United States Institute of Peace

The Iran Primer

US Public Opinion on Iran Deal

Recent polls found that a slight majority of Americans support the nuclear deal between Iran and the world’s six major powers. The following are excerpted results from the surveys.

Public Policy Polling Survey
 
A Public Policy Polling study found that 54 percent either strongly support or somewhat support the deal. A slight majority also believe Congress should allow the agreement to be implemented. The survey was conducted July 23-24.
 
Q: The US and other countries have reached an agreement to place limits on Iran’s nuclear program in order to prevent Iran from developing a nuclear weapon. In exchange for limiting its nuclear program, Iran would receive gradual relief from US and international economic sanctions. The International Atomic Energy Agency would monitor Iran’s facilities and if Iran was caught breaking the agreement, the current economic sanctions would be imposed again. Would you say you strongly support, somewhat support, somewhat oppose, or strongly oppose this agreement to limit Iran’s nuclear program?
 
  • Strongly support: 35 percent
  • Somewhat support: 19 percent
  • Somewhat oppose: 6 percent
  • Strongly oppose: 32 percent
  • Not sure: 8 percent
 
Q: Do you think your members of Congress should vote to allow this agreement to go forward and closely monitor how the agreement is being implemented, or do you think your members of Congress should vote to block the agreement and prevent it from being implemented?
 
  • Members of Congress should vote to allow the agreement to go forward and closely monitor how the agreement is being implemented: 54 percent
  • Members of Congress should block the agreement and prevent it from being implemented: 39 percent
  • Not sure: 7 percent
 
Click here for more information
 
Washington Post-ABC News Poll
 
A Washington Post-ABC News poll also found that a slight majority supported the deal. But nearly two thirds are not confident that the agreement will prevent Iran from developing nuclear weapons. The survey was conducted July 16-19.
 
Q: The U.S. and other countries have announced a deal to lift economic sanctions against Iran in exchange for Iran agreeing not to produce nuclear weapons. International inspectors would monitor Iran’s facilities, and if Iran is caught breaking the agreement economic sanctions would be imposed again. Do you support or oppose this agreement?
 
  • Support: 56 percent
  • Oppose: 37 percent
  • No opinion: 7 percent
 
Q: How confident are you that this agreement will prevent Iran from developing nuclear weapons?
 
  • Very confident: 6 percent
  • Somewhat confident: 29 percent
  • Not so confident: 22 percent
  • Not at all confident: 42 percent
  • No opinion: 1 percent
 
Click here for more information.
 
YouGov Poll
 
A YouGov poll found that 43 percent of Americans support the deal, but only 30 percent oppose it. Around 26 percent are undecided. The survey was conducted July 14-16.
 
Q: Several world powers, including the United States, have reached an international agreement that will limit Iran’s nuclear activity in return for the lifting of major economic sanctions against Iran. Do you support or oppose this agreement?
 
  • Support: 43 percent
  • Oppose: 30 percent
  • Not sure: 26 percent
 
Q: How confident are you that the agreement will prevent Iran from developing a nuclear weapon?
 
  • Very confident: 5 percent
  • Somewhat confident: 18 percent
  • Not so confident: 27 percent
  • Not confident at all: 32 percent
  • Don’t know: 18 percent
 
Click here for more information
 
LA Jewish Journal Survey
 
The LA Jewish Journal found that 49 percent of American Jews support the deal, while 31 percent oppose it. The survey was conducted July 16-20.
 
Q: As you may know, an agreement was reached in which the United States and other countries would lift major economic sanctions against Iran, in exchange for Iran restricting its nuclear program in a way that makes it harder for it to produce nuclear weapons. Do you support or oppose this agreement, or don’t know enough to say?
 
 
American Jews
All Americans
Support
49 percent
28 percent
Oppose
31 percent
24 percent
 
Click here for more information
 
J Street Poll
 
J Street conducted a survey using the same question wording as the ABC News-Washington Post poll. It found that 60 percent of American Jews either strongly support or somewhat support the deal, slightly higher than the 56 percent of all Americans that support the deal.
 
Q: The U.S. and other countries have announced a deal to lift economic sanctions against Iran in exchange for Iran agreeing not to produce nuclear weapons. International inspectors would monitor Iran’s facilities, and if Iran is caught breaking the agreement economic sanctions would be imposed again. Do you support or oppose this agreement?
 
