US Officials on Nuclear Deal Anniversary

July 14, 2016

On the one year anniversary of the nuclear deal, U.S. officials praised the agreement but acknowledged that the United States and Iran still strongly disagree on regional issues, ballistic missiles, and human rights. “We still have serious differences with Iran, but the United States, our partners, and the world are more secure because of the JCPOA,” President Barack Obama said in a statement. The Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), which went into its implementation phase in January, rolled back key elements of Tehran’s nuclear program in exchange for sanctions relief. The following are excerpted remarks from U.S. officials on the July 14 anniversary of the nuclear deal.

President Barack Obama

Barack ObamaToday marks one year since the conclusion of the Iran nuclear deal—known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA)—by representatives of the United States, Iran, France, the United Kingdom, Germany, China, Russia, and the European Union.  Over the last year, the Iran Deal has succeeded in rolling back Iran's nuclear program, avoiding further conflict and making us safer. 

During the past year, Iran has implemented its nuclear-related commitments, as verified by the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA).  Iran has shipped out 98 percent of its enriched uranium, dismantled two thirds of its centrifuges, filled its plutonium production reactor with concrete, and adopted the most intrusive inspection and verification program ever negotiated for a nuclear program.  IAEA reports have confirmed that Iran is complying with its commitments.  As a result, all of Iran’s pathways to a nuclear weapon remain closed, and Iran’s breakout time has been extended from two to three months to about a year.  The United States and our negotiating partners have also fully implemented our commitments to lift nuclear-related sanctions, and we will continue to uphold our commitments as long as Iran continues to abide by the deal.

The JCPOA demonstrates what can be achieved by principled diplomacy and a sustained commitment to stopping the spread of nuclear weapons. America's willingness to engage directly with Iran opened the door to talks, which led to the international unity and sustained engagement that culminated in the JCPOA.  We still have serious differences with Iran, but the United States, our partners, and the world are more secure because of the JCPOA.
– July 14, 2016 in a statement


Secretary of State John Kerry

One year ago today, China, Russia, Germany, France, Great Britain, the United States, known as the P5+1, succeeded after several years of intensive negotiations in securing an agreement with Iran in order to restrain Iran’s nuclear program in a way that guaranteed to the world that Iran would not be pursuing a nuclear weapon.

From that moment, 19,000 centrifuges have been put under IAEA scrutiny and storage.  The Arak plutonium reactor, plutonium – the core of that reactor has been completely dismantled and destroyed.  The 98 percent of the stockpile that Iran had of enriched uranium has been moved out of the country, and there is a day-to-day monitoring of the remaining limit to 300 kilograms.  The limitation exists today on enrichment at 3.67 percent, and we have an ongoing process of exchange of information and dialogue which is producing a significant ability to be able to monitor effectively, and, if and when there is a question, to be able to deal with those questions.

So as of today, one year later, a program that so many people said will not work, a program that people said is absolutely doomed to see cheating and be broken and will make the more dangerous, has, in fact, made the world safer, lived up to its expectations, and thus far produced an ability to be able to create a peaceful nuclear program with Iran living up to its part of this bargain and obligation. 

That is very significant, and what I think it underscores are several things.  Number one, the world is safer today because conflict in the region is not calculated on the basis of the potential of a nuclear confrontation or nuclear explosion, and because we have the ability to be able to work through some issues which we’ve seen, for instance with our sailors who stumbled into Iranian waters and within 24 hours we were able to get them out.  That could not have happened prior to this agreement having taken place.

It also, I believe, underscores the value of diplomacy itself.  And that’s why we will continue to try to work first, before we decide to go into conflict, to see if we can resolve these kinds of problems.

And my final comment is that there are continuing issues.  Nobody pretends that some of the challenges we have with Iran have somehow been wiped away.  This program was about a nuclear track and about a nuclear program.  It was not about the other issues that are involved in the relationships of a number of nations in the region and the United States.  So we continue to focus on those issues, whether in Syria or Yemen, on terrorism.  There are other real issues, and we will continue and are continuing to focus on those issues.  But we believe that the door that has been opened as a consequence of this dialogue gives us an opportunity to be able to do exactly that. 

