curse for our region and the whole world it is significant, I think peace, security and stability are the most important goals that if the region and the world have them then it will pave the ground for progress and development and of curse which are to the benefit of all humanity.
Steve Kroft: What do you think of the [nuclear] agreement?

Rouhani: It was a very difficult agreement it had a lot of complexities and usually in negotiations where there are seven countries and representatives of seven countries are negotiating on issues which are significant to both parties that the negotiations will finally be successful it is not that much simple but I have never been pessimistic about the success of these negotiations.
The first successful step we made in the agreement of Geneva it meant that of curse this way even though it is difficult but it is the right part we have selected and it can get us closer to our goals and today I am pleased that very important steps we have made and we are making the final steps.
Rouhani: The same agreement is very important of occurs in a very important issues that one of parties of two negotiating I means Iran was in fact doing something for its development it was necessary for development of Iran and the other side was pessimistic about the same goal the other side was seeking and it was feeling it may be afraid to the peace and security therefore the distance was very big between the two sides and of course the achievement of understanding and agreement in principles means a big successful for the two parties. And what we gained in fact were the goals we were seeking right from the beginning and that was without problem we should be able to have our peaceful activity, sanctions should be lifted and oppressive resolutions against Iran should be lifted.
Kroft: Were you surprised by the ferocity of the debate in the United States and the outcome?
Rouhani: It was predictable. An issue of this significance cannot be resolved without its opponents. One is surprised by the commentaries and the commentaries are not very pleasant. Some groups and political parties may be against it, but the governments of the world, all together, welcomed this deal.

Kroft: Opponents have argued that U.S. has given away too much for very little in return from Iran. Agreeing to lift the sanctions on Iran in exchange for, what they call, a temporary 15-year freeze on nuclear operations after which Iran would be free to resume or begin work on a nuclear bomb with far more resources than they have now.

Rouhani: If a country wanted, with the technical resources it has, to gain an atomic bomb, this deal would have been a very bad deal for it. Because the deal creates limitations from all sides to getting an atomic bomb, But if a country has been after peaceful technology from the beginning, then it has lost nothing. We wanted this incorrect accusation that Iran is after nuclear weapons corrected and resolved and that the goal of Iran is peaceful activity. In this deal, we have accepted limitations for a period of time in order to create more trust with the world.
Kroft: The United States seems to have its hardliners and Iran seems to have its hardliners. Do you see similarities between the United States and Iran in terms of the opposition to this?

Rouhani: There are similarities. It's natural that opponents always look for the maximum possible outcome. In an agreement, neither achieves the maximum. Both sides must always concede a little bit from the maximum to get an agreement. Therefore, the person who seeks the maximum complains. The result of this agreement benefits everyone, benefits both sides, because we have been able to reach an understanding, an agreement, on a very complicated issue at the negotiating table and be able to prevent misunderstandings, and take the first step towards trust. Of course, for reaching trust between the U.S. and Iran, there is need for a lot of time.

Kroft: Some of the opponents are very powerful. The commander of the Revolutionary Guards, for example, has condemned the deal. How do you deal with that? That's an important political force in this country.

Rouhani: It's clear that some will be opposed...some will be in favor, will express their opinions, but at the same time after the agreement is approved by the responsible institutions, everyone will comply with that. The Revolutionary Guards also, when the deal is approved by responsible institutions, they, too, will respect this agreement.

Kroft: some of the success has been undercut by very harsh statements from both sides. Since the deal, Ayatollah Khamanei has endorsed, even praised, the chanting of 'Death to America' and 'Death to Israel' he continues to call the United States the 'great Satan.' Do you believe the United States is the 'great Satan?'

Rouhani: The enmity that existed between the United States and Iran over the decades, the distance, the disagreements, the lack of trust, will not go away soon. What's important is which direction we are heading? Are we heading towards amplifying the enmity or decreasing this enmity? I believe we have taken the first steps towards decreasing this enmity.

Kroft: Do you think the United States is the 'great Satan?'

Rouhani: Satan in our religious parlance is used to refer to that power that tricks others and whose words are not clear words, do not match reality. What I can say is that the U.S. has made many mistakes in the past regarding Iran, and must make up for those mistakes.
Kroft: I'm sure you realize that it is difficult for many Americans to get past the fact that President Obama has signed an agreement with a country that says, 'Death to America, Death to Israel.' How do you explain this? What are they to make of it? Are they to take it literally? Is this for domestic, internal Iranian political consumption? What are Americans to make of it, the language?
Rouhani: This slogan that is chanted is not a slogan against the American people. Our people respect the American people. The Iranian people are not looking for war with any country. But at the same time the policies of the United States have been against the national interests of Iranian people. It's understandable that people will demonstrate sensitivity to this issue. When the people rose up against the Shah, the United States aggressively supported the Shah until the last moments. In the eight-year war with Iraq, the Americans supported Saddam. People will not forget these things. We cannot forget the past, but at the same time our gaze must be towards the future.

Kroft: 'Death to America' is very simple concept. Three words, not much room left for interpretation. Not very conciliatory, do you see the day when that language will not be used? You yourself have encouraged both sides to try and lower the temperature.

Rouhani: If America puts the enmity aside, if it initiates good will, and if it compensates for the past, the future situation between the United States and Iran will change.

Kroft: The United States has just signed an agreement with Iran to lift the sanctions, is that not a sign of goodwill?
Rouhani: It hasn't been implemented yet...the lifting of the sanctions must be initiated.
Steve Kroft: Do you think the level of trust between Iran and the United States has improved because of this treaty?

Rouhani: Relative to the past, it's improved. But this does not mean that all disagreements are resolved, or all the distrust removed, in one case, on one issue, yes, we have managed to overcome the problem.

Kroft: There has been speculation and hope both inside and outside of Iran and in the United States that this nuclear deal could be a catalyst for some broader, if limited, cooperation between the two countries where there are mutual interests.

Rouhani: Many areas exist where in those areas it's possible that common goals, or common interests, may exist. But what is important is that in the nuclear agreement, we see how the two sides behave in action. Enacting this deal in a good way will create a new environment.

Kroft: You have said that you are willing to sit down with any country, friend or enemy, to discuss the situation in Syria in order to stop the bloodshed. What does Iran see as a possible, workable, acceptable solution to the situation in Syria?

Rouhani: Look, in a county where a large segment of the country has been occupied by terrorists, and there is bloodshed inside the country, millions of people have been displaced, how is it possible that we fight the terrorists of this country without supporting and helping the government of that country? How can we fight the terrorists without the government staying? Of course, after we have fought terrorism and a secure environment is created, then it is time to talk about the constitution, or the future regime to talk and discuss opposition groups and supporters sit at the table, but during a situation of bloodshed and during an occupation of the country, what options exist?

Kroft: This agreement was a big political victory for you personally. You were elected president based on the idea that you wanted to open up Iran to the outside world that you wanted to get the sanctions lifted, that you wanted to bring prosperity back to the country, so Iran can take its place among the great nations of the world and not be isolated. There are still some things in that agenda those are still unfulfilled: freedom of speech, more access to the Internet and personal freedoms.

Rouhani: I think relative to the two years I've been in office, I have been successful - not 100 percent of course, but successful. Our relations with other countries have improved. There is more freedom at the universities, lively debates and greater freedom of the press, compared to the past. Of course, there are some issues that are not in control of the government.