  • Strongly support: 18 percent
  • Somewhat support: 42 percent
  • Somewhat oppose: 16 percent
  • Strongly oppose: 24 percent
 
Click here for more information
 

Khamenei: Deal Won’t Change Policy on US

On July 18, Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei expressed support for the nuclear deal between Iran and the world’s major powers. “The result of a 10, 12-year struggle with the Islamic Republic is that they have been forced to tolerate the operation of several thousand centrifuges in the country,” he said after prayers marking the end of the Muslim fasting month of Ramadan.

Khamenei, however, emphasized that the agreement did not signal an end to Iran’s opposition to U.S. policies and Israel. “We have no negotiations with America on different global and regional issues,” he clarified.
 
Khamenei also pledged to continue Iranian support for regional allies such as Syrian President Bashar al Assad and Hezbollah, the Lebanese political party and militia. The following are key excerpts from his speech interspersed with tweets from his official account.
 
The first point is a word of thanks to officials in charge of these long and arduous negotiations - the honorable President and particularly the negotiation team who really made great efforts and worked hard. They will certainly be divinely rewarded whether the document that has been prepared will- through its determined legal procedures- be ratified or not. We have said this to those brothers in person as well.
 
Of course in order to ratify this document, there is a clear legal procedure that, by Allah's favor, has to be taken. We expect that these officials take the interests- interests of the country, interests of the people- into consideration by paying careful attention, so that when they deliver the matter to the people, they can do so with their heads held high in front of Allah the Exalted as well.
 
The next point is that by Allah's favor and grace, no one will be allowed to take advantage of this document in any way and to undermine the fundamental principles of the Islamic Republic whether this document is ratified or not.
 
The Islamic Republic will never give in to the enemy's greed in the area of protecting its defense capabilities and security- particularly in this environment filled with the enemies' threats.
 
The next point is that whether this document is ratified or not, we will not abandon our regional friends: the oppressed people of Palestine, the oppressed people of Yemen, the people and government of Syria, the people and government of Iraq, the oppressed people of Bahrain and the sincere mujahids of the Resistance in Lebanon and Palestine. These people will always enjoy our support.
 
The next point is that our policy towards the arrogant government of America will not change in any way despite these negotiations and the document that has been prepared. As we have said many times, we have no negotiations with America on different global and regional issues. We have no bilateral negotiations with America. Sometimes, we have negotiated with them in exceptional cases such as the nuclear issue and we have done so because of our interests. The nuclear issue was not the only case. There were other cases as well which I have referred to in my previous public speeches. The American policies in the region are 180 degrees the opposite of the policies of the Islamic Republic. The Americans accuse Hezbollah and the Lebanese Resistance - who are the most self-sacrificing forces in their country in the area of national defense - of terrorism. There is no injustice worse than this. This is while they support the terrorist child-killing government of Zionism. How can one do business, negotiate and reach an agreement with such a policy? There are other cases as well and I will expand on them in other speeches.
 
Another point is about the Americans' blustering in recent days. In the recent days that the negotiations have been concluded, the American excellencies - their male and female officials - are busy blustering. Each of them is blustering in a different way. Of course, this is alright with us. Their domestic problems force them into blustering. They claim that they have dragged Iran towards the negotiating table, that they have made Iran surrender, that they have obtained such and such concessions from our country and other such claims. However, the truth is something else. They say that they have prevented Iran from building nuclear weapons, but this has nothing to do with our negotiations with America and other countries. They themselves know this and sometimes they have spoken about the importance of the fatwa that bans nuclear weapons.
 
According to the commands of the Holy Quran and Islamic sharia, we consider building, keeping and using nuclear weapons as haraam [forbidden] and therefore, we will not do so. This has nothing to do with them and with these negotiations. They themselves know that this is the truth. They know that what prevents the Islamic Republic from building nuclear weapons is not their threats and intimidating behavior. There is a religious barrier behind this and they know the significance of this fatwa, but they still claim that it was they who prevented Iran. They are not honest with their own people and they do not tell them the truth. On various other matters, they say that they have adopted such and such a measure about Iran's nuclear industry and that they have forced Iran to surrender, but they can only see Iran's surrender in their dreams.
 
