United States Institute of Peace

The Iran Primer

Obama Backs Nuke Plan in Weekly Address

On April 4, President Barack Obama expressed support for the nuclear framework that was announced by the world’s six major powers and Iran on April 2. “Today we have an historic opportunity to prevent the spread of nuclear weapons in Iran, and to do so peacefully, with the international community firmly behind us,” he said in his weekly address. The following is a video and transcript of the address.

This week, together with our allies and partners, we reached an historic understanding with Iran, which, if fully implemented, will prevent it from obtaining a nuclear weapon and make our country, our allies, and our world safer.
This framework is the result of tough, principled diplomacy.  It’s a good deal—a deal that meets our core objectives, including strict limitations on Iran’s program and cutting off every pathway that Iran could take to develop a nuclear weapon.
This deal denies Iran the plutonium necessary to build a bomb.  It shuts down Iran’s path to a bomb using enriched uranium.  Iran has agreed that it will not stockpile the materials needed to build a weapon.  Moreover, international inspectors will have unprecedented access to Iran’s nuclear program because Iran will face more inspections than any other country in the world.  If Iran cheats, the world will know it.  If we see something suspicious, we will inspect it.  So this deal is not based on trust, it’s based on unprecedented verification. 
And this is a long-term deal, with strict limits on Iran’s program for more than a decade and unprecedented transparency measures that will last for 20 years or more.  And as a member of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, Iran will never be permitted to develop a nuclear weapon.
In return for Iran’s actions, the international community, including the United States, has agreed to provide Iran with phased relief from certain sanctions. If Iran violates the deal, sanctions can be snapped back into place.  Meanwhile, other American sanctions on Iran for its support of terrorism, its human rights abuses, its ballistic missile program, all will continue to be enforced.        
As I said this week, many key details will need to be finalized over the next three months, and nothing is agreed to until everything is agreed.  And if there is backsliding, there will be no deal.
Here in the United States, I expect a robust debate.  We’ll keep Congress and the American people fully briefed on the substance of the deal.  As we engage in this debate, let’s remember—we really only have three options for dealing with Iran’s nuclear program: bombing Iran’s nuclear facilities—which will only set its program back a few years—while starting another war in the Middle East; abandoning negotiations and hoping for the best with sanctions—even though that’s always led to Iran making more progress in its nuclear program; or a robust and verifiable deal like this one that peacefully prevents Iran from obtaining a nuclear weapon.
As President and Commander in Chief, I firmly believe that the diplomatic option—a comprehensive, long-term deal like this—is by far the best option.  For the United States.  For our allies.  And for the world.
Our work—this deal—is not yet done.  Diplomacy is painstaking work.  Success is not guaranteed.  But today we have an historic opportunity to prevent the spread of nuclear weapons in Iran, and to do so peacefully, with the international community firmly behind us.  And this will be our work in the days and months ahead in keeping with the best traditions of American leadership.

Iran Nuclear Plan: Iranians Celebrate

In Iran, celebrations broke out in the streets immediately following the announcement of the blueprint for a nuclear deal and continued the following day.

Tags: Offbeat

Iran Nuclear Plan: Israel Reacts

The following are excerpted statements by Israeli officials on the nuclear framework that was announced by the world’s six major powers and Iran on April 2.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu


