United States Institute of Peace

The Iran Primer

Iran Nuclear Plan: Obama Statement

On April 2, President Barack Obama delivered the following statement on the outcome of nuclear talks between Iran and the world’s six major powers.

Good afternoon, everybody.  Today, the United States -- together with our allies and partners -- has reached a historic understanding with Iran, which, if fully implemented, will prevent it from obtaining a nuclear weapon. 

As President and Commander-in-Chief, I have no greater responsibility than the security of the American people.  And I am convinced that if this framework leads to a final, comprehensive deal, it will make our country, our allies, and our world safer.
 
This has been a long time coming.  The Islamic Republic of Iran has been advancing its nuclear program for decades.  By the time I took office, Iran was operating thousands of centrifuges, which can produce the materials for a nuclear bomb -- and Iran was concealing a covert nuclear facility.  I made clear that we were prepared to resolve this issue diplomatically, but only if Iran came to the table in a serious way.  When that did not happen, we rallied the world to impose the toughest sanctions in history -- sanctions which had a profound impact on the Iranian economy.
 
Now, sanctions alone could not stop Iran’s nuclear program. But they did help bring Iran to the negotiating table.  Because of our diplomatic efforts, the world stood with us and we were joined at the negotiating table by the world’s major powers -- the United Kingdom, France, Germany, Russia, and China, as well as the European Union.
 
Over a year ago, we took the first step towards today’s framework with a deal to stop the progress of Iran’s nuclear program and roll it back in key areas.  And recall that at the time, skeptics argued that Iran would cheat, and that we could not verify their compliance and the interim agreement would fail. Instead, it has succeeded exactly as intended.  Iran has met all of its obligations.  It eliminated its stockpile of dangerous nuclear material.  Inspections of Iran’s program increased.  And we continued negotiations to see if we could achieve a more comprehensive deal.
 
Today, after many months of tough, principled diplomacy, we have achieved the framework for that deal.  And it is a good deal, a deal that meets our core objectives.  This framework would cut off every pathway that Iran could take to develop a nuclear weapon.  Iran will face strict limitations on its program, and Iran has also agreed to the most robust and intrusive inspections and transparency regime ever negotiated for any nuclear program in history.  So this deal is not based on trust, it’s based on unprecedented verification. 
 
Many key details will be finalized over the next three months, and nothing is agreed to until everything is agreed.  But here are the basic outlines of the deal that we are working to finalize.
 
First, Iran will not be able to pursue a bomb using plutonium, because it will not develop weapons-grade plutonium.  The core of its reactor at Arak will be dismantled and replaced. The spent fuel from that facility will be shipped out of Iran for the life of the reactor.  Iran will not build a new heavy-water reactor.  And Iran will not reprocess fuel from its existing reactors -- ever.
 
Second, this deal shuts down Iran’s path to a bomb using enriched uranium. Iran has agreed that its installed centrifuges will be reduced by two-thirds.  Iran will no longer enrich uranium at its Fordow facility.  Iran will not enrich uranium with its advanced centrifuges for at least the next 10 years.  The vast majority of Iran’s stockpile of enriched uranium will be neutralized.
 
Today, estimates indicate that Iran is only two or three months away from potentially acquiring the raw materials that could be used for a single nuclear bomb.  Under this deal, Iran has agreed that it will not stockpile the materials needed to build a weapon.  Even if it violated the deal, for the next decade at least, Iran would be a minimum of a year away from acquiring enough material for a bomb.  And the strict limitations on Iran’s stockpile will last for 15 years.
 
Third, this deal provides the best possible defense against Iran’s ability to pursue a nuclear weapon covertly -- that is, in secret.  International inspectors will have unprecedented access not only to Iranian nuclear facilities, but to the entire supply chain that supports Iran’s nuclear program -- from uranium mills that provide the raw materials, to the centrifuge production and storage facilities that support the program.  If Iran cheats, the world will know it.  If we see something suspicious, we will inspect it.  Iran’s past efforts to weaponize its program will be addressed.  With this deal, Iran will face more inspections than any other country in the world.
 
So this will be a long-term deal that addresses each path to a potential Iranian nuclear bomb.  There will be strict limits on Iran’s program for a decade.  Additional restrictions on building new facilities or stockpiling materials will last for 15 years.  The unprecedented transparency measures will last for 20 years or more.  Indeed, some will be permanent.  And as a member of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, Iran will never be permitted to develop a nuclear weapon.
 
In return for Iran’s actions, the international community has agreed to provide Iran with relief from certain sanctions -- our own sanctions, and international sanctions imposed by the United Nations Security Council.  This relief will be phased as Iran takes steps to adhere to the deal.  If Iran violates the deal, sanctions can be snapped back into place.  Meanwhile, other American sanctions on Iran for its support of terrorism, its human rights abuses, its ballistic missile program, will continue to be fully enforced.         
 
