Tuesday, September 8, 2015
9:00 a.m. - 12:00 p.m.
Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, Choate Room
1779 Massachusetts Ave. NW, Washington, D.C.
The U.S. Congress began debate on a resolution on the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), the agreement between the United States, other world powers, and Iran effectively and verifiably blocked all of Iran’s potential pathways to developing nuclear weapons. This was one of most important national security decisions that members of Congress had confronted in more than a decade.
At the time, the agreement had the support of 75 former members of Congress, a growing number of national security leaders, the vast majority of nuclear nonproliferation experts, retired generals and admirals, top scientific leaders, 100 former ambassadors, and the UN Security Council, among others.
The keynote speaker was Colin Kahl, Deputy Assistant to the President and National Security Advisor to the Vice President. The program resumed following a short break with a panel consisting of:
- Ellie Geranmayeh, Policy Fellow, European Council on Foreign Relations;
- George Perkovich, Vice President for Studies, Carnegie Endowment for International Peace;
- Kelsey Davenport, Director for Nonproliferation Policy, Arms Control Association; and
- Daryl G. Kimball, moderator, Executive Director, Arms Control Association.
KIMBALL: All right, good morning, everyone, and welcome to today's Arms Control Association briefing on why the Iran nuclear deal is a win for nuclear nonproliferation and international security.
My name is Daryl Kimball, I'm the executive director of the independent, nonpartisan Arms Control Association, and we welcome you here to the Carnegie Endowment on this Tuesday morning after Labor Day, and we're ready to get to work.
This afternoon, the U.S. Congress is going to begin debate on a resolution on the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, the July, 2014 agreement between the United States, other world powers, and Iran, that we believe will effectively and verifiably block all of Iran's pathways to nuclear weapons.
This agreement has the support of 75 former members of Congress, a growing number of national security leaders, the vast majority of nuclear nonproliferation experts, retired generals and admirals, top scientific leaders, 100 former ambassadors, the U.N. Security Council, and, by the way, the American public, among others.
So the vast majority of those members of Congress who did take the time to review this very complex 159-page document along with the related U.N. Security Council resolution and the associated IAEA and Iran work plan, have, for the most part, come out in favor of the agreement.
And we at the Arms Control Association are increasingly confident that, at the end of the process, there will be enough votes to allow the implementation of this multifaceted, multi-year, multilateral agreement.
And one key reason is because it is a major plus for nonproliferation and international security, and because its rejection would turn this major diplomatic success into a geopolitical disaster.
So the theme of this morning's address with Colin Kahl, who is deputy assistant to the president and national security adviser to Vice President Joe Biden, is going to be about the implications of the deal, the benefits, and what would happen if it were to be rejected.
And so this address by Colin, followed by your questions, will end at about 9:45, at which point we're going to take a halftime break, as Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid speaks upstairs. You'll be able to view his address here if you want to grab an extra cup of coffee and watch, and then we will resume at 11:00 with an expert panel discussion that will go for about an hour.
So with that, Colin, we're very pleased to have you here once again. This is the second time you've spoken before an Arms Control Association audience on this topic, and I think it's fair to say your remarks last time were very persuasive, because just after that, there was increasing support, so we welcome you back here.
Thanks for being with us.
KAHL: Morning, everybody. Thanks, Daryl. Thanks to the Arms Control Association for continuing to do all that you do every day to educate people about this deal and a host of other important arms control issues.
You know, at the -- when you get on a airline, sometimes the pilot comes on and reminds you what flight you're on, in case you're on the right -- to make sure you're on the right flight. So, for those of you who think you're at AEI listening to Dick Cheney...
KAHL: ...this is a different flight.
Look, I know all of you know a lot about this deal. I'm not gonna spend a huge amount of time going into the nuts and bolts of it. I'm going to spend most of the time in my formal remarks talking about some of the most prominent criticisms of the deal.
But, as you're all aware from day one, with the possible exception of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, no other national security issue has received as much attention from President Obama and the rest of the administration as the quest to prevent Iran from acquiring nuclear weapons.
We put in place a very effective dual-track strategy that blended crippling sanctions and direct diplomacy, and the result was the JCPOA, the comprehensive nuclear deal with Iran that was announced on July 14 and is now under review in the Congress.
