On August 2, Iranian President Hassan Rouhani said that Iran’s achievements secured in the nuclear deal surpassed expectations. In a live interview on state television, he pushed back against hardliner critiques of the agreement. “This idea that we have two options before the world, either submit to it or defeat it, is illogical: there is also a third way, of constructive cooperation with the world in a framework of national interests,” said Rouhani. The following is a dubbed video clip of the interview via Press TV followed by a summary of his key points.
• The 2013 presidential election was a referendum on how Iran should deal with the outside world.
• Iran’s resistance to and resilience against sanctions was key to maintaining its right to a peaceful nuclear program in the negotiations.
• Iran cannot completely trust the world powers that are committed to the deal, but a mechanism can be devised to prevent any side from facing a loss if the other breaches the agreement.
• The fact that the interim nuclear deal between and the world’s six major powers stood for nearly two years could be a sign that the final deal can also last.
• The entire Iranian nation will stand behind the Supreme Leader and will safeguard the nation’s rights just it did during the 1980-1988 war imposed by Iraq, in which Iran never resorted to using chemical weapons.
• Iran is not pursuing weapons of mass destruction.
• Iran met three objectives in the nuclear deal, establishing its nuclear rights, moving out of Chapter VII of the U.N. Charter and gaining sanctions relief.
• U.N. Security Council 2231 will not create national security problems for Iran. Under its provisions, sanctions related to arms for Iran are limited.
• Iran will not give away its national secrets. Its defensive capability will not be diminished at all.
• The government’s successful curbing of inflation from 42 percent down to 15 percent and achieving positive economic growth discouraged the world powers from pressuring Iran during the nuclear talks.
• Iran would welcome foreign investment but not increased imports.
• The deal has opened Iran’s doors to foreign technology and capital and will facilitate Iranian exports after sanctions are lifted.
• The final solutions to conflicts in Yemen and Syria are political. The nuclear agreement will create a new atmosphere and the climate will be easier.
Iran's government "does not fully comply with the minimum standards for the elimination of trafficking and is not making significant efforts to do so,” according to the State Department’s 2015 Trafficking in Persons Report. The report ranks Iran as a “Tier 3” country, its lowest ranking, meaning that the government is not taking adequate measures to combat trafficking problems. The following is an excerpt from the report.
In July and August, President Barack Obama defended the Iran nuclear deal in his public remarks. “There’s a reason why 99 percent of the world thinks that this is a good deal,” he said on July 27. “It’s because it’s a good deal.” Congress has until September 18 to either allow the agreement to proceed or adopt a resolution of disapproval. President Obama has said he will veto the resolution if it is passed.
The debate surrounding the historic nuclear deal between Iran and the world’s six major powers played out among two nuclear experts, a sanctions specialist and an Iran scholar during an event co-hosted by USIP at the Woodrow Wilson Center on July 23. The discussion outlined key issues that will top agendas in Washington and Tehran as lawmakers in both countries consider the agreement in the coming months.
Senior Fellow, Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs at Harvard University
Former Deputy Director General and Head of Department of Safeguards, International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA)
- After 10 years, Iran will be able to increase the number of centrifuges without limit. Its uranium stockpile will still be restricted, but the limits will be less important because by then Iran will be using more-advanced centrifuges.
- After 15 years, limits on the stockpile of enriched uranium will expire. Iran’s breakout time for a bomb could decrease to as little as a few weeks.
- So-called “snap back” sanctions, penalties that could be restored in the case of violations by Iran, could take months or even years to fully implement. There may need to be a faster mechanism to address Iranian violations.
- Iran has agreed to ratify the IAEA’s Additional Protocol after the UN agency determines Iran’s nuclear program is peaceful. The IAEA would normally require ratification before making that determination.
- The IAEA system for monitoring declared facilities – like Natanz and Fordow – is robust. If Iran carries out violations at these sites, they would be detected fairly quickly.
- The IAEA is still missing information about Iran’s nuclear activities since 2005, which will make it hard to begin verification with a clean slate.
- The 24-day timeframe for inspectors to access suspicious sites could be problematic. There are scenarios in which evidence of nuclear activity can be removed or erased in much less time.
- The alternative to a deal is not necessarily war. Iran is unlikely to dash towards a bomb given its current nuclear infrastructure, but would instead escalate its activities strategically.