Kroft: As we sit here speak the-- right now, there is a dual American/Iranian citizen, a journalist for the Washington Post, Jason Rezaian, in prison for more than a year on unspecified charges. There has been talk among leaders in the last few weeks that there might be a prisoner exchange. Is there anything you can say to clarify the situation?

Rouhani: We have Iranians who are imprisoned in the United States, Iranians who are being pursued and most of them are being pursued for circumventing the sanctions. And, you know, that from the beginning we considered the sanctions to be wrong, and we encouraged everyone to circumvent them. We consider all those prisoners to be innocent, and consider it wrong that they are in prison.

Kroft: Would you support a prisoner exchange?

Rouhani: I don't particularly like the word exchange, but from a humanitarian perspective, if we can take a step, we must do it. The American side must take its own steps.

Rouhani: As you know, in Iran, we are transferring the economy step by step to the private, nongovernmental sector. Our private sector and the American private sector can improve the environment. Actually, it will strengthen the nuclear agreement, even tourism, if the people of the United States come to Iran and see its ancient history and nature of Iran, and the people of Iran go to the United States to see America, this can shorten the walls of mistrust and improve the situation for the future.
Kroft: Do you plan to meet with the president Obama when you come to New York next week?
Rouhani: We have no plan for this visit; I think many more steps should be taken in order to reach this stage.
Kroft: What about telephone?
Rouhani: There was no need to do a phone call, there was once a need and then President Obama called me and we talked over the phone.

Click here for a partial transcript from CBS.
Click here for a partial transcript from Rouhani’s office.

US Treasury on Iran Sanctions Post-Deal

On September 17, a ranking Treasury official told lawmakers that the United States is “intensifying a battery of sanctions that will not change under the terms of that deal” even while preparing to suspend secondary nuclear sanctions in return for Iranian compliance. “These include sanctions against Iranian human rights abusers as well as our powerful campaign against the Iran Revolutionary Guard Corps and the Quds Force, as well as Hizballah and other Iranian partners and proxies in Syria, Iraq, Yemen, Gaza, and beyond,” Adam Szubin, nominee for Under Secretary for Terrorism and Financial Crimes, told the Senate Committee on Banking, Housing and Urban Affairs at his nomination hearing. Szubin has served as Director of Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control since 2006. The following are excerpts from Szubin’s testimony and answers to lawmakers’ questions.
“[U]nder Stuart Levey’s and then David Cohen’s leadership, TFI (Office of Terrorism and Financial Intelligence) devised and executed a strategy to dramatically intensify the pressure against the government of Iran and its malign policies, its nuclear program chief among them.  Through a steady campaign to expose Iran's deceptive activities in the financial arena, we cut Iran’s banks off from the world’s financial centers, and badly wounded its trade and financial strength.  In 2010, Congress, with this Committee at the center, then dramatically advanced the effort, passing bipartisan measures that brought Iran’s crude oil sales down by 60 percent, escrowed Iran’s foreign reserves in banks around the world, and ensured that Iran’s leaders knew that it would not recover economically until it clearly and verifiably closed off all of its pathways to a nuclear weapon.  These efforts led to the election of President Rouhani and culminated in the diplomatic process that produced the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action.  The women and men of TFI worked incredibly hard over the past decade to impose and enforce these measures, and to combat every effort to circumvent them.  And, even as we prepare to suspend our secondary nuclear sanctions if Iran fulfills its commitments under the deal, we are simultaneously intensifying a battery of sanctions that will not change under the terms of that deal.  These include sanctions against Iranian human rights abusers as well as our powerful campaign against the Iran Revolutionary Guard Corps and the Quds Force, as well as Hizballah and other Iranian partners and proxies in Syria, Iraq, Yemen, Gaza, and beyond.  And we will be doing so in active cooperation with our partners in Europe, the Gulf, and Israel.”
Banks found to be supporting militant groups “will find themselves back onto the list, and the Iranians I believe understand that.”

State Department on Implementing Iran Deal

State Department officials announced that Adoption Day for the Iran nuclear deal will be October 18, 2015. They also clarified that the deal will not go into full effect, notably sanctions relief, until after Iran dismantles key components of its nuclear program. The International Atomic Energy Agency, the U.N. nuclear watchdog, then has to verify Iran’s full compliance. There is no specific date for Implementation Day, although U.S. officials said earlier that it could be six to nine months from Adoption Day. The following is an excerpted transcript of a background briefing from September 17.

SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL ONE: Now that we passed the – or passing the 60-day congressional review period, we’re pretty energized and excited as a government to move forward on implementing this deal very energetically and consistently and working hard on it. It’s going to be a really big job. Those of you who have been following the negotiations know and have read the deal know that there are literally hundreds of requirements and milestones and road marks along the way to fully implementing this deal. And we’re ready to get started in making sure that we and our partners in the deal do our part in bringing this deal forward because it’s going to be really important not only for our security, but for the security of our partners and allies, particularly in the region but around the world.
We’re organizing our efforts here at the State Department to play a coordinating role for all of the moving interagency pieces of this, and there’s going to be a lot of it. We’ll have a small but highly skilled, highly talented, and highly energetic staff working with me here at the State Department, working with the other agencies who will be involved – obviously, the Energy Department, the Treasury Department, our intelligence and law enforcement colleagues throughout their respective communities and other agencies, of course working very closely with the NSC to stay on top as we move forward on implementing and achieving these road marks, road – milestones along the way.
We’ll have a – in addition to working internally within the U.S. Government, we’ll be constantly communicating with one another as we go forward, but we’ll also have a diplomatic component. There are a lot of questions that will require ongoing constant attention and consultation with our partners in implementing that deal. Even for the rest of this month we anticipate regular encounters and sessions with our counterparts – our fellow negotiators for the deal – in moving forward. Of course, an important role we’ll play in this office is also making sure we keep the Congress informed, which is going to be a very important part of moving forward on this, and we’ll be coordinating that effort as well.
MODERATOR: Now let’s turn it over to [Senior Administration Official Two] to say some words about the nuclear steps.
SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL TWO: As I think you all know, the deal, as [Senior Administration Official One] just said, is extraordinarily complex and there’s a lot that Iran needs to do before it can actually get the sanctions relief that we’re offering in the deal. Specifically, Iran needs to take major changes to its core nuclear infrastructure. And so all of these steps need to happen starting on adoption day, which we think is going to be about October 18th, before sanctions relief is issued.
So starting on adoption day, about October 18th, we expect that Iran is going to need to make major changes to its Natanz enrichment facility. That will involve taking out thousands of centrifuges and putting them into IAEA-monitored storage. It will also involve taking out a very large amount of infrastructure, specifically some of the pipework and electrical infrastructure that allows for the enrichment process to work. All of this is going to take a lot of effort and probably a fair amount of time. But the key point in this action that the Iranians will undertake as well as the others is that the ball is really in Iran’s court. It’s difficult for us to fully predict how long it’s going to be until sanctions relief is implemented because we can’t offer that relief to the Iranians until they take all of these steps at Natanz, at Fordow, at the Arak reactor. And so we really structured the deal in such a way that they are required to do all those things before sanctions relief. So at Natanz, they need to do those things.
They also need to ship out to another country the vast majority of their enriched uranium stockpile. As you remember from the deal and from previous conversations that we’ve had, Iran currently has a stockpile of around 12,000 kilograms of enriched uranium hexafluoride or the equivalent in other chemical forms, and it needs to get the vast majority of that material out. This is going to be somewhat complicated for them to do. They haven’t shipped material like this out of the country. And so they have to get that total amount down to 300 kilograms. Again, we expect the process to start on October 18th and then take months after that to implement all of these steps.
In addition, we expect at the Fordow facility for Iran to need to take out the – about two-thirds of its centrifuges and associated infrastructure, and here again we’re talking about the physical dismantling and removal of a large amount of pieces of equipment, pipework, electrical infrastructure, and things like that. So there’s going to be a lot of physical work to be done. Iran hasn’t started this activity yet because adoption day hasn’t come around, but we do expect that there will be significant movement in the months after October 18th.
At the Arak reactor – this is the heavy-water research reactor – the center of that reactor, the calandria, is going to be pulled out and filled with concrete so that it can’t be used again. That will take out the possibility of Iran using the reactor as it’s currently designed to produce plutonium for weapons, and that’s another big, physical task that Iran needs to undertake.
In addition to those things, though, Iran will be, over the months after adoption day, working with the IAEA to put in place the increased transparency measures. So in this regard, we’re talking about new technologies that Iran has agreed to implement at its facilities; active electronic seals that will provide for much more real-time monitoring – systems that don’t exist anywhere else in the world that they’ll have to iron out, including online enrichment monitoring, which tells the IAEA in essentially real time the enrichment level of different – of cascades that are operating. In addition, Iran needs to put in place transparency measures at its uranium mills so the IAEA has continuous monitoring about the material that’s coming out of the uranium mills to prevent conversion to a covert nuclear path and continuous monitoring at the centrifuge manufacturing facilities.
So this is going to involve a lot of work with the IAEA, a lot of installation of hardware, a lot of testing, and essentially a lot of back and forth to make sure it all works right. And then the IAEA, importantly, has to verify that all of these steps, be they physical changes to facilities or modifications to transparency protocols and things like that – all of these things have to be verified that they’ve actually been undertaken before sanctions relief is offered, and essentially the interaction – or the intersection of those two things is implementation day.
So implementation day will be when the IAEA tells us that it is in a position to verify that Iran has taken all those steps, as well as Iran providing to the IAEA in writing its desire – its intent to implement the Additional Protocol, to yet again abide by modified code 3.1, to do several other things like that that involve information transferred to the IAEA.
So all of these are going to take a while, but frankly, the ball’s in Iran’s court, and until they do that, sanctions relief will not be provided.

