United States Institute of Peace

The Iran Primer

Iran’s Nuclear Chess: After the Deal

The following is the executive summary from a newly updated monograph by Robert Litwak, vice president for scholars at the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars and a former director for nonproliferation on the National Security Council staff in the first Clinton administration.

The nuclear agreement—the “Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action” (JCPOA)—concluded on July 14, 2015, between the world’s major powers (the P5+1) and Iran is a deal, not a grand bargain. As a “deal,” the nuclear accord is transactional (addressing a discrete urgent national security challenge), not transformational (affecting the character of the Iranian regime).
The JCPOA permits Iran to retain a bounded nuclear program in return for assurances that it is not masquerading for a weapons program. That reaching this agreement required protracted negotiations and has generated such sharply divergent political reactions reflects the persisting nature of the debate over this proliferation challenge. In both Iran and America, the nuclear issue remains a proxy for a more fundamental question.
In Iran, the nuclear issue is a surrogate for the defining debate over the country’s future relationship with the outside world—whether, in former President Hashemi Rafsanjani’s words, the Islamic Republic is a “revolutionary state” or an “ordinary country.” The embedded, proxy status of the nuclear question within this broader political context is a key determinant of whether nuclear diplomacy can prove successful.
In America, Iran’s nuclear challenge—concern that a weapons program is posing as a civilian program—has also been a proxy for a more fundamental debate about the threat posed by “rogue states” in the post-9/11 era. The Obama administration dropped the Bush-era “rogue” moniker in favor of “outlier.” This shift reframed the Iranian nuclear issue—from a unilateral, American political concept, in which threat is linked to the character of “rogue” regimes, to a focus on Iranian behavior that contravenes international norms. Yet the tension between the competing objectives of regime change and behavior change continues to roil the U.S. policy debate.
President Hassan Rouhani, a pragmatic centrist, campaigned on a platform of resolving the nuclear issue to end the country’s isolation and the punishing international sanctions that have weakened the economy. While acquiescing to Rouhani’s revitalized nuclear diplomacy in the wake of his June 2013 electoral mandate, the Supreme Leader, Ayatollah Khamenei, remained the final arbiter of any prospective agreement. His decision, based on a strategic calculus that has regime stability as its paramount objective, hinged on his management of the unresolved tension in Iran’s competing identities—revolutionary state/ordinary country. In short, Khamenei’s dilemma was whether the political costs of an agreement—alienating hardline interest groups, especially the Revolutionary Guard, upon which the regime’s survival depends—outweigh its economic benefits.
The dilemma of the Iranian nuclear challenge is that Iran has mastered uranium enrichment: centrifuges that spin to produce low-enriched uranium (LEU) for nuclear power reactors can keep spinning to yield highly enriched uranium (HEU) for bombs. Since nuclear diplomacy with Iran is focused on bounding, not eliminating, Iran’s uranium enrichment program, the regime will retain the option—a hedge—for a nuclear weapon. A U.S. prerequisite for any comprehensive nuclear agreement was that this “breakout” period for converting a latent capability into a weapon should be long enough (12 months) for the United States to have sufficient strategic warning to mobilize an international response.
Iran’s nuclear program is determined and incremental, but is not a crash program to acquire a weapon in the face of an existential threat. From a national security perspective, a nuclear hedge is Iran’s strategic sweet spot—maintaining the potential for a nuclear option, while avoiding the regional and international costs of actual weaponization. A hedge strategy that keeps the nuclear option open is not incompatible with a nuclear agreement that would bring the tangible benefits of sanctions relief.
