The following are excerpted reactions from nuclear experts to the parameters for a comprehensive nuclear deal announced on April 2 by Iran and the world’s six major powers.
Anthony H. Cordesman
Arleigh A. Burke Chair in Strategy at the Center for Strategic and International Studies
[T]he proposed parameters and framework in the Proposed Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action has the potential to meet every test in creating a valid agreement over time of the kind laid out earlier in the Burke Chair analysis circulated on March 30. It can block both an Iranian nuclear threat and a nuclear arms race in the region, and it is a powerful beginning to creating a full agreement, and creating the prospect for broader stability in other areas.
—April 2, 2015 in a statement
Senior fellow at the Harvard Kennedy School of Government’s Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs and former chief inspector for the International Atomic Energy Agency
“It appears to be a fairly comprehensive deal with most important parameters.” But he cautioned that “Iran maintains enrichment capacity which will be beyond its near-term needs.”
—April 2, 2015 to The New York Times
Arms Control Association Executive Director
The parameters agreed upon by the United States, the other permanent members of the UN Security Council, plus Germany with the Islamic Republic of Iran “promises to lead to one of the most consequential and far reaching nuclear nonproliferation achievements in recent decades.”
—April 2, 2015 in a statement
Executive Director for Research at Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs
and former senior director for nonproliferation and export controls under the Clinton administration
“I think that [the negotiators] were able to specify enough detail in this agreement to justify the effort to continue another three months and try to complete a comprehensive agreement.”
—April 2, 2015 to The Daily Beast
Senior fellow of the Arms Control Association and former intelligence analyst at the Department of State
Once fully negotiated and launched, this deal will block off the options Iran currently has for moving quickly to build nuclear weapons. And the benefits of the deal will extend beyond the particulars of preventing an Iranian bomb. It will also strengthen the worldwide authority of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) in implementing safeguards on the peaceful development of nuclear energy and give impetus toward the goal of universality in enhanced verification measures such as the IAEA's "Additional Protocol."
—April 5, 2015 in an op-ed for The Philadelphia Inquirer
Professor at Harvard Kennedy School’s Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs and former adviser on nonproliferation in the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy
The Lausanne approach would effectively take the option of racing to the bomb at the known, inspected facilities off the table for Iran, with a combination of limits and inspections that offer high confidence that any such effort would be noticed in plenty of time for the world to act – whether or not it precisely meets the Obama administration’s goal of ensuring that it would take Iran a full year to make the material for a bomb at these facilities.
Several provisions also increase the chance that any secret sites would be found in time. Cutting Iran’s stock of enriched uranium to just a few hundred kilograms would mean a secret site would need to be much bigger or take much longer to make material for a bomb, making it easier to detect and stop. Inspectors would have access to Iran’s stocks of extra centrifuges and key centrifuge parts, and the places where such parts are made – and all of Iran’s imports of such parts would be declared and monitored, so that any illicit procurement would be a violation of the pact.
—April 5, 2015 in The National Interest
President of Ploughshares Fund
The agreement does three things. It blocks all of Iran’s pathways to a nuclear bomb. It imposes tough inspections to catch Iran should it try to break out, sneak out or creep out of the deal. And it keeps our coalition united to enforce the deal.
Under this deal, Iran has agreed to rip out two-thirds of its centrifuges and cut its stockpile of uranium gas by 97 percent. It will not be able to make any uranium or plutonium for a bomb. Many of the restrictions in the agreement continue for 25 years and some — like the inspections and the ban on building nuclear weapons — last forever.
—April 3, 2015 in The New York Daily News
Director of the nuclear policy program at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace
“What was announced today, at least in the U.S. fact sheet, is a very positive development and represents significant progress. Something particularly positive was on the inspections side, where it talks about monitoring the whole supply chain of the Iranian nuclear program. That’s a very big deal. Related to that is that Iran will basically declare and dedicate a procurement channel so everything that needs to be imported for their nuclear program would go through this channel. This greatly eases the monitoring requirement—it comes through a reported channel and then it’s much easier to track it to facilities and monitor at these facilities. It also means that if the IAEA gets intelligence that there is procurement outside of that channel, by definition, that would be a violation of the agreement and have consequences.”