MODERATOR: So just to be clear for folks, the next date is October 18th that we’re tracking towards. That’s adoption day, when that Iran will begin taking these steps and you’ll start seeing some of what [Senior Administration Official Two] mentioned. And then implementation day is a date unknown at this point, which will be when they’ve completed those steps.
So with that, I’m going to turn it over to [Senior Administration Official Three], who is our sanctions guru who can talk a little bit about that, and then we’ll go to questions.
SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL THREE: Thanks, [Moderator], and thanks, [Senior Administration Official Two] for that description. It gives a good jumping off point for talking about the sanctions, because in many ways the sanctions relief as part of this deal really mirrors and is intentionally intended to mirror the nuclear steps that Iran will take.
So the first step in this process, as [Senior Administration Official Two] mentioned, is adoption day. Like Iran, while Iran will start preparing for most of its nuclear steps with respect to Natanz, Fordow, Arak, we’ll start preparing for sanctions relief. We’ll – that will manifest itself by the issuance of some waivers with respect to sanctions. Now, these waivers won’t actually be effective on adoption day, and this is something that we’ll be very clear about publicly. These waivers will be essentially issued and they will take effect on the day that the IAEA verifies that Iran has completed all of its specific steps – specific steps with respect to its nuclear program. So this is kind of our first procedural step that we’ll take. That will eventually take effect later.
The President will also instruct his agencies to begin preparations with respect to sanctions relief, so you could envision that – an instruction to Treasury to State to start taking all the steps necessary to actually effectuate all of the relief down the road.
So at the same time, the EU will be taking a similar step in the sense that they will take – they will adopt a regulation that will also effectuate their sanctions relief, but again, taking effect only on implementation day once we’ve received the IAEA’s report. So it’s kind of putting these – both these documents into a suspended state until such time as the IAEA makes its report and activates the sanctions relief.
So that would move us then down the road to once Iran actually completes all of those steps – when the IAEA gives us that report and we feel comfortable that they’ve completed those steps on implementation day. Then kind of the three different buckets of sanctions will – essentially the UN sanctions, the EU sanctions, and the U.S. sanctions will all have some different kind of – different – some different things will happen to each of those.
On the UN framework – as you all know, the UN Security Council resolution was already passed on July 20th. That resolution currently doesn’t do much in the sense that all the first steps that resolution does is endorse the deal, it provides for some certain exemptions for the actual implementation of the JCPOA in the interim time period, but the rest of the resolutions are all in place and all those sanctions remain in place and will be in place until implementation day.
On implementation day, though, that resolution provides for a roadmap and a series of steps that would occur on that day. Specifically, it will on that day terminate all the past resolutions, so it will terminate 1737, 1803, 1747, 1929. It will terminate all those resolutions, but then it will re-establish, recreate prohibitions from those resolutions and bring those back to life if you were – if it were for a period of time in the future. These include the prohibitions on transfers of nuclear-related commodities, Nuclear Suppliers Group controlled commodities. These are prohibitions that prevent the transfer of these sensitive technologies to Iran.
Those will remain in force for a period of 10 years beyond implementation day and they will be complemented by a procurement channel – a mechanism that we created in the JCPOA that will allow for the approved procurement of these technologies if they are for the agreed nuclear program in the JCPOA, but they will otherwise be prohibited by the UN Security Council resolution. So the Security Council resolution will re-establish that particular bucket. It will also re-establish prohibitions on missile-related transfers or transfers of technologies related to missiles, so these are the Missile Technology Control Regime controlled commodities. And it will re-establish the prohibitions on the transfers of conventional arms. Those will stay in place, I think as you all know – we’ve talked about this many times – those will stay in place for a period of time of eight years and five years, respectively, or until the IAEA reaches its broader conclusion.
So that’s kind of what happens on the UN framework on implementation day. Again, the resolution 2231 kind of comes to life on that day and makes a series of changes.
On the EU front, the regulation that they will have adopted on adoption day will also go into force on that day. And so by virtue of that, they will be relieving a number of their economic and financial sanctions, including the oil embargo, the – and a number of the financial and banking-related sanctions and transportation sanctions. These are all of what we call the nuclear-related sanctions. And in the case of the EU, those have been all kind of clearly delineated in their various pieces of legislation, so this regulation will essentially – will simply put those in a state of suspense. There will be a – there will be a Council decision that will remain in force throughout the period of the JCPOA that will allow us to snap those sanctions back into place, but the actual implementing regulations will be removed on implementation day, and so that the actual sanctions relief can be effectuated.
Lastly, that brings us to the U.S. sanctions. We too will be taking steps to relieve the U.S. nuclear-related sanctions. Again, we’ll be doing it such that they are effectively suspended and can be snapped back in the future. So the waivers that I discussed earlier that would be issued on adoption day would actually take effect on that day. And so from that period forward, they would be periodically – those waivers would be periodically renewed, and again, leaving the legislation in place such that we could effectively snap it back in the event of Iranian noncompliance.
So that’s kind of how the sanctions relief will play out between now and implementation day. I think we’ll leave it there for now.
QUESTION: Back in July, Iran was saying that before any of this happens, they would need to go through a lengthy legal process for it to be ratified in Iran. So what can you tell us about that, as well as how that could affect your projected timeframe? And secondly, while we’re talking about timeframes, among all of the things that you listed, can you give us a ballpark of how long you expect this to take for Iran to make all of those changes? I mean, are we talking six months? Are we talking a year or longer?
MODERATOR: I’ll take the first part and maybe [Senior Administration Official Two] can take the second part, or if other folks want to jump in as well. Look, we’ve always said that we’re not going to get into Iran’s internal domestic politics or how they address this deal back at home. I think that’s certainly the case now. There are dates delineated for when first adoption day starts, so October 18th, and then when they have to do other things and address other issues. So they know what their responsibilities are. Just as we had to deal with the political process back here, they know what those are, and we expect them to operate under the timeframe that was laid out in the JCPOA regardless of what kinds of domestic political processes they have to undertake, certainly.
So [Senior Administration Official Two], do you want to --

SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL TWO: Sure. And on the question of how long these steps would take, it’s going to be at least months, but it’s very difficult for us to predict precisely long it would take because we don’t know the Iranian system, obviously, as well as they do. It’s a question that really is theirs to answer. What I can say is that we have a very clear understanding of what needs to take place. The timeframe is up to Iran. They clearly have motivation to try to accomplish those steps as soon as possible. But look, this is a very complicated deal. There’s a lot they have to do, and therefore inherently there’s going to be months after October 18th for them to accomplish that. And that said, I wouldn’t want hazard a guess as to how many months. That’s really a question that’s more appropriate for the Iranians because they’re best positioned to answer.
QUESTION: I know we’ve went over this in the past, but can you remind me what the relationship is on the settling of the PMD issue and getting to implementation day? And then can you also go over a little bit what these waivers that the U.S. would take would pertain to, these initial kind of implementation-day-effectuated relief steps?
MODERATOR: So [Senior Administration Official Two] probably on the first and then [Senior Administration Official Three] on the second.
SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL TWO: Sure. So on the first question, as you recall, the JCPOA says that the steps that Iran has to take on the roadmap that it’s agreed to with the IAEA with relation to PMD have to be completed by October 15th. So December – mid-December is when the IAEA will publish its formal report on PMD, but by October 15th Iran needs to complete the actions it specified in the roadmap, to include providing the IAEA with the technical meetings and information that’s spelled out in that.
On that, we have indications in press today, in fact, that Iran and the IAEA are moving forward with that. There is information that they have engaged in several days’ worth of meetings in Tehran, so – this week – and therefore it appears as if that process is well underway. But the short answer to your question is October 15th is when we expect for that – those interactions to be completed.
QUESTION: Yeah. I just – without – I mean, what is the – is getting to implementation day conditional on a resolution of this PMD issue, or is that separate to getting from adoption day to implementation day?
SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL TWO: Yeah – no, the steps in the JCPOA are sequential, so absolutely we need to have the Iranians execute all of the commitments in their roadmap with the IAEA by – on PMD by implementation day for implementation day to take effect.
MODERATOR: Great. And then [Senior Administration Official Three] on the waiver issue.
SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL THREE: Sure. And I mean, just to be specific on that if it wasn’t obvious, there won’t be sanctions relief if those steps don’t get completed. So that’s an integral component of it that, to get to implementation day, to get that sanctions relief, must be completed.
So with respect to the waivers, I mean, essentially what they will be is they – it will be the same waiver that if we were to have done this on implementation day, it will lay out every single piece of legislation or statutory provision that we need to waive in order to provide the sanctions relief. So this will include the legislative sanctions with respect to Iranian oil sales, with respect to Iran’s transportation sector, with respect to banking – essentially that whole group of nuclear-related economic sanctions that are described in the deal. And so, essentially, most of the sanctions that deal with Iran’s major sectors of its economy will be – the actual text of how we would waive them will be laid out in this waiver. The only difference is that it won’t actually be effective until the IAEA issues its report.
And the only reason for this is, like I said at the beginning, really to mirror the Iranian process. They have a lot of preparatory steps to take. It was important to them that we be seen as preparing as well, but it’s very different to prepare paperwork than it is to take centrifuges out and take out a core of a reactor. So this was just attempt – an attempt to try to mirror that process, demonstrate progress on our end, but it won’t have any practical effect as far as relieving any sanctions. There will be no actual sanctions relief that takes place as a result of these waivers until implementation day, until Iran completes all of its steps.
QUESTION: One question on how Iran is going to achieve all these technical steps. They have talked in the past about getting help from other countries, particularly China. Do you know if there are plans or if there has been outreach to try to bring in expertise from other countries to help both do it and to expedite the process?
And secondly, why October 18th? Is there – the Iranian parliament is not supposed to vote on this – well, they claim their deadline is October 22nd.
MODERATOR: So just on that last piece – and [Senior Administration Official Two] or [Senior Administration Official One], correct me if I’m wrong – it’s my understanding it was 90 days from the adoption of the UN Security Council resolution, which happens to be November 18th.
MODERATOR: October, October. Yes, thank you – yes, it’s October 18th. Yes. So that’s my understanding, that that’s the timing on that.
SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL TWO: So on the other question about other countries being involved in this – so there are going to be – there’s going to be involvement of other countries in a number of areas, specifically when the Arak reactor is redesigned and when the Arak reactor is rebuilt. Those activities will benefit from other countries’ involvement. Probably China will take a large role in that, as well as other P5+1 countries.
But that action doesn’t need to happen on implementation day. The action that is necessary by implementation day to be confirmed by the IAEA is that the center of the existing reactor is taken out and filled with concrete. The process of designing – or redesigning a reactor and actually rebuilding the reactor will take a substantially longer amount of time on the order of a year or so, and so we expect that to be a longer-term process.
Similarly, we expect some assistance in – from other countries in providing activities at the Fordow facility. Some of the changes to the infrastructure there, some of the other international projects that are – undertake there will also benefit from international cooperation. Those things as well don’t need to happen by implementation day, but they’ll happen as part of the implementation of the agreement, which just starts on implementation day.
MODERATOR: And I would say – and [Senior Administration Official One], feel free to jump in here too – obviously, a large part of [Senior Administration Official One]’s role is interagency coordination here in the U.S., but also working with other partners – who are playing key roles in this. So making sure we’re all taking the steps we need to take and helping each other out if we can help out. I don’t know, [Senior Administration Official One], if you want to say anything else on the diplomatic piece of that, but that will obviously be a key part of those conversations as well.
SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL ONE: No, that’s right, [Moderator]. I think as I mentioned in my opening statement, for the next few weeks, for example, at various venues there are going to be dozens of experts consulting on the technical aspects of these questions all working together towards making sure that we get all of these steps implemented as soon as possible.

QUESTION: Hi, thanks for doing this. Just a follow-up on that. Can you clarify, when you talk about redesigning and rebuilding a reactor at Arak taking a substantial amount of time, are you saying that by implementation day, literally, the core does not need to be ripped out of Arak but the plan and the execution needs to technically be mapped out?
And my second question has to do with sanctions. Do you have any specific timeframe between when the sanctions are lifted and when Iran will actually realize some of that cash and some ability to trade? I understand there are layers and layers of regulation. Is there a timeframe for when this will actually make a difference for Iran in a practical sense?
SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL TWO: No, so it’s very clear that the reactor that exists today has to – we have to remove the calandria, physically take it out, pour concrete in so it cannot be used. The design that the reactor will be converted into we have a rough idea of what that is already, and the details are in the JCPOA itself. But we don’t have yet from the Iranians or the Chinese is the engineering document that’s going to actually be necessary to make the changes in the reactor, and then obviously the construction of it, which will take a longer amount of time. It is not necessary for Iran to have rebuilt the reactor before implementation day. What is necessary is they have to remove the calandria, the center, the core of the reactor, by implementation day and make sure that it can never be used, because that’s what poses the proliferation challenge.
So the longer term we’re looking for the Arak reactor to become useful again in providing nuclear research and things like that in Iran, but from the proliferation standpoint we first and foremost care about getting the existing design dismantled and the core being physically pulled out of the reactor and filled with concrete.