Now, let me reemphasize, our work is not yet done.  The deal has not been signed.  Between now and the end of June, the negotiators will continue to work through the details of how this framework will be fully implemented, and those details matter.  If there is backsliding on the part of the Iranians, if the verification and inspection mechanisms don’t meet the specifications of our nuclear and security experts, there will be no deal.  But if we can get this done, and Iran follows through on the framework that our negotiators agreed to, we will be able to resolve one of the greatest threats to our security, and to do so peacefully.
 
Given the importance of this issue, I have instructed my negotiators to fully brief Congress and the American people on the substance of the deal, and I welcome a robust debate in the weeks and months to come.  I am confident that we can show that this deal is good for the security of the United States, for our allies, and for the world.
 
For the fact is, we only have three options for addressing Iran’s nuclear program.  First, we can reach a robust and verifiable deal -- like this one -- and peacefully prevent Iran from obtaining a nuclear weapon.
 
The second option is we can bomb Iran’s nuclear facilities, thereby starting another war in the Middle East, and setting back Iran’s program by a few years -- in other words, setting it back by a fraction of the time that this deal will set it back.  Meanwhile we’d ensure that Iran would race ahead to try and build a bomb.
 
Third, we could pull out of negotiations, try to get other countries to go along and continue sanctions that are currently in place or add additional ones, and hope for the best -- knowing that every time we have done so, Iran has not capitulated but instead has advanced its program, and that in very short order, the breakout timeline would be eliminated and a nuclear arms race in the region could be triggered because of that uncertainty.  In other words, the third option leads us very quickly back to a decision about whether or not to take military action, because we’d have no idea what was going on inside of Iran. 
 
Iran is not going to simply dismantle its program because we demand it to do so.  That’s not how the world works, and that’s not what history shows us.  Iran has shown no willingness to eliminate those aspects of their program that they maintain are for peaceful purposes, even in the face of unprecedented sanctions.  Should negotiations collapse because we, the United States, rejected what the majority of the world considers a fair deal, what our scientists and nuclear experts suggest would give us confidence that they are not developing a nuclear weapon, it’s doubtful that we can even keep our current international sanctions in place. 
 
So when you hear the inevitable critics of the deal sound off, ask them a simple question:  Do you really think that this verifiable deal, if fully implemented, backed by the world’s major powers, is a worse option than the risk of another war in the Middle East?  Is it worse than doing what we’ve done for almost two decades, with Iran moving forward with its nuclear program and without robust inspections?  I think the answer will be clear.
 
Remember, I have always insisted that I will do what is necessary to prevent Iran from acquiring a nuclear weapon, and I will.  But I also know that a diplomatic solution is the best way to get this done, and offers a more comprehensive -- and lasting -- solution.  It is our best option, by far.  And while it is always a possibility that Iran may try to cheat on the deal in the future, this framework of inspections and transparency makes it far more likely that we’ll know about it if they try to cheat -- and I, or future Presidents, will have preserved all of the options that are currently available to deal with it.
 
To the Iranian people, I want to reaffirm what I’ve said since the beginning of my presidency.  We are willing to engage you on the basis of mutual interests and mutual respect.  This deal offers the prospect of relief from sanctions that were imposed because of Iran’s violation of international law.  Since Iran’s Supreme Leader has issued a fatwa against the development of nuclear weapons, this framework gives Iran the opportunity to verify that its program is, in fact, peaceful.  It demonstrates that if Iran complies with its international obligations, then it can fully rejoin the community of nations, thereby fulfilling the extraordinary talent and aspirations of the Iranian people.  That would be good for Iran, and it would be good for the world.
 
Of course, this deal alone -- even if fully implemented -- will not end the deep divisions and mistrust between our two countries.  We have a difficult history between us, and our concerns will remain with respect to Iranian behavior so long as Iran continues its sponsorship of terrorism, its support for proxies who destabilize the Middle East, its threats against America’s friends and allies -- like Israel.  So make no mistake: We will remain vigilant in countering those actions and standing with our allies. 
 
It’s no secret that the Israeli Prime Minister and I don't agree about whether the United States should move forward with a peaceful resolution to the Iranian issue.  If, in fact, Prime Minister Netanyahu is looking for the most effective way to ensure Iran doesn’t get a nuclear weapon, this is the best option.  And I believe our nuclear experts can confirm that.
 
More importantly, I will be speaking with the Prime Minister today to make clear that there will be no daylight, there is no daylight, when it comes to our support for Israel’s security and our concerns about Iran’s destabilizing policies and threats toward Israel.  That’s why I've directed my national security team to consult closely with the new Israeli government in the coming weeks and months about how we can further strengthen our long-term security cooperation with Israel, and make clear our unshakeable commitment to Israel’s defense.
 