Obviously, it is our view, and the view of the vast majority of experts inside and outside the government, that this is a good deal. It's a good deal for the United States, it's a good deal for the world, and it's a good deal for our allies in the region, including Israel.
It's a good deal because, as Daryl mentioned at the outset, it closes off all the various pathways whereby Iran might acquire nuclear weapons. It puts significant long-term constraints on Iran's enrichment program, blocking a uranium path to a bomb.
It requires fundamental changes in the design of the Arak heavy water research reactor, and requires that -- the spent fuel from that reactor to be shipped out for the life of -- of the Arak reactor, closing off the plutonium path using that reactor forever.
And it puts in place the most intrusive verification and transparency measures ever negotiated, including 24/7 surveillance of Iran's key nuclear sites, regular IAEA access to the entire nuclear supply chain -- that means mines, mills, conversion facilities, centrifuge production facilities, and all of their nuclear facilities, which effectively makes it impossible for Iran to divert materials from their known program to a covert program.
It also has a mechanism to ensure that IAEA inspectors have timely access to any site in Iran where we suspect Iran is engaged in suspicious activities, and a mechanism to ensure that no combination of Russia, China or Iran can block those inspections.
In exchange for rolling back their nuclear program and putting in place these transparency measures, Iran will receive some sanctions relief associated with nuclear-related sanctions. But there will be no sanctions relief until the IAEA validates -- verifies -- that Iran has completed all of the key nuclear steps asked of it in the first part of the agreement.
If Iran violates its commitment, now or in the future, we have a procedure to unilaterally reimpose, or snap back, sanctions. We can do that at the United Nations. We can do it here at home, unilaterally through U.S. -- domestic sanctions, and working with our partners in the E.U. So if Iran cheats, we'll know it, and there will be consequences.
So that's kind of the top line of the deal. You're all aware of that. On its merits, I think it's unquestionably a good deal. A very good deal. But I think it would be more useful, now that Congress has returned and are about to have a pretty full-throated debate on this deal this week, to maybe focus the remainder of my remarks on three major criticisms.
There are many more criticisms that -- that you hear, but I want to focus on three of the most prominent ones. One is the notion that, somehow, after year 15 in the deal, Iran is allowed to acquire nuclear weapons. All right?
Second, that the deal provides a windfall of cash for Iran that they can use to spread terrorism, mischief, subversion, militancy throughout the Middle East, threatening Israel and our other allies. And third, the notion that, if we walk away from this deal, we can get a better one. So let me focus on those three major critiques.
Some of our critics assert that the deal actually paves the way to an Iranian bomb, because after 15 years, certain constraints on their program end. So let's be clear about two things: first, under this deal, Iran is never allowed to build nuclear weapons. Never.
And second, Iran already has a path to the bomb, or what Colin Powell recently called a "superhighway" to a bomb. And without this deal, they can get there in months, not decades.
Now, it is the case that some constraints on Iran's enrichment program under the deal loosen as Iran builds confidence, over many years, in the exclusively peaceful nature of their program. As a member of the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty, the NPT, Iran is allowed to access nuclear energy for peaceful purposes.
But under the NPT, Iran is never allowed to produce nuclear weapons. That permanent obligation is reinforced by specific commitments under this deal, including permanent bans on research and development relevant to designing a nuclear warhead.
Iran is never allowed to produce weapons-grade uranium. They are never allowed to produce weapons-grade plutonium for a bomb, either. And if they expand their activities in ways that are inconsistent with a peaceful program, at any time, I have no doubt that this president or any future president would respond.
The intrusive transparency and inspections measures in this deal also stretch far beyond 15 years. Some of them last 20 to 25 years, and others, like the additional protocol, which allows the IAEA extensive access to Iranian site, last in perpetuity.
And if, at any point -- at any point -- 16 years from now, 18 years from now, 20 years from now, 25 years from now, Iran moves towards a nuclear weapon or takes steps that are inconsistent with a peaceful program, every single option we have today, including the military option, will exist for a future president of the United States.
And some of those options, frankly, will be better as our capabilities and intelligence improve over time. So this notion that Iran can waltz in through the front door of the nuclear club after 15 years is nonsense.
What about the second critique, that the plan somehow enables Iranian mischief by giving them a windfall of cash? There's no doubt that this is a serious issue, and one we have to remain vigilant against.
