United States Institute of Peace

The Iran Primer

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.

Iran Nuclear Plan: Congress Reacts

U.S. lawmakers released the following statements on the outcome of nuclear talks between Iran and the world’s six major powers.

House Speaker John Boehner (R-OH)

“The president says negotiators have cleared the basic threshold needed to continue talks, but the parameters for a final deal represent an alarming departure from the White House’s initial goals. My longtime concerns about the parameters of this potential agreement remain, but my immediate concern is the administration signaling it will provide near-term sanctions relief. Congress must be allowed to fully review the details of any agreement before any sanctions are lifted.
“After visiting with our partners on the ground in the Middle East this week, my concerns about Iran’s efforts to foment unrest, brutal violence and terror have only grown. It would be naïve to suggest the Iranian regime will not continue to use its nuclear program, and any economic relief, to further destabilize the region. 
“In the weeks ahead, Republicans and Democrats in Congress will continue to press this administration on the details of these parameters and the tough questions that remain unanswered. We will stand strong on behalf of the American people and everyone in the Middle East who values freedom, security, and peace.” 
—April 2, 2015 in a statement

Sen. Bob Corker (R-TN)

“A nuclear-armed Iran would lead to a less safe and less secure world, which is why the stakes are so high in the pursuit of a strong agreement that is fully enforceable, verifiable and is in our national security interests. It is important that we wait to see the specific details of today’s announcement, and as the P5-plus-one works toward any final deal, we must remain clear-eyed regarding Iran’s continued resistance to concessions, long history of covert nuclear weapons-related activities, support of terrorism, and its current role in destabilizing the region. If a final agreement is reached, the American people, through their elected representatives, must have the opportunity to weigh in to ensure the deal truly can eliminate the threat of Iran’s nuclear program and hold the regime accountable. Rather than bypass Congress and head straight to the U.N. Security Council as planned, the administration first should seek the input of the American people. There is growing bipartisan support for congressional review of the nuclear deal, and I am confident of a strong vote on the Iran Nuclear Agreement Review Act when the Senate Foreign Relations Committee takes it up on April 14.”
—April 2, 2015 in a statement
Rep. Ed Royce (R-CA)
“Congress has repeatedly made clear that an acceptable agreement must effectively block Iran’s ability to develop a nuclear weapon. 367 Members of Congress are on record stating that such a deal must last for multiple decades and include full disclosure of Iran’s past efforts to build a nuclear weapon, a dramatic reduction in the number of centrifuges, as well as intrusive inspection and verification measures.
“The Administration owes Congress the details on many key questions from today’s announcement.  Just what is the research and development that Iran will be permitted on its advanced centrifuges, key to advancing its nuclear program?  What violations would constitute “significant nonperformance?”  There must be a zero-tolerance policy for Iranian cheating.  Will there be inspections anytime, anywhere?  These are just some of the initial issues the Committee will closely scrutinize of this political framework.  And Congress will have its say on any final agreement.
“I am very concerned by the extent of the sanctions relief that this announcement appears to offer Iran.  Almost all congressionally-mandated sanctions related to Iran’s nuclear program are also related to Tehran’s advancing ballistic missile program, intensifying support for international terrorism, and other unconventional weapons programs. And I remain concerned regarding the ability to effectively re-impose sanctions once they have been weakened.”
—April 2, 2015 in a statement
Sen. Tom Cotton (R-AR)

“There is no nuclear deal or framework with Iran; there is only a list of dangerous U.S. concessions that will put Iran on the path to nuclear weapons. Iran will keep a stockpile of enriched uranium and thousands of centrifuges—including centrifuges at a fortified, underground military bunker at Fordow. Iran will also modernize its plutonium reactor at Arak. Iran won’t have to disclose the past military dimensions of its nuclear program, despite longstanding UN demands. In addition, Iran will get massive sanctions relief up front, making potential “snap-back” sanctions for inevitable Iranian violations virtually impossible.
“Contrary to President Obama’s insistence, the former deputy director of the UN’s nuclear watchdog has said terms such as these will allow Iran to achieve nuclear breakout in just a few months, if not weeks. But in any case, even these dangerous terms will expire in just 10-15 years, even though it only took North Korea 12 years to get the bomb after it signed a similar agreement in 1994.
“These concessions also do nothing to stop or challenge Iran’s outlaw behavior. Iran remains the world’s worst state sponsor of terrorism. Iranian aggression is destabilizing the Middle East. And Iran continues to hold multiple Americans hostage.
“I will work with my colleagues in the Senate to protect America from this very dangerous proposal and to stop a nuclear arms race in the world’s most volatile region.”
—April 2, 2015 in a statement

Sen. Mark Kirk (R-IL)

"Neville Chamberlain got a lot of more out of Hitler than Wendy Sherman got out of Iran."
"[Lifting any more sanctions on Iran] dooms the Middle East to yet another war."

“We should be a reviewing presence to see how this unfolds...Which we all know is going to end with a mushroom cloud somewhere near Tehran.”

“There’s nothing for Iranians to do but go at breakneck speed to a nuclear weapon...We’re moving straight to forcing Israel to clean up this mess … when the West does nothing, Israel over and over has done something.”