From the beginning of the Revolution until today, five other U.S. presidents died or were lost in history dreaming that they would force the Islamic Republic to surrender. You too will enjoy the same fate. You too will never achieve the dream of forcing the Islamic Republic to surrender.
 
There was one point in the statements that the American president made in recent days: he admitted to America's past mistakes. Of course, he said a hodgepodge of things. He admitted that the Americans made a mistake in Iran on the 28th of Mordad. He admitted that the Americans made a mistake in helping Saddam Hussein. He admitted to two, three mistakes, but he did not mention tens of others. He did not speak about the 25-year oppressive and treacherous rule of the second Pahlavi monarch. He did not speak about the many instances of torture, looting, massacre, disaster and calamity that were caused by America. He did not speak about the destruction of the Iranian peoples' dignity and America's efforts to trample upon their domestic and foreign interests. He did not speak about the Zionists' domination, the killing of Iranian passengers on a passenger plane and many other things. Nonetheless, he mentioned a number of mistakes.
 
I would like to offer a friendly word of advice to these excellencies: today - after the passage of many years from the 28th of Mordad, the eight-year war and the defense that the Islamic Republic put up there - you acknowledge that you have made certain mistakes. I would like to say to you that you are making a mistake in the present time as well. In the present time too, you are busy making mistakes in different places in the region and particularly towards the Islamic Republic and the people of Iran. In a few years, someone else will turn up and show you your mistakes, just as today you are admitting to the mistakes that your predecessors made. You are making mistakes as well. Therefore, you should awaken, correct your mistakes and understand the truth. You are making grave mistakes in the region.
What I want to say to the people of Iran is that by Allah's favor and grace, the Islamic Republic has become powerful and strong. It has become stronger on a daily basis. It is 10, 12 years now that six great global powers - which are among powerful countries in the world in terms of economic wealth - have been sitting in front of Iran, trying to prevent it from pursuing its nuclear industry. They have said this openly. Their real goal is to open the nuts and bolts of the nuclear industry. They have said this to our officials many years ago. In the present time too, they pursue the same dream. The result of a 10, 12-year struggle with the Islamic Republic is that they have been forced to tolerate the operation of several thousand centrifuges in the country. They have been forced to tolerate the continuation of this industry in our country. They have been forced to tolerate the development of this industry and the continuation of research on it. Research and developing the nuclear industry will continue. The cycle of the nuclear industry will continue.
 
This is what they have been trying to prevent for many years, but today they have signed on paper that they have no problem with our nuclear industry. Apart from the power of the Iranian people, what other meaning does this have? This has been achieved because of the people's resistance and steadfastness and our dear scientists' courage and innovation. God's mercy be upon the likes of Shahriari, Rezainejad, Ahmadi Roshan and Ali Muhammadi. God's mercy be upon our nuclear martyrs. God's mercy be upon their families. God's mercy be upon a people who stand by their truthful claims and rights.
 
I would like to raise another point which is the last one. An individual has said that he can destroy Iran's army. Our predecessors used to call such statements, "boasting among strangers. " I do not want to say anything more in this regard. If those who will hear this statement want to know the truth and if they are willing to use their experiences correctly, they should know that should any war break out - of course we do not welcome and begin any war - he who will emerge humiliated [literally: "head-cracked"] out of it, will be transgressing and criminal America.
 

Click here for the full speech.

 

US Military Officials on Iran

Iran is among the top four state actors who pose challenges to U.S. security, according to President Obama’s nominees for chairman and vice chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. “I would put the threats to this nation in the following order: Russia, China, Iran, North Korea and all of the organizations that have grown around ideology that was articulated by al Qaeda,” Obama’s nominee for vice chairman, Air Force Gen. Paul J. Selva, said at his July 14 Senate nomination hearing. Iran, the “foremost state sponsor of terrorism, is both a regional and global security threat,” Marine General Joseph F. Dunford, Jr., Obama’s nominee for chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, said at his at his Senate nomination hearing.

The following is a rundown of recent remarks by U.S. military officials on Iran.
 
Marine General Joseph F. Dunford, Jr.
(Nominee for chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff)
 
Question: What do you consider to be the most significant challenges you expect to face if you are confirmed?
 
The current security environment is extraordinarily complex and volatile. We face challenges from state actors including Russia, China, Iran, and North Korea.
 