President Obama has argued that “the pressure of crippling sanctions…grinding the Iranian economy to a halt” presents the Tehran regime with the opportunity to make a “strategic calculation” to defer a decision to weaponize. Sanctions brought Iran to the negotiating table and crucially affected the Supreme Leader’s decision to accept a comprehensive agreement that meaningfully bounds Iran’s nuclear infrastructure.
The “better deal” advocated by JCPOA critics would aim to dismantle large parts of Iran’s nuclear infrastructure and significantly extend the constraints on Iran’s access to fissile material beyond the current 10-15 year period. Critics argue that if tough sanctions brought Iran to the table, still tougher sanctions pursued longer could have compelled (and still could compel) Iran to make such major concessions. Supporters reject the notion that increased coercive economic pressure on Iran could be mounted to extract better terms should the United States seek a return to the negotiating table. In the words of a British diplomat, multilateral sanctions had already passed “their high water mark” and would be difficult to sustain in the event of a diplomatic impasse or breakdown.
A breakdown in diplomacy should the JCPOA not be implemented would not inherently push Iran into a nuclear breakout. Iran has no immediate national security imperative to acquire nuclear weapons. President Obama has declared that the U.S. objective is “to prevent Iran from obtaining a nuclear weapon.” By drawing this red line—preventing weaponization—the president has signaled that the United States would not undertake preventive military action to deny Iran any nuclear hedge option.
That Obama’s “red line” on weaponization pushes off a decision on the use of force is a reflection of how unattractive the option would be. That openly debated option “on the table”—what would be the most telegraphed punch in history—runs up against major liabilities: it would delay, not end, the program; could escalate into a U.S.-Iranian war; carries a significant risk of collateral damage to the environment and civilian population; and could well generate a nationalist backlash within Iran with the perverse consequence of bolstering the clerical regime.
The challenge of determining whether Iran has crossed the “red line” of weaponization is compounded by the Tehran regime’s hedge strategy, which cultivates ambiguity about its nuclear capabilities and intentions. Iran has made progress along the technological continuum toward weaponization but is unlikely to make a dramatic move—such as conducting a nuclear test or withdrawing from the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty—that would openly cross the red line of weaponization.
The disavowal of “containment” is a reflection of the meaning the term has taken on in the contemporary U.S. debate—that is, acquiescing to Iran’s acquisition of nuclear weapons and then deterring their use through the retaliatory threat of U.S. nuclear weapons. That connotation is an unfortunate departure from George Kennan’s concept of containment—keeping regimes in check until they collapsed of their own internal weakness. An updated version of Kennan’s strategy for Iran would decouple the nuclear issue from the question of regime change and rely on internal forces as the agent of societal change.
The nuclear accord with Iran is transactional, but is embedded in the broader issue of the Islamic Republic’s societal evolution. The dilemma is that these critical timelines are not in sync—the nuclear challenge is immediate, while the prospects for societal change are indeterminate. Amidst that uncertainty, U.S. policymakers must make a judgment about how best to manage risks—and reasonable people can disagree. Obama and Khamenei are each making a tacit bet. Obama is defending the deal in transactional terms (that it addresses a discrete urgent challenge), but betting that it will empower Iran’s moderate faction and put the country on a more favorable societal trajectory. Khamenei is making the opposite bet—that the regime can benefit from the transactional nature of the agreement (sanctions relief) and forestall the deal’s potentially transformational implications to preserve Iran’s revolutionary deep state. For Obama, the tacit transformational potential of this transactional deal is a hope; for Khamenei, it is a fear.
Click here for the full text.