Interview on NBC’s “Meet the Press”
BENJAMIN NETANYAHU: I'm not trying to kill any deal. I'm trying to kill a bad deal. And you say it's a historic decision, a historic deal, it could be historically bad deal. Because it leaves the preeminent terrorist state of our time with a vast nuclear infrastructure. Remember, not one centrifuge is destroyed, thousands of centrifuges will be left spinning uranium.
Not a single facility, including underground facilities, nuclear facilities, is being shut down. This is a deal that leaves Iran with the capacity to produce the material for many, many nuclear bombs, and it does so by lifting the sanctions pretty much up front.
So Iran will have billions of dollars flown to its coffers not for schools or hospitals or roads, but to pump up its worldwide terror machine and its military machine, which is busy conquering the Middle East as we speak. The preeminent terrorist state of our time should not have access to a vast nuclear capability that will ultimately give them nuclear weapons. That's a concern for Israel, for the region, for the peace of the world.
CHUCK TODD: Let me ask you this, though. You have a deal that was negotiated by the United States, China, Russia, Britain, France, Germany, all of them on one side of this deal. You're on the other. Are you concerned that Israel's being isolated from the world community on this issue?
BENJAMIN NETANYAHU: No, I don't. Look, the entire world celebrated the deal with North Korea. It was deemed to be a great breakthrough, it would bring an end to North Korea's nuclear program. You would have inspectors that would do the job. And of course, everybody applauded it. But it turned out to be a very, very bad deal. And you know where we are with North Korea.
I think the same thing would be true in the case of Iran, except that Iran is a great deal more dangerous than North Korea. It's a militant, Islamic power, built on regional corporate domination. In fact, bent on world domination, as it openly says so. They just chanted, "Death to America," a few days ago on the streets of Tehran, the same streets where there is rejoicing right now. Don't give the preeminent terrorist state of our time the access to a nuclear program that could help them make nuclear weapons. It's very bad for all of us.
CHUCK TODD: Well, you, in 2012, contemplated, there were reports that you contemplated asking your cabinet for permission to potentially strike Iran's nuclear facilities. Do you still plan on keeping that option open even if a deal is implemented by the United Nations and by the United States?
BENJAMIN NETANYAHU: Chuck, I'm the only Israeli left standing who never talks about our military options. But I will say this, I prefer a diplomatic solution. You know why? Because for any military option, the country that will pay the biggest price is always Israel. So we want a diplomatic solution, but a good one. One that rolls back Iran's nuclear infrastructure and one that ties the final lifting of restrictions on Iran's nuclear program with a change of Iran's behavior.
Namely that they stop their aggression in the region, that they stop their worldwide terrorism, and that they stop calling for and working for the annihilation of Israel. These are the requirements that there's still time to put in place. And I'll use what means I have, including this program, to try to persuade people to go for this deal, which is the only one that will give us peace and security.
Would you advise Saudi Arabia and Egypt right now to pursue their own nuclear program, given the way this deal looks in your eyes?
BENJAMIN NETANYAHU: No, I wouldn't advise them to do that, Chuck. But I think that despite the spoken words, there's enormous concerns throughout the Sunni states in the region. And I think one of the unfortunate, even tragic results of this deal, if it goes through, is that it would spark an arms race among the Sunni race, a nuclear arms race in the Middle East. And the Middle East crisscrossed with nuclear tripwires is a nightmare for the world. I think this deal is a dream deal for Iran and it's a nightmare deal for the world.
CHUCK TODD: There have been plenty reports about Israel's nuclear deterrent strategy. Do you believe that in an ideal situation, no Middle Eastern country would have nuclear weapons?
BENJAMIN NETANYAHU: In an ideal situation, you wouldn't have countries seeking to annihilate the state of Israel and openly saying that. By the way, an Iranian general said that four days ago, on the eve of the announcement of this framework in Lausanne, the commander of the besieged forces in Tehran says, "The destruction of Israel is non-negotiable."
So I think the real problem in the Middle East is not the democracy of Israel that has shown restraint and responsibility, but it's countries like Iran that pursue nuclear weapons with the explicit goal first of annihilating us, but also ultimately of conquering the Middle East and threatening you.
That's why they're developing ICBMs, intercontinental ballistic missiles that are meant for one purpose only, to carry nuclear payloads to a theater near you. They're not intended for us. They already have missiles that reach us. They're developing ICBMs to reach the United States. Don't give them these weapons. Don't give them nuclear ICBMs with which they can threaten you.
CHUCK TODD: It sounds like you want the U.S. Congress to do everything in its power to kill this deal. Is that what you'd like them to do?
BENJAMIN NETANYAHU: I'd like the United States and the other members of the P5+1 to get a better deal. There's still time. It's time you can ratchet up the sanctions. Look, biting sanctions were imposed for the first time only in 2012. That got Iran within 18 months to the table.
Once you got to the table, instead of ratcheting up the sanctions and the pressures, in fact, you reduce the pressure. And Iran's told, "No need to make any concessions at all. You have time to insist on a better deal and to ratchet up the pressure." That's the preferable route for all of us.
—April 5 2015 on NBC’s “Meet the Press”
Interview on ABC’s “This Week”
MARTHA RADDATZ, HOST: Prime Minister, why do you think President Obama and John Kerry would want an agreement that, as you say, threatens the survival of Israel and paves the path to a bomb?

BENJAMIN NETANYAHU, ISRAELI PRIME MINISTER: Well, I'm -- it's more they think it's a good deal, but we differ. I think this is a -- a bad deal. It leaves Iran with a vast nuclear infrastructure. It lifts the sanctions on them fairly quickly and enables them to get billions of dollars into their coffers. They're not going to use it for schools or hospitals or roads, Martha, they're going to use it to pump up their terror machine worldwide and their military machine that is busy conquering the Middle East now.

And third, it's a temporary deal. That is, whatever restrictions are placed on Iran's nuclear program, they're removed after a few years and Iran will be free to have a vast arsenal with which to, uh, ultimately produce many nuclear bombs.

I think for the preeminent terrorist state of our time to have a free path, an easy pass to nuclear weapons endangers Israel, endangers the region, endangers the world, it endangers everyone listening to me right now.

RADDATZ: Do you think President Obama is just too trusting?

NETANYAHU: Look, I think we have a legitimate difference of view. And I think that it's not only my own concerns. I think that the real concerns in the region, whatever is stated publicly as such, that if Iran is given this free path to the tomb, a deal that doesn't block Iran's path to nuclear weapons, but actually paves it, what will happen is that this will spark a nuclear arms race among the Sunni countries in the Middle East. And that would have -- a nuclear-armed Middle East, I think that's a global danger. I think it's very, very bad.

RADDATZ: What will you do to try to stop this? What will you do for the next three months?