"[The deal] commits Israel on a path to war with Iran. And we shouldn’t force our best ally in the region to clean up the mess.”
—April 2, 2015 in an interview
Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL)
“I look forward to hearing from administration officials what specific terms Iran has agreed to as part of what was supposed to be a comprehensive framework agreement, but the initial details appear to be very troubling. Through more than a decade of efforts to resolve international concerns about Iran’s nuclear program, this regime has consistently lied about its ambitions and hidden the true nature of its efforts from the world. Among other issues, allowing Iran to retain thousands of centrifuges, keeping facilities such as Fordow open and not limiting Iran’s ballistic missile program indicate to me that this deal is a colossal mistake.
“This attempt to spin diplomatic failure as a success is just the latest example of this administration’s farcical approach to Iran. Under this President’s watch, Iran has expanded its influence in the Middle East, sowing instability throughout the region. Iran’s support for terrorism has continued unabated without a serious response from the United States. The regime’s repression of the Iranian people and its detentions of American citizens continue. And now Tehran is gaining international acceptance of its nuclear ambitions and will receive significant sanctions relief without making serious concessions.
“I intend to work with my colleagues to continue to ensure that any final agreement, if reached, is reviewed by Congress and that additional sanctions continue to be imposed on Iran until it completely gives up its nuclear ambitions and the regime changes its destructive behavior.
“Our message to Iran should be clear: until the regime chooses a different path, the United States will continue t o isolate Iran and impose pressure. Today’s announcement takes us in the opposite direction, and I fear it will have devastating consequences for nuclear non-proliferation, the security of our allies and partners, and for U.S. interests in the region.”
—April 2, 2015 in a statement
Sen. Ron Johnson (R-WI)

“If President Obama truly believes that this ‘framework’ for a deal will prevent Iran from getting a nuclear weapon, he ought to be able to conclusively prove it to Congress and, more importantly, to the American people.   As a result, he should present that evidence and allow the American people to have a say through their elected representatives as to whether or not he is correct. If he is confident that this deal lives up to its billing, he should submit the final deal to the Senate for ratification. I will be either introducing or supporting legislation that will require Senate ratification.” 
—April 2, 2015 in a statement

Sen. Harry Reid (D-NV)
"I spoke to President Obama today and he informed me that negotiators have agreed upon a framework with the goal of preventing Iran from getting a nuclear weapon. I am cautiously optimistic about this framework. We must always remain vigilant about preventing Iran from getting a nuclear weapon but there is no question that a diplomatic solution is vastly preferable to the alternatives.
“Now is the time for thoughtful consideration, not rash action that could undermine the prospects for success. We have much to learn about what was negotiated and what will take place between now and the end of June. In the coming days and weeks, we should all take a deep breath, examine the details and give this critically important process time to play out."
—April 2, 2015 in a statement
Sen. Barbara Boxer (D-CA)

"Now that all parties have agreed to a framework, Congress has a choice: support these negotiations or disrupt them and potentially jeopardize this historic opportunity to prevent Iran from acquiring a nuclear weapon.
"We don't yet know the details of a final deal, but initial reports are promising, and if the U.S. had prematurely ended talks on nuclear issues in the past, we would never have had historic and critical international agreements like the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty and the New START Treaty.
"The Obama Administration has worked tirelessly to reach this point and I will work to ensure that Congress has the patience to support this diplomatic effort because the risks of walking away from the table are simply too high."
—April 2, 2015 in a statement
Sen. Chris Murphy (D-CT)

“I welcome today’s announcement that a framework understanding has been reached between Iran, the United States and our partners in the P5+1, and look forward to reviewing the details of the framework over the coming days. A comprehensive diplomatic agreement remains the best way to prevent Iran from developing a nuclear weapon, and this agreement demonstrates the political will exists to complete a final deal by the July deadline. 
We all agree that a final agreement must prevent a nuclear Iran, and a senior State Department official assured me again this afternoon that negotiators in the room share that belief.
I will continue urging my senate colleagues to allow negotiators to represent the United States’ best interests without taking action that would, intentionally or not, jeopardize the discussions taking place. Those who are critical of today’s framework have the responsibility to present a serious, credible alternative that would get us to our ultimate goal: achieving a nuclear-free Iran in a way that doesn’t require another war in the Middle East.
I congratulate Secretary Kerry, Under Secretary Sherman and our entire negotiating team on their hard work over the past months, and in particular the past week, as they have doggedly represented the interests of the United States through all-night negotiating sessions.”
—April 2, 2015 in a statement
Rep. Nancy Pelosi (D-CA)
“I commend President Obama and Secretary Kerry for their smart, tough leadership in reaching the preliminary nuclear framework announced today.
“We have no illusions about the record and conduct of the Iranian regime.  That is why this framework to roll back Iran’s nuclear program is founded not on trust, but on vigilance and enforcement.  Critically, this framework significantly restricts Iran’s enrichment capability and enables us to intensify our vigilance where it is needed most and that is inside Iran’s facilities.  The aggressive inspections and restrictions outlined in the preliminary framework offers a strong, long-term plan to stop Iran from building a bomb.   
“A nuclear-armed Iran is unacceptable to the United States, unacceptable to Israel, and unacceptable to the world.  This accord will be enforced by the full strength of the United States and the collective determination of the international community.  All options remain on the table should Iran deviate from the terms of this framework, or take any steps toward a nuclear weapon.  I want to express my appreciation to Under Secretary Wendy Sherman and the negotiating team for their regular briefings to Congress, which I know will continue as this framework is finalized in the coming months.”
—April 2, 2015 in a statement

Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-NY)
“Secretary Kerry and Secretary Moniz have worked long and hard and their announcement deserves careful, rigorous and deliberate analysis. I’ll be giving the framework a very careful look.”
—April 2, 2015 in a statement
Rep. Lloyd Doggett (D-TX)