Question: What is your assessment of the military and political threat posed by Iran?
 
Iran, the foremost state sponsor of terrorism, is both a regional and global security threat. Iran attempts to export its influence and protect its governing regime through support for proxy terrorist groups like Hezbollah; weapons trafficking; ballistic missile procurement and advancement; and maritime assets that threaten and harass international waters in the Straits of Hormuz and beyond.
 
Question: What is your assessment of the threat of Iran’s influence in Iraq to U.S. interests?
 
Iran’s goals and actions are inconsistent with our interests. Iran’s goal in Iraq is not to build an inclusive government; rather, it is to create a compliant, Shia-dominated buffer state.
 
Question: In your view, what are the risks, if any, associated with reducing U. S. presence in the Middle East with respect to the threat posed by Iran?
 
Reducing our presence in the Middle East could leave space for Iran to pursue its hegemonic goals. U.S. military presence gives credibility to the military options in the Middle East that both demonstrate our commitment to our regional security partners and deters Iran from employing its large conventional army or ballistic missiles and from interdicting the Strait of Hormuz. Nothing we say can match the message we deliver with our military presence or lack thereof.
 
Question: Negotiations on the Iran nuclear program have been extended with a deadline now of June 30, 2015 to finalize a comprehensive agreement. What are the elements of a nuclear agreement with Iran that you consider critical to ensuring that it is a “good” deal for U.S. national security interests?
 
A good deal rolls back Iran’s nuclear program; provides the international community with unprecedented access and transparency into Iran’s nuclear facilities and nuclear supply chain; and preserves critical sanctions on conventional arms and ballistic missiles. A finalized deal 37 based on the 02 April political framework satisfies all three of these criteria and clearly makes it more difficult for Iran to move towards a nuclear weapon.
 
Question: If Iran is allowed to maintain a monitored and limited uranium enrichment program, do you believe that other states in the region may seek to develop enrichment programs of their own and why or why not?
 
Any response I would make at this time would be speculation. If confirmed, I will make an assessment based on intelligence and my engagement with regional partners.
 
Question: What role, if any, should DOD play in countering Iran’s support of international terrorism?
 
The DoD’s role is to deter and counter Iran’s support of international terrorism and support our interagency partners’ efforts. We deter Iran through our own responsive military presence in the Middle East and through defensive infrastructure and tactics for both ourselves and our allies. To counter Iran, we enable our partner nations through counter terrorism training and equipment sales, multi-national exercises, and information sharing, which when combined help to both weaken terrorist groups and Iran’s ability to support them.
 
Question: Over the past few years, much has been made of the emerging anti-access and area denial capabilities of certain countries and the prospect that these capabilities may in the future limit the U.S. military’s freedom of movement and action in certain regions. Do you believe emerging anti-access and area denial capabilities are a concern?
 
Yes. One of the keys to our nation's success is our ability to rapidly project power around the globe. Our power projection capability is essential to deterring our adversaries and maintaining global stability. Russia, Iran, and China are developing technologies, most notably missiles, designed to limit U.S. military’s freedom of movement. If confirmed, I will make it a priority to ensure that we sustain our ability to project overwhelming combat power into any theater at a time of our choosing.
 
How would you respond to critics of the [U.N.] Convention [ on the Law of the Sea] who assert that accession is not in the national security interests of the United States?
 
There are significant national security impacts from failing to join the Convention. By remaining outside the Convention, the United States remains in scarce company with Iran, Venezuela, North Korea, and Syria, and foregoes the most effective way to counter undesirable changes in the law or to exercise international leadership. By not acceding to UNCLOS we deny ourselves the ability to challenge changes to international law as a result of the practice of nations at the local, regional, or global level. As some states seek to interpret treaty provisions in a manner that 72 restricts freedom of navigation, U.S. reliance on customary international law as the legal foundation for our military activities in the maritime becomes far more vulnerable and needlessly places our forces in a more tenuous position during operations. Moreover, by failing to join the Convention, some countries may come to doubt our commitment to act in accordance with international law.
— July 9, 2015 in testimony for his U.S. Senate Committee on Armed Services nomination hearing
 
Air Force Gen. Paul J. Selva
(Nominee for vice chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff)
 