Today, I also spoke with the King of Saudi Arabia to reaffirm our commitment to the security of our partners in the Gulf.  And I’m inviting the leaders of the six countries who make up the Gulf Cooperation Council -- Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar, and Bahrain -- to meet me at Camp David this spring to discuss how we can further strengthen our security cooperation, while resolving the multiple conflicts that have caused so much hardship and instability throughout the Middle East. 
 
Finally, it’s worth remembering that Congress has, on a bipartisan basis, played a critical role in our current Iran policy, helping to shape the sanctions regime that applied so much pressure on Iran and ultimately forced them to the table.  In the coming days and weeks, my administration will engage Congress once again about how we can play -- how it can play a constructive oversight role.  I’ll begin that effort by speaking to the leaders of the House and Senate today. 
 
In those conversations, I will underscore that the issues at stake here are bigger than politics.  These are matters of war and peace, and they should be evaluated based on the facts and what is ultimately best for the American people and for our national security.  For this is not simply a deal between my administration and Iran.  This is a deal between Iran, the United States of America, and the major powers in the world -- including some of our closest allies.  If Congress kills this deal -- not based on expert analysis, and without offering any reasonable alternative -- then it’s the United States that will be blamed for the failure of diplomacy.  International unity will collapse, and the path to conflict will widen.
 
The American people understand this, which is why solid majorities support a diplomatic resolution to the Iranian nuclear issue.  They understand instinctively the words of President Kennedy, who faced down the far greater threat of communism, and said:  “Let us never negotiate out of fear, but let us never fear to negotiate.”  The American people remember that at the height of the Cold War, Presidents like Nixon and Reagan struck historic arms control agreements with the Soviet Union, a far more dangerous adversary -- despite the fact that that adversary not only threatened to destroy our country and our way of life, but had the means to do so.  Those agreements were not perfect.  They did not end all threats.  But they made our world safer.  A good deal with Iran will do the same.
 
Today, I’d like to express my thanks to our international partners for their steadfastness and their cooperation.  I was able to speak earlier today with our close allies, Prime Minister Cameron and President Hollande and Chancellor Merkel, to reaffirm that we stand shoulder-to-shoulder in this effort. 
 
And most of all, on behalf of our nation, I want to express my thanks to our tireless -- and I mean tireless -- Secretary of State John Kerry and our entire negotiating team.  They have worked so hard to make this progress.  They represent the best tradition of American diplomacy.  Their work -- our work -- is not yet done and success is not guaranteed.  But we have an historic opportunity to prevent the spread of nuclear weapons in Iran, and to do so peacefully, with the international community firmly behind us.  We should seize that chance.
 
Thank you.  God bless you.  God bless the United States of America.
 
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: Zarif, Mogherini Statement

On April 2, E.U. foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini and Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif issued a joint statement announcing that Iran and the world's six major powers - Britain, China, France, Germany, Russia, and the United States - had reached an understanding on key parameters for a comprehensive nuclear deal. The following is a transcript with statements from other leaders from the P5+1 countries.

We, the EU High Representative and the Foreign Minister of the I. R. of Iran, together with the Foreign Ministers of the E3+3 (China, France, Germany, the Russian Federation, the United Kingdom and the United States), met from 26 March to 2nd April 2015 in Switzerland. As agreed in November 2013, we gathered here to find solutions towards reaching a comprehensive resolution that will ensure the exclusively peaceful nature of the Iranian nuclear programme and the comprehensive lifting of all sanctions.
 
Today, we have taken a decisive step: we have reached solutions on key parameters of a Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA). The political determination, the good will and the hard work of all parties made it possible. Let us thank all delegations for their tireless dedication.
 
This is a crucial decision laying the agreed basis for the final text of the JCPOA. We can now restart drafting the text and annexes of the JCPOA, guided by the solutions developed in these days.
 

As Iran pursues a peaceful nuclear programme, Iran's enrichment capacity, enrichment level and stockpile will be limited for specified durations, and there will be no other enrichment facility than Natanz. Iran's research and development on centrifuges will be carried out on a scope and schedule that has been mutually agreed.
 
Fordow will be converted from an enrichment site into a nuclear, physics and technology centre. International collaboration will be encouraged in agreed areas of research. There will not be any fissile material at Fordow. 

An international joint venture will assist Iran in redesigning and rebuilding a modernized Heavy Water Research Reactor in Arak that will not produce weapons grade plutonium. There will be no reprocessing and the spent fuel will be exported.

A set of measures have been agreed to monitor the provisions of the JCPOA including implementation of the modified Code 3.1 and provisional application of the Additional Protocol. The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) will be permitted the use of modern technologies and will have enhanced access through agreed procedures, including to clarify past and present issues.

Iran will take part in international cooperation in the field of civilian nuclear energy which can include supply of power and research reactors. Another important area of cooperation will be in the field of nuclear safety and security. The EU will terminate the implementation of all nuclear-related economic and financial sanctions and the US will cease the application of all nuclear-related secondary economic and financial sanctions, simultaneously with the IAEA-verified implementation by Iran of its key nuclear commitments.
 