“This agreement provides a sound framework to make our families safer. It is not based on “trust;” it is based on “verify.”
The interim Joint Plan of Action has already given us more insight and given the Iranians less capability to go nuclear. The same voices that condemned that interim agreement before they knew what was in it are condemning this agreement. These “bomb Iran” rejectionists are wrong again.  
I previously voted for sanctions, which succeeded in getting Iran to negotiate. They cannot be fully lifted without an eventual vote of Congress. They should remain until conclusive evidence verifies years of sustained and comprehensive Iranian compliance.   But a congressional vote now to veto technical implementation of this agreement would endanger every family in America and Israel.   All of us, who do not trust war as the answer, must work together to support this peaceful resolution.”
—April 2, 2015 in a statement

Rep. Keith Ellison (D-MN)

“The framework agreement announced today is a positive step towards securing a final agreement that will prevent Iran from developing a nuclear weapon. President Obama, President Rouhani and the P5+1 remain committed to the difficult work of diplomacy—even as hardliners in the United States and Iran call for war. Peaceful diplomacy, especially at a time when the divide between the United States and Iran is so wide, is always preferable to war. This agreement shows that there is political will on all sides to cross the finish line to a final agreement.”
—April 2, 2015 in a statement
Rep. Raul M. Grijalva (D-AZ)

“The framework announced today by the P5+1 negotiators is a promising step towards lasting peace and security, not just in the Middle East, but the world over. We now have demonstrable progress in keeping the worlds’ most sinister weapons out of Iran’s hands, and a success to build upon towards one day achieving normalized relations. It is a diplomatic victory that exhibits exceptional leadership from President Obama. Lawmakers from every political persuasion should applaud and support his ongoing efforts.”
—April 2, 2015 in a statement
Rep. John Conyers (D-MI)

“The Obama Administration's painstaking diplomatic efforts are yielding one of the great international agreements of our time: a verifiable plan to prevent Iran from obtaining a nuclear weapon,” said Rep. Conyers. “The framework agreement will not only promote long-term security in the Middle East but also help remove the short-term specter of a destructive military confrontation. Today's announcement will unquestionably make the Middle East and the broader world safer.”
—April 2, 2015 in a statement
Rep. Barbara Lee (D-CA)

“Today’s framework agreement would prevent an Iranian nuclear weapon, enhances our national security and shows that diplomacy works. This is a major step forward for diplomacy, national security and global peace. This type of smart, strategic diplomacy brings us closer to a more peaceful and secure world while promoting U.S. national security.”
—April 2, 2015 in a statement
Rep. Steve Cohen (D-TN)

“No one wants a nuclear Iran, and this tentative agreement reflects that reality. Those who sought to undermine these negotiations would be well served to remember that the alternative to an agreement is an Iran with no limits on or international monitoring of its efforts to enrich uranium. We should not let the perfect be the enemy of the good, especially when the “perfect” that many seek is unrealistic. I, along with many of my colleagues, look forward to learning the details of the final June 30th agreement and hope it is a step in the right direction towards a non-nuclear Iran.”
—April 2, 2015 in a statement
Rep. Donald Beyer (D-VA)

“I congratulate the American negotiators, led by Secretary Kerry, as well as our P5+1 partners on reaching this political framework agreement. More issues remain to be resolved, but this framework could form the basis of a historic agreement that will peacefully prevent Iran from acquiring a nuclear weapon, thereby removing one of the greatest threats to the security of a region which certainly needs no more instability.”
—April 2, 2015 in a statement
Rep. Hank Johnson (D-GA)

“It is welcome news that the U.S., it's international partners, and Iran have agreed on a deal to limit Iran’s nuclear program. While some of my colleagues have objected to negotiations with Iran, it must be noted that thanks to these historic diplomatic efforts, the world is further from a nuclear-armed Iran and the risk of war over this issue. Congress has passed, and I have supported, multiple rounds of sanctions legislation against Iran that has expressly granted the president the authority to waive or suspend sanctions. Bipartisan support for the president's agreement, which waives sanctions against Iran, is critical to ensuring that the agreement is successful in preventing a nuclear-armed Iran. I support President Obama’s efforts to peacefully address this critical issue.”
—April 2, 2015 in a statement

Sen. Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH)

“The announcement of a framework for a comprehensive agreement to limit Iran’s nuclear program is a positive development. I look forward to closely reviewing the framework and continuing my work, as a member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, to ensure that Iran cannot develop nuclear weapons.”
—April 2, 2015 in a statement
Rep. Adam Smith (D-WA)