Europe Reaches Out to Iran

After the final nuclear deal was announced on July 14, European officials began reaching out to Iran with several high-profile phone calls and visits. The following is a rundown of European outreach since the deal.

Austrian President Heinz Fischer visited Tehran from September 7 to 9, accompanied by Foreign Minister Sebastian Kurz, and Economy Minister Reinhold Mitterlehner. Fischer said that he expected bilateral trade between Austria and Iran to reach $335 million in 2015.
Fischer met with Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei and President Hassan Rouhani during his visit. Khamenei praised Austria for not complying with "the United States' hostile policies towards Iran."
Fischer had spoken to Rouhani by phone on July 15, following the announcement of the final nuclear deal. Rouhani said the deal “will lay the groundwork for the expansion of ties between Tehran and Vienna.”


Foreign Minister Jose Manuel Garcia-Margallo met with Iranian officials in Tehran from September 7 to 9. He was accompanied by Industry, Energy and Tourism Minister Jose Manuel Soria, Public Works and Transport Minister Ana Maria Pastor Julian, and a delegation of business officials.

Following a meeting with Soria, Iranian Oil Minister Bijan Zanganeh said the two countries discussed the possibility of exporting crude oil and natural gas to Spain. Additionally, Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif met with Garcia-Margallo, and said that Iran and Spain "agreed to negotiate about human rights and refugee issues.”


United Kingdom

On August 23, British Foreign Secretary Philip Hammond traveled to Tehran to reopen the British Embassy, which had been closed since 2011. The Iranian embassy in London was reopened the same day. In a joint press conference with Hammond, Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif said that Iran and Britain had “entered a new phase of relations based on mutual respect.”
Hammond was the first British Foreign Secretary to visit Iran in 12 years. He met with Rouhani, Parliamentary Speaker Ali Larijani, Supreme National Security Council Secretary Ali Shamkhani, and other officials during his visit. Hammond was accompanied by a group of British business leaders hoping to reestablish ties in Iran.
British Prime Minister David Cameron had called Rouhani to congratulate him on the nuclear deal on July 16. "You (President Rouhani) had a very constructive role in striking this final deal," he said. During the conversation, Rouhani added that “I think there exists the necessary potential to rebuild relations between Iran and Britain.”
The British government also relaxed its travel warnings for Iran shortly after the deal was announced. “The risk to British nationals has changed, in part due to decreasing hostility under President Rouhani's Government,” British Foreign Secretary Philip Hammond said on July 25.

European Union

On July 28, E.U. foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini arrived in Tehran for a one-day visit with senior Iranian officials. She was accompanied by deputy E.U. foreign policy chief Helga Schmid. Mogherini said the nuclear deal “has the capacity to pave the ground for wider cooperation between Iran and the West.”
After meeting with Mogherini, Iranian foreign minister Mohammad Javad Zarif said that Iran and the European Union had agreed to hold talks “over different issues, including energy cooperation…human rights, confronting terrorism, and regional issues.”
Mogherini’s visit coincided with her op-ed in The Guardian, in which she argued that cooperation between Iran and the West could help defeat ISIS. The following is an excerpt.
“The Vienna deal tells us that we all have much to earn if we choose cooperation over confrontation. Making the most out of this opportunity is entirely up to us. But nothing good will happen if we do not work hard for it. We Europeans have a long tradition of cultural and economic relationship with Iran. Before sanctions began in 2005, cooperation between our parts of the world spanned many areas, from energy to trade. But our shared interests go well beyond the economy.
“Last week Europe’s foreign ministers tasked me with exploring “ways in which the EU could actively promote a more cooperative regional framework” in the wake of the Vienna deal. Isis (also known as Da’esh) is spreading its vicious and apocalyptic ideology in the Middle East and beyond. There is nothing more worrisome to Isis than cooperation between “the west” and the Muslim world, for it defies the narrative of a clash of civilisations the group is trying to revive. An alliance of civilisations can be our most powerful weapon in the fight against terror.”
—July 28, 2015, in an op-ed published by The Guardian
On July 23, French President Francois Hollande and Iranian President Hassan Rouhani discussed increasing bilateral cooperation in a phone conversation. A statement released by Hollande’s office “expressed the wish for Iran to contribute positively to the resolution of crises in the Middle East.” Hollande also emphasized increasing tourism between the two countries, since it "can play a major role in advancement of cooperation between Iran and France."
French foreign minister Laurent Fabius visited Tehran on July 29, meeting with Zarif, Oil Minister Bijan Zanganeh, and other senior officials. He also extended an invitation for President Hassan Rouhani to visit President Hollande in France in November. "Things will, we hope, be able to change," Fabius said during his visit.
On July 20, German vice chancellor and economics minister Sigmar Gabriel arrived in Iran for a three-day visit, hoping to resume “economic contacts with Iran, which were traditionally good.” He was the first high-ranking Western official to visit Iran since the final nuclear deal was announced on July 14.
Gabriel also emphasized the need to cooperate with Iran on issues like human rights and its relationship with Israel. "You can't have a good economic relationship with Germany in the long-term if we don't discuss such issues too and try to move them along,” he said.
German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier announced on August 24 that he planned to visit Iran in October.