And finally, we need to continue to work and we will continue to work and we have a specially designated ambassador whose day-to-day effort is leading the team to make sure that this deal continues to be lived up to, that we continue to be able to resolve any problems, and that we build on this as an example of what you can do if you marry interests and you marry values in a way that happens to meet the needs of a broader cross-section of countries and people.  And I think that’s what we’ve succeeded in doing here.

So we’ll continue to work at it.  There are always potential for hiccups, for a moment of questioning about one component or another; but fundamentally, I think the world can take pride in the fact that this multilateral, complicated negotiation has produced a result which makes the region less volatile and makes the world itself safer in terms of nuclear proliferation. 
– July 14, 2016 in remarks to the press


Energy Secretary Ernest Moniz

"One year ago, the P5+1, the European Union and the Islamic Republic of Iran announced the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), a historic deal to ensure that Iran’s nuclear program is – and will remain – a peaceful one, or that the international community will have more than enough time to respond if Iran’s program proves otherwise. After years of negotiations and months of preparations for the implementation of the JCPOA, the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) certified that Iran completed all the necessary nuclear steps required to reach Implementation Day in January. Today, it is clear that the JCPOA has blocked Iran’s pathways to a nuclear weapon.

This time last year, Iran had approximately 19,000 centrifuges installed and a stockpile equivalent to more than 12,000 kg of uranium hexafluoride, some of which was enriched to nearly 20 percent—giving Iran the ability to produce enough weapons grade uranium for a bomb in about two or three months. As a result of the deal, Iran has removed two-thirds of its centrifuges and associated infrastructure, and the country is limited to a stockpile of no more than 300 kg of uranium hexafluoride enriched to no more than 3.67 percent. Together, these limitations block Iran’s uranium pathway to a bomb.

Since last year, when Iran’s Arak Heavy Water Research Reactor was close to producing enough weapons-grade plutonium for one-to-two weapons per year, Iran has removed the core of the reactor and filled it with concrete, eliminating its potential source of weapons-grade plutonium and blocking the plutonium pathway to a bomb. As a result of the JCPOA, an international working group co-chaired by both the U.S. and China was founded, and is working to ensure that the reactor will be redesigned to support only peaceful nuclear research and radioisotope production for medical and industrial purposes.

In the past year, the IAEA has gained unprecedented access to Iran’s nuclear facilities and supply chain, and the agency can now use modern safeguards technologies in its monitoring and verification efforts, in order to block possible covert pathways to a nuclear weapon. Altogether, the components of the JCPOA add up to increase Iran’s breakout time from just two-to-three months before the deal to at least one year today.

The Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action was shaped by rigorous technical analysis conducted by experts at the Department of Energy’s headquarters, seven of the Department’s national laboratories and two of its nuclear sites, and these experts will continue to play a critical role as implementation of the deal continues. With real, tangible results – and a foundation in hard science and verification – the JCPOA has enhanced our global security and will continue to do so for years to come."
– July 14, 2016 in a statement

Treasury Secretary Jacob Lew

“The Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action reached one year ago today was a landmark international achievement, removing the threat of a nuclear-armed Iran while illustrating the power of economic sanctions, coupled with tough diplomacy, to bring about a safer world.  We are meeting our commitments under the deal, by lifting nuclear-related sanctions as specified in the JCPOA and by providing clear and timely guidance to government and private sector partners about engagement with Iran that is now permitted. And Iran has benefited economically under the deal, significantly increasing its oil sales, opening more than 300 new bank accounts with foreign banks, negotiating billions of dollars of new lines of credit, and seeing new planned foreign direct investment increase by more than $3 billion. We remain clear-eyed that the JCPOA did not resolve, nor was intended to resolve, concerns outside of the nuclear arena, including Iran’s support for terrorism and its ballistic missile program, and we will continue to leverage our various tools – including sanctions – to counter this behavior. We look forward to working with our international partners in the weeks and months ahead as we continue to implement the JCPOA.”
– July 14, 2016 in a statement