“For decades, Iran advanced towards a nuclear weapon. In the face of unprecedented sanctions, that stopped, negotiations began and we now have an opportunity to roll back Iran’s nuclear program.
No one ever said it would be easy. Negotiators have worked tirelessly under intense pressure and scrutiny for more than a year. The framework announced today is a positive step in the right direction. We should be encouraged, but not satisfied.
Far more work remains to be done as negotiators hash out the specifics outlined in the framework, but today the world took a big step towards preventing Iran from obtaining a nuclear weapon. As we move toward June, I encourage the international community to seize this historic opportunity and pressure the Iranian regime to accept a final deal that verifiably prevents Iran from developing a nuclear weapon. That is the goal we should all be focused on achieving. And that deal must not be based on trust - it must be based on a robust verification regime.
Preventing Iran from obtaining a nuclear weapon remains our top national security priority in the Middle East. Iran continues to be a bad actor throughout the region – fostering unrest in Yemen, Lebanon, meddling in Syria and threatening the very existence of Israel. Iran is a clear threat to our allies and interests even without a nuclear weapon. That does not change with this deal and Iran will remain under significant economic pressure for a variety of issues outside of its nuclear program. Cooperation on the nuclear program will not heal all ills for Iran.
This deal has the potential to cut off all of Iran’s paths to a nuclear weapon in a verifiable way. Opponents should seek to guide the framework towards a positive outcome, not attempt to derail a final comprehensive deal. No final deal will be perfect, but the objective is to prevent Iran from achieving a nuclear weapon without going to war. In the months ahead, I will follow negotiations closely and encourage a peaceful and positive outcome.”
—April 2, 2015 in a statement
Rep. Jim McGovern (D-MA)
"Today, we witnessed what months of determined diplomacy can accomplish – the announcement of a framework for drafting a final agreement on stopping the progress by the Government of Iran to develop nuclear weapons.  
As outlined by the framework, the final agreement would not only be a “good deal” – it has the potential of being an historic one.  A strong and verifiable final agreement will also avert the U.S. and other nations from engaging in yet another war in the Middle East, which I believe is an unthinkable alternative.  At the same time, this framework and the final agreement would strengthen all efforts to contain nuclear weapons globally.
I congratulate Secretary of State Kerry, the negotiators from Iran and our P5 + 1 partners for their steadfastness and courage.  In the coming weeks, I will continue to closely monitor the drafting of the final agreement.  As President Obama stated, the details of a final agreement matter and must match the sweeping framework announced today." 
—April 2, 2015 in a statement
Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-OH)
“Americans want to find a peaceful means of ensuring Iran cannot develop a nuclear weapon. It appears the framework agreement with Iran reached by the U.S. and other UN Security Council nations will serve as the basis for the kind of comprehensive and verifiable agreement for which we had been hoping. 
“I have not seen the details, and look forward to being briefed on its terms. But the initial reports are positive, and Congress must now give the Administration the time to fill in the details necessary to make the agreement effective, strong and durable.”
—April 2, 2015 in a statement
Rep. John Yarmuth (D-KY)
“It was an honor to be at the White House for this historic announcement to limit Iran’s nuclear program and prevent them from developing a nuclear weapon. I believe this is a deal worth supporting, but we must wait to ensure there is no backsliding on any parameters before a final agreement is signed. I commend President Obama and Secretary Kerry, as well as our global partners, for this breakthrough that holds the promise of a safer world and more stable Middle East.”
—April 2, 2015 in a statement
Sen. Jack Reed (D-RI)
“High-stakes diplomacy can be long and painstaking work.  But if it results in a successful outcome that would effectively prevent Iran from developing nuclear weapons, it will be well worth the effort. 
“While serious challenges remain and there is still a long way to go, the details for a final implementation agreement may be within sight.  As long as the negotiating window remains open all parties involved have a responsibility to keep at it.
“I encourage negotiators to be as transparent as possible: the more people know about this framework, the more confidence they’ll have that a comprehensive and sustainable agreement can be reached to make our nation and the region safer and more secure.  And transparency will be key to any final agreement, because it will have to include strong, verifiable inspections. 
“Even as talks continue, we must hold Iran accountable on its nuclear program.  The Iranian regime will have to earn sanctions relief through faithful and consistent compliance.
“Congress should allow the hard work of diplomacy to continue and not try to derail the next steps in the negotiation.  We should not give Iran an excuse to walk away or fracture the international coalition.
“Those who would thwart diplomacy or undermine the talks should remember that failure could come at a steep price for our troops and national security.  Some of the loudest critics of diplomacy with Iran today wrongly backed a rush to war with Iraq, which ended up empowering Tehran and strengthening their hand in the region.  We can’t afford to repeat the mistakes of the past.” 
—April 2, 2015 in a statement
Rep. Eliot Engel (D-NY)
“Today’s announcement is the culmination of months of negotiations and compromise.  We now need to take a close look at the details to determine if the compromises made are worth the dismantling of years of pressure built on Iran.  As I’ve said again and again, no deal is better than a bad deal, and we need to ensure that this agreement forecloses any pathway to a bomb.
“I also want to underscore that the challenge posed by Iran does not stop with its nuclear program.  Iran has created instability across the region and supported terrorism around the world.  Nothing in this agreement should prevent the United States from taking action to prevent Iran from sowing further chaos and violence against American interests.”
“I welcome the outreach toward our regional allies, including Israel and our GCC partners, that the President outlined in his Rose Garden remarks.  As we move ahead with negotiations with Iran, our allies must know that we stand shoulder-to-shoulder with them to ensure their security and protection from Iran’s destabilizing activities.” 
—April 2, 2015 in a statement
Rep. Jim McGovern (D-MA)

"Today, we witnessed what months of determined diplomacy can accomplish – the announcement of a framework for drafting a final agreement on stopping the progress by the Government of Iran to develop nuclear weapons.  
As outlined by the framework, the final agreement would not only be a “good deal” – it has the potential of being an historic one.  A strong and verifiable final agreement will also avert the U.S. and other nations from engaging in yet another war in the Middle East, which I believe is an unthinkable alternative.  At the same time, this framework and the final agreement would strengthen all efforts to contain nuclear weapons globally.
I congratulate Secretary of State Kerry, the negotiators from Iran and our P5 + 1 partners for their steadfastness and courage.  In the coming weeks, I will continue to closely monitor the drafting of the final agreement.  As President Obama stated, the details of a final agreement matter and must match the sweeping framework announced today." 
—April 2, 2015 in a statement
Rep. Jan Schakowsky (D-IL)
“Today’s announcement of a framework for a comprehensive agreement between the United States, our allies, and Iran that will prevent Iran from obtaining a nuclear weapon is a significant diplomatic achievement.
The intrusive inspection regime that includes continuous surveillance of Iran’s enrichment facilities, uranium mines and mills, centrifuge production and storage facilities – the entire nuclear suppl y chain – makes it nearly impossible for Iran to ‘cheat’ without detection. 