MODERATOR: Right, because that has to happen before implementation day and before sanctions relief. And also one thing to keep in mind from the JCPOA as well is that the P5+1 has to sign off on the eventual redesign of the Arak reactor, whenever that happens. So even though the Chinese will primarily be helping them with that, we have to sign off on that to make sure our proliferation concerns are addressed.
So with that, I think [Senior Administration Official Three] can do the sanctions stuff.
SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL THREE: Yeah. No, that’s a really good question. I’m glad you asked it, actually, because I think there’s a common misperception that on implementation day a big suitcase full of cash shows up in Tehran and all of a sudden they have all this money, which I think is really – does a disservice to what actually is going to happen.
On implementation day, essentially, the rules, the sanctions that prevent Iran from doing a lot of this sort of business will be lifted, will be suspended, and so they’ll be able to start doing that type of business. But it’s going to take them some time, it’s going to take their economy some time, to dig out of the hole that it’s been in as a result of these sanctions. I mean, for example, our Treasury Department, I think, estimates that it will take until 2020 to get Iran’s GDP back to where it would have been in 2012 – or where it would have been today had these sanctions not been ramped up as aggressively as they were in 2012.
So that’s the sort of thing where for a long-term, macroeconomic perspective it’s going to take a long time for their economy to realize or to get back to where it could have been had we not engaged in this sort of effort. But on the more – on the kind of more micro level, on implementation day these sorts of – a lot of these transactions will become allowable, will be able to be done by the international community. So if a country wants to start buying Iranian oil, they’ll be able to buy that oil right away. Will Iran be able to provide that much more oil because – probably not. They’ll have to build up their production capacity and work towards the point where they can actually increase the amount of oil they sell over time.
So in each case there will be things that will be immediately possible to do, but it will take time for Iran to really enjoy the full benefits of that. We expect though – I mean, look, Iran is a big market. We expect that companies will be looking to do business there once these sanctions are lifted, and they’ll be able to enjoy the sanctions relief that they anticipate. But with any sort of economic recovery it’s going to take a significant amount of time.
QUESTION: As you know, there are a lot of members of Congress who are already lining up to support new steps to try to prevent Iran from misbehavior in the region. They’re talking about penalties. And I wonder if you have any concern that new non-nuclear penalties imposed on Iran might have the effect of depriving it of the money they’re expecting and undermine their support for the deal.

MODERATOR: Look, I know there are a lot of ideas floating out there on the Hill right now, and the President and Secretary Kerry have both been clear that we are absolutely open to having a conversation with Congress particularly about how we increase security assistance to the Israelis, also how we increase the capabilities of the Gulf states to push back on Iranian activities in the region. We are very open to having those conversations. You saw that the White House announced that Prime Minister Netanyahu will be coming to Washington to meet with the President. Obviously, those conversations will inform our conversations with Congress about what can be most helpful. So that’s obviously what we’re focused on when it comes to conversations with Congress, and the team on the phone here is really focused mostly – or entirely, I should say – on how we implement this deal. And we’ll keep talking to Congress about how we can support Israel, how we can support the Gulf states, and what that eventually might look like. But certainly, we’re committed to having those conversations and we’ll see how that all plays out.

QUESTION: Yes, hello. Thank you. My question is about the use of dollars by Iran. There’s a provision in the JCPOA that says that U.S. bank notes will be provided to Iran, but there are going to be no U-turn transactions; our banks are still going to be blocked from having anything to do with Iran. So how is that going to work? How will Iran be able to use dollars?
SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL THREE: No, that’s a good question. It’s also one that gets misunderstood. So to be specific, there’s nothing that says in the JCPOA that bank notes will be provided to Iran. Specifically, what we intend to do is to cease the application of the sanctions that are related – so we have specific sanctions – an executive order, to be specific – that said that – that allowed for us to sanction companies that provided Iran U.S. dollar bank notes. In other words, if a company around the world decided to give Iran U.S. dollars, they could be sanctioned for doing that. What we’re going to do on implementation day is those sanctions will no longer be in force, and so if somebody gave Iran or an Iranian entity U.S. dollars – U.S. bank notes, specifically – that would no longer be sanctionable.
Now, that’s a big difference, as you very, I think, astutely note – that’s a very big difference in being able to be able to easily do business in U.S. dollars around the world, because one of the things that I probably should have mentioned at the top is that there are going to be a lot of sanctions, specifically in the United States, that will remain in place. And among those are our primary domestic embargo, most of which was put in place for reasons that both (inaudible) and are unrelated to the Iranian nuclear program. And so among those is the prohibition on being able to use the U.S. financial system. And for most major – most large dollar transactions around the world, they would need to be able to do – go through the U.S. financial system, go through New York. That will not be allowed as part of this – I mean, that is – those sanctions are not being lifted as part of this deal. And it will not be allowed to do what you – as you correctly called U-turn transactions, transactions that would be ultimately going through New York or through the U.S. financial system.
So it will not be necessarily easy to use U.S. dollars for major business transactions. That said, they’ll have options to use other currencies, and we expect that they’ll be able to do what they need to do. But the point is that there are going to be some sanctions – and some fairly significant sanctions – that will remain in place.
QUESTION: Yeah. I’m just confused because it does say here specifically – I’m looking at the JCPOA – “provision of U.S. bank notes to the Government of Iran.”
SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL THREE: That’s in reference to the title of the sanctions. So it was sanctionable for a non-U.S. company to provide U.S. bank notes to the Government of Iran. So in other words, if you or – let’s just say a bank, a European bank – decided to provide bank notes to Iran. That European bank could be sanctioned in the United States, could have its access to the United States cut off.
After implementation day, that European bank would not be sanctioned for that sort of thing. So if, for example, a European bank has U.S. dollars and it – in its vaults and it provides it to Iran in its account somewhere there, that particular offense would not be sanctionable. It would not – we would not be – we would not sanction or cut off that European bank from doing business in the United States. That’s very different, though, than being able to route a financial transaction through the United States and actually --

SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL THREE: -- settle a transaction through the U.S. financial system. That will still not be allowed. So I apologize for not explaining the provision part of your question. That’s really just a reference to the title of what is currently sanctionable.
QUESTION: Regarding the enrichment and the uranium, is that on October 18 as well? Do they have to be sending the 98 percent out or diluting them, or does that process have to start on October 18? That’s one.
And then second one: In terms of, as you said, these sanctions, waivers will be issued but they will be suspended. They won’t be – they can’t be referenced in terms of companies being able to go in and do business, or is that suspension not – I was a little confused on the suspension part of the waivers.

SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL TWO: So the response to the first question is, in short, yes. Iran needs to reduce its stockpile down to 300 kilograms by implementation day. So the IAEA, when it goes into the country now, it weighs how much uranium – enriched uranium that Iran has. That weight comes to 12,000 kilograms and change.
When they go in on implementation day, they have to find that that weight is no more than 300 kilograms and the enrichment level is no more than 3.67 percent. As you rightly said, that will obligate Iran to either ship it out of country or dilute a lot of the current stockpile – about 98 percent – down to that level, down to 3.67. So all of that has to happen before implementation day happens.

SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL THREE: On the second question on the waivers, I apologize. So suspension is kind of a term of art, but – so let me explain it a little bit more clearly, which I should have done before. So essentially, in the first step of this we will be waiving the sanctions using the President’s executive waiver authority. What that means is the legislation itself will remain in place. Obviously, the President does not have the ability to just terminate legislation. That would take an act of Congress, which will happen in the future. I’ll come to that in a second. But in the meantime, we’ll be waiving those sanctions for periods of 120 to 180 days, kind of depending on the specific statutory provision – there are dozens of them that will be getting waived – and these will be continually renewed.
And so what I mean by “suspension” is not such that they won’t be affected. In other words, companies can still – will be able to do the business that was previously prohibited by those sanctions. It will no longer be prohibited to do – to engage in those economic activities. But we’ll be able to snap those sanctions back into place because at the stroke of a pen, or the lack of a stroke of a pen, the President could decide or the Secretary of State could decide to no longer sign those waivers and the sanctions would be back in force. So that’s kind of what we call our domestic snapback option, those waivers the President no longer decides to sign, the waivers that he would – that he would otherwise be doing under this deal.
Fast forward to a period of eight years down the road – and I should have mentioned this in the opening – is when we would seek to – we committed in the deal to seek legislative termination of those same sanctions. In other words, in eight years we, the Administration or the administration at the time, would be committed to seeking legislation that would terminate those actual statutory provisions and from that point forward would no longer need to waive them because they would no longer be in existence.
QUESTION: So on October 18th, if I may do the follow-up, the theatrics or the sequence of it will be we will get an IAEA report, say in the morning, then there will be a bunch of waivers signed and published or issued on – during the day, and by midnight this is all now allowed to – activity that wasn’t allowed the day before is allowed. Is that how you see --
MODERATOR: So October 18th is what we call adoption day. … Starting on that day, the Iranians will begin to take all of the steps they are committed to take before they get sanctions relief. So that is 90 days from when the Security Council resolution passed. So October 18th, adoption day. Starting on that day, on and after that day, they will be taking these steps. At the conclusion of those steps, which we don’t know the date of that – it could be some months, as [Senior Administration Official One] referred to. That will be what’s called implementation day, when the IAEA will have confirmed that they’ve taken all these steps and then Iran will indeed get the sanctions relief that – the processes for getting that relief will begin according to what [Senior Administration Official Three] said.
Experts, correct me if I’m wrong on any of that.
SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL THREE: Can I just restate what I said to make sure I said it right the first time? So – because I kind of jumped ahead on you – ahead of you on the question, so I apologize.
So adoption day we have waivers that get issued that will not yet be effective. So this is not the suspension point, but this is the fact that we will issue waivers. They will not be effective; it will just be our preparatory work for later down the road. That waiver will become effective on implementation day, and when it becomes effective those waivers will continue to be renewed until ultimately eight years down the road when we seek legislative termination. So in the intervening period between adoption day and implementation day, despite the fact that that waiver will be issued, it will be ineffective and companies would not be able to engage in any of the activities that are prohibited under those regulations. After implementation day those regulations, those laws, would no longer be – would no longer be enforced, and they would continue to be waived until the end when we terminate them or seek termination in Congress.

QUESTION: A question to [Senior Administration Official One]. In the implementation part of the deal, I guess, will – part of it will be a lot of consultations with your allies? And I was wondering if one of your next trips might be to Israel to start discussing this.
SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL ONE: Yeah, I haven’t yet made a travel schedule yet. A lot of it’s going to be dictated by the needs of the various points in the implementation process, up to and including beyond implementation day. Obviously, we know that Israel is intently focused on this agreement, and we want to work very closely with them and keep very open channels of communication. So I can’t say where my first meeting with Israeli counterparts will be, but I can tell you there will be some.

MODERATOR: Great. And of course, as you know, Barak, and Prime Minister Netanyahu will be coming to Washington to meet with the President. Obviously, that will be a key meeting in terms of having discussions about where the relationship goes forward.
Just in terms of scheduling, so to get everybody on the same page before we take off here, you’ll see experts starting to meet again. They’ve been in constant communication, but you’ll see those meetings happening during the UN General Assembly, obviously. There’ll be a lot of activity. People will be in New York for that. There will be a lot of discussion about implementation of the deal. And then we’ll head towards October 18th, which, as we’ve said, is the day on which Iran will start taking the key nuclear steps. We don’t know how long those will take. They’ll take some months, and then after that point we will move forward with our commitments after they’ve done all of that. So I don’t know if, [Senior Administration Official One], you have any final words to say, and then after that we will wrap the call.
SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL ONE: I would just say at the end we know the whole world is really interested in the successful outcome of this agreement, and we’re going to be absolutely committed as a government as we go forward in implementing it in being transparent about what we’re doing. There are going to be a lot of questions and concerns from many sides as we go forward, and I view it as absolutely essential to our effort that we keep things transparent to the extent we can and open. So my team and I look forward to getting together in a format like this or in other formats as we go forward in the months ahead just to make sure that people have the opportunity to float questions and concerns and we can address them.

US Appoints Coordinator for Nuclear Deal

On September 17, Secretary of State John Kerry announced the appointment of Ambassador Stephen D. Mull as Lead Coordinator for Iran Nuclear Implementation. The following is Kerry's statement in full.

I have always said that, as important as it was to negotiate the nuclear deal with Iran, implementing it was going to be even more crucial in meeting our national security objectives. That’s why today I am so pleased to announce the appointment of Ambassador Stephen D. Mull as Lead Coordinator for Iran Nuclear Implementation. As we move past the 60-day Congressional review period, it is vitally important that we now have the right team with the right leader in place to ensure the successful implementation of the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), which will make the United States, our friends and allies in the Middle East, and the entire world safer.
From his position at the State Department, reporting directly to Deputy Secretary Blinken and me, Steve will lead the interagency effort to ensure that the nuclear steps Iran committed to in the JCPOA are fully implemented and verified, and that we and our partners are taking reciprocal action on sanctions, following the nuclear steps. His immediate team at the State Department will consist of experts with a variety of experience relevant to his task of coordinating inter-agency implementation of the JCPOA, and within State his team will rely on support from the bureaus with lead responsibilities in relevant policy areas, such as our support of the IAEA and sanctions issues. Interagency coordination will involve the Departments of State, Treasury, Energy, Homeland Security, Commerce, Justice, and Defense, as well as others in the intelligence and law enforcement communities.
Steve will draw on the entire range of his 33 years of government service for this critical task. Prior to his most recent position as our Ambassador to Poland, Steve served from 2010 to 2012 as Executive Secretary of the State Department, coordinating responses to a wide range of crises and managing the Department’s support for the Secretary of State. From 2008 to 2010, Steve served as Senior Advisor to then-Under Secretary of State for Political Affairs William Burns, working on the range of issues related to Iran’s nuclear program and supporting Under Secretary Burns in his capacity as U.S. Political Director in the P5+1 negotiating process. In particular, Steve played a key role in designing United Nations Security Council Resolution 1929, which imposed additional nuclear-related sanctions on Iran, and marshalling support for its adoption by the Council. He also worked closely with the U.S. Mission to the IAEA in pressing for full accountability in Iran’s nuclear program. Steve traveled frequently to engage with foreign partners and worked across the U.S. government in support of our Iran-related efforts, an effort he takes up once again in his new role.
As we move forward with JCPOA implementation, the Department and the entire Administration will continue to work closely with our partners and allies in the region to deepen our security cooperation and to counter Iran’s destabilizing behavior, including its support for terrorism. These concerns and others related to Iran will continue to have the attention of the highest levels of the Department and the U.S. government.
Finally, I again want to thank the countless number of dedicated employees from across the U.S. government who worked tirelessly for many months on the negotiation of this agreement. This impressive interagency effort to get the right outcome that prevents Iran from obtaining a nuclear weapon demands an equally rigorous implementation effort. That’s why Steve Mull is absolutely the right person to lead this effort.  