But let's be honest: to argue that we can't lift any nuclear-related sanctions until Iran stops all of its nefarious activities outside the nuclear domain is really saying that we should never strike a nuclear deal with this regime.
All right? So let's be honest about what this critique is. If you can never lift any nuclear-related sanctions until Iran stops everything that we don't like, it's basically saying there will never be a nuclear deal.
I'm not a fan of this regime either, but as troublesome as they are, as anti-semitic as their rhetoric is, as horrible as their support for terrorism, subversion, and other activities are, these dangers would be exponentially worse if Iran acquired a nuclear weapon and could use the cover of a nuclear umbrella and a nuclear deterrent to shield their destabilizing activities.
That's why we focused, first and foremost, on eliminating this threat.
Our critics also exaggerate the amount of money Iran is likely to get. They have about $100 billion trapped in these overseas escrow accounts from the -- in the countries that continue to buy Iranian oil. But, of that money, our Treasury Department estimates they will only be able to access a little over $50 billion.
Our intelligence community and Treasury Department also calculate that Iran will have to spend the vast majority of this money on domestic needs, because they have a half a trillion dollars in urgent infrastructure and other economic requirements.
And while we don't think of Iran as a democracy, there are real politics there, and Rouhani got elected on a platform of saving the Iranian economy by breaking its isolation and -- and removing sanctions, and the supreme leader would never have endorsed this deal unless he felt the same.
So there are powerful economic and political imperatives to spend this money on domestic issues.
Does that mean there will be none left over for the Iranian military or the revolutionary guard? No, it doesn't. It is certainly possible that Iran could spend some of the cash from sanctions relief to funnel towards actors that we don't like.
Of course, this was always going to be a challenge if we ever got a nuclear deal, because the price of getting a nuclear deal was -- was removing some of the sanctions.
How Iran ultimately chooses to use its money regionally will depend in part on how the fractional competition within Iran plays out. I can kind of argue this round or flat. You can tell a story about how the deal could enable pragmatists and moderates to get the upper hand and eventually clawback more control over foreign policy, away from Qasem Soleimani and the revolutionary guard.
You can tell a story about how sanctions relief and more integration into the international community would allow engagement in moderation via the Iranian people, who still remain overwhelmingly pro-American.
But I can also tell the story the opposite way, right? That the supreme leader compensates for the nuclear deal by doubling down on his support for the hardliners and funneling some of the money in their direction.
I think we have to be honest, it could break either way, which is why we -- this deal wasn't premised on a bet that Iran would change its stripes, and its -- this deals not a grand bargain with Iran, nor is it a permission slip for Iran to dominate the region.
During the Cold War, recall that we confronted an enemy that was an evil empire, that controlled huge swaths of the global that literally killed tens of thousands of Americans and hundreds of thousands of American allies that subverted our allies in Europe and Asia and Africa and in Central America. And yet, we still struck deals with that regime to reduce the risk of nuclear war.
In the 70's and 80's, under Democratic and Republican administrations out of recognition that we can walk and chew gum at the same time, that it is possible to arms control agreements with our adversaries in ways that make us safer, while continuing to push back against their destabilizing activities elsewhere, and that's what we will commit to do moving forward.
A big part of this means continuing to sanction Iranian entities that commit acts of terrorism or engage in human rights violations. None of our ability to do that goes away as a consequence of this deal. A big part of that includes continuing to stand by our allies, Israel and our Arab partners, especially in the Gulf.
Look, I know there are significant policy disagreements with the Israeli government. By the way, that's not unique. If you look at the history books, there have been lots of American administrations that have not always seen eye-to-eye with Israeli governments. But one thing is beyond question and that is that no administration in history has done more for Israel's security than this administration. No president in history has done more for Israel's security than this president.
We've worked with Congress to provide more than $3 billion to Israel every single year in foreign military assistance. We've worked to provide them another billion dollars on top of that for missile defense systems, including Iron Dome. It has saved countless Israeli lives from rockets fired by Iranian proxies.
We have taken unprecedented steps to ensure Israel maintained its qualitative military edge against all potential adversaries, including Iran, by giving Israel -- providing them access to technology like the F-35 Stealth Fighter, which no other actor in the region possesses.