A new UN Security Council Resolution will endorse the JCPOA, terminate all previous nuclear-related resolutions and incorporate certain restrictive measures for a mutually agreed period of time.
 
We will now work to write the text of a Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action including its technical details in the coming weeks and months at the political and experts levels. We are committed to complete our efforts by June 30th. We would like to thank the Swiss government for its generous support in hosting these negotiations.
 
France
 
President Francois Hollande
 
“France will be watchful, as it always is in step with its partners, to ensure that a credible, verifiable agreement be established under which the international community can be sure Iran will not be in a position to have access to nuclear arms.”
—April 2, 2015 according to the press
 
Germany
 
Chancellor Angela Merkel
“We are closer than ever to an agreement that makes it impossible for Iran to possess nuclear weapons. That is a great credit to all negotiating partners.”
—April 2, 2015 in a statement
 
Russia
 
Foreign Ministry
 
“We consider the solution that was found, from the point of view of strengthening the legal system of international relations, as bright proof that the most difficult problems and crisis situations can be resolved through political and diplomatic efforts.”
—April 2, 2015 in a statement
 
"There is no doubt that agreements on Iran nuclear program will have a positive impact on the overall security situation in the Middle East, including the fact that Tehran will be able to take a more active part in the resolution of a number of existing regional problems and conflicts."
—April 2, 2015 according to the press
 
Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov
 
“We adhere to our view that the lifting of Iran sanctions stipulated by the UN Security Council resolution should run parallel to signing of the [nuclear] agreement. But it does not mean that all sanctions will be removed altogether. What sanction are to be removed or suspended and in what sequence continues to be a matter of debate.”
—April 10, 2015 according to the press
 

United Kingdom

Foreign Minister Philip Hammond
 
"This is well beyond what many of us thought possible even 18 months ago and a good basis for what I believe could be a very good deal, But there is still more work to do."
"We will continue to have our differences on many other issues with Iran. But a comprehensive deal will improve confidence, trust and dialogue on all sides, and most importantly, avoid a nuclear arms race in the region."
— April 2, 2015 in a statement
 
Photo credits: U.S. State Department via Flickr
 

Iran Nuclear Plan: All the Details

The following document was released by the State Department Press Office on April 2, 2015 following nuclear talks between Iran and the world’s six major powers.

Parameters for a Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action regarding the Islamic Republic of Iran’s Nuclear Program
 
Below are the key parameters of a Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) regarding the Islamic Republic of Iran’s nuclear program that were decided in Lausanne, Switzerland. These elements form the foundation upon which the final text of the JCPOA will be written between now and June 30, and reflect the significant progress that has been made in discussions between the P5+1, the European Union, and Iran. Important implementation details are still subject to negotiation, and nothing is agreed until everything is agreed. We will work to conclude the JCPOA based on these parameters over the coming months.
 
Enrichment
 
• Iran has agreed to reduce by approximately two-thirds its installed centrifuges. Iran will go from having about 19,000 installed today to 6,104 installed under the deal, with only 5,060 of these enriching uranium for 10 years. All 6,104 centrifuges will be IR-1s, Iran’s first-generation centrifuge.
• Iran has agreed to not enrich uranium over 3.67 percent for at least 15 years.
• Iran has agreed to reduce its current stockpile of about 10,000 kg of low-enriched uranium (LEU) to 300 kg of 3.67 percent LEU for 15 years.
• All excess centrifuges and enrichment infrastructure will be placed in IAEA monitored storage and will be used only as replacements for operating centrifuges and equipment.
• Iran has agreed to not build any new facilities for the purpose of enriching uranium for 15 years.
• Iran’s breakout timeline – the time that it would take for Iran to acquire enough fissile material for one weapon – is currently assessed to be 2 to 3 months. That timeline will be extended to at least one year, for a duration of at least ten years, under this framework.
 
Iran will convert its facility at Fordow so that it is no longer used to enrich uranium
 
• Iran has agreed to not enrich uranium at its Fordow facility for at least 15 years.
• Iran has agreed to convert its Fordow facility so that it is used for peaceful purposes only – into a nuclear, physics, technology, research center.
• Iran has agreed to not conduct research and development associated with uranium enrichment at Fordow for 15 years.
• Iran will not have any fissile material at Fordow for 15 years. 2
• Almost two-thirds of Fordow’s centrifuges and infrastructure will be removed. The remaining centrifuges will not enrich uranium. All centrifuges and related infrastructure will be placed under IAEA monitoring.
 
Iran will only enrich uranium at the Natanz facility, with only 5,060 IR-1 first-generation centrifuges for ten years.
 