Much of Iran’s nuclear infrastructure will be rolled back or halted altogether.  Only about 5,000 of its current 19,000 centrifuges will be allowed to enrich uranium, the heavy-water Arak reactor will be rebuilt to specifications agreed to by the P5+1 (United States, United Kingdom, France, Russia, China, Germany) and Iran will be prohibited from producing weapons-grade plutonium.  No uranium will be enriched over 3.67 percent for 15 years. 

The fact that sanctions will be lifted only when the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) has verified that Iran has been in full compliance is an incentive for Iran to cooperate.  

I am grateful to President Barack Obama, Secretary John Kerry and his team, as well as our allies for establishing this robust and verifiable agreement.  Over the next three months the t’s must be crossed and i’s dotted in order to put the agreement into action. I will be working in Congress to make sure that we play a constructive role in supporting this historic diplomatic achievement, one that will make the region – including our closest ally, Israel – the United States and the world safer.”
—April 2, 2015 in a statement
Sen. Al Franken (D-MN)
“Americans want to prevent Iran from getting a nuclear weapon, and they would prefer to do it through diplomacy rather than military action,” said Sen. Franken.“This breakthrough agreement is an important step toward that goal. I believe that Congress now should give our negotiators time and space to work out the details of a strong, verifiable comprehensive agreement.”
—April 2, 2015 in a statement
Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT)

”While much more work remains to be done this framework is an important step forward. It is imperative that Iran not get a nuclear weapon. It also is imperative that we do everything we can to reach a diplomatic solution and avoid never-ending war in the Middle East. I look forward to examining the details of this agreement and making sure that it is effective ‎and strong.”
—April 2, 2015 in a statement

Photo credit: Capitol building via Wikimedia Commons

Iran Nuclear Plan: U.S. Officials React

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

Deputy Secretary of State Tony Blinken
Question: Iran has not formally signed it. The foreign minister, Javad Zarif, is already questioning the U.S. description of it. Do you have a real deal here?
Blinken: We do, but we have to dot the I’s and cross the T’s. And that’s exactly what we’re going to do over the next couple of months. You’ll recall that we have until June 30 under the extension of the interim agreement to see if we can complete comprehensive deal. And what we have now in place is the foundation for that deal, agreement on the basic core elements. And it will now take a couple of months to see if we can put this in a comprehensive document that has all the details in it. That’s going to take some work.
Question: We should mention that for a decade, Iran’s breakout time, the time needed to make a bomb, will be extended. There will be inspections for well over a decade. There are many other provisions. Sanctions are listed. There’s a provision though that reduces the amount of uranium, enriched uranium that Iran will have on hand. It’s not clear to me though if uranium is being taken out of Iran or left in Iran. What’s happening to it?
Blinken: Well you are exactly Steve. And that aspect of the deal is critical. Right now Iran has about 10,000 kilograms of up to five percent low-enriched uranium. It has committed to reduce that stockpile to up to 300 kilograms. In other words, a cut of about 98 percent of its stockpile. What happens to the remainder of that stockpile is still up for decision. It could be shipped out of the country, it could be diluted. But the bottom line is that that stockpile goes way way way down and as a result, the breakout time, the time it would take Iran to rush to enough material for a bomb goes way up to a year or more.
Question: But the stockpile might remain in Iran somewhere you’re saying.
Blinken: Well it is possible it could, but diluted so that it can’t be used to make material for a bomb.
Question: The next question, which of course is on the minds of Israel and many critics of this deal is that at the end of 10 years, Iran would be poised to resume its nuclear activities. Is that the case?

Blinken: Well, first of all, if there’s no deal, Iran could do that tomorrow. And indeed probably would do that tomorrow. If the deal collapsed for whatever reason, there is a good chance Iran would rush to build more and more centrifuges and get its capacity up to industrial strength. What happens under this deal, assuming it gets completed over the next several months, is that for at least ten years, if Iran does not do that, the various limitations on its program, many of them will extend beyond ten years. For example, 15 years to cap its stockpile. It won’t enrich about 3.5 percent. No new enrichment facility. So everything would be at this Natanz facility. Meanwhile, the extraordinarily intrusive inspections that are part of this deal would continue for 20 or 25 years. So this is phased over an extensive period of time.
Question: So at the end of 10 years, it is not like everything stops. That’s your point.
Blinken: Correct, and indeed the inspection piece is absolutely critical. And as the president described it yesterday, what we’ve achieved with the inspections with the access is unprecedented.
Question: If Iran violates this deal, next year, two years from now, would the sanctions automatically snap back, the sanctions that are going to be lifted.
Blinken: Yes, there is going to be automaticity in the so-called snapback. If there is a violation or if Iran reneges on its commitments, what we’d be doing is suspending – not ending – the sanctions. They would only be suspended, first of all, if Iran makes good on its commitments under the deal. And then, because they would be suspended, not ended, if Iran violated the deal, they could be snapped back.
—April 3, 2015 on NPR’s “Morning Edition


