Public Statement on U.S. Policy Toward the Iran Nuclear
Negotiations Endorsed by a Bipartisan Group of American Diplomats, Legislators,
Policymakers, and Experts
June 24, 2015
Institute for Near East Policy
the last three years, members of this bipartisan group have convened regularly
under the auspices of The Washington Institute for Near East Policy to discuss
the status of the Iran nuclear issue, frequently benefitting from the input of
current Administration officials. Last week, at its most recent meeting, the
group determined that it could usefully contribute to the public debate on the
ongoing negotiations by presenting its consensus view of critical issues.This
statement reflects that broad consensus.
Iran nuclear deal is not done. Negotiations continue. The target deadline is
June 30. We know much about the emerging agreement. Most of us would have
preferred a stronger agreement.
agreement will not prevent Iran from having a nuclear weapons capability. It
will not require the dismantling of Iran’s nuclear enrichment infrastructure.
It will however reduce that infrastructure for the next 10 to 15 years. And it
will impose a transparency, inspection, and consequences regime with the goal of
deterring and dissuading Iran from actually building a nuclear weapon.
agreement does not purport to be a comprehensive strategy towards Iran. It does
not address Iran’s support for terrorist organizations (like Hezbollah and
Hamas), its interventions in Iraq, Syria, Lebanon, and Yemen (its “regional
hegemony”), its ballistic missile arsenal, or its oppression of its own
people. The U.S. administration has prioritized negotiations to deal with the
nuclear threat, and hopes that an agreement will positively influence Iranian
policy in these other areas.
granting this policy approach, we fear that the current negotiations, unless
concluded along the lines outlined in this paper and buttressed by a resolute
regional strategy, may fall short of meeting the administration’s own standard
of a “good” agreement.
are united in our view that to maximize its potential for deterring and
dissuading Iran from building a nuclear weapon, the emerging nuclear agreement
must – in addition to its existing provisions – provide the following:
and Verification: The inspectors of the International Atomic Energy Agency (the
“IAEA”) charged with monitoring compliance with the agreement must have
timely and effective access to any sites in Iran they need to visit in order to
verify Iran’s compliance with the agreement. This must include military
(including IRGC) and other sensitive facilities. Iran must not be able to deny
or delay timely access to any site anywhere in the country that the inspectors
need to visit in order to carry out their responsibilities.
Military Dimensions: The IAEA inspectors must be able, in a timely and effective
manner, to take samples, to interview scientists and government officials, to
inspect sites, and to review and copy documents as required for their
investigation of Iran’s past and any ongoing nuclear weaponization activities
(“Possible Military Dimensions” or “PMD”). This work needs to be
accomplished before any significant sanctions relief.
Centrifuges: The agreement must establish strict limits on advanced centrifuge
R&D, testing, and deployment in the first ten years, and preclude the rapid
technical upgrade and expansion of Iran's enrichment capacity after the initial
ten-year period. The goal is to push back Iran’s deployment of advanced
centrifuges as long as possible, and ensure that any such deployment occurs at a
measured, incremental pace consonant with a peaceful nuclear program.
Relief: Relief must be based on Iran’s performance of its obligations.
Suspension or lifting of the most significant sanctions must not occur until the
IAEA confirms that Iran has taken the key steps required to come into compliance
with the agreement. Non-nuclear sanctions (such as for terrorism) must remain in
effect and be vigorously enforced.
of Violations: The agreement must include a timely and effective mechanism to
re-impose sanctions automatically if Iran is found to be in violation of the
agreement, including by denying or delaying IAEA access. In addition, the United
States must itself articulate the serious consequences Iran will face in that
importantly, it is vital for the United States to affirm that it is U.S. policy
to prevent Iran from producing sufficient fissile material for a nuclear weapon
– or otherwise acquiring or building one – both during the agreement and
after it expires. Precisely because Iran will be left as a nuclear threshold
state (and has clearly preserved the option of becoming a nuclear weapon state),
the United States must go on record now that it is committed to using all means
necessary, including military force, to prevent this. The President should
declare this to be U.S. policy and Congress should formally endorse it. In
addition, Congressional review of any agreement should precede any formal action
on the agreement in the United Nations.
these features, many of us will find it difficult to support a nuclear agreement
urge the U.S. administration not to treat June 30 as an “inviolable”
deadline. Stay at the negotiating table until a “good” agreement that
includes these features is reached. Extend the existing Joint Plan of Action
while negotiations continue. This will freeze Iran’s nuclear activity and
international sanctions at current levels. While the United States should extend
the Iran Sanctions Act so it does not expire, it should not increase sanctions
while negotiations continue. U.S. alternatives to an agreement are unappealing,
but Iran’s are worse. It has every incentive to reach an agreement and obtain
relief from sanctions and international isolation well in advance of its
elections next February. If anyone is to walk out of the negotiations, let it be
argue that any nuclear agreement now simply further empowers bad Iranian
behavior. And there is a lot to this argument. This is why we believe that the
United States must bolster any agreement by doing more in the region to check
Iran and support our traditional friends and allies.
does not mean major U.S. ground combat operations in the Middle East. But it
does mean taking initiatives like the following:
Iraq: Expand training and arming not only of Iraqi Security Forces but also
Kurdish Peshmerga in the north and vetted Sunni forces in the West. Allow U.S.