—April 2, 2015 in statement
—April 2, 2015 in statement
Senior associate in the nuclear policy program at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace
On April 2, more substance was made known by negotiators than most observers had anticipated. Most of the details, however, were voiced by Western negotiators and leaders, or expressed in a US “fact sheet” that may or may not precisely represent Iranian understandings. If Iran is on board with all of the US State Department’s bullet points, then a final agreement based on these may indeed go far to limit the threat posed by Iran’s latent nuclear-capable status for a decade or more: Most of Iran’s enriched uranium would be withdrawn from Iran; Iran’s route to significant amounts of weapon-grade plutonium would be effectively blocked; the powers would have their thumbs over Iran’s procurement activities; and the IAEA would have explicit authority to reach deep into Iran’s nuclear program.
Shortly after Iran and the powers concluded the Joint Plan of Action in November 2013, Iran challenged the US “fact sheet” on that preliminary accord as having misrepresented Iran’s understandings, so caution should prevail about whether Iran’s April 2 positions match those of Western powers.
—April 2, 2015 for the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists
Frank von Hippel
Professor in Princeton University’s Science and International Security Program
“There are still details to be filled in, but I like it a lot.”
“On transparency, it looks like they really are doing a lot.”
—April 3, 2015 to McClatchy
The P5+1 Nuclear Agreement With Iran: A Net-Plus for Nonproliferation
April 6, 2015
The framework agreement announced by the P5+1 and Iran is--from a nuclear nonproliferation and security standpoint--a vitally important step forward. When implemented, it will put in place an effective, verifiable, enforceable, long-term plan to guard against the possibility of a new nuclear-armed state in the Middle East.
The agreement comprehensively addresses the key routes by which Iran could acquire material for nuclear weapons. Among other steps, the framework agreement will:
- significantly reduce Iran's capacity to enrich uranium to the point that it would take at least 12 months to amass enough uranium enriched to weapons grade for one bomb;
- require Iran to modify its Arak heavy water reactor to meaningfully reduce its proliferation potential and bar Iran from developing any capability for separating plutonium from spent fuel for weapons;
- put in place enhanced international inspections and monitoring that would help to deter Iran from attempting to violate the agreement, but if Iran did, increase the international community's ability to detect promptly and, if necessary, disrupt future efforts by Iran to build nuclear weapons, including at potential undeclared sites; and
- require Iran to cooperate with the IAEA to conclude the investigation of Iran's past efforts to develop a nuclear warhead and provide transparency sufficient to help ensure that any such effort remains in abeyance.
The agreement will strengthen U.S. security and that of our partners in the region.
Rigorous monitoring measures will remain in place not just throughout the long duration of the agreement but even after the core limits of the agreement expire, helping ensure that any movement toward nuclear weapons will be detected and providing the opportunity to intervene decisively to prevent Iran from acquiring a nuclear weapon.
Moreover, the agreement reduces the likelihood of destabilizing nuclear weapons competition in the Middle East, and strengthens global efforts to prevent proliferation, including the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty.
We urge the P5+1 and Iranian negotiators to promptly finalize the remaining technical details and we urge policy makers in key capitals to support the deal and the steps necessary to ensure timely implementation and rigorous compliance with the agreement.