Energy Secretary Ernest Moniz

"The key parameters established today lay the groundwork for achieving the P5+1’s objective of blocking Iran’s four pathways to nuclear weapons: the two uranium pathways through Iran’s Natanz and Fordow enrichment facilities, the plutonium pathway at the Arak reactor, and the covert pathway.
America’s leading nuclear experts at the Department of Energy and its national labs and sites were involved throughout these negotiations, evaluating and developing technical proposals to help define negotiating positions in support of the US delegation. As a result, I’m pleased to say that we are very confident in the technical underpinnings of this arrangement.   
Iran’s current breakout timeline of two to three months will be expanded to a minimum of a year, for at least the next ten years.  Its stockpile of enriched uranium will be reduced by 98 percent, leaving it with just 300 kg of 3.67 percent uranium, for the next 15 years.
Iran’s installed centrifuges will be reduced by two thirds, leaving it with just over 5,000 operating IR-1 centrifuges at the outset of the agreement at Natanz – its only enrichment facilty. The underground facility at Fordow will be converted to an international physics center and stable isotope production facility with no enrichment, no enrichment R&D, and no fissile material. 
Iran’s enrichment R&D will be significantly limited relative to their current activity and plans, during the first 10 years.  In particular, full cascades of its most advanced centrifuges will not operate in the first ten years.
Iran’s plutonium pathway to a nuclear weapon, the Arak research reactor, will be redesigned to minimize plutonium production. The P5+1will apply the highest technical standards to finalizing with Iran the new reactor design that does not produce weapons-grade plutonium under normal use, with a plutonium pathway breakout timeline of several years. Iran will ship all Arak used spent reactor fuel out of the country for the lifetime of the reactor. For at least 15 years, Iran will not reprocess any used nuclear fuel or conduct any reprocessing R&D – steps necessary to extracting plutonium for use in a weapon – and Iran will not build any additional heavy water reactors – the types often associated with producing weapons-grade plutonium.
Finally, Iran has agreed to extraordinary and comprehensive transparency and IAEA inspections, providing an effective deterrence against covert pathways to a bomb. The enhanced transparency measures will build confidence in Iran’s peaceful intentions for a quarter century and beyond.
I want to thank the Head of the Atomic Energy Organization of Iran Ali Salehi (MIT PhD ’77) for his partnership in discussing the draft technical dimensions that will be essential to reaching a Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPoA). I deeply appreciate his professionalism, candor, and unwavering commitment to analytical rigor.
However, our work is not done until the JCPoA is finalized by the end of June, and we begin implementation. We will work closely with our P5+1 partners, as well as in consultation with Members of Congress and the scientific community, to ensure Iran’s nuclear program will remain exclusively peaceful.
Certainly, there will be many opinions expressed about the merits of this understanding. I want to be clear – the world should also judge the scientific and technical dimensions of the parameters for a JCPoA as they contribute to halting the possible proliferation of nuclear weapons.  I, along with my DOE colleagues, am committed to seeing this to a successful conclusion."
—April 2, 2015 in a statement

Treasury Secretary Jacob Lew

“From the outset of this Administration, President Obama has made preventing Iran from acquiring a nuclear weapon a national security priority of the highest order.  To address this threat, we have worked together with Congress and our international partners to establish and implement the most comprehensive set of economic sanctions in history.  These sanctions helped bring Iran to the negotiating table to engage in serious diplomacy to address the world’s concerns about its nuclear program. 
Today, we and our partners in the P5+1 and the EU have reached a major milestone: a political framework for a Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action regarding Iran’s nuclear program that will close off every pathway for Iran to develop a nuclear weapon and will ensure that Iran’s nuclear program will be used exclusively for peaceful purposes.
In return, the P5+1 have agreed to relieve nuclear-related sanctions on Iran in phases, subject to verification that Iran has taken agreed steps with respect to its nuclear program.  This is not a framework based on trust, it is based on unmatched verification.
If Iran fails to abide by its commitments, the sanctions relief is reversible.  And we will continue to use all of our available tools, including sanctions, to counter Iran’s support for terrorism, human rights abuses, and destabilizing regional activities. 
While this is an historic step, as the technical negotiations with Iran continue, it is important to underscore that an agreement will only be reached if it meets the President’s commitment to prevent Iran from acquiring a nuclear weapon.  If we are able to reach such an agreement, the Treasury Department looks forward to supporting a strong and lasting understanding that will settle one of our greatest security threats.”
—April 2, 2015 in a statement