Special Forces to leave their bases and help coordinate air strikes and stiffen
Iraqi units. Sideline Iranian-backed militia and separate them from Shiite units
(“popular mobilization units”) that are not under Iranian control.
Syria: Expand and accelerate the U.S. train and equip programs. Work with Turkey
to create a safe haven in northern Syria where refugees can obtain humanitarian
aid and vetted non-extremist opposition fighters can be trained and equipped.
Capitalize on Bashar al-Assad’s increasing weakness to split off regime
elements and seek to join them with U.S. trained opposition elements. Interdict
the transshipment of Iranian weapons into Syria in coordination with the Kurds
and Turkey, and consider designating as terrorist organizations Iranian-backed
Shiite militias responsible for egregious atrocities.
Yemen: Expand support for Saudi Arabia and the UAE in pressuring the warring
parties to the negotiating table while seeking to split the Houthi elements away
Interdict Iranian arms bound for extremist groups and continue to counter its
efforts to harass commercial shipping and our naval forces. Reaffirm U.S. policy
to oppose Iran’s efforts to subvert local governments and project its power at
the expense of our friends and allies.
these steps also strengthen U.S. capability against Daesh (the misnamed
“Islamic State”). Acting against both Iranian hegemony and Daesh’s
caliphate will help reassure friends and allies of America’s continued
commitment. And it will help address Israel's legitimate concerns that a nuclear
agreement will validate Iran's nuclear program, further facilitate its
destabilizing behavior, and encourage further proliferation at a time when
Israel faces the possible erosion of its "qualitative military edge.” We
urge the U.S. administration to create a discreet, high-level mechanism with the
Israeli government to identify and implement responses to each of these
the actions we propose while the nuclear negotiations continue will reinforce
the message that Iran must comply with any agreement and will not be allowed to
pursue a nuclear weapon. This will increase, not decrease, the chance that Iran
will comply with the agreement and may ultimately adopt a more constructive role
in the region. For the U.S. administration’s hopes in this respect have little
chance so long as Iran’s current policy seems to be succeeding in expanding
Allison, director of the Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs,
Berman, U.S. House of Representatives (D-CA), 1983-2013
Blackwill, deputy assistant to the president and deputy national security
advisor for strategic planning under President George W. Bush, 2003-2004
James Cartwright, vice chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, 2007-2011
Clawson, Morningstar Senior Fellow, director of research, The Washington
J. Dobriansky, undersecretary of state for global affairs, 2001-2009
Einhorn, special advisor to the Secretary of State for nonproliferation and arms
Eisen, U.S. ambassador to the Czech Republic, 2011-2014
Eisenstadt, Kahn Fellow, director of the Military and Security Studies Program,
The Washington Institute
Hadley, national security advisor to President George W. Bush, 2005-2009
Heinonen, deputy director general of the International Atomic Energy Agency,
Henderson, Baker Fellow, director of the Gulf and Energy Policy Program, The
Jeffrey, U.S. ambassador to Iraq, 2010-2012, deputy national security advisor to
President George W Bush, 2007-2008. Philip Solondz Distinguished Fellow, The
Lieberman, U.S. Senate (I-CT), 1989-2013
Makovsky, senior policy advisor to the U.S. special envoy for
Israeli-Palestinian negotiations (2013-2014). Ziegler Distinguished Fellow and
director of the Project on the Middle East Peace Process, The Washington
Petraeus, director of the Central Intelligence Agency, 2011-2012
Ross, special assistant to President Obama and National Security Council senior
director for the central region, 2009-2011. Counselor and William Davidson
Distinguished Fellow, The Washington Institute
Samore, coordinator for arms control and weapons of mass destruction under
President Obama, 2009-2013
Satloff, Howard P. Berkowitz Chair in U.S. Middle East Policy and executive
director, The Washington Institute
This statement reflects the broad consensus of the group; not every member of the group endorses every judgment or recommendation. Members of the group endorse this statement in their personal capacities; institutional affiliations are for identification purposes only. This statement has not been endorsed by the Washington Institute for Near East Policy, its Board of Trustees or its Board of Advisors, and it should not be construed as representing their views.