We have also offered, for months now, to engage in -- in discussions at the highest levels about what more we can do in the areas of intelligence and security cooperation with the Israeli government, and when the Israeli government is prepared to engage in that conversation, we'll be there.
We've also done -- taken actions to stand by our Arab partners. As I speak, 35,000 American forces in the Gulf region, defending our interest, defending our friends and making sure that the -- that commerce flows freely through one of the most important straits in the world. It's also why the president convened our Gulf partners at Camp David and also the meeting that he had with the king of Saudi Arabia just last week to explore ways we can expand our security cooperation, to build their capacity on things like cyber defense and critical infrastructure protection and maritime interdiction and ballistic missile defense and to conduct special operations.
Also, that they have greater capabilities to push back against any country's destabilizing activities in the region.
What about the notion that if we just walk away from this deal, we can achieve a better one? By the way, let's be clear what the better one is frequently described as. The better one that our critics usually describe is a deal that, instead of limiting Iran's program, dismantles their civilian nuclear program forever and conditions any lifting of sanctions to include nuclear-related sanctions on Iran, changing all of its behavior we don't like, right?
That's the better deal. Drive them to zero forever and don't lift a single sanction until they stop doing everything we don't like.
Let's be frank. Even that deal wouldn't satisfy our critics. Do you know why? Because at the heart, they don't believe Iran will comply with any deal, which means even if they drove their program to zero, those same critics would argue, "You can't trust Iran, they won't follow through," and they would still argue against their own better deal.
Let's be clear about another thing. The rest of the world believes this deal is the better deal. The rest of the world believes this deal is the better deal. If we walk away now, there is no chance, zero, of the rest of the world going along with us. As Brence Grocaugh (ph) said, if we walk away, we walk away alone.
Keep in mind, the sanctions that we have put in place on Iran are not only costly on Iran, they are costly on countries that want to do business with Iran or buy oil from them. Other countries have gone along with these sanctions, especially during the Obama administration, because they have agreed with our policy objectives of seeking a diplomatic solution to the nuclear issue, and they've also believed our promise that sanctions would eventually be lifted when we got the kind of nuclear deal that we now have in front of us.
During the 1990's, we had secondary sanctions on Iran's energy sector, which the rest of the world ignored because they didn't agree with our policy objectives. We've seen this movie before. If we walk away, it's hard to see -- it's hard to see us keeping the international coalition currently isolating Iran together. Europe would be divided, Russia would undoubtedly bolt and many Asian countries, especially China and India, would be eager to buy Iran's oil again.
Consequently, sanctions will erode and the international consensus around our Iran policy will collapse, and guess what? You can't drive to a better deal with less leverage and less international support. It defies the laws of political gravity.
More broadly, killing the deal would cripple our global leadership. My boss, the vice president, often remarks that as he travels the world, and he's gone to I think almost every world -- every country in the world across more than 40 years in foreign policy, he says the one thing that he hear more than anything else these days, and I heard my fair share of this as well, is concerns about whether the United States can govern.
It's not a questions about our power. We are the most powerful country in the world. We have the most powerful military, we have the most dynamic economy, we have the most vibrant population. Nobody doubts that we remain the world's indispensable power. What they doubt is whether we can govern.
So if Congress wipes away this deal, either through the actions this week or through future legislation aimed to tank this deal, others around the world will ask whether we can live up to our commitments and exercise the kind of leadership they expect of us.
So if we walk away now, we will all be in a world of hurt. We, not the Iranians, will be isolated. Iran will be less constrained to advance its nuclear program and there is a very real chance that we could be on a path either to an Iranian nuclear weapon, a military confrontation, or both.
Now there may be some, although I suspect not in this room, who prefer the path of armed conflict against this regime. Well, no one should doubt or question America's capability and will to do what it takes to prevent Iran from acquiring a nuclear weapon. That is the policy of this administration, I have no doubt it will be the policy of future administrations. No military strike will set back Iran's program a fraction of what this deal accomplishes.
And no one, after a decade plus of war, should be cavalier about the cost and consequences of yet another war in the Middle East, especially -- especially when we have a peaceful, diplomatic solution at hand that does so much more to keep us safe.
Thanks, I look forward to your questions.
KIMBALL: Thank you very much Colin.