Senior Fellow and Director of the Energy, Economics and Security Program, Center for a New American Security
Former Senior Sanctions Advisor at the U.S. Treasury Department
- Most – but not all – sanctions targeting Iran’s energy industry, financial services, shipping and other sectors will be lifted on implementation day, the day Iran is deemed to have met its nuclear commitments. That could occur six- to nine months from now..
- U.S. and E.U. sanctions relating to Iran’s support of terrorism will remain in place.
- Sanctions that restrict Iran’s participation in the SWIFT international financial payment system are particularly significant, perhaps even more than U.S. sanctions. If they are lifted, Iran will be able to resume international transactions.
- Lifting U.S. sanctions will impact foreign companies, but many American companies will still face restrictions. There are some exceptions, including trade in commercial aircraft, pistachios and rugs.
- In reality, sanctions relief won’t have a significant impact in the first few months or even years. Companies may be concerned about the risk of a deal collapsing or getting wrapped up in sanctions violations, which can cost them billions of dollars and reputational damage. And issues like corruption make Iran a difficult place to do business.
- Still, Iran is an attractive market for emerging investment. It has a large, well-educated population.
- If the United States and the European Union are involved with Iran’s reintegration into the international financial system, they will have more leverage later on to re-impose sanctions if necessary. So it is also important to increase trade with Iran enough that it will feel the impact if sanctions are reimposed.
- Multilateral sanctions are far more effective than unilateral penalties. The United States cannot produce the same effect alone. And if it tries and fails, it makes sanctions look weak as an option.
Joint Fellow, U.S. Institute of Peace and Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars
Author and Journalist, recently returned from Iran for The New Yorker
- From the beginning, Iran wanted more than sanctions relief in the negotiations. It wanted recognition of the Islamic Republic, and a shift away from talk of regime change.
- Iran also chose to engage because it opened up economic avenues. Iran needs $1 trillion of investment to revive its economy.
- The Islamic Republic also feels vulnerable, with ISIS as close as 25 miles from its borders. Iranians fear rising sectarianism in the region, as Iran is in the minority as a Shiite state surrounded by Sunnis.
- There is potential for profound change within Iran. More than half the electorate is under 35 – born after the revolution – and they have enormous influence. The government understands that this is a moment to engage. And the supreme leader cannot ignore the changes happening in society.
- Hardliners are less concerned about the deal itself than they are about how it will affect domestic politics. They might oppose the deal because their own political future is at stake. They may fear that opening up to the world will undermine the revolution.
- A key issue is what Iran will do with the billions of dollars it will receive with sanctions relief. The question will be whether the Revolutionary Guards will get a payoff in terms of funds for their activities in the region, or for their spinoff construction companies in Iran.
- If Congress rejects the deal, hardliners in Iran’s parliament might reject it as well. But they also might approve it, as a way to undermine the United States. Khamenei would argue that he was right to assume the United States could not be trusted as a negotiating partner. It might make future engagement impossible.
President, Ploughshares Fund
Former Professional Staff Member, House Armed Services Committee
- The deal is a major diplomatic triumph. It is the most important nonproliferation agreement of the last 20 years.
- It stops Iran from acquiring a nuclear weapon and prevents a new war in the Middle East. It also makes the region more secure.
- The United States achieved all its major goals in this deal: stopping all pathways to a bomb, putting a verification system in place, and deterring Iran from cheating by maintaining the international coalition that imposed sanctions.
- The deal strips down Iran’s nuclear program and wraps it in an extensive verification system. It would be almost impossible for Iran to evade inspections.
- There are some concerns and issues, but overall it is much better than any deal previously negotiated.
- In 10 years, Iran will be allowed to install more centrifuges, but they will still have a small stockpile. And even when they are allowed to increase it, after 15 years, Iran will still be limited in its procurement channels and bound by international inspections.
- Even when other restrictions expire, the international community will have so much more information on Iran’s nuclear sites and activities that a potential military option would be more effective than it is now.
- The deal is not perfect. But it buys time, which is the main goal when it comes to national security concerns.
To assess the period of pivotal diplomacy leading up to the deal, the coalition of eight Washington policy organizations has previously hosted four other discussions.
- The Volatile Factors Underlying a Potential Iran Nuclear Deal
- Nuclear Flashpoints: US-Iran Tensions Over Timetables and Terms
- Iran Sanctions and the Possible Trade-Offs for a Nuclear Deal
- Politics of a Nuclear Deal: U.S. and Iranian Officials Debate
On July 24, Secretary of State John Kerry explained and defended the nuclear deal at the Council on Foreign Relations. The following is an excerpted transcript of his remarks.