“Senator I haven’t yet had the opportunity to study the entire [nuclear] agreement, but on its face from what I’ve heard from the press, the immediate lifting of sanctions, or the sequential lifting of sanctions will give Iran the access to more economic assets with which to sponsor terrorism should they choose to do so. I think we need to be alert to that possibility…”
July 14, 2015, in an exchange with U.S. Sen. Mike Rounds (R-SD)
 
“Iran’s authoritarian regime poses both a regional and global security threat. The world’s foremost state sponsor of terrorism seeks to export its revolutionary ideology in the Middle East through a large conventional army; terrorist proxies; weapons trafficking; ballistic missile proliferation; and maritime weapons and threats to the Strait of Hormuz. Through its emergent nuclear and established cyber programs, Iran can threaten and undermine the international institutions and conventions that underpin global security. The Supreme Leader will continue to take advantage of opportunities to enable Iran’s domestic, hardline political factions’ malign policies that value regime survival over international integration.”
 
“Iran’s ambitions in Iraq are not to help create a sovereign, functional government. Iran wants to influence Iraq through the lens of a Shia-dominated buffer state. Currently, Iran is using its influence vis-à-vis Shia militias to offset ISIL behavior. This comes with the risk that one day these militias could possibly threaten Iraqi or U.S. forces. In the future, expect Iran to utilize its political and military instruments of power to control Iraq along sectarian lines”
 
“Real or perceived U.S. disengagement from the Middle East could create opportunity for Iran to increase its support to terrorist organizations. Right-sized U.S. military presence in the Middle East demonstrates not only a commitment to the region, but a commitment to our regional security partners. As a result, a continued U.S. military presence in the region will further deter Iran from conducting nefarious activities such as blocking the Strait of Hormuz or threatening other Gulf States. Finally, a continued U.S. military presence in the region is the single most important indicator of our overall commitment to a secure, peaceful and prosperous Middle East.
 
“From a security standpoint, important outcomes include rolling back Iran’s nuclear program providing the international community with necessary access and transparency, while preserving the sanctions imposed on conventional arms and ballistic missiles.”
 
“Saudi Arabia’s and other Gulf countries’ decisions on whether or not to enrich uranium are not solely tied to a deal with Iran; under the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty (NPT) signatories are allowed enrichment programs as part of a peaceful nuclear program. Unlike Iran, which endures sanctions, isolation, and economic distress due to a covert attempt intent on developing nuclear weapons, our Gulf partners could choose to pursue nuclear energy in compliance with the NPT. The U.S. military will continue to provide options in support of the overall U.S. strategy”
 
“DoD’s role is to support an interagency and regional effort to deter and counter Iran’s support of international terrorism. We deter Iran by maintaining a responsive military capability in the region and ensuring a robust defensive infrastructure for ourselves and our allies. To counter Iran, we work by, with, and through partner nations by conducting counter terrorism training, providing equipment sales, participating in multi-national exercises, and sharing information. When combined, these efforts—along with those of our partners—help to weaken terrorist groups and hinder Iran’s ability to support them.”
 
“Iran maintains a layered A2AD capability through the employment of road mobile ballistic missiles, an integrated air defense system, anti-ship cruise missiles, and naval assets stationed in the Persian Gulf.”
— July 14, 2015 in answers to advance questions from the Senate Armed Services Committee for his nomination hearing
 
“I would put the threats to this nation in the following order: Russia, China, Iran, North Korea and all of the organizations that have grown around ideology that was articulated by al Qaeda.”
 
“The sequential lifting of sanctions will give Iran the access to more economic assets with which to sponsor state terrorism should they chose to do so.”
 
“I think we need to be alert to that possibility, and, as the military, we have an obligation to provide the president with a full range of options to respond.”
July 14, 2015 at his Senate Armed Services Committee hearing according to the press and Department of Defense
 
Commander of Army Forces Command Gen. Mark A. Milley
(Nominee for Army Chief of Staff)
 
“Russia, China, North Korea, Iran, ISIS and radical violent extremist organizations currently challenge the U.S. each in their own way and will likely continue for some time into the future.”
 
