The P5+1 and Iran Nuclear Deal Alert, August 11

Congressional Recess is Here

During the first full week of the congressional recess, top administration officials continue to make the rounds explaining the nonproliferation value of the comprehensive nuclear deal with Iran.

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry is in New York today to discuss the deal with Thomson Reuters. Energy Secretary Ernie Moniz will join a live webcast to explain the deal on Thursday, August 13.

In the last several days, a number of senators have come out in favor of the deal, including Angus King (I-Maine), Kristin Gillibrand, (D-NY), Tammy Baldwin (D-Wis.), Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.), Brian Schatz (D-Hawaii), and Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.). Other politicians have come out against the deal, including Senator Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) and Rep. Eliot Engel (D-N.Y.).

Hillary Clinton has also voiced continued support for the Iran deal on the campaign trail, noting on Aug. 10 that rejecting the deal would be a “very bad signal to send in a quickly moving and oftentimes dangerous world.”

Congress will return to Washington after Labor Day, and then will have until Sept. 17 to vote on a resolution to disapprove or approve of the deal.

KELSEY DAVENPORT, director for nonproliferation policy

Quick Reference Links

The Nuclear Deal At a Glance Comprehensive Guide to the Nuclear Deal
Experts Available for Interview Editorials Supporting a Deal
Archived Iran Nuclear Alerts Additional Resources

Why Schumer is 'Technically' Wrong on the Iran Deal

On Thursday, Aug. 6, Senator Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) came out against the negotiated nuclear agreement between the United States, other world powers, and Iran. If implemented, the deal will block Iran’s pathways to nuclear weapons for well over a decade and put in place more intrusive monitoring to guard against covert activity permanently. In his statement, Schumer said he would vote in favor of a resolution disapproving the agreement, known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), that was negotiated on July 14.

In an Aug. 6 post, Schumer explained his decision, which he said came from a careful reading of the agreement, supporting documents, and conversations with experts.

Yet, Schumer missed the forest for the trees in his examination of the Iran deal. He misinterpreted some of the technical points of the agreement, and chose to ignore many of the longer-term restrictions under the agreement that extend well beyond 10 years.  His choice to disapprove the agreement based on selective criteria, threatens the best chance the international community has had in over a decade to guard against a nuclear-armed Iran.

Schumer’s assertion that the United States will be worse off in ten years under the deal than it is today is factually inaccurate. The provisions in the deal ensure that Iran will not be able to go off a “cliff” in 10 years and end up just weeks away from enough fissile material for a nuclear weapon.

Between years 11-13, Iran’s enrichment capacity will remain constant, although it will be able to swap in advanced centrifuge machines. These steps ensure that the breakout time, or the time required to amass about 25 kilograms of uranium-235 enriched to greater than 90 percent, remains at around 12 months.

Through year 15, Iran will remain limited to 3.67 percent enrichment and its stockpile will remain at 300 kilograms. While its enrichment capacity might increase, these limits on uranium enrichment ensure that Iran cannot move quickly toward a nuclear weapon without detection. 

Schumer also fails to take into account the numerous monitoring and verification provisions that Iran will be subject to that extend beyond 15 years.

To read more, click here.

Top U.S. Scientists Endorse Deal

Thirty-two distinguished scientists have now signed a letter to President Barack Obama in support of the nuclear deal with Iran. In the August 9 letter, the group, which includes seven Nobel Laureates and five National Medal of Science recipients, called the deal an “innovative agreement, with much more stringent constraints than any previously negotiated nonproliferation framework.”

The scientists called attention to the innovative monitoring and verification that will be put in place under the deal, and the benefit of a time-bound process for challenge inspections. It also noted the important restrictions on research and development activities related to nuclear weapons.

The letter, organized by former Congressman Dr. Rush Holt and Dr. Richard Garwin, one of the designers of the first hydrogen bomb, said that the deal will “advance the cause of peace and security in the Middle East and can serve as a guidepost for future nonproliferation agreements.”

First Test of the Iran Deal

The first test of Iran’s compliance with its nuclear obligations arrives on Saturday, August 15. Under the terms of Iran’s July 14, 2015 agreement with the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), Tehran must provide the agency with information and access that will allow the IAEA to complete its investigations into past possible military dimensions (PMDs) of Iran’s nuclear program, by Aug. 15.