NETANYAHU: Well, first of all, I think there is still time to reach a good deal, a better deal. And I think what is required is to hold firm, to increase the pressures until a better deal is achieved, one that significantly rolls back Iran's nuclear infrastructure and one that doesn't lift the restrictions on Iran -- on Iran's nuclear program until they stop their aggression in the region, until they stop their terrorism worldwide.

RADDATZ: The United States says it will be phased in. That hasn't even really been decided.

NETANYAHU: Well, it's never even been on the table, nor have ICBMs, intercontinental ballistic missiles, that they can use to propel their nuclear weapons to any part of the world, including the United States.

Nothing has been asked of Iran, to change its aggressive and terrorist policies, nothing. And I think it's important to change the deal, to toughen up the deal, to get a better deal, because we all prefer to find a solution, but it has to be the right one.

RADDATZ: How can you get a deal that Iran would accept? The U.S. and others who have been dealing for years, and you've got other players involved in this now. How can you get a deal that they would accept?

NETANYAHU: Martha, I think that what they don't accept today, they can accept tomorrow. If I told you two years ago that Syria's Bashar al-Assad would accept a deal that takes out all the chemicals for Syria, that takes out all the chemical weapons from Syria, just takes it out, not leave inspectors or beefed up inspectors to inspect what is there but actually take out the whole stuff, you would have said that's unrealistic. And you know what...

RADDATZ: Would you consider unilateral air strikes?

NETANYAHU: Well, first, let me say that we prefer a peaceful solution. How did you get a peaceful solution in Syria? You ratcheted up the pressure. And when Syria saw that that -- those pressures were raining down on them, they agreed to what was not agreed before. The same could be true with Iran.

RADDATZ: So would you threaten unilateral air strikes to Iran?

NETANYAHU: I never talk about our military option or anyone else's. The United States says that it has a military option on the table. But equally -- and I think no less effective -- have been the crippling sanctions that have only been applied swine 2012, crippling financial and economic sanctions, especially on the oil sector. And with the drop in oil, those sanctions have become even more effective. That's what got Iran to the table in the first place. And then, once they're at the table, why let up on those sanctions? In fact, that's the time to increase the pressure and to get tomorrow what you can't get today.
—April 5 2015 on ABC's "This Week"

Intelligence Minister Yuval Steinitz 
The smiles in Lausanne are detached from wretched reality in which Iran refuses to make any concessions on the nuclear issue and continues to threaten Israel and all other countries in the Middle East.” 
At a time when the representatives of the world powers were shaking hands with the Iranians in Lausanne, Iran continues its campaign of occupation and terror in Yemen and throughout the Middle East. We will continue in our efforts to explain and convince the world in the hopes of preventing a bad deal, or at least introducing changes and improvements.” 
—April 2, 2015 in a statement 
“It [the military option] was on the table. It’s still on the table. It’s going to remain on the table,” Steinitz told reporters. “Israel should be able to defend itself, by itself, against any threat. And it’s our right and duty to decide how to defend ourselves, especially if our national security and even very existence is under threat.”
“It might become a much better deal and a more comprehensive and trusted deal than it is today. This is a bad deal.”
—April 6, 2015 according to the press
Chief Spokesperson for the Prime Minister Mark Regev

"This framework (agreement) is a step in a very, very dangerous direction." 
"Not only does it leave Iran with an expensive nuclear infrastructure but it fails to shut down even a single Iranian nuclear installation. It leaves Iran with thousands of centrifuges to continue to enrich uranium." 
"It allows Iran to conduct research and development to build new and better centrifuges." 
—April 3, 2015, according to the press 
Economics Minister Naftali Bennett 
“The world’s most radical Islamic terror regime received today an official kosher stamp for its illicit nuclear program. This is a regime that cannot be trusted, and which has already violated consecutive U.N. resolutions. Today’s deal paves the way for Iran to eventually obtain a nuclear weapon, to further destabilize the Middle East and to continue spreading terror across the globe.” 
—April 2, 2015 in a statement

Member of the Knesset Yair Lapid

“There is no opposition and coalition when it comes to the Iranian nuclear issue.”

“We all share the concern that the Iranians will bypass [the agreement], and Israel must protect its security interests. The ayatollah regime in Iran has been engaged in years of fraud and deception and promotes its nuclear program under the nose of the West."
"There is no basis for determining that today Iran was prevented from achieving nuclear weapons. Israel should cooperate with the United States and the international community to ensure that there is no case of deception which endangers Israel's security and the security of the world."
—April 3, 2015, according to the press 

Members of the Knesset Yitzhak Herzog and Tzipi Livni

"We are entering a new phase in dealing with the Iranian nuclear threat...We must remember that the main part is yet to come and we must ensure that the final agreement will set the Iranian nuclear program back so as to prevent them from acquiring nuclear weapons and to ensure Israel's security interests."
3, 2015, according to the 

Member of the Knesset Yariv Levin (Likud), head of the Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee
"The agreement, which is based on deception, will turn Iran into a nuclear threshold state and give an unprecedented boost to Iran's efforts to take control of large parts of the Middle East."
"Given the blindness of Western leaders, Israel will continue to fight in a determined manner to halt the Iranian nuclear program and fight the radical Islamic terrorism sponsored by it."
—April 3, 2015, according to the press

Iran Nuclear Plan: Tehran Reacts

The following are excerpted statements by Iranian officials on the nuclear framework that was announced by the world’s six major powers and Iran on April 2.