• Iran has agreed to only enrich uranium using its first generation (IR-1 models) centrifuges at Natanz for ten years, removing its more advanced centrifuges.
• Iran will remove the 1,000 IR-2M centrifuges currently installed at Natanz and place them in IAEA monitored storage for ten years.
• Iran will not use its IR-2, IR-4, IR-5, IR-6, or IR-8 models to produce enriched uranium for at least ten years. Iran will engage in limited research and development with its advanced centrifuges, according to a schedule and parameters which have been agreed to by the P5+1.
• For ten years, enrichment and enrichment research and development will be limited to ensure a breakout timeline of at least 1 year. Beyond 10 years, Iran will abide by its enrichment and enrichment R&D plan submitted to the IAEA, and pursuant to the JCPOA, under the Additional Protocol resulting in certain limitations on enrichment capacity.
 
Inspections and Transparency
 
• The IAEA will have regular access to all of Iran’s nuclear facilities, including to Iran’s enrichment facility at Natanz and its former enrichment facility at Fordow, and including the use of the most up-to-date, modern monitoring technologies.
• Inspectors will have access to the supply chain that supports Iran’s nuclear program. The new transparency and inspections mechanisms will closely monitor materials and/or components to prevent diversion to a secret program.
• Inspectors will have access to uranium mines and continuous surveillance at uranium mills, where Iran produces yellowcake, for 25 years.
• Inspectors will have continuous surveillance of Iran’s centrifuge rotors and bellows production and storage facilities for 20 years. Iran’s centrifuge manufacturing base will be frozen and under continuous surveillance.
• All centrifuges and enrichment infrastructure removed from Fordow and Natanz will be placed under continuous monitoring by the IAEA.
• A dedicated procurement channel for Iran’s nuclear program will be established to monitor and approve, on a case by case basis, the supply, sale, or transfer to Iran of 3 certain nuclear-related and dual use materials and technology – an additional transparency measure.
• Iran has agreed to implement the Additional Protocol of the IAEA, providing the IAEA much greater access and information regarding Iran’s nuclear program, including both declared and undeclared facilities.
• Iran will be required to grant access to the IAEA to investigate suspicious sites or allegations of a covert enrichment facility, conversion facility, centrifuge production facility, or yellowcake production facility anywhere in the country.
• Iran has agreed to implement Modified Code 3.1 requiring early notification of construction of new facilities.
• Iran will implement an agreed set of measures to address the IAEA’s concerns regarding the Possible Military Dimensions (PMD) of its program.
 
Reactors and Reprocessing
 
• Iran has agreed to redesign and rebuild a heavy water research reactor in Arak, based on a design that is agreed to by the P5+1, which will not produce weapons grade plutonium, and which will support peaceful nuclear research and radioisotope production.
• The original core of the reactor, which would have enabled the production of significant quantities of weapons-grade plutonium, will be destroyed or removed from the country.
• Iran will ship all of its spent fuel from the reactor out of the country for the reactor’s lifetime.
• Iran has committed indefinitely to not conduct reprocessing or reprocessing research and development on spent nuclear fuel.
• Iran will not accumulate heavy water in excess of the needs of the modified Arak reactor, and will sell any remaining heavy water on the international market for 15 years.
• Iran will not build any additional heavy water reactors for 15 years.
 
Sanctions
 
• Iran will receive sanctions relief, if it verifiably abides by its commitments.
• U.S. and E.U. nuclear-related sanctions will be suspended after the IAEA has verified that Iran has taken all of its key nuclear-related steps. If at any time Iran fails to fulfill its commitments, these sanctions will snap back into place.
• The architecture of U.S. nuclear-related sanctions on Iran will be retained for much of the duration of the deal and allow for snap-back of sanctions in the event of significant non-performance.
• All past UN Security Council resolutions on the Iran nuclear issue will be lifted simultaneous with the completion, by Iran, of nuclear-related actions addressing all key concerns (enrichment, Fordow, Arak, PMD, and transparency).
• However, core provisions in the UN Security Council resolutions – those that deal with transfers of sensitive technologies and activities – will be re-established by a new UN Security Council resolution that will endorse the JCPOA and urge its full implementation. It will also create the procurement channel mentioned above, which will serve as a key transparency measure. Important restrictions on conventional arms and ballistic missiles, as well as provisions that allow for related cargo inspections and asset freezes, will also be incorporated by this new resolution.
• A dispute resolution process will be specified, which enables any JCPOA participant, to seek to resolve disagreements about the performance of JCPOA commitments
 • If an issue of significant non-performance cannot be resolved through that process, then all previous UN sanctions could be re-imposed.
• U.S. sanctions on Iran for terrorism, human rights abuses, and ballistic missiles will remain in place under the deal.
 