On August 4, Italian Foreign Minister Paolo Gentiloni and Economic Development Minister Federica Guidi arrived in Iran for a two-day visit, accompanied by Italian businessmen and economic activists. They met with Minister of Industry, Mines, and Trade Mohammad Reza Nematzadeh and other officials. Italy, which used to be one of Iran’s major trade partners, has been trying to revive economic ties with Iran. During the visit, investment back Mediobanca, Italy’s development ministry, and export credit agency SACE signed a memorandum of understanding “to facilitate future economic and commercial relations between the two countries.”
Swiss Deputy Foreign Minister Yves Rossier arrived in Tehran on July 21 for a four-day trip to meet with Iranian officials, including Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif, Deputy Foreign Minister Hossein Amir Abdollahian, and Rouhani’s chief of staff Mohammad Nahavandian. “Iran welcomes the expansion of economic and banking relations with Switzerland,” Nahavandian said.
On August 12, Switzerland became the first nation to lift sanctions on Iran after the nuclear deal was announced.
Foreign Minister Ivica Dacic arrived in Tehran on August 3 for a three-day visit. Dacic held a series of meetings with senior Iranian officials and explored opportunities for greater economic cooperation with Iran. Zarif welcomed a proposal by Dacic to hold the 14th Iran-Serbia Joint Economic Committee, adding that an Iranian delegation would visit Belgrade in the future.

Where the House Stands on Iran Deal

In July and August, members of the House of Representatives began indicating how they plan to vote on the final nuclear deal. Lawmakers have until September 17 to review the agreement, and if the majority disapprove, they can pass a resolution to block the deal from being implemented. President Obama, however, has said he will veto any efforts to block the deal. Congress would need a two-thirds majority to override the veto.

The following is a rundown of U.S. Representatives on the deal.


Supporters of the Deal
Opponents of the Deal
Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-CA)
"This is a diplomatic masterpiece."
—Aug. 6, 2015, according to the press
Minority Whip Steny Hoyer (D-MD)
"Although it was a difficult choice, I have decided to oppose a resolution of disapproval, albeit with serious concerns."
—Sept. 9, 2015, in a statement
Foreign Affairs Committee
Brian Higgins (D-NY)
"This agreement will do more than any plausible alternative to accomplish America’s objective of blocking Iran’s pathway to a bomb in a way that we can verify."
—Sept. 3, 2015, in a statement
Gerald Connolly (D-VA)
“[The JCPOA] is the product of earnest diplomacy, and Congress should support it.”
 —Aug. 6, 2015, in a statement
Robin Kelly (D-IL)
"This agreement blocks a nuclear-armed Iran, achieving the goal of strengthening global security without conflict. It is important that we now come together as a nation in support of our shared goal of peace."
—Sept. 3, 2015, in a statement
Armed Services Committee
Ranking Member Adam Smith (D-WA)
"I have decided to support this agreement because I believe it ends the otherwise unmonitored and unrestricted continuation of the Iranian nuclear program and it halts the surely destructive effects of a nuclear Iran in the Middle East."
—Sept. 1, 2015, in a statement
Jackie Speier (D-CA)
Also a member of the Select Committee on Intelligence
“After careful review, I have concluded that this agreement accomplishes the difficult objective we have been working towards for years: a verifiable way to halt Iran’s progress toward a nuclear weapon.”
—Aug. 14, 2015, in a statement
Joe Courtney (D-CT)
“Like any agreement negotiated among several parties, the JCPOA is not perfect – but it is very strong and deserves support.”
—Aug. 6, 2015, in a statement

Seth Moulton (D-MA)
“It is not a perfect deal, and it is easy to point out the many ways in which it could theoretically be stronger. That being said, it is by far the best viable option before us.”
—Aug. 1, 2015, in a statement