“The 2012 Defense Strategic Guidance was based upon a number of assumptions, such as the duration of conflicts, the contributions of our allies, and the nature and location of future threats. Some of these assumptions now appear optimistic, particularly in light of the rise of ISIL, a resurgent Russia, Iran’s actions in the Middle East, and challenges in the Pacific region. If confirmed, I will provide my best military advice to inform policy and guidance as we move forward to confront current and future threats.”
July 21, 2015 in his Senate confirmation hearing
 
Secretary of Defense Ashton Carter
 
“The basic facts have not changed recently. That is, we continue to have the tools to do that (set back, destroy Iran’s nuclear program) and continue to maintain the military option, because the president has instructed us to, because his determination is that Iran not have a nuclear weapon, and that - while he’s obviously - and Secretary Kerry is working on this right now, looking to get a deal - a- no deal is better than a good deal (sic). And therefore, we are under instructions and have been - you’re right - for years to do that.”
 
“And the facts are as you say. Namely, it sets back an Iranian nuclear program. But obviously anything like that can be reconstituted over time. And so a military strike of that kind is a setback, but it doesn't prevent the reconstitution over time. And that's the -- that basically has been the case as long as we've had those instruments and those plans, and I don't think there's anything substantially changed since then.”
— July 1, 2015, in a Department of Defense Press Briefing
 
“We have serious concerns with Iranian malign activities outside of the nuclear issue,”
 
“We want them to continue to be isolated as a military and limited in terms of the kind of equipment and material they possess.”
— July 8, 2015, according to press
 
Joint Chiefs Chairman Gen. Martin Dempsey
 
“Just -- the assumption sounds like it's that we would only do that once. I mean, the military option [for dealing with Iran’s nuclear program] isn't used once and set aside. I mean, it's -- it remains in place. And so we will always have military options, and a massive ordnance penetrator [also known as a bunker buster bomb] is just one of them.”
 
 
"If there's a deal, I've got work to do with them [U.S. regional allies]. And if there's not a deal, I've got work to do with them."
 
"We're committed to doing that work."
 
June 30, 2015 according to press
 
 

Javad Zarif on Iran’s Post-Deal Future

Robin Wright (for The New Yorker)

The long slog of diplomacy with Iran—a pariah nation since its 1979 revolution—was always about more than the bomb. It was about the return of the world’s eighteenth-largest country—and its vast military, population, and consumer base—at a time when the Middle East is crumbling. A nuclear deal could alter the regional dynamics.

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

The Final Deal: U.S. Officials React

The following are excerpted statements by U.S. officials on the final nuclear deal that was announced by the world’s six major powers and Iran on July 14.

Secretary of State John Kerry

“If Congress doesn't pass this, if Congress were to kill this, then we have no inspections, we have no sanctions, we have no ability to negotiate, because I assure you the ayatollah, if the United States arbitrarily and unilaterally kills this, you're not going to have another negotiation. And they will feel free to go do the very things that this prevents.” 
 
“We're expanding that breakout from those two months to one year for 10 years and longer. And we have lifetime inspection, adherence to the IAEA, adherence to the advanced protocol, 25 years of tracking and monitoring their uranium, from mining, to milling, to yellow cake, to gas, to centrifuge, to waste. That's unprecedented. And we would not have had that without this agreement.” 
 —July 19, 2015, on CNN’s State of the Union
 
“There's no such thing in arms control as anytime, anywhere [inspections]. There isn't any nation in the world, none, that has an anytime, anywhere. And the truth is, what we always were negotiating was an end to the interminable delays that people had previously…We have a finite time period. That's never happened before. And we have one nation's ability to take this to the Security Council to enforce it. That is unique. And we think it was a huge accomplishment to be able to get this finite period.”
 
“The same way that Ronald Reagan negotiated with the Soviet Union, and the same way that Richard Nixon negotiated what we then called Red China, we have now negotiated with somebody who took our embassy over, took hostages, killed Americans, many of the things you hear people say, supported terrorism. But what we need to recognize is that an Iran that we want to stop the behavior of with a nuclear weapon is a very different Iran than an Iran without a nuclear weapon. And we saw this opportunity. The president saw it, and committed us to try to find a way through diplomacy to end that program of nuclearization with a weapon, and that's exactly what we have done.”
 