Mull’s Twitter handle is @SteveMullUSA. 

U.S. Presidential Candidates on Iran

Virtually every U.S. presidential candidate highlighted flaws or limitations in the nuclear deal between Iran and the world's six major powers. But there was a wide gap in opinion between Democrats and Republicans, and even among Republicans themselves. On September 16, Iran was a frequent topic at the second Republican debate held at the Ronald Reagan library in California. The following are excerpted remarks from all the candidates on Iran. 


Hillary Clinton
Former Secretary of State under Obama and former Senator from New York

“My [Iran] strategy will be based on five strong pillars.
“First, I will deepen America’s unshakeable commitment to Israel’s security, including our longstanding tradition of guaranteeing Israel’s qualitative military edge."
“Second, I will reaffirm that the Persian Gulf is a region of vital interest to the United States. We don’t want any of Iran’s neighbors to develop or acquire a nuclear weapons program either, so we want them to feel and be secure. I will sustain a robust military presence in the region, especially our air and naval forces."
“Third, I will build a coalition to counter Iran’s proxies, particularly Hezbollah. That means enforcing and strengthening the rules prohibiting the transfers of weapons to Hezbollah, looking at new ways to choke off their funding, and pressing our partners to treat Hezbollah as the terrorist organization it is."
“Across the board, I will vigorously enforce and strengthen if necessary the American sanctions on Iran and its Revolutionary Guard for its sponsorship of terrorism, its ballistic missile program, and other destabilizing activities."
“Fourth, I’ll stand, as I always have, against Iran’s abuses of home, from its detention of political prisoners to its crackdown on freedom of expression, including online."
“Fifth, just as the nuclear agreement needs to be embedded in a broader Iran policy, our broader Iran policy needs to be embedded in a comprehensive regional strategy that promotes stability and counters extremism."
Question: Madam Secretary, you talked about how you would use American muscle to contain Iran. Can you tell us how you might use the new diplomatic channel to engage Iran on issues, whether it’s support for extremist groups or specifically dealing with the crisis in Syria? Would you be willing to use that diplomatic channel to engage Iran?
Clinton: “Yes, I would…and I would because I think that we have to attempt to do that."
“It takes a while…to figure out who’s at the table, what the conversation is about, how seriously it’ll be taken, who’s backing you up."
“So if there were a way to construct such a channel, I would be open to it. But I’m just laying out some of the difficulties of us being able to do that on this suite of other issues that are complex and touch many of the region’s vital interests.
“Just as I said diplomacy is a balancing of risks, it’s also the constant evaluation of where the opportunities are, where the openings are, what possibly could happen now that didn’t happen before. So I’m open, but I am very sober about how it would have to be constructed and what it would actually cover and who would have to be either at the table or in the first chair behind so that they didn’t feel that they were being left out or negotiated over.”
—Sept. 9, 2015 in an address at the Brookings Institution
Martin O’Malley
Former Governor of Maryland

"The key is that [the deal] has to be verifiable and enforceable. If Iran were our friend, we wouldn't have to negotiate. Maryland was one of those states -- perhaps Iowa, I don't know -- but many states and many nations put in place tough, tough sanctions to drive the Iranians to the negotiating table in order to hopefully prevent them from developing a nuclear weapon through multiple pathways. So the key now is to make sure that it is in fact enforceable, verifiable, tightly monitored, and that we're prepared to snap sanctions back into place in the event that the Iranians were to cheat on this. But I think it holds a lot of promise. And I think this is how an effective foreign policy works, not merely using our military powers, but also our diplomatic. We have to also be about waging peace. And perhaps this deal is that path forward."
—July 30, 2015 in an interview on Iowa Public Radio


Bernie Sanders
Senator from Vermont

“I believe this approach [the nuclear deal] is the best way forward if we are to accomplish what we all want to accomplish—that is making certain that Iran does not acquire a nuclear weapon – an occurrence which would destabilize the region, lead to a nuclear arms race in the area, and would endanger the existence of Israel.
“It is my firm belief that the test of a great nation, with the most powerful military on earth, is not how many wars we can engage in, but how we can use our strength and our capabilities to resolve international conflicts in a peaceful way.
“I fear that many of my Republican colleagues do not understand that war must be a last resort, not the first resort. It is easy to go to war, it not so easy to comprehend the unintended consequences of that war."
“I believe we have an obligation to pursue diplomatic solutions before resorting to military engagement – especially after nearly fourteen years of ill-conceived and disastrous military engagements in the region."
“Does the agreement achieve everything I would like? No, it does not. But to my mind, it is far better than the path we were on – with Iran developing nuclear weapons capability and the potential for military intervention by the U.S. and Israel growing greater by the day.
“Let us not forget that if Iran does not live up to the agreement, sanctions may be reimposed. If Iran moves toward a nuclear weapon, all available options remain on the table. I think it is incumbent upon us, however, to give the negotiated agreement a chance to succeed, and it is for these reasons that I will support the agreement.”
—Sept 9, 2015, in a statement  
Jim Webb
Former Senator from Virginia

Webb criticized “an approach that is just focusing on a nuclear agreement when we have to look at the balance of power in the region and the signals that have been sent in the region in terms of Iran’s growing power. That’s the reason I opposed the invasion of Iraq, by the way. One of the reasons was that it was going to empower Iran, and now that they have been empowered, I just think it’s the wrong time for an agreement like this."

“I think that the focus on this deal has simply been on a slowing down [of] the potential acquisition of nuclear weapons by Iran, and we’ve never been in [this] situation before where we have sort of given a tacit approval for the eventual acquisition of nuclear weapons by another country."
—Aug. 20, 2015, according to the press



Jeb Bush
Former Governor of Florida
“It's not a strategy to tear up an agreement. A strategy would be how do we confront Iran? And, the first thing that we need to do is to establish our commitment to Israel which has been altered by this administration. And, make sure that they have the most sophisticated weapons to send a signal to Iran that we have Israel's back. If we do that, it's going to create a healthier deterrent effect than anything else I can think of.”
—Sept. 16, 2015, in a Republican debate
Ben Carson
Director of Pediatric Neurosurgery, Johns Hopkins Hospital
“My biggest problem with the whole Iranian situation is that I believe that the Congress should have never agreed to anything outside of a treaty. You know, it fits all the requirements for a treaty.”
“I think we let the Iranians know that there’s a new sheriff in town, and that we’re not abiding by that, and we begin to use whatever powers we have to slow down the process. But you know, this is a longer term problem, because our allies right now don’t have a whole lot of respect for us…We’re going to have to very quickly get back to a point where people actually believe what we say, that our friends recognize that we’re their friends, and that our enemies recognize that we’re their enemies. And there has to be consequences for being an enemy of the United States.”
“The Ayatollah has said, you know, very specifically, that there’s going to be a lot of money that’s going to be made available. And I think that it can only be a band thing for us. You know, all of this, you know, he’s got relationships with, you know, many terrorist organizations. And it seems almost like we’re facilitating the funding of those organizations. And it’s very hard for me to understand how we can calmly sit by when the Iranians are actually calling for the destruction of Israel, and you know, down with the USA.”
—Sept. 11, 2015, in an interview
Chris Christie
Governor of New Jersey
“Around the world, I will not shake hands with, I will not meet with, and I will not agree to anything with a country that says death to us and death to Israel and holds our hostages while we sign agreements with them.”
—Sept. 16, 2015, in a Republican debate
"I believe that the American people are going to look back on this and say this is the single worst thing this president has ever done and every death Iran causes is now on Barack Obama's head."
—Sept. 2, 2015, in an interview