President Hassan Rouhani
“This will open a new chapter in cooperation with the world…
All of us should be after an agreement based on a win-win approach, common respect and common goals. Some think we should either fight with the world or give in to the powers. We believe there is a third option – a solution. We can cooperate with the world…
If others respect us, they will receive the same respect from our side. There should be respect in order to receive respect. Sanctions and pressures are worthless. This indicates that the administration’s approach has been the right one...
The objective that we’ve achieved today has been due to our unity and solidarity. We have consulted with all the officials and authorities and always benefitted from the guidelines of the leader of the revolution. He has generously provided us with the guidelines. I deem it necessary here to appreciate the leader and the head of the three branches of government…In the next step we need their support… “
—April 3, 2015 in a speech
“We have never negotiated the suspension of sanctions and if it were the case, there would be no agreement.”
“The world knows that there is no way but to [reach] agreement and understanding with Iran because the great, courageous and resistant Iranian people have stood by their ideals despite hardships.”
The world has come to the realization that Iran will not “yield to pressure and sanctions.”
“The Islamic Republic of Iran has never sought to invade any country…but we will defend ourselves against anybody who intends to encroach upon the people’s rights.”
—April 5, 2015 in a meeting with a group of senior officials
Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif

Good evening ladies and gentleman. Let me again thank you all for having followed our work. We’ve done significant work. If we look back at recent history, and if we succeed, we’ve taken a major step, but we’re still some time away from reaching where we want to be. If we succeed, this will be one of the few cases where an issue is resolved through diplomatic means, an issue of significance. And that would require an approach that would concentrate on a non-zero sum outcome, a win-win outcome. And that was my country’s approach to this from the very beginning.

We appreciate the work that every delegation has put to this. We have done significant work. We have made achievements. We have made progress. We have decided to take steps for a period of time to assure who had concerns, which we thought those concerns were misplaced anyway, that our program is exclusively peaceful, has always been and will always remain exclusively peaceful. Those--None of those measures include closing any of our facilities. The proud people off Iran would never accept that. Our facilities will continue. We will continue enriching. We will continue research and development. Our heavy water reactor will be modernized and we will continue the Fordo facility. We will have, as you will hear, centrifuges installed in Fordo but not enriching. We will remain committed to the agreement and we will not enrich in Fordo. We will continue, we will focus our enrichment in Natanz. And we will do other activities while keeping our centrifuges in Fordo for a time that we have agreed.   
At the same time, all Security Council resolutions will be terminated. All U.S. nuclear-related secondary sanctions as well as E.U. sanctions will be terminated -- while the term of art for each case may be terminate implementation or cease implementation or terminate application, whatever the word may be, so that people will not get into trouble with the legal institutions. But the effect of which will be, when we implement our measures, there won't be no sanctions against the Islamic Republic of Iran.

And that, I think, would be a major step forward. We have stopped a cycle that was not in the interest of anybody. Not in the interest of non-proliferation and not in the interest of anybody to one that will, in fact, be a gain for all parties concerned. And I hope that at the end of this process we will all show that true dialogue and engagement with dignity we can, in fact, resolve problems, open new horizons and move forward.
—April 2, 2015 at a press conference in Lausanne, Switzerland



—April 4, 2015 in an interview on national television
“I have told the western diplomats that Iran is capable of making an atom bomb anytime it wills, but the one and only fact that has stopped us from doing so is Ayatollah Khamenei’s Fatwa (an Islamic legal pronouncement) and not the sanctions and pressures levied at the country."
—April 7, 2015 in a briefing to parliament
Deputy Foreign Minister Abbas Araghchi
“[T]he language of threat and sanctions is not acceptable to us and the world has come to the conclusion that no threat and sanctions will work on the Iranian nation.”
“Iran’s nuclear program, including enrichment [activities], has been recognized in the recent statement in Lausanne and it is not seen as a threat anymore.”
—April 3, 2015 in a televised interview according to Press TV
Deputy Foreign Minister Mortea Sarmadi
“We have agreed on certain limitations which will not leave any impact on the normal course of our nuclear program; we have only excluded those parts that could cause concern in the international community. We have stopped 20%-grade uranium enrichment since we don’t need it for now.”
—April 6, 2015 during a visit to Tunisia via Anadolu news agency and Fars News
Head of the Atomic Energy Organization Ali Akbar Salehi
“We have agreed that Iran must join an international consortium so that the nuclear waste which poses a great environmental risk to Iran and the world as a whole to be safely transported out of the country."
—April 7, 2015 in a briefing to parliament