“We believe that Israel, we believe the region will ultimately be much safer because of this deep. Now, if you don't -- if we don't do this deal, if Congress says no to this deal, then there will be no restraints on Iran, there will be no sanctions left. Our friends in this effort will desert us. We will be viewed as having killed the opportunity to stop them from having a weapons. They will begin to enrich again, and the greater likelihood is what the president said the other day; you will have a war.”
 —July 19, 2015, on CBS’s Face the Nation
 
Resuming diplomatic relations with Iran is “not being contemplated. We don’t have relations at this point.”
 —July 19, 2015, on ABC’s This Week
 

Under Secretary of State Wendy Sherman

 

Energy Secretary Ernest Moniz
 
"Today’s announcement between the P5+1 and Iran is a historic accomplishment. Building on the Lausanne framework, it will ensure that Iran’s nuclear program is – and will remain – a peaceful one, or that the international community will have more than enough time to respond if Iran’s program proves otherwise. This deal will extend the time it would take for Iran to produce enough fissile material for a first nuclear explosive device to a year for at least ten years, from the current breakout time of just two to three months.
 
Drawing on the vast scientific and technological expertise from across the Department of Energy’s National Laboratory system, Department and Lab experts helped shape the nuclear negotiations through rigorous technical analysis. The Department of Energy backs the deal and stands ready to assist in its implementation.
 
This agreement will be implemented in phases – with some provisions in place for 10 years, others for 15 and others for 20 or 25 years. Iran has committed to the Additional Protocol indefinitely as part of its adherence to the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty regime.
 
This agreement is the result of tireless work from our experts at the Department and the National Labs, our interagency colleagues and specifically, Secretary of State John Kerry and Under Secretary of State for Political Affairs Wendy Sherman. The U.S. multi-agency delegation worked together collegially and seamlessly, and the P5+1 displayed remarkable cooperation and cohesion throughout this complex endeavor. These are tributes to Secretary Kerry’s personal commitment and leadership.
 
I also want to thank the Head of the Atomic Energy Organization of Iran Ali Salehi (MIT PhD ’77) for his dedication to this process. His professionalism, dedication and commitment to advancing Iran’s nuclear science and education programs, while at the same time building the international community’s trust in Iran’s nuclear program, were key to this agreement.
 
This is a good deal for America, for our allies, and for our global security. Most important, this deal is based on hard science and analysis. The facts of this agreement meet the nuclear objectives set down by President Obama: verification of a peaceful Iranian nuclear program and sufficient lead time if it proves otherwise."
—July 14, 2015, according to the press
 
“With regard to the Americans unjustly held or missing, again, the secretary -- I was there -- every meeting, this was always raised, and remains, I think, an area of considerable focus.”
 —July 19, 2015, on CNN’s State of the Union
 
“Under IAEA engagements, they have no time frame for resolving issues when going to undeclared sites. So, first of all, getting a defined time frame is very, very critical. There has to be a process to go through with the P5-plus-one to force -- in case of a dispute, to force inspection. Iran otherwise is in breach. Now, 24 days, we feel very confident in the capability of IAEA with environmental sampling to detect any nuclear activity very, very long after it has occurred,” commenting on the 24-day waiting period for inspections of undeclared nuclear sites.
 
“For the long term, we are certainly better off with regard to any weapon possibility with this deal than without it. That starts day one. And it goes on essentially indefinitely.
 —July 19, 2015, on CBS’s Face the Nation
 
U.S. National Security Advisor Susan Rice
 
“Let’s say that the United States, for example, gathers some information that we believe indicates that there is a suspicious or secret site. We would take that information to the IAEA. The IAEA would investigate. The IAEA would go to Iran and say, 'We want to visit this site. We want to check it out.'
 
“And by checking it out, it's not just visiting, it's doing environmental sampling, soil sampling, radioactive materials would be tested for and if they are detected. If the Iranians said, 'No, you can't see that site,' whether it's a military site or not, the IAEA, if it deems the site suspicious, can ask for access to it. So there are no limitations on the type of facility that can be accessed but there has to be a reasonable suspicion.”
 
“It's not a request. It's a requirement.”
 
“We are working very hard…on the issue of our Americans who are detained in Iran and have been not only throughout this process but since the time of their detention.
 
“And we were very specific about the need not to link their fate to that of the negotiations because we had no idea for certain whether negotiations would succeed or fail. We didn’t want to give the Iranians a bargaining chip to use against us in the negotiations.”
 