Beto O’Rourke (D-TX)
“This deal is not perfect and it is not without risk…But it is the best option before us, and I will support it because it improves the safety of our country and that of our allies.”
—July 31, 2015, in a statement
Niki Tsongas (D-MA)
“I do not believe Congress should reject this agreement, and I will oppose any effort in Congress to block its implementation.”
—Aug. 12, 2015, in a statement
Scott Peters (D-CA)
"After weeks of careful study, it is clear to me the JCPOA is our best tool to prevent Iran from building a nuclear weapon for at least the next 15 years. I will vote to support the agreement."
—Aug. 27, 2015, in an op-ed
Rick Larsen (D-WA)
"While the agreement is not perfect, it is a major step in preventing Iran from obtaining a nuclear weapon."
—Sept. 3, 2015, in a statement
Pete Aguilar (D-CA)
"I support the JCPOA because the national security of the United States, Israel, and the entire international community would be at risk should Iran ever obtain a nuclear weapon." 
—Sept. 2, 2015, in a statement
John Garamendi (D-CA)
“We are in a situation where we are a whole better off with this deal than without this deal and that is how we ought to move forward.”
—July 27 ,2015, in a statement
Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence 
Ranking Member Adam Schiff (D-CA)
“In the absence of a credible alternative, Congress should accept the deal and work with the Administration to strengthen its impact.”
—Aug. 3, 2015, in a statement
André Carson (D-ID)
“For our national security and international stability, it is critical that we accept the agreement.”
—Aug. 4, 2015, in a statement
Jim Himes (D-CT)
Also a member of the Financial Services Committee
“After careful thought, I have decided to support the JCPOA.”
—Aug. 13, 2015, in a statement
Eric Swalwell (D-CA)
“I have concluded this agreement is the best available opportunity for a nuclear-weapon-free Iran.”
—Aug. 13, 2015, in an op-ed
Luis Gutierrez (D-IL)
The nuclear agreement with Iran is good for America, crucial for Israel, and an important step toward a more peaceful Middle East.”

—July 29, 2015, in an op-ed

Patrick Murphy (D-FL)