James Acton, Co-director, Nuclear Policy Program, Carnegie Endowment for International Peace*
Amb. Brooke D. Anderson, former Chief of Staff and Counselor for the White House National Security Council, and former Alternative Representative to the United Nations for Special Political Affairs
Dr. Bruce Blair, Research Scholar, Program on Science and Global Security, Princeton University*
Dr. Barry Blechman, co-founder, Stimson Center*
Prof. Matthew Bunn, Co-Principal Investigator, Project on Managing the Atom,Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs, Harvard University
Joseph Cirincione, President, Ploughshares Fund
Toby Dalton, Co-Director, Nuclear Policy Program, Carnegie Endowment for International Peace*
Kelsey Davenport, Director for Nonproliferation Policy, Arms Control Association
Dr. Sidney Drell, Stanford University*
Robert J. Einhorn, former U.S. Department of State Special Advisor for Nonproliferation and Arms Control and former negotiator on the Iran nuclear talks
Prof. Steve Fetter, former Assistant Director at-large, White House Office of Science and Technology Policy
Robert L. Gallucci, Georgetown University
Ellie Geranmayeh, Policy Fellow, European Council on Foreign Relations*
Ilan Goldenberg, former Iran Team Chief, Office of the Secretary of Defense
R. Scott Kemp, assistant professor of nuclear science and engineering at MIT, former science advisor to the State Department's Special Advisor for Nonproliferation and Arms Control
Daryl G. Kimball, Executive Director, Arms Control Association
Michael Krepon, co-founder, The Stimson Center*
Dr. Edward P. Levine, retired senior professional staff member, Senate Foreign Relations Committee
Richard Nephew, former Principal Deputy Coordinator for Sanctions Policy at the Department of State, and Director for Iran on the National Security Staff
Dr. Jeffrey Lewis, Middlebury Institute of International Studies at Monterey*
Amb. Thomas R. Pickering, former Under Secretary of State for Political Affairs, and former U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, the Russian Federation, India, Israel, and Jordan
George Perkovich, Vice President for Studies at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace*
Paul R. Pillar, Former National Intelligence Officer for the Near East and South Asia
William Potter, Sam Nunn and Richard Lugar Professor of Nonproliferation Studies at the Middlebury Institute of International Studies at Monterey*
Prof. Scott D. Sagan, Senior Fellow, Center for International Security and Cooperation, Stanford University
Sharon Squassoni, Senior Fellow and Director, Proliferation Prevention Program, Center for Strategic and International Studies*
Tariq Rauf, Director Disarmament, Arms Control & Non-Proliferation Programme at the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI)* and former Head of Verification & Security Policy Coordination reporting to the IAEA Director General
Dr. James Walsh, Research Associate at the Security Studies Program, Massachusetts Institute of Technology
Dr. Ali Vaez, Senior Analyst on Iran, International Crisis Group
Prof. Frank von Hippel, former Assistant Director for National Security, White House Office of Science and Technology Policy
*Institution listed for identification purposes only.
The Iran Project Statement on the Announcement of a Framework for a Comprehensive Nuclear Agreement with Iran
We welcome the announcement that the U.S. government and other major world powers have reached a framework accord to prevent Iran from acquiring a nuclear weapon.
This achievement is the result of the sustained effort of the Foreign Ministers of seven governments spanning nearly 18 months, to put in place a set of constraints and inspections that would limit Iran’s nuclear program to peaceful purposes.
- While technical details are still to be fully resolved, important U.S. objectives have been achieved:
- uranium enrichment only at the Natanz plant and no enrichment at theunderground facility at Fordow;
- prohibition of the Arak heavy water research reactor from producing weaponsgrade plutonium or reprocessing to recover plutonium from spent fuel;
- a reduction and then a limit on Iran’s stockpile of enriched uranium to 300 KG for 15 years; broad and sweeping inspections and other constraints;
- a two-thirds reduction in installed centrifuges for ten years; a range oflimitations and inspections that will be in force over a 10-25 year period andsome permanent inspections of the program.
We recognize that full evaluation must await a final comprehensive agreement.Important, difficult, and ambiguous issues still remain. Their resolution will be key tothe solidity of the final agreement and its support in this country. They include:
- what means will be used to limit the stockpile of Iran’s enriched uranium to300 Kg of LEU for 15 years;
- how the existing UNSC resolutions sanctioning Iran will be replaced by aresolution or resolutions that creates an approved procurement channel andplaces restrictions on conventional arms and ballistic missiles;
- what will be the set of measures that will address the IAEA’s concernsregarding the possible military dimensions (PMD) of Iran’s program;
- what scale of uranium enrichment will be possible for Iran after ten years;
- what will be the relationship between the lifting of sanctions and Iran’s performance;
- what is the system for evaluating the severity of violations of the agreement andhow would they trigger the snap-back of sanctions.