“In our judgment, and I think in the judgment of many thoughtful people in those countries, the best thing we can do for their security [Israel and the Gulf states] is to ensure that they don’t have a neighbor with nefarious intentions armed with a nuclear weapon. And this deal does that.”
 
“What [opponents] are arguing is that in Iran, out from under sanctions, if in fact eventually Iran fulfills its obligations under this deal - and they don’t get any sanctions relief until they’ve completely fulfilled their key obligations - but if they have, and we can then verifiably determine that they are not in a position to obtain a nuclear weapon, then there will be incremental sanctions relief.”
 
“I also want to make sure people understand that this deal was never about trying to prevent Iran from using proxies in the region, or destabilizing the region.
 
“This was always about our principle and primary concern as shared by the government of Israel and their neighbors in the region. Israel has said that an Iran with a nuclear weapon is an existential threat. We are addressing that threat directly and effectively in this deal.
 
“But we understand that Iran has played a very destabilizing role in the region, it continues to foment unrest and to have supported terrorism, so we want to do what we can to bolster the capacity of our allies and partners in the region to resist that.”
 
“There will be no sanctions relief including of the oil sanctions unless and until Iran fulfils all of the steps that it needs to take under this agreement related to its nuclear program.
 
“So it's got to dismantle two-thirds of its centrifuges. It's got to get rid of 98 percent of its uranium stockpile. It's got to allow continuous and extraordinary access to its nuclear facilities. It's got to take steps to make inoperable its current heavy-water plutonium reactor, among other steps.
 
“It's got to satisfy the IAEA that any questions that the IAEA has that remain about Iran's past history of pursuing nuclear weapons have been resolved satisfactorily. Those are all prior steps, before any sanctions relief, that Iran has to take.
 
“So let's say they do all those things. And based on their performance under the interim agreement, where they've done everything they said they would do, I think there's reason to expect that they will fulfill those steps.”
—July 15, 2015, in an interview with Reuters
 
Treasury Secretary Jacob Lew
 

“Today’s Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) is an historic deal that will cut off all pathways to a nuclear weapon, cements intrusive inspections that will be at an unprecedented level, and ensures that Iran’s nuclear program will be exclusively peaceful.  This significant accomplishment would not have been possible without strong and rigorously applied economic sanctions, which were designed and enforced by the United States, the European Union, and the United Nations, alongside many others worldwide.  These sanctions disrupted Iran's access to the materials and infrastructure necessary to develop its nuclear program, more than halved its oil exports, and severed its banking system from the world – providing the leverage necessary to compel Iran to negotiate in a constructive and serious way.

“Today, Iran committed to take far-reaching steps, some of them permanent, to ensure that it will not develop a nuclear weapon.  Only after Iran takes those steps, the P5+1 will relieve broad nuclear-related sanctions on Iran in a phased manner as international inspectors confirm that Iran has upheld its commitments.  All current sanctions will remain in place until such steps have been verified, with the only exceptions being the limited sanctions relief that has been in place since negotiations began.  No new U.S. nor international sanctions are being relieved today.
 
“When Iran does what it needs to do, we will provide timely guidance to governments and businesses worldwide to clearly explain the changes to U.S. sanctions on Iran.  As Iran fulfills its responsibilities, we will make good on our JCPOA commitments.  However, we retain the ability to snap back both U.S. and international sanctions if Iran does not abide by the agreement reached today.  While we hope that does not come to pass, we have ensured through this deal that we will have the means to respond swiftly and powerfully. 
 
“Furthermore, we harbor no illusions about the Iranian government’s nefarious activities beyond its nuclear program.  Make no mistake: we will continue to impose and aggressively enforce sanctions to combat Iran’s support for terrorist groups, its fomenting of violence in the region, and its perpetration of human rights abuses. The JCPOA frees the world of the specter of a potential Iranian nuclear weapons program and we retain the tools to confront both terrorism and regional destabilization without the added risk of nuclear weapons.  This is a very positive development.
 
“Reaching this deal today is a milestone that means that the world will no longer be threatened by an active Iranian nuclear program.  We look forward to working with Congress and our international partners in the coming months to ensure successful implementation of the JCPOA‎.”
—July 14, 2015, in a press release
 
Photo credit: Moniz by Energy.gov via Flickr Commons (public domain as U.S. Government work)

 

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