Commander of the Islamic Revolution Guard Corps Maj. Gen. Mohammad Ali Jafari
“The Islamic Revolution Guard Corps thanks the diplomacy machine for its sincere efforts and for its insistence on the red lines of the establishment.
“But, we are certain, as the esteemed president and foreign minister and members of the negotiating team have said the right to enrich uranium and maintain nuclear research and development and have all relevant sanctions lifted are the central demands of the Iranian people.
“In light of the idea of harmony and unanimity between the public and government, the Iranian people will support the diplomatic front as far as the nuclear issue is concerned and won’t allow the misleading interpretations of the [Lausanne] statement, particularly by the Americans, to dent the existing trust between them and their government.”
—April 7, 2015 in a meeting with IRGC commanders (translation via Iran Front Page)
Chairman of Parliament’s National Security and Foreign Policy Commission Alaeddin Boroujerdi
“The Americans have acknowledged this (right) and the US president in his statement officially announced that they endorse Iran's enrichment.

“What Iran wanted eventually took place despite the plans proposed by the U.S., China and Russia; the Arak Heavy Water Reactor will continue to produce plutonium."
—April 5, 2015 in a statement
Basij Commander Brig. Gen. Mohammad Reza Naqdi
“The comments made after the Lausanne negotiations once again showed the United States’ strong grudge against the Iranians and proved that the US officials are liars and untrustworthy.
“After 9 days of breathtaking nuclear negotiations in Lausanne, the US president and other officials now deny the principal agreements and present opposing interpretations.
“They cite Iran’s undertakings, but fabricate and deny the commitments that they have made to the Iranian delegation.
“The Americans do not want to lose their main pressure leverage, and they are in a rush to strike a deal because inefficiency of the sanctions is growing increasingly evident, and in the near future no one would comply with them.”
—April 6, 2015 in an address to Basij militia personnel
Kazzem Jalili, head of Parliament’s Research Center
“We should be concerned about the attitude of the westerners because the wall of mistrust has grown so tall inside Iran; we remember the Sa’adabad agreement, the modal plan [of action between Iran and the IAEA] and the like that all show the other side has not fulfilled its commitment.”
“We should not pay heed to the Western propaganda … ; rather we should only show care for the written text.”
—April 5, 2015 to reporters
Member of Parliament Ali Motahari
The deal framework represents a “new stage in the life of the Islamic Revolution, and I hope that the signing of the final deal will be in the interests of the people of Iran, and brings about economic prosperity.”
—April 2015 according to the press
Member of Parliament Gholam-Ali Jafarzade
""The AEOI chief told the closed-door session of the parliament today that the Islamic Republic of Iran has acquired such a (high level of) power in the nuclear technology that this very power has forced the western side to see no way out but sitting to the negotiating table with Iran."

—April 7, 2015 according to the press

Photo credit: President.ir


Iran Nuclear Plan: Kerry Statement

The following is an excerpt from Secretary of State John Kerry’s statement on the nuclear talks between Iran and the world’s six major powers.