The framework will be examined and interpreted differently in the United States and Iran over the next three months. These negotiations have been among the most complex diplomatic efforts in recent history. Nevertheless, we believe the framework represents important progress toward our goal of blocking an Iranian nuclear weapon.
In view of this hopeful progress, we call on the U.S. Congress to take no action that would impede further progress or undermine the American negotiators’ efforts to complete the final comprehensive agreement on time. The Congress should examine the announced framework, asking itself whether the potential for a comprehensive, verifiable accord is preferable to the current standoff with Iran or other alternatives as a means to ensure that Iran will not acquire a nuclear weapon.
We, the undersigned, have devoted our careers to the peace and security of the United States in both Republican and Democratic administrations. Presidents and Congresses over the past 20 years have joined in a bipartisan policy of sanctioning and isolating Iran to bring it to the negotiating table and prevent nuclear proliferation. There has been bipartisan understanding that the U.S. would lead any negotiations to test Iran’s seriousness. Both political parties can deservedly take credit for bringing us to this moment.
We urge a renewed bipartisan effort based on the following principles:
First, before members of Congress or its committees decide to act on this matter, we urge them to hold hearings so that the framework can be fully discussed and debated. Congress should be closely involved in the oversight, monitoring and enforcement of the implementation of a final agreement. The Executive Branch should consult regularly with Congress so that it can play its important role in implementation. After a final agreement is reached, Congress will play a central role, as removal of most sanctions will require Congressional action.
Second, a decision to exert more pressure and sanctions now would most likely cause the negotiations to be broken off and rule out a final agreement.
Third, members of Congress and America’s leaders have an obligation to their nation to review the consequences of undermining the ongoing negotiations or blocking the chances of reaching a Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action. The repercussions could be grave, including creating the perception that the U.S. is responsible for the collapse of the agreement; unraveling international cooperation on sanctions; and triggering the unfreezing of Iran's nuclear program and the rapid ramping up of Iranian nuclear capacity. Such a situation could enhance the possibility of war.
Finally, we hope that the Administration will place the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action in a strategic context by assuring America’s partners, especially Israel, Saudi Arabia and other Gulf States, that the U.S. remains strongly committed to their security and that it will continue to take a firm stance against threatening Iranian actions in the region.
We will continue to work with others – skeptics and supporters alike – to support a balanced, objective, and bipartisan approach to preventing Iran from acquiring a nuclear weapon — one that enhances U.S. national security and that of our friends and allies of the region.
Madeleine Albright, fmr Sec State
Michael Armacost, Amb
Samuel R. Berger, fmr NSA
Zbigniew Brzezinski, fmr NSA
Nicholas Burns, Amb
James Cartwright, Gen
Stephen Cheney, BrigGen
Chester A. Crocker
Ryan C. Crocker, Amb
James Dobbins, Amb
William J. Fallon, Adm
Leslie H. Gelb
William Harrop, Amb
Stephen B. Heintz
Carla A. Hills
Nancy L. Kassebaum, Sen
Frank Kearney, LTG
Daniel C. Kurtzer, Amb
Carl Levin, Sen
Winston Lord, Amb
William Luers, Amb
Richard Lugar, Sen
Jessica T. Mathews
William G. Miller, Amb
Richard Murphy, Amb
Eric Olson, Admiral
Thomas R. Pickering, Amb
Paul R. Pillar
Nicholas Platt, Amb
Joe R. Reeder
William A. Reinsch
J. Stapelton Roy, Amb
Brent Scowcroft, fmr NSA
Joe Sestak, RADM
Jim Slattery, Congressman
James Stavridis, Adm
Lawrence B. Wilkerson, Col
Timothy E. Wirth, Sen
Frank G. Wisner, Amb
Anthony C. Zinni, Gen