Phasing
 
• For ten years, Iran will limit domestic enrichment capacity and research and development – ensuring a breakout timeline of at least one year. Beyond that, Iran will be bound by its longer-term enrichment and enrichment research and development plan it shared with the P5+1.
• For fifteen years, Iran will limit additional elements of its program. For instance, Iran will not build new enrichment facilities or heavy water reactors and will limit its stockpile of enriched uranium and accept enhanced transparency procedures. • Important inspections and transparency measures will continue well beyond 15 years. Iran’s adherence to the Additional Protocol of the IAEA is permanent, including its significant access and transparency obligations. The robust inspections of Iran’s uranium supply chain will last for 25 years. • Even after the period of the most stringent limitations on Iran’s nuclear program, Iran will remain a party to the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT), which prohibits Iran’s development or acquisition of nuclear weapons and requires IAEA safeguards on its nuclear program.

 

Click here for a PDF version.

 

Iran Nuclear Plan: Detailed Factsheet

On April 2, 2015, the State Department Press Office released a fact sheet detailing the framework for a final nuclear deal between Iran and the world's six major powers.

  
 
Parameters for a Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action regarding the Islamic Republic of Iran’s Nuclear Program
 
Below are the key parameters of a Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) regarding the Islamic Republic of Iran’s nuclear program that were decided in Lausanne, Switzerland. These elements form the foundation upon which the final text of the JCPOA will be written between now and June 30, and reflect the significant progress that has been made in discussions between the P5+1, the European Union, and Iran. Important implementation details are still subject to negotiation, and nothing is agreed until everything is agreed. We will work to conclude the JCPOA based on these parameters over the coming months.
 
Enrichment
 
• Iran has agreed to reduce by approximately two-thirds its installed centrifuges. Iran will go from having about 19,000 installed today to 6,104 installed under the deal, with only 5,060 of these enriching uranium for 10 years. All 6,104 centrifuges will be IR-1s, Iran’s first-generation centrifuge.
• Iran has agreed to not enrich uranium over 3.67 percent for at least 15 years.
• Iran has agreed to reduce its current stockpile of about 10,000 kg of low-enriched uranium (LEU) to 300 kg of 3.67 percent LEU for 15 years.
• All excess centrifuges and enrichment infrastructure will be placed in IAEA monitored storage and will be used only as replacements for operating centrifuges and equipment.
• Iran has agreed to not build any new facilities for the purpose of enriching uranium for 15 years.
• Iran’s breakout timeline – the time that it would take for Iran to acquire enough fissile material for one weapon – is currently assessed to be 2 to 3 months. That timeline will be extended to at least one year, for a duration of at least ten years, under this framework.
 
Iran will convert its facility at Fordow so that it is no longer used to enrich uranium
 
• Iran has agreed to not enrich uranium at its Fordow facility for at least 15 years.
• Iran has agreed to convert its Fordow facility so that it is used for peaceful purposes only – into a nuclear, physics, technology, research center.
• Iran has agreed to not conduct research and development associated with uranium enrichment at Fordow for 15 years.
• Iran will not have any fissile material at Fordow for 15 years. 2
• Almost two-thirds of Fordow’s centrifuges and infrastructure will be removed. The remaining centrifuges will not enrich uranium. All centrifuges and related infrastructure will be placed under IAEA monitoring.
 
Iran will only enrich uranium at the Natanz facility, with only 5,060 IR-1 first-generation centrifuges for ten years.
 
• Iran has agreed to only enrich uranium using its first generation (IR-1 models) centrifuges at Natanz for ten years, removing its more advanced centrifuges.
• Iran will remove the 1,000 IR-2M centrifuges currently installed at Natanz and place them in IAEA monitored storage for ten years.
• Iran will not use its IR-2, IR-4, IR-5, IR-6, or IR-8 models to produce enriched uranium for at least ten years. Iran will engage in limited research and development with its advanced centrifuges, according to a schedule and parameters which have been agreed to by the P5+1.
• For ten years, enrichment and enrichment research and development will be limited to ensure a breakout timeline of at least 1 year. Beyond 10 years, Iran will abide by its enrichment and enrichment R&D plan submitted to the IAEA, and pursuant to the JCPOA, under the Additional Protocol resulting in certain limitations on enrichment capacity.
 
Inspections and Transparency
 
• The IAEA will have regular access to all of Iran’s nuclear facilities, including to Iran’s enrichment facility at Natanz and its former enrichment facility at Fordow, and including the use of the most up-to-date, modern monitoring technologies.
• Inspectors will have access to the supply chain that supports Iran’s nuclear program. The new transparency and inspections mechanisms will closely monitor materials and/or components to prevent diversion to a secret program.
• Inspectors will have access to uranium mines and continuous surveillance at uranium mills, where Iran produces yellowcake, for 25 years.
• Inspectors will have continuous surveillance of Iran’s centrifuge rotors and bellows production and storage facilities for 20 years. Iran’s centrifuge manufacturing base will be frozen and under continuous surveillance.
• All centrifuges and enrichment infrastructure removed from Fordow and Natanz will be placed under continuous monitoring by the IAEA.
• A dedicated procurement channel for Iran’s nuclear program will be established to monitor and approve, on a case by case basis, the supply, sale, or transfer to Iran of 3 certain nuclear-related and dual use materials and technology – an additional transparency measure.
• Iran has agreed to implement the Additional Protocol of the IAEA, providing the IAEA much greater access and information regarding Iran’s nuclear program, including both declared and undeclared facilities.
• Iran will be required to grant access to the IAEA to investigate suspicious sites or allegations of a covert enrichment facility, conversion facility, centrifuge production facility, or yellowcake production facility anywhere in the country.
• Iran has agreed to implement Modified Code 3.1 requiring early notification of construction of new facilities.
• Iran will implement an agreed set of measures to address the IAEA’s concerns regarding the Possible Military Dimensions (PMD) of its program.
 