The journey towards a diplomatic solution began years ago.  And I can tell you that I’ve personally been involved for about four years, beginning from the time that I was serving in the United States Senate.  Others have been on this journey, and some of the others in our team, for even longer than that. 
But as Foreign Minister Zarif and High Representative Mogherini announced moments ago, today we have reached a critical milestone in that quest.  We, our P5+1, EU partners, and Iran have arrived at a consensus on the key parameters of an arrangement that, once implemented, will give the international community confidence that Iran’s nuclear program is and will remain exclusively peaceful.  And over the coming weeks, with all of the conditions of the 2013 Joint Plan of Action still in effect from this moment forward, our experts will continue to work hard to build on the parameters that we have arrived at today and finalize a comprehensive deal by the end of June.
Now we have said from the beginning – I think you’ve heard me say it again and again – that we will not accept just any deal, that we will only accept a good deal.  And today, I can tell you that the political understanding with details that we have reached is a solid foundation for the good deal that we are seeking.  It is the foundation for a deal that will see Iran reduce its stockpile of enriched uranium by 98 percent for 15 years.  It is a deal in which Iran will cut its installed centrifuges by more than two-thirds for 10 years.  It is a deal that will increase Iran’s breakout time, which was confirmed publicly today to be two to three months, and that is the time that it would take Iran to speed up its enrichment in order to produce enough fissile material for one potential nuclear weapon.  And that will be expanded now, under this deal, to one year from those two to three months.  That is obviously as much as six times what it is today, and what it has been for the past three years. 
I’d like also to make one more point very, very clear because it has been misinterpreted and misstated, misrepresented for much of this discussion:  There will be no sunset to the deal that we are working to finalize – no sunset, none.  The parameters of this agreement will be implemented in phases.  Some provisions will be in place for 10 years; others will be in place for 15 years; others still will be in place for 25 years.  But certain provisions, including many transparency measures, will be in place indefinitely into the future.  They will never expire.  And the bottom line is that, under this arrangement, the international community will have confidence that Iran’s nuclear program is exclusively peaceful, providing, of course, that the provisions are adhered to.  And if they aren’t, we have provisions that empower us to deal with that.
Ultimately, the parameters that we have agreed to will do exactly what we set out to do – make certain that all pathways to make enough fissile material for one nuclear weapon have been cut off, including the uranium pathway at Natanz and Fordow, and the plutonium pathway at Arak, and, of course, the covert pathway. 
Now we, our partners, and Iran have agreed that the only uranium-enrichment facility Iran will operate moving forward will be the facility at Natanz.  And even that one will undergo dramatic changes.  The vast majority of the centrifuges and their infrastructure will be removed.  And for at least the next 15 years, the stockpile will remain at 300 kilograms.  And any uranium that is enriched at Natanz will be capped at 3.67 percent, which is a typical level of enrichment for civilian nuclear power, but doesn’t even begin to approach the enrichment level necessary for a weapon.
We have agreed that the facility at Fordow will halt all uranium enrichment, period – all uranium enrichment, and in fact, there will not even be any fissile material present at the site and no enrichment R&D.  Instead, the facility will be converted into a nuclear physics and technology center. 
We have also agreed that Iran will redesign and rebuild its heavy-water reactor at Arak so that it will no longer produce any weapons-grade plutonium.  And the United States will be able to sign off, certify, the reactor’s final design, redesign.  And through international cooperation, it will be transformed into a reactor supporting only peaceful nuclear research and nuclear medicine.  And the calandria, as you heard earlier, will be taken out and destroyed.
We have agreed that Iran will ship all of its spent fuel from the Arak reactor out of the country for the reactor’s lifetime.  And Iran has agreed to refrain from building any additional heavy-water reactors for the next 15 years at least – “at least” means still open for beyond that period in the course of the next three months. 
And we have agreed that Iran will face regular and comprehensive inspections, which is the best possible way to detect any attempt to covertly produce a weapon.  Not only will inspectors have regular access to all of Iran’s declared facilities indefinitely, but they will also be able to monitor the facilities that produce the centrifuges themselves and the uranium that supports the nuclear program.  And they will be able to do that for at least 20 years.
This critical step will help to guard against diversion of those materials to any clandestine location or plant.  In addition, Iran has agreed to allow IAEA to investigate any suspicious site or any allegations of covert nuclear activities anywhere.
So these are just a few of the key – and I mean a few – of the key measures that will make up an extraordinarily comprehensive monitoring and transparency regime when and if it is finally signed and completed over the course of the next months.  Now we have been very clear, both publicly and privately, a final agreement will not rely on promises.  It will rely on proof. 
It is important to note that Iran, to date, has honored all of the commitments that it made under the Joint Plan of Action that we agreed to in 2013.  And I ask you to think about that against the backdrop of those who predicted that it would fail and not get the job done. 
And in return for Iran’s future cooperation, we and our international partners will provide relief in phases from the sanctions that have impacted Iran’s economy.  And if we find at any point that Iran is not complying with this agreement, the sanctions can snap back into place.  So together these parameters outline a reasonable standard that Iran can readily meet, and it is the standard that Iran has now agreed to meet. 
Throughout history, diplomacy has been necessary to prevent wars and to define international boundaries, to design institutions, and to develop global norms.  Simply demanding that Iran capitulate makes a nice soundbite, but it’s not a policy.  It is not a realistic plan.  So the true measure of this understanding is not whether it meets all the desires of one side at the expense of the other.  The test is whether or not it will leave the world safer or more secure than it would be without this agreement.  And there can be no question that the comprehensive plan that we are moving toward will more than pass that test.