Deputy National Security Advisor for Strategic Communications and Speechwriting Ben Rhodes
Sanctions will be “snapped back into place if the Iranians don’t comply.”
“There are significant limitations on the nuclear program and with inspections if they break the deal we will know very quickly and then we will be able to make decisions about what to do,”
“We believe its best frankly if we don’t have to exercise that [military] option and Iran complies with this type of good comprehensive deal, but certainly if there was a violation we would have all options to consider in response to a violation.”
—April 6, 2015 in an interview with Israeli Channel 2 TV, according to the press
Senior Administration Officials in a Background Press Call
Question: I'm trying to get at whether you have any detailed agreements on the speed with which IAEA inspectors could actually get to any site in the country that they wanted to, so that Iran could not cover things up before their arrival.
SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL:  Okay, so, indeed, of course the most important thing will be the additional protocol which Iran will undertake provisionally, virtually at the start of a joint comprehensive plan of action.  And that will provide access in ways that has not been available in Iran in any particular time in the past.
But in addition, we also are working on putting together a mechanism to ensure access at those points where, in fact, there is a disagreement about whether someone should be able to -- whether the IAEA should be able to get access into a site. 
SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL:  The only thing I’d add is related to the ability to detect a covert path in a potential site is the fact that the inspections do cover the full supply chain of the Iranian nuclear program, as my colleague described. That will allow us to have the ability to detect any accounting that doesn’t add up.  So, for instance, it provides you with a much greater ability than we’ve had before to determine if materials are being diverted because we're going to be looking across the supply chain of that program, which would also inform our ability to uncover any covert site that would need to be inspected.
QUESTION:  I wanted to talk a little bit about the policy that you mentioned.  The President spoke about how he was going to speak with the leaders this afternoon, and he also kind of said in no uncertain terms what would happen if Congress killed the deal, as he said.  What is your approach to them going to be?... 
And secondarily, I just wanted to ask you about a tweet that Foreign Minister Zarif just put out where he was a little bit critical of the factsheets that were put out.  He said, there was no need to spin using factsheets so early on.  And the statement that he made and that the EU representative made were pretty general, followed up by a lot of specifics in your factsheet.  And I wondered if the issuance of those specifics was part of the agreement that you made, or if you just went ahead and did it yourselves?
SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL: First of all, with respect to Congress, our principal objective over the course of the last year and a half almost since we finalized the Joint Plan of Action has been to give our negotiators the time and space to get a deal.  And that involved ensuring that there were not new sanctions passed during the time of the negotiation that would have derailed the process.  And in the context of the Corker bill that ensured -- that involved the President making very clear that we need to give our negotiating team the space to get a deal, and then have a discussion with Congress about the best way for them to exercise an oversight role.
In that context, the President has made clear he would veto new sanctions legislation during the negotiation, and he made clear he would veto the existing Corker legislation during negotiation.  The legislation also has a range of provisions that go beyond an up or down vote, as well.  And again, we think it’s best for members of Congress to take a look at the framework and then give the space to negotiate the final details between now and June.
All of that said, as the President noted today we have a great deal of respect for the role that Congress has played over the year in Iran policy.  There’s a lot of bipartisan interest.  The sanctions regime was built in part with congressional involvement, combined with our diplomacy.  And we do believe that it’s important for Congress to play an oversight role as we continue these negotiations and finalize a deal.
And so in the first instance, we will be briefing very extensively members of Congress.  The President is calling the leadership today.  But we're also making calls to many different members of Congress.  We’ve been in very regular touch with many dozens of members of Congress over the course of the last several days already.  And again, going forward, now that we have this framework, we’ll be able to brief in greater detail the type of deal that we're aiming to finalize in June. 
And again, we're open to discussions with Congress about how it plays an oversight role as we finalize that deal.  Certainly, Congress will have to take a vote during the duration of the agreement in order to lift sanctions.  And again, in the intervening period between now and June, we look forward to consultations with Congress on how they can provide oversight.
I’d note that Senator Corker put out a statement today making clear his intention to take a hard look at these details. And we’re certainly going to be reaching out to Senator Corker and going through with him what’s in the framework and again finding constructive ways for Congress to engage.
What would not be constructive is legislative action that essentially undercuts our ability to get the deal done and that is disruptive to the negotiations.  That's been our case all along here:  Wait and see what the deal is and then we can determine the best way to continue to engage Congress as it plays its oversight role, but do not do something that could derail the negotiation and leave the United States getting blamed for the collapse of talks in a manner that would deny us this opportunity to resolve the issue diplomatically, and also potentially undercut the international cooperation that's necessary for the sanctions regime.
With respect to Foreign Minister Zarif, the one thing I’d say is if you look at the statement from the EU and Iran that Foreign Minister Mogherini and Foreign Minister Zarif read, it addresses the different elements of the framework.  And essentially what our factsheet does is provide a number of the details that underpin those elements. 
So the discussions of the Arak reaction and of enrichment and of transparency and of sanctions, these are all addressed in the statement.  And what we're doing is providing the details that underpin the framework that was referenced by Foreign Minister Mogherini and Foreign Minister Zarif. 
And in any negotiation, obviously, there are issues that are of particular importance to different parties to the negotiation, and I’m sure Foreign Minister Zarif will represent that this is a deal that will enable Iran the ability to access peaceful nuclear energy and he will describe that.  We will describe why this is a deal that in that context cuts off Iran’s pathways to a nuclear weapon and has the type of transparency and inspections that can allow us to verify that Iran cannot pursue a nuclear weapon.  So we're obviously approaching this challenge with different national objectives, but it's the same deal that will accomplish those objectives.
QUESTION: I had a question about the President said in the Rose Garden that success is not guaranteed on June 30th.  And I guess I'm wondering what, besides Congress who you clearly think could derail success, what else do you think threatens success?  Is it Iran?  Is it allies in the region?  Do you believe that the Supreme Leader has signed off on this deal?  Do you have any insight into where that stands?