Reactors and Reprocessing
 
• Iran has agreed to redesign and rebuild a heavy water research reactor in Arak, based on a design that is agreed to by the P5+1, which will not produce weapons grade plutonium, and which will support peaceful nuclear research and radioisotope production.
• The original core of the reactor, which would have enabled the production of significant quantities of weapons-grade plutonium, will be destroyed or removed from the country.
• Iran will ship all of its spent fuel from the reactor out of the country for the reactor’s lifetime.
• Iran has committed indefinitely to not conduct reprocessing or reprocessing research and development on spent nuclear fuel.
• Iran will not accumulate heavy water in excess of the needs of the modified Arak reactor, and will sell any remaining heavy water on the international market for 15 years.
• Iran will not build any additional heavy water reactors for 15 years.
 
Sanctions
 
• Iran will receive sanctions relief, if it verifiably abides by its commitments.
• U.S. and E.U. nuclear-related sanctions will be suspended after the IAEA has verified that Iran has taken all of its key nuclear-related steps. If at any time Iran fails to fulfill its commitments, these sanctions will snap back into place.
• The architecture of U.S. nuclear-related sanctions on Iran will be retained for much of the duration of the deal and allow for snap-back of sanctions in the event of significant non-performance.
• All past UN Security Council resolutions on the Iran nuclear issue will be lifted simultaneous with the completion, by Iran, of nuclear-related actions addressing all key concerns (enrichment, Fordow, Arak, PMD, and transparency).
• However, core provisions in the UN Security Council resolutions – those that deal with transfers of sensitive technologies and activities – will be re-established by a new UN Security Council resolution that will endorse the JCPOA and urge its full implementation. It will also create the procurement channel mentioned above, which will serve as a key transparency measure. Important restrictions on conventional arms and ballistic missiles, as well as provisions that allow for related cargo inspections and asset freezes, will also be incorporated by this new resolution.
• A dispute resolution process will be specified, which enables any JCPOA participant, to seek to resolve disagreements about the performance of JCPOA commitments
 • If an issue of significant non-performance cannot be resolved through that process, then all previous UN sanctions could be re-imposed.
• U.S. sanctions on Iran for terrorism, human rights abuses, and ballistic missiles will remain in place under the deal.
 
Phasing
 
• For ten years, Iran will limit domestic enrichment capacity and research and development – ensuring a breakout timeline of at least one year. Beyond that, Iran will be bound by its longer-term enrichment and enrichment research and development plan it shared with the P5+1.
• For fifteen years, Iran will limit additional elements of its program. For instance, Iran will not build new enrichment facilities or heavy water reactors and will limit its stockpile of enriched uranium and accept enhanced transparency procedures. • Important inspections and transparency measures will continue well beyond 15 years. Iran’s adherence to the Additional Protocol of the IAEA is permanent, including its significant access and transparency obligations. The robust inspections of Iran’s uranium supply chain will last for 25 years. • Even after the period of the most stringent limitations on Iran’s nuclear program, Iran will remain a party to the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT), which prohibits Iran’s development or acquisition of nuclear weapons and requires IAEA safeguards on its nuclear program.
 

Click here for a PDF version.

For more information on the 2015 nuclear framework:

 

Nuclear Talks: Congressional Reaction

The following are statements by U.S. lawmakers on the latest round of nuclear talks between Iran and the world’s six major powers that began on March 26 in Lausanne, Switzerland.
 
Senators John McCain (R-AZ) and Lindsey Graham (R-SC) 
 
“We appreciate the diligent efforts to find a diplomatic solution to Iran’s nuclear ambitions. However, it is clear the negotiations are not going well. At every step, the Iranians appear intent on retaining the capacity to achieve a nuclear weapon. Without significant change, we have little confidence the negotiations will end well.
 