"The deal on my desk is flawed, but after searching my own soul and conscience, I have decided I will support this agreement as the best available option to stop Iran from developing a nuclear weapon.”
—Aug. 31, 2015, in a statement
Financial Services Committee 
Keith Ellison (D-MN)
“I clearly prefer diplomacy over warfare, and if we don’t do this deal, I don’t see how we can avoid military conflict.”
—July 22, 2015, in an interview
Daniel Kildee (D-MI)
“After careful review and consultation, I will support the nuclear agreement with Iran.”
—July 30, 2015, in a statement
Nydia Valazquez (D-NY)
"I will support the agreement when it comes before the House for a vote.”
—Aug. 31, 2015, in a statement
Other Committees
Debbie Wasserman Schultz (D-FL)
Chair of the Democratic National Committee
"After a thorough and careful review of the facts and deep, personal reflection and soul searching, I will vote to support moving the Iran agreement forward and to sustain the President's veto if necessary."
—Sept. 6, 2015, in a statement
Earl Blumenauer (D-OR)
“It is far better...to make the agreement work, monitor and enforce, and build on this international partnership.”
—Aug. 4, 2015, in a statement
Lois Capps (D-CA)
“I have decided to support the JCPOA because it is the best way forward to prevent Iran from obtaining a nuclear weapon and advance the national security interests of the United States and our allies.”
—Aug. 11, 2015, in a statement
Katherine Clark (D-MA)
“After studying the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), I am convinced that it is our best opportunity to prevent Iran from obtaining a nuclear weapon and provide for the safety of the United States, Israel and the world.”
—Aug. 13, 2015, in a statement
Steve Cohen (D-TN)
“Through my intense study of this agreement, I am convinced that it is the most effective way to ensure Iran cannot build a nuclear weapon.”
—Aug. 19, 2015, in a statement
Peter DeFazio (D-OR)
“I have decided that the agreement is the best option that the global community has to ensure that Iran will not develop a nuclear weapon and I will lend it my full support when it comes to the House of Representatives for consideration.”
—Aug. 5, 2015, in a statement
Rosa DeLauro (D-CT)
"I support the efforts of Secretary Kerry and Secretary Moniz to secure this agreement, which I believe meets the goal of our negotiations to deny a dangerous Iranian regime access to a nuclear weapon.”
—Aug. 5, 2015, in a statement
Anna Eshoo (D-CA)
“In the face of a legitimate threat of immense magnitude from a nuclear-capable Iran, I believe this agreement is the right path forward.”
—Aug. 3, 2015, in a statement
Sam Farr (D-CA)
“After two decades in Congress, this is the first time I will be able to vote for peace, not just against war.”
—Aug. 13, 2015, in a statement
Sander Levin (D-MI)
“I believe that Israel, the region, and the world are far more secure if Iran does not move toward possession of a nuclear weapon. I believe the Agreement is the best way to achieve that.”
—July 30, 2015, in a statement
Doris Matsui (D-CA)
“I firmly believe that the consequences of walking away from this deal are greater than the risks of accepting it.”
—Aug. 11, 2015, in a statement
James McGovern (D-MA)
“Above all else, this deal must be judged on its merits and whether it is the strongest available option to prevent Iran from obtaining a nuclear weapon. I firmly believe that it is.”
—Aug. 5, 2015, in a statement
Donald Payne (D-NJ)
“This nuclear agreement is a historic opportunity to permanently block a nuclear-armed Iran and bolster our national and global security. I urge my colleagues to join me in supporting this deal.”
—Aug. 6, 2015, in a statement
Mark Pocan (D-WI)
“I firmly believe we now have the opportunity to verifiably prevent a nuclear Iran by supporting and implementing this deal.”
—Aug. 5, 2015, in a statement
David Price (D-NC)
“I am confident that this deal will verifiably prevent a nuclear-armed Iran and make the world a safer place.”
—July 30, 2015, in a statement
Mark Takano (D-CA)
“I believe that our nation is safer with this deal than without it, and I will oppose any effort in Congress to block its enactment.”
—Aug. 11, 2015, in a statement
Mike Thompson (D-CA)
“This deal is in the best interest of the United States and our allies, Israel included. I will support the deal when it comes before Congress for a vote.”
—Aug. 5, 2015, in a statement
House Speaker John Boehner (R-OH)
"Because a bad deal threatens the security of the American people, we're going to do everything possible to stop it.”
—July 22, 2015, according to the press
Foreign Affairs Committee 
Chairman Ed Royce (R-CA)
Also a member of the Financial Services Committee
“By granting sweeping sanctions relief, we have lessened our ability to challenge Iran’s conduct across the board. As Iran grows stronger, we will be weaker to respond.”
—Aug. 4, 2015, in a press release

Ranking Member Eliot Engel (D-NY)
“I’m grateful for the tireless efforts by President Obama, Secretary Kerry, Secretary Moniz, Secretary Lew, and Undersecretary Sherman…Unfortunately, I cannot support the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action.”
—Aug. 6, 2015, in a statement
Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-FL)
Also a member of the Select Committee on Intelligence
"That is a dangerous gamble for us to make with U.S. national security, and it is not a gamble I or any of us should be willing to take. And that is why we must reject this deal."
—July 28, 2015, in a press release
Mo Brooks (R-AL)
Also a member of the Armed Services Committee
“It makes no sense that America would enter into an agreement that helps arm Iran, the world’s foremost sponsor of terrorism, when, as Secretary Kerry confirms, Iran’s history suggests they are likely to use those weapons against us.”