This isn’t just my assessment.  It isn’t just the assessment of the United States delegation and our experts.  It is the assessment of every one of our P5+1 partners who stood up here a little while ago in front of the flags of their nations.  It is the assessment of our negotiating partners – Germany, the UK, China, France, and Russia – and all of our experts who have analyzed every aspect of this issue also join in that assessment.
From the beginning, we have negotiated as a team, and we are all agreed that this is the best outcome achievable.  No viable alternatives – not one – would be nearly as effective at preventing Iran from obtaining a nuclear weapon than – over a period of time than the parameters, providing they get completed and are signed.
Our political understanding arrived at today opens the door for a long-term resolution to the international community’s concerns about Iran’s nuclear program.  Now, we have no illusions about the fact that we still have a ways to travel before we’ll arrive at the destination that we seek.  We still have many technical details to work out on both sides and still some other issues that we acknowledge still have to be resolved; for example, the duration of the UN arms and ballistic missile restrictions on Iran and the precise timing of and mechanism for the conversion of the Arak reactor and Fordow site.  And of course, once we’re able to finalize a comprehensive deal, the process of implementation then remains in front of us as well.  But that’s a good challenge to have, frankly.
Throughout this negotiation, we have made a diligent effort to consult with our allies, our partners, including Israel and the Gulf states, and we have vigorously reaffirmed our enduring commitment to their security.  No one should mistake that.  And we will continue to stand by that commitment in the years and days ahead.
Obviously, we remain deeply concerned about Iran’s destabilizing actions in the region, and we remain fully committed to addressing the full slate of issues that we currently have with Iran.  But it is because we are so concerned about those issues and about the region’s security.  Precisely because of that concern that we believe this deal is critical.  The status quo with respect to Iran’s nuclear program is unacceptable.  
And certainly, we will continue to consult closely in the days ahead with the United States Congress.  They and we understand that an Iran that had a nuclear weapon in the context of today’s troubles would be even more problematic.  I spent almost 30 years in the United States Senate, and I had the privilege and the responsibility of chairing the Foreign Relations Committee when we put tough sanctions in place when this regime was put in place.  And that is the regime that indeed has brought this negotiation about. 
We are deeply grateful for Congress’s support of the diplomatic path to date, and we appreciate their patience.  There were those agitating to take action earlier.  Responsible voices held off and they helped us to get to this moment, and we appreciate that.  We sincerely hope that members will continue to give us the time and the space that we need to fully explain the political agreement that we have reached and to work out the remaining details of a final deal. 
Before I take a few questions, I just want to take a moment to thank some very important people.  The team that has been assembled throughout this process is really made up of an extraordinary group of public servants, and believe me, they have served their country and the world well in these days.  I want to thank my Cabinet colleague, Secretary of Energy Ernie Moniz, who was indispensable in his knowledge and his technical expertise to be able to sit down and work through some very complex issues.  His background as a nuclear scientist and his expertise was essential in helping us to arrive at this moment.  I also particularly want to thank my colleague at the State Department, the Under Secretary of State Wendy Sherman.  She has been absolutely superb, indefatigable, organized, strong, clear, visionary, and we are grateful.
I also want to thank the remarkable team of experts who haven’t slept in days, who’ve kept working, who have chased down numbers on – instantaneous call at any hour, and that goes for the team back home in the United States in the laboratories, in the White House, in the State Department, all of whom have contributed to our ability to be able to know what we are doing and to be able to put this initial agreement together. 
Now I want to thank the delegations also from the P5+1 countries.  As I said earlier, this is a team effort, partnership, and each and every one of their political directors, each and every one of their experts, was essential to help chase down details, help us create a consensus, help us check our own figures and our own thoughts about this effort.  And I particularly thank Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius of France, Foreign Secretary Hammond from the United Kingdom, Foreign Minister Lavrov from Russia, Foreign Minister Steinmeier from Germany, and Foreign Minister Wang Yi from China.  Every one of them showed an extraordinary commitment to this effort, and they have all contributed to this outcome.  And it has been a real partnership, with every country weighing in, every country concerned, every country making suggestions.  And I believe that their presence here tonight, their affirmation of this opportunity to try to finalize a deal over the next three months, is a critical component of credibility that should be given to this effort. 
I also want to thank the EU for its facilitation of these talks.  That begins with Dame Cathy Ashton, who spent many, many hours over several years helping to guide these talks.  She worked all the way through last December, and her efforts were essential in getting the formal negotiations structured.  Her successor, Federica Mogherini, has seized the baton and done an excellent job of filling right in and helping to move the process forward, and we thank both of them.  And Federica’s deputy has just been superb.  Helga Schmid, who has been the critical link between the EU and the entire P5+1 – we are very, very grateful for her stamina and her creativity and commitment.
Finally, I want to acknowledge the hard work of the Iranian delegation led by Foreign Minister Zarif and Dr. Salehi.  From the beginning, they have approached these talks with great professionalism and with seriousness of purpose.  They’ve been difficult – at times extremely intense; at times emotional; always challenging.  Not all of our meetings were easy.  In fact, many were quite difficult because the passions are there for everybody.  But we have shown, I think, diligence and respect on all sides and always kept the objective, which is a peaceful resolution of this issue, in mind.
I emphasize:  We still have a lot of work to do.  We have agreed on the most challenging and overarching issues, but now there are a number of technical decisions that need to be made, and there are still policy decisions that have to be made.  But we have the outline; we have the basic framing, if you will – the construction.  And as we continue on, the United States and our P5+1 partners will exhibit the same vigilance, the same unity of purpose, the same comprehensive approach, and the same good faith among us that has brought us this far.  So thank you, and I’d be happy to answer any questions.