And secondly, could you give us a little bit more detail on the color?  When did the President finally sign off on this deal? What was he doing this morning?  Obviously he was making a number of calls, but can you tell us what’s on the pizza, as they say?
SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL:  So I'll just take the second question first.  As I said, the President, on the 31st in that secure videoconference, had a good understanding of what the remaining issues were and gave I think broad guidance to the negotiating team.  Then there were a number of times over the course of the last several days when he has been on the phone directly with Secretary Kerry, or when Susan Rice would update the President based on her conversations with Secretary Kerry. 
Yesterday afternoon, I believe, the President spoke to Secretary Kerry and got a good understanding of how close we were and what the final issues were.  But they weren't closed out.  And then last night, as I said, Susan Rice was able to update him at around midnight.  He was in his residence, took that call to provide some final guidance on what would be necessary to get this done.  And his direction was, people know what my bottom lines are and I have trust in the negotiating team out there that by the time I wake up they could come back and have this closed out.
Then this morning, after working all night here in support of the team in Switzerland, the President got the full update in his Presidential Daily Briefing this morning around 10 o’clock about the final contours of what the deal was.  At that point, he communicated that he was certainly comfortable with the deal that was coming together.  And so at that point, essentially, he had signed off on what was going to become the framework.  And then before the final plenary among the ministers, the President received word that this was indeed going to be closed out.
Today the President called, in order, Prime Minister Cameron, then Chancellor Merkel, and then President Hollande.  He thought it was very important to speak to our close allies in the negotiation to take stock of what had been accomplished and to reiterate that we're going to need to stay coordinated going forward. 
Then he spoke to King Salman of Saudi Arabia.  He extended an invitation to the leaders of the GCC to come to Camp David this spring in what will be a very important summit meeting. 
It relates somewhat to your first question, Carol, which is that we do understand that our partners in the region, the Gulf countries and of course, our close friend and ally, Israel, have very profound concerns about Iran’s policies in the region in support of terrorism, its destabilizing activities.  And I think the President wants to make very clear in his engagement, including at the summit with the GCC countries, that we have the commitment of the security of our partners and we're going to be discussing with them ways that we can reaffirm that commitment.
He will be speaking to Prime Minister Netanyahu today.  And while of course, they’ve publicly differed on this negotiation, and before, the finalization of the Joint Plan of Action in November of 2013, the security commitment to Israel is ironclad. And so he'll also be discussing not just the deal but how do we continue to enhance our security cooperation as the new Israeli government is formed.
He’s speaking to the leaders of Congress today, and he'll, I'm sure, be speaking to additional foreign counterparts going forward.
So, look, there’s no foreign policy issue that he’s spent more time on in terms of over the last several weeks.  I'd say over the course of his presidency other than the war in Afghanistan and terrorism, Iran is an issue that he’s spent more time on than any other issue.  The first negotiation that he had on this started in 2009, so he’s very familiar with the Iranian nuclear program and all the different elements.  So, again, he approaches it from that perspective.
On your first question, I'll leave it to my counterparts.  The only thing I'd just say is that we recognize we have a framework that lays out what the parameters of a deal will be.  That's hugely important because we know what the objectives are; we know what has been agreed to that can lead to an implementation of a deal.  But there are very important technical details that have to be filled in between now and the end of June.
It took extraordinary political will to get to where we are today and it will take more political will from all the parties to close this out by the end of June.  So we operate under the principle that nothing is agreed to until everything is agreed in terms of the details.  And there certainly will be more negotiations to come. 
SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL:  … I would also say that we all tend to think of Iran as a sort of one-person country, that whatever the Supreme Leader says goes.  Actually, Iran has politics -- not quite like our politics, but they have politics.  They have hard-liners, they have people who want to see the deal gone.  They have the IRGC force interests that has probably done pretty well during the sanctions regime.  They have people who have made money because of the sanctions regime on the black market.  They have the politics of their people who would like to be able to afford things and have a future for their kids.  And those politics come into the negotiating space that Iran has, just as our politics --which are quite different and obviously transparent and open and democratic -- in ways every single day.
Sometimes they get used tactically and may not be quite what we're told they are.  But there is no doubt that Javad Zarif will have to sell this deal just like we will.  And his task is not simple and a given, nor is ours.  This is very complicated.  A lot of this is hard to talk about to the American people.  Obviously, I thought the President and the Secretary did a terrific job beginning that conversation -- or continuing, actually, continuing that conversation with the American people. But this is tough stuff to put your mind around, and most people just want to make sure that they stay safe.
QUESTION: How soon will sanctions against Iran be lifted?
SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL:  Well, sanctions don't get lifted -- let me let my colleagues take up that question. 
SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL:  I think one of the things Secretary Kerry actually said today in his press conference -- one of the core principles of sanctions we will be working out as we proceed through the coming months is kind of the scheduling.  But the main principle is that we'll be matching our sanctions with the completion of all of Iran’s major nuclear steps.  So, in other words, like the Secretary said, they can do it as fast as they want, and it's in fact in our interests if they do it as fast as they can and get their breakout timeline extended as quickly as possible.
We could, of course, respond just as quickly and provide sanctions relief.  But the real important thing is that we link it up to the major components that make out their breakout timeline.
SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL:  The scheme on the U.S. sanctions side is exactly as my colleague was describing where we've been provided with guidance from the start that sanctions relief would have to be proportionate and only upon verified steps by the Iranians -- that the relief would only come when the steps that they had taken were commensurate with the relief that we were offering and that it be reversible.
Those have been our principles from the start and those have been fully held up in the framework.  So what we're going to see in the coming weeks and months after the details are worked out is steps by Iran to be confirmed by the IAEA and sanctions relief coming upon the heels of that.
April 2, 2015

Photo credit: Moniz by Energy.gov via Flickr Commons (public domain as U.S. Government work)

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