Under the terms of the comprehensive nuclear agreement that Iran and the P5+1 (China, France, Germany, Russia, the United Kingdom and the United States) reached on July 14, Iran must comply with the IAEA’s investigation and provide all information on PMDs before Tehran receives any sanctions relief.

The IAEA first laid out many of these issues publicly in an annex to its November 2011 quarterly report on Iran's nuclear program. There are 12 main areas for investigation that the IAEA laid out in the November 2011 annex: 1) program management and structure; 2) procurement activities; 3) nuclear material acquisition; 4) nuclear components for an explosive device; 5) detonator development; 6) initiation of high explosives and associated experiments; 7) hydrodynamic experiments; 8) modelling and calculations; 9) neutron initiator; 10) conducting a test; 11) integration into a missile delivery vehicle; and 12) fuzing, arming, and firing system.  

Under the roadmap, the IAEA will have until Sept. 15 to review the information and ask follow-up questions. Iran will provide additional responses by Oct. 15. The IAEA will then issue its final assessment by December 15, 2015.

NEW: Comprehensive Guide to the Iran Nuclear Deal

Good policy depends on good information. The JCPOA is a complex and detailed agreement.

Our research staff has prepared a new edition of our “Solving the Iranian Nuclear Puzzle” briefing book to help improve public and policy maker understanding of this complex agreement with far-reaching consequences for the nuclear nonproliferation regime and for international peace and security.

This volume, which is available online, includes

  • a summary of the history and status of Iran’s nuclear program,
  • a review of the impact and record of the 2013 interim agreement,
  • a detailed summary and explanation of the JCPOA,
  • answers to more than two-dozen frequently asked questions, and
  • a summary of the Iran-IAEA work plan on verification and compliance issues.

Our conclusion is that the JCPOA, combined with the associated UN Security Council resolution and an IAEA-Iran “roadmap,” is a strong and effective formula that can verifiably block Iran's potential uranium and plutonium pathways to nuclear weapons and guard against a clandestine weapons program for more than a generation.

In a sit-down interview with President Barack Obama, Mic Editor-in-Chief Jake Horowitz asked the president about the implications of a nuclear Iran, why his deal is the best solution, and what it means for young people around the world.

Briefing Room

"No to Iran Means No Forever," by Samuel Berger, Politico,
Aug. 9, 2015.

"Chuch Schumer’s Disengenuous Iran Deal,"by Jeffery Lewis, Foreign Policy,
August 9, 2015.

"The Iran Accord: Not What you Thought", by Shemuel Meir, Haretz,
August 8, 2015.

Looking Ahead ...

Aug 13: "The Iran Deal: Key Issues and Controversies," Colin Kahl, National Security Adviser to the Vice President; Jon Wolfsthal, Senior Director for Arms Control and Nonproliferation, National Security Council; and Chris Backemeyer, Deputy Coordinator for Sanctions Policy, State Department ;

Location: Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS), Second Floor Conference Center, 1616 Rhode Island Ave. NW, Washington. 2:00-3:00 p.m., RSVP online. Webcast on the CSIS website

Aug. 13: Energy Secretary Ernest Moniz live webcast on the Iran nuclear agreement. Sponsored by the Jewish Council for Public Affairs and Jewish Federations of North America. RSVP online.​

Location: Online 2:00 p.m. EDT,

Aug. 15: Target date for Iran to provide information to the IAEA on its investigation into Iran’s previous military dimensions (PMDs) of its nuclear program.

Sept. 8: Hold the date—Arms Control Association briefing on the Iran nuclear deal

Location: 1779 Massachusetts Ave. NW, Washington, D.C.

Sept. 15: Target date for the IAEA to ask Iran follow-up questions on the PMD information.

Sept. 17: End of the 60-day congressional review period.

Sept. 29: End of the 12-day veto period.

Oct. 9: End of the 10-day veto override period.

Oct. 15: Iran provides the IAEA with any follow up information on PMD investigation.

Oct. 19: Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action is adopted and both sides begin taking steps laid out in the text of the deal.

Dec. 15: Target date for the IAEA issuing its assessment on PMDs.