—July 28,2015, at a hearing

Paul Cook (R-CA)
Also a member of the Armed Services Committee

“If this deal becomes law, we’ll face an even tougher struggle to prevent Iran’s nuclear capability, while Iran grows stronger economically and entrenches their disruptive influence on their neighbors."
—July 21, 2015, in a statement

Brad Sherman (D-CA)
Also a member of the Financial Services Committee
“A strong Congressional vote against the Agreement is the best way to make it clear that the Agreement is not binding on Congress, the American people or future administrations.”
—Aug. 7, 2015, in a statement
Ted Deutch (D-FL)
“Too many issues I have long raised as essential to any nuclear deal with Iran are not adequately addressed in this agreement. I will vote against it when Congress reconvenes in September.”
—Aug. 4, 2015, in an op-ed
Grace Meng (D-NY)
“I strongly believe the world could and should have a better deal than that set forth in the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, which I will therefore oppose.”
—July 29, 2015, in a statement
Albio Sires (D-NJ)
“I am opposed to the current proposed nuclear agreement with Iran, I do not feel the agreement will prevent them from acquiring a nuclear weapon.”
—July 31, 2015, in a statement
Ron DeSantis (R-FL)
“We must forcefully reject this fatally flawed nuclear deal with Iran.”
—July 30, 2015, in an op-ed
Scott DesJarlais (R-TN)
“I have been in all the hearings and seen all the classified documents and I see no reason why we should be pursuing this deal. I think it’s good for Iran and bad for America.”
—Aug. 21 , 2015, according to the press
Daniel Donovan (R-NY)
"I don't see how anyone can support this disastrous agreement."
—Aug. 20, 2015, according to the press
Jeff Duncan (R-SC)
“When the time comes to vote on the Iranian nuclear accord, I intend to vote against the deal, and strongly encourage my esteemed colleagues on both sides of the aisle to do the same.”
—July 26, 2015, in an op-ed
Armed Services Committee 
Brad Ashford (D-NE)
“If that’s what we get to vote on, I’m not going to vote for it the way it is."
Aug. 20, 2015, according to the press
Bradley Byrne (R-AL)
I believe Congress can stand united and defeat this bad agreement. 
July 20, 2015, in a statement 
Chris Gibson (R-NY)
I want to see us reject this agreement and go back to the negotiating table.”  
Aug. 12, 2015, in a statement 
Joe Heck (R-NV)
I believe this deal is bad for America and our allies in the region, especially Israel. 
July 29, 2015, in a statement
Doug Lamborn (R-CO)
"It is a horrible deal. Obama gave away the store and got very little in return. Iran is the world's largest supporter of state-sponsored terrorism and is getting a signing bonus of up to $150 billion, without any requirement they change their behavior in any way." 
Aug. 16, 2015, according to the press 
Frank LoBiondo (R-NJ)
Also a member of the Select Committee on Intelligence
"This deal falls far short from warranting my support. 
July, 29, 2015, in a statement
Martha McSally (R-AZ)
“The final agreement includes provisions dangerous to Americans and our allies. It should be rejected, and the administration should be directed back to the negotiating table. 
—Aug. 22, 2015, in an op-ed
Richard Nugent (R-FL)
"I cannot look the people I represent in the eye and say this deal makes us safer. I can’t tell them that the world will be more secure. 
—July 25, 2015, in a statement 
Steve Russell (R-OK)
"We have to scuttle itIt's terrible for our national security. It's terrible for international security." 
Aug. 5, 2015, according to the press
Bill Shuster (R-PA)
"I think it is a bad deal and I think no deal is better than a bad deal.” 
—July 31, 2015, in a statement 
Brad Wenstrup (R-OH)
“It is far less than adequate and the notion of no deal to me is actually more adequate than the deal that is on the table.”  
—Aug. 3, 2015, in a statement 
Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence
Peter King (R-NY)
Also a member of the Financial Services Committee
"It is definitely my intention to vote no on this deal with Iran."

