Start the Clocks
With an historic comprehensive nuclear deal in hand, the focus now shifts from Vienna to the domestic stage, where debates over the deal are taking place in Tehran and the capitals of the P5+1 (China, France, Germany, Russia, the United Kingdom and the United States). In the United States the clock started on the sixty-day congressional review period after the Obama administration sent the deal and supporting certifications to Congress on Sunday.
Congress now has until Sept. 17 to decide if it will vote on a resolution to approve or disapprove the agreement. President Barack Obama will then have a maximum of 12 days to veto a resolution of disapproval, followed by a 10-day period in which Congress can attempt to override the veto. The latest the review process should be completed by is Oct. 9. The administration is giving the deal a full-court press. Secretary of State John Kerry, Energy Secretary Ernest Moniz, and Treasury Secretary Jack Lew will all be on the Hill this week to brief members of Congress on the details of the deal.
Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif briefed the Iranian parliament today, July 21. He submitted the text of the deal to that body for review on the same day. Zarif told members of the parliament that Iran achieved its main objectives under the deal and that the agreement respects Iran’s goal to develop a peaceful nuclear program.
The countdown to adoption day also began this week, with the UN Security Council unanimously passing a resolution endorsing the deal and laying the groundwork for relief from UN sanctions when implementation begins. According to the agreement, adoption day is 90 days from passage of the resolution, but can happen sooner by mutual consent of the all of the parties. According to the schedule, by Oct. 19, the agreement will be adopted and both Iran and the P5+1 will begin taking steps to implement the agreement.
In the meantime, Iran is packaging up information on the past military dimensions of its nuclear program for the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA). That information is due to the agency by Aug. 15.
—KELSEY DAVENPORT, director for nonproliferation policy
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National Security Leaders' Support Grows
Since the conclusion of negotiations on the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) on July 14, a large number of senior national security officials and former U.S. diplomats have expressed support for the agreement because it is, on balance, in the United States’ national security interest and in the interest of the region.
In a statement issued July 16 and addressed to President Obama, more than 100 former American diplomats described the JCPOA as a “landmark agreement” and called on Congress to lend its support for it.
“If properly implemented, this comprehensive and rigorously negotiated agreement can be an effective instrument in arresting Iran’s nuclear program and preventing the spread of nuclear weapons in the volatile and vitally important region of the Middle East,” said the letter, whose signers include diplomats named by presidents of both parties.
In another statement released on July 20, a bipartisan group of 60 former cabinet secretaries, national security advisors, military leaders, ambassadors, and other senior national security leaders endorsed the JCPOA with Iran. The group includes: Secretary of State Madeleine Albright; Secretary of Defense William Perry; Secretary of the Treasury Paul O'Neill; National Security Advisors Zbigniew Brzezinski and Brent Scowcroft; Under Secretaries of State Nicholas Burns and Thomas R. Pickering; U.S. Ambassadors Ryan Crocker and Stuart Eizenstat; U.S. Senators Tom Daschle, Carl Levin, George Mitchell, Nancy Landon Kassebaum; and Admiral Eric Olson.
“No agreement between multiple parties can be a perfect agreement without risks. We believe without this agreement, the risks to the security of the U.S. and its friends would be far greater. We have also not heard any viable alternatives from those who oppose the implementation of the JCPOA..." the group says.
National security experts on the Atlantic Council’s Iran Task Force have also expressed their support for the JCPOA in a July 17 statement.
—DARYL G. KIMBALL, executive director
A Closer Look at AIPAC's Position on the JCPOA
On July 15, the President of the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) Robert A. Cohen, announced that his organization is opposing the agreement “because it does not achieve the minimum requirements necessary for an acceptable deal.”
However, a detailed comparison of AIPAC’s June 2015 paper “5 Requirements for a Good Deal,” and the JCPOA reveals that the final agreement clearly meets AIPAC’s criteria in the vast majority of the issues identified by AIPAC.
Where AIPAC now says the final agreement does not meet its requirements, its critique is based on technically dubious assumptions about what is necessary for an effective deal.
Analysts at J Street have prepared a short side-by-side analysis of the AIPAC critique and the JCPOA, which is available online.
—DARYL G. KIMBALL, executive director
In his weekly address, U.S. President Barak Obama explained the comprehensive, long-term deal that will prevent Iran from obtaining a nuclear weapon.
Looking Ahead ...
July 21: "The Iran Deal: Now What?" with Kelsey Davenport, Arms Control Association, and Theresa Shaffer, Physicians for Social Responsibility (PSR).
Location: Online webinar sponsored by PSR. RSVP online. 8:00-9:00PM
July 22: "Sen. Chris Murphy on the Iran Deal."
Location: Carnegie Endowment, 1779 Massachusetts Ave. NW, Washington, 9:00-10:00 RSVP online.
July 22: Secretary of State John Kerry, Energy Secretary Ernest Moniz, Treasury Secretary Jack Lew, Congressional briefing on the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (closed) for members of the House of Representatives (2:00PM) and members of the Senate (4:30PM).
Location: Capitol Hill
July 23: "The Iran Nuclear Deal: Pitfalls and Promises." with Olli Heinonen, Harvard University; Elizabeth Rosenberg, Center for a New American Security; Robin Wright, Wilson Center; and Joe Cirincione, Ploughshares Fund.
Location: Wilson Center, Sixth Floor, Reagan Building, 1300 Pennsylvania Ave. NW, Washington. Time: 9:00-10:30am. RSVP online.
July 23: Senate Foreign Relations Committee, hearing on the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action on the Iran nuclear agreement, with John Kerry, Secretary of State; Ernest Moniz, Energy Secretary, and Jacob Lew, Treasury Secretary.
Location: G50 Dirksen Senate Office Building, 10:00am Webcast on the committee website.
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. 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.