QUESTION:  Secretary Kerry, can you tell us which gaps you were unable to reach understanding on, and are any elements not being made public?  How long will it take Iran to comply so that sanctions can be eased, and could the deal fall through over the next three months?  And lastly, will the three Americans being held in Iran be released as a goodwill measure if this deal is completed?  Thank you.
SECRETARY KERRY:  Well, yeah, of course.  I mean, we have acknowledged there are some gaps.  I just listed a few of them a moment ago for you.  There are issues that we have to resolve.  And I’m not going to go into all of them right now, but I think I listed several of them in my comments.  We have to finish dealing with Fordow, in some respects, with respect to transition.  That’s one of the things we’re going to be looking at and talking about.  We have other considerations with respect to the sanctions themselves and the rate and timing and so forth.  But I don’t think it serves any great purpose to go through all that now.  In the days ahead, there will be plenty of time to focus on that with Congress and others, and we look forward to those consultations. 
It’s really a matter of anywhere from probably six months to a year or so that it will take to begin to comply with all of the nuclear steps that need to be taken in order to then begin into the phasing.  Those steps have to happen first.  And in the meantime, the interim agreement – the JPOA, as it’s called, Joint Plan of Action – will continue to be implemented in full.  And so we believe there is a full continuity in the oversight and accountability that is necessary to proceed forward.
And finally, with respect to our citizens, we, of course, have had a number of conversations; and no meeting, no date when we come together, has been without conversation about our American citizens.  I’m not going to go into any details, except to say to you that that conversation is continuing.  We have a very specific process in place to try to deal with it.  And we call on Iran again today, now, in light of this, to release these Americans and let them get home with their families.  And we’re working on that and we will continue to be very focused on it.
QUESTION:  As the business correspondent for my channel, the single one question every Iranian, from ordinary Iranians to those in boardrooms of Iranian companies, have been asking me is if on July 1st we have a joint comprehensive plan of action how fast, in what sequence, and in what format will economic sanctions, more specifically banking sanctions, which have been hurting many Iranians inside and outside the country, will be removed?  I do understand you said that it will depend on compliance from Iran, but if you could just give us a bit more precise idea. 
And also if I can, second question is – you have been – Foreign Secretary Zarif seems to have the world record of having face time with you thanks to these negotiations.  Would you say these negotiations will help in future to improve ties between Iran and United States?
SECRETARY KERRY:  Well, on the latter question, all I can do is hope, like I think most citizens would hope.  I would assume, from what we pick up through the diaspora and otherwise with respect to Iran, there are many, many Iranians who hope that they can join the world.  But I’m not going to speculate on that.  I have no idea.  It would depend entirely on the resolution of a lot of things as we go forward.
The one thing we do know is that if we can eliminate this question of the nuclear issue, it begins to at some point, conceivably, provide an opportunity for change.  I’m not going to predict anything.  But I do know that stopping having a nuclear weapon makes the world safer, and that is what President Obama and all of us have been focused on.
With respect to the negotiations, I think – what was the first part of your question?  It was about -
QUESTION:  It’s about sanctions.
SECRETARY KERRY:  Oh, the sanctions, yes.  On the sanctions, as I said, they were phased.  There are a set of requirements, for instance, the dismantlement of some of the centrifuges and the dismantlement of the infrastructure that is associated with those centrifuges.  Iran has a responsibility to get the breakout time to the one year.  And they can do it as fast as they want, and I assume will try to do it very rapidly.  But we think that just the amount of work and the things they have to do will be somewhere in the vicinity of four (inaudible) months to a year, somewhere in there.  I can’t say for certain. 
But when that is done and certified by the IAEA that they have lived up to that nuclear responsibility, and we make that judgment with them, at that point in time the – there would begin the phasing of the sanctions.  And we have stated very clearly that that will begin with the suspension with respect to the economic and financial sanctions at that point in time. 
So there will be – I mean, this is part of the nature of any negotiation.  In exchange for the restraints and restrictions that Iran is putting in place here, we will, indeed, take the very tool that was calculated to bring people to negotiate, once it has succeeded in achieving the goal, we will begin to phase those out.  And that timing on other parts of that obviously remains still to be negotiated.  But on the finance and the banking component, the economic components, those the President has committed to move on when that first phase is complete, and we move on to the next phase of implementation.
QUESTION:  Sir, you just said they’re not merely technical issues that remain to be threshed out, but still some policy decisions that need to be made.  What are the most important policy issues that need to be confronted before there can be an agreement at the end of June?  And also, nothing here has been said on how Iran’s large stock of uranium is to be disposed of, either by shipping it out of the country or dealing with it inside the country.  How will that be done?
And lastly, on sanctions, Minister Zarif said the Security Council resolutions will be suspended or eliminated, but can you tell us some more how that will work, especially since they could take years for Iran to address the IAEA’s concerns over PMD?  And have you assured the Iranians that the White House will be able to persuade the Congress to revoke the sanctions it has imposed if Iran keeps its commitments?
SECRETARY KERRY:  The question of the sanctions, Michael, remains one of the issues of the timing – the exact timing and the exact process associated with it remains one of those issues that is going to be negotiated over the course of the next three months.  The commitment is to lift the economic and financial sanctions on the occasion of what I mentioned earlier on the nuclear side.  Beyond that, UN sanctions, others with respect to ballistic missile embargo, et cetera, those remain for negotiation.
With respect to the question of the IAEA process, et cetera, and what happens with respect to the stockpile, it has to either be diluted or sold on the international market, one of the two.  So whatever excess there is with respect to that will actually be returned right into uranium and not serve any fundamental purpose.  But the stockpile is going to have to be diluted or sold in the international marketplace, and that is agreed upon at this point in time.
So thank you all very, very much.

Connect With Us

Our Partners

Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars Logo