—July 22, 2015, according to the press

Mike Pompeo (R-KS)

“This agreement is the worst of backroom deals."
—July 21, 2015, in a press release
Financial Services Committee 
Luke Messer (R-IN)
“I’ll be voting against the Iran deal because it doesn’t make America safer and it doesn’t make the rest of the world safer."
Aug. 23, 2015, according to the press 
Scott Garrett (R-NJ)
“Among its many flaws, President Obama’s nuclear deal with Iran requests that the United States and the other negotiating nations help develop, modernize and protect Iran’s nuclear program. This is unacceptable.”
—July 29, 2015, in a press release
Patrick McHenry (R-NC)
“It is the wrong thing for security and stability in the Middle East. Doing nothing is better than doing this something.”
—Aug. 29, 2015, in a press release
Randy Neugebauer (R-TX)
“It is not a good deal for the US, it is a really good deal for Iran.”
—Aug. 25, 2015, in a statement 
Steve Pearce (R-NM)
"I don't understand the basis for the agreement, I can't see how we got anything out of it.”
—Aug. 3, 2015, according to the press
Dennis Ross (R-FL)
“I will vote against this dangerous deal, and I call on my colleagues to do the same."
—Aug. 7, 2015, in an op-ed
Marlin Stutzman (R-IN) 
“I firmly disagree with President Obama’s Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action."
—Aug. 28, 2015, in a press release
Other Committees 
Ralph Abramson (R-LA)
“As details about the Iranian nuclear deal emerge, it is clear to me that Congress must prevent the deal from becoming policy.”
—July 30, 2015, in a press release
Brian Babin (R-TX)
"I’ll be leading the charge to expose and defeat this terrible deal to protect the safety and security of the American people.”
—July 21, 2015, in an opinion piece
Lou Barletta (R-PA)
“I cannot support the nuclear agreement with Iran, which I fear was rushed into existence with visions of Nobel Peace Prizes dancing in the heads of our negotiators.  I plan to vote against it on the floor of the House.”
—July 29, 2015, in a press release
Alcee Hastings (D-FL)
“After careful review, I have decided that I cannot support this deal.”
—Aug. 13, 2015, in a statement
Nita Lowey (D-NY)
“I remain hopeful that the Administration and Congress, in concert with our P5+1 and regional allies, can prevent Iran from obtaining a nuclear weapon. However, I cannot support this agreement before Congress.”
—Aug. 4, 2015, in a statement
Kathleen Rice (D-NY)
“I hope that history will ultimately prove President Obama right in his gamble on diplomacy and social progress in Iran. But for me, it is a risk I cannot support.”
—Aug. 3, 2015, in an op-ed

Photo credit: Capitol Dome via Wikimedia Commons

Khamenei: Parliament Must Review Deal

On September 3, Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei said that lawmakers must weigh in on the nuclear deal. Khamenei announced his decision one day after President Barack Obama gained enough votes in the Senate to prevent opponents of the agreement from scuttling it. “I have no advice to Parliament regarding review of the JCPOA (Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action) and approval or disapproval of it. The representatives of the nation must decide about it,” the supreme leader told members of the Assembly of Experts.

President Hassan Rouhani’s administration had long argued that the agreement was not a treaty, and therefore it did not require parliamentary approval. In August, lawmakers selected 15 members for a panel to review the deal. Rouhani's government has yet to submit a bill for approval. But Khamenei’s latest remarks ensure that parliament will rule on it. “I have told the president that it is not in our interest to not let our lawmakers review the deal,” he said.
The supreme leader also warned that the deal would be off if sanctions are not totally removed. “We urged removal, not suspension, of sanctions,” he said. The following are excerpts from Khamenei’s remarks posted on his Twitter account.
Nuclear Deal
The United States and the West

Iran: A Done Deal

Robin Wright (for The New Yorker)

President Obama today won the riskiest gamble of his presidency. He now has enough support in the Senate to ensure that the Hill cannot kill the White House deal with Iran. Some will still try. Cheney has joined the noisy opposition and will give a big speech next week. Trump, Cruz and Glenn Beck have scheduled a "Stop the Deal" rally on Capitol Hill next week. The debate still to come - as Congress goes through the motions - will be (memorably) nasty. But Obama has now basically ensured that the Iran deal will be the centerpiece of his foreign policy legacy.

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

Connect With Us

Our Partners

Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars Logo