Ted Cruz
Senator from Texas

“The single biggest national security threat facing America right now is the threat of a nuclear Iran. We've seen six and a half years of President Obama leading from behind. Weakness is provocative, and this Iranian nuclear deal is nothing short of catastrophic.
“This deal, on its face, will send over $100 billion to the Ayatollah Khamenei, making the Obama administration the world's leading financier of radical Islamic terrorism.
“This deal abandons four American hostages in Iran, and this deal will only accelerate Iran's acquiring nuclear weapons. You'd better believe it. If I am elected president, on the very first day in office, I will rip to shreds this catastrophic Iranian nuclear deal.”
“We won't know under this agreement -- there are several facilities in Iran they designate as military facilities that are off limits all together. Beyond that, the other facilities, we give them 24 days notice before inspecting them. That is designed to allow them to hide the evidence.
“And most astonishingly, this agreement trusts the Iranians to inspect themselves. That makes no sense whatsoever.”
“President Obama is violating federal law by not handing over the side deals, and we ought to see the United States Congress stand up together and say, ‘Hand over this treaty, and protect this country.’”
—Sept. 16, 2015, in a Republican debate
Carly Fiorina
Former CEO of Hewlett-Packard
“On day one in the Oval Office, I will make two phone calls, the first to my good friend to Bibi Netanyahu to reassure him we will stand with the state of Israel.
“The second, to the supreme leader, to tell him that unless and until he opens every military and every nuclear facility to real anytime, anywhere inspections by our people, not his, we, the United States of America, will make it as difficult as possible and move money around the global financial system.
“We can do that, we don't need anyone's cooperation to do it. And every ally and every adversary we have in this world will know that the United States in America is back in the leadership business, which is how we must stand with our allies.”
—Sept. 16, 2015, in a Republican debate
Mike Huckabee
Former Governor of Arkansas
“This is really about the survival of Western civilization. This is not just a little conflict with a Middle Eastern country that we've just now given over $100 billion to, the equivalent in U.S. terms is $5 trillion.
"This threatens Israel immediately, this threatens the entire Middle East, but it threatens the United States of America. And we can't treat a nuclear Iranian government as if it is just some government that would like to have power. This is a government for 36 years has killed Americans, they kidnapped Americans, they have maimed Americans. They have sponsored terrorist groups, Hamas and Hezbollah, and they threaten the very essence of Western civilization.
“To give them this agreement, that the president treats like the Magna Carta, but Iranians treat it like it's toilet paper, and we must, simply, make it very clear that the next president, one of us on this stage, will absolutely not honor that agreement, and will destroy it and will be tough with Iran, because otherwise, we put every person in this world in a very dangerous place.”
—Sept. 16, 2015, in a Republican debate
John Kasich
Governor of Ohio
“Let me suggest to you we believe that we operate better in the world when our allies work with us. President Bush did it in the Gulf War. We work better when we are unified.
“Secondly, nobody's trusting Iran. They violate the deal, we put on the sanctions, and we have the high moral ground to talk to our allies in Europe to get them to go with us.
“If they don't go with us, we slap the sanctions on anyway. If they fund these radical groups that threaten Israel and all of the West, then we should rip up the deal and put the sanctions back on. If we think they're getting close to a -- to developing a nuclear weapon and we get that information, you better believe that I would do everything in my power as the commander-in-chief to stop them having a nuclear weapon.
“We can have it, and we can have our allies, and we can be strong as a country, and we can project across this globe with unity, not just doing it alone. That is not what gets us where we want to get as a nation.”
—Sept. 16, 2015, in a Republican debate
Rand Paul
Senator from Kentucky
“Should we continue to talk with Iran? Yes. Should we cut up the agreement immediately? That's absurd. Wouldn't you want to know if they complied? Now, I'm going to vote against the agreement because I don't think there's significant leverage, but it doesn't mean that I would immediately not look at the agreement, and cut it up without looking to see if whether or not Iran has complied.”
—Sept. 16, 2015, in a Republican debate
Marco Rubio
Senator from Florida
“Anyone who is paying attention to what Khamenei says knows that they will not comply. There is a reason Khamenei refers to Israel as the little Satan, and America as the great Satan.
“In the middle of negotiating this treaty, Khamenei led the assembled masses in chanting, death to America. I'm reminded of a great editorial cartoon. It shows the Ayatollah Khamenei saying, "Death to all Americans," and then it shows John Kerry coming back, saying, "Can we meet ya half way?"
“We need a commander-in-chief who will stand up and protect this country. And I'll tell you, I can't wait to stand on that debate stage with Hillary Clinton and to make abundantly clear if you vote for Hillary, you are voting for the Ayatollah Khomeini to possess a nuclear weapon and if you elect me as president, under no circumstances will a theocratic ayatollah who chants death to America ever be allowed to acquire a nuclear weapon.”
—Sept. 16, 2015, in a Republican debate
Donald Trump
CEO of the Trump Organization
“We're talking about Iran. The agreement was terrible. It was incompetent. I've never seen anything like it. One of the worst contracts of any kind I've ever seen.”
—Sept. 16, 2015, in a Republican debate

"It is hard to believe a president of the United States would actually put his name on an agreement with the terrorist state Iran that is so bad, so poorly constructed and so terribly negotiated that it increases uncertainty and reduces security for America and our allies, including Israel."
—Sept. 8, 2015, in an op-ed

Scott Walker
Governor of Wisconsin
“I was one of the first ones to call for terminating the bad deal with Iran on day one…The reality is it's a bad deal on day one, and it's a bad deal because this president has allowed Iran to go closer, and closer.”
—Sept. 16, 2015, in a Republican debate

Photo credits: Jeb Bush [CC BY-SA 4.0]; Ben Carson by Michael Vadon [CC BY-SA 4.0]; Chris Christie by Michael Vadon [CC BY-SA 4.0]; Ted Cruz [public domain as US Govt work]; Carly Fiorina by Michael Vadon [CC BY-SA 2.0]; Mike Huckabee by Gage Skidmore [CC BY-SA 2.0]; John Kasich [public domain as US Govt work]; Rand Paul [public domain as US Govt work]; Marco Rubio by Gage Skidmore  [CC BY-SA 2.0]; Donald Trump by Michael Vadon  [CC BY-SA 4.0]; Scott Walker by Michael Vadon [CC BY-SA 4.0]; Hillary Clinton [public domain as US Govt work]; Martin O'Malley[CC BY 2.0]; Jim Webb [public domain as US Govt work]; Bernie Sanders [public domain as US Govt work]

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