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Exclusive: Former Negotiator Explains How the Iran Deal Can Prevent a Covert Weapons Program

Exclusive: Arms Control Today Article by Former Negotiator Explains How the Iran Nuclear Agreement Can Prevent a Covert Weapons Program

For Immediate Release: September 2, 2015

Media Contacts: Richard Nephew, Fellow, Center on Global Energy Policy, Columbia University, 212-854-9016; Timothy Farnsworth, Communications Director, Arms Control Association, 202-463-8270, ext. 110

(Washington, D.C.)—The comprehensive nuclear deal reached by Iran and six world powers places a wide array of restrictions, restraints, and monitoring provisions on Iran’s nuclear program that will guard against a covert weapons program, according to former U.S. nuclear negotiator Richard Nephew.

Iran’s history of covertly pursuing nuclear activities raises to the forefront legitimate concerns about an illicit program and the ability of a monitoring regime to detect such actions under the deal.

Nephew’s article in the September issue of Arms Control Today describes the “various provisions of the deal that serve as a check against the possibility of covert sites by forming concentric circles of protection.”

Nephew, a former member of the U.S. negotiating team with Iran and director for Iran at the National Security Council, notes that the “subtle effectiveness of the agreement may be most pronounced in the provisions dealing with potential covert activities.”

The article also discusses what Nephew refers to as “the few scenarios in which a potential failure of the system could take place,” but, he writes, “the likelihood of these scenarios is sufficiently small as to be implausible and therefore does not constitute a sound reason to reject the deal.”

Nephew concludes that a covert Iranian nuclear weapons program would present the United States and its partners with a “tremendous security challenge.” But the agreement is a “material improvement over the status quo across the board, offering at worst an improved opportunity to detect such activities. In doing so, the agreement will deter Iranian cheating and make succeeding at it a virtually impossible task.”

The article, “How the Iran Deal Prevents a Covert Nuclear Weapons Program,” is available online.


Arms Control Today is the monthly journal published by the Arms Control Association, an independent nongovernmental organization dedicated to providing authoritative information and practical policy solutions to address the threats posed by the world's most dangerous weapons.