“Regardless of the outcome, Iran’s threat to regional security and stability endures. Any hope that a nuclear deal will lead Iran to abandon its decades-old pursuit of regional dominance through violence and terror is simply delusional. The Obama Administration’s failure to recognize and counter this threat has only served to expand Iranian influence.”
—April 1, 2015 in a joint statement

Speaker of the House John Boehner (R-OH)
 
“I have one goal. That goal is to make sure that the American people heard and the Congress heard about the serious threat that Iran poses not only to the Middle East but for the rest of the world including the United States… The president doesn't want to talk about it. Doesn't want to talk about the threat of radical Islam and the fact that he has no strategy to deal with it.”
—March 29, 2015 on CNN’s “State of the Union

Senator Robert Menendez (D-NJ)
 
“If today’s news report from Lausanne is true, we are not inching closer to Iran’s negotiating position, but leaping toward it with both feet. We have pivoted away from demanding the closure of Fordow when the negotiations began, to considering its conversion into a research facility, to now allowing hundreds of centrifuges to spin at this underground bunker site where centrifuges could be quickly repurposed for illicit nuclear enrichment purposes. My fear is that we are no longer guided by the principle that ‘no deal is better than a bad deal,’ but instead we are negotiating ‘any deal for a deal’s sake’.  
 
“An undue amount of trust and faith is being placed in a negotiating partner that has spent decades deceiving the international community; denying the International Atomic Energy Agency access to its facilities; refusing to answer questions about its nuclear-related military activities; and all the while, actively destabilizing the region from Lebanon to Syria to Iraq to Yemen. A good deal must meet our primary negotiating objective – curtailing Iran’s current and future ability to achieve nuclear weapons capability. If the best deal Iran will give us does not achieve this goal, it is not a good deal for the United States or its partners. A good deal won’t leave Iran as a nuclear threshold state.”
— March 26, 2015 in a statement
 
Senator Tom Cotton (R-AR)
 
“The decision to extend the nuclear negotiations in the face of Iranian intransigence and duplicity proves once again that Iran is calling the shots. Just weeks ago President Obama said ‘I don’t see a further extension being useful.’  And today the State Department admitted that ‘there are several difficult issues still remaining’ in the negotiations. Given the dangerous concessions by the Obama administration over the past week, one can only imagine what further concessions it will make in the next 24 hours to resolve these issues.
 
“The best solution is walk away from the nuclear negotiations now and return to a position of strength. We should reinstate existing sanctions suspended under the Joint Plan of Action and Congress should act immediately to impose new sanctions.  It’s time for the United States to regain the upper hand and quit negotiating out of weakness.”
—March 31, 2015 in a statement
 
Senator Chris Murphy (D-CT)
 
“It’s an arbitrary deadline first [March 31]. So, let’s understand that if there’s progress being made, there’s absolutely no reason why you wouldn’t extend the talks at least a day. And, of course, this is a deadline to get a frame work. The talks have actually been extended through June.

“And so, all of the Obama administration has outlined a deal by the end of March, and then they’ll have to work on the details. But, of course, we should give them more time because the stakes are enormous. I mean, what you have are Republicans cheerleading for war.

“The consequence of the United States walking away from these negotiations and maybe we’ll ultimately have to do that is really a military option. We won’t be able to put the sanctions back together as effectively as we had them in the first place.

“I think Senator Cotton made it pretty clear that he thinks that the best option ultimately is for the United States to use military intervention in order to disabuse Iran of any future nuclear weapons program. I don’t think that everybody who signed that letter, all 47 of them, believe that that’s the case, but there’s certainly an element of the Republican Party that views American international power solely through a military lens. Just doesn’t see any use for negotiations.”
—March 31, 2015 on MSNBC’s “All In With Chris Hayes”
 

Senator Ted Cruz (R-TX)

"The longer the Obama Administration stays at the negotiating table with Iran, the more concessions they make...We have recently learned Tehran is insisting on sanctions relief before IAEA inspectors are given full access to inspect potential military elements of the nuclear program; that Tehran will continue enrichment activities at military facilities; and that Tehran plans to retain its entire nuclear stockpile rather than relinquish any of it to outside countries. And now the commander of the Basij militia of Iran's Revolutionary Guards has reportedly said that ‘erasing Israel off the map' is ‘nonnegotiable.' Enough is enough. The Obama Administration's bad deal is only getting worse with time. Iran's nuclear build-up profoundly endangers the security of America and our allies."
—April 1, 2015 in a press release

Rep. Adam Schiff (D-CA)

"[Parameters of the deal] have to be fairly specific if the administration is going to get us to June 30th, and that's the challenge that they face."



"I don't think that we need to press on any particular date...The real date that makes all the difference is at the end of June."


"If we put too much pressure on ourselves to get a deal within 12 hours or 24 hours, that works in Iran's favor."

"A lot will depend on whether this is part of a deal that Congress views as a good deal. I think if Congress comes to the conclusion this is not a good deal — the administration has given too much, Iran has given too little — then you will see additional legislation that attempts to tie the president's hands."
 
If critical issues are not ironed out, "then the president will have a hard time holding Congress back from additional action.” 



—April 1, 2015 on MSNBC's "Andrea Mitchell Reports"

Rep. Mark Meadows (R-NC)

 

Rep. Roger Williams

Connect With Us

Our Partners

Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars Logo