We have about 15 minutes or so for your questions and Shervin will bring forward the microphone, if and when you raise your hand for a question. We have one up front, right here on the -- this side.
Please identify yourself.
QUESTION: Sam Gilston, with The Export Practitioner. The American business community is concerned that the continued implementation of existing sanctions on Iran for terrorism and human rights abuse will put them at a disadvantage with European and Russian, Chinese business that won't have the same sanctions in place.
What will the administration do as far as guidance and implementation regulations to give U.S. business somewhat of the same opportunities in Iran, if at all, that the Europeans and others are going to get?
KAHL: Yeah, I think -- I think we have to be clear that American businesses are not going to have the same opportunities that other country -- that other countries' business are going to have.
I mean under -- under this agreement, the vast majority of our bilateral sanctions on the ability of U.S. persons and businesses to do business with Iran period don't go away. So it's not just a byproduct of future terrorist or human rights sanctions, it's the fact that -- that sanctions architecture will remain in place.
There are certain things, like licenses for civilian aircraft, some trade like in carpets and pistachios and other things, which will be enabled and who knows where this thing will go, especially if Iran moderates its behavior down the road. But yes, American businesses will not be in the same place as -- as European and Asian businesses.
I mean, part of this is that's going to have to emerge -- those opportunities are going to have to emerge in the context of where -- whether Iran changes some of its fundamental orientation and behavior.
I should also say, from a national security perspective, I don't think we want to take the view that it's not important to continue to put in place designations and sanctions against entities that, from this point forward in Iran engage in terrorism and human rights abuses.
This deal is a nuclear deal, it's not about the rest of their activities and if Iran continues to fund terrorism around the world, the treasury department will continue to go after the entities that -- that do that.
QUESTION: And -- one -- one related question here, if I might ask, Colin, is this brings up the issue of the implementation process and how the administration is going to be managing this. I mean this multi-year agreement, many different moving parts. One question that we've been getting quite a lot lately is whether the administration is going to set up a dedicated office to deal with the various issues including the joint commission, dealing with some of the, the sanctions, relief issues and management issues. So could you give us a sense of what the thinking is about how -- I mean how much attention the administration is going to give to that and how that implementation work might proceed in the coming months?
KAHL: Sure. This is actually an issue we've been working on for months. In the last two or three months of a negotiating period we had a completely parallel track with a completely separate set of folks based out of the State Department but it was an inter-agency team, focusing on what would be required to implement the deal. Now, even before the details of the deal were finalized. So this is something we've been thinking about for a long time. We will have a dedicated senior officials with high level contacts to the Secretary of State and, and the President and others.
There will be an inter-agency team and obviously a lot of the resources that we have already devoted to the Iran question and the intel side and other things are directly relevant to monitoring and verifying the agreement as well. So without going to too many of the specifics of the, the -- the short answer is yes. There will be a very robust implementation team and it's already in training.
But I don't want to do kind of the cart before the horse thing cause we have to do through the a review process with Congress. And once we got on the back into that, I can -- it's all in our interest to have a pretty full-throated conversation about implementation.
KIMBALL: All right, All right. We have a couple questions here. We'll start in the back and then we'll come forward please.
QUESTION: Christine Parthemore, Center for American Progress. Aren't right action (ph) programs focused on countering weapons of mass destruction threats in the Middle East really just started a few years ago in earnest. I'm wondering if focusing past the current debate in Congress and looking at implementation, if there's thought being put into expanding those programs as a way of bolstering regional stability and improving the capabilities for countering all WMD threats for some of the neighboring countries?
KIMBALL: And why don't we take Tom's question up here Serbin)? Thank you.
QUESTION: Colin, I'm Tom Cochran (ph).
I'm not suggesting walking back the deal but I'm, I'm curious why the P5 plus one didn't offer Iran a fuel bank of the final assembled -- assemblies, say a 10 or more a year supply for free stockpiled in Iran and suggest that they use that period to negotiate a fuel cycle that wouldn't be threatening to others?
KAHL: Both good questions. So Christine, great to see you again. Christine and I used to work together a long time ago at the Center for a New American Security. And then Christine did a bunch of great work on counter WMD stuff at the Pentagon. I think it's a great question actually. There are -- as we move through implementation, I mean there are going to be sensitive, trade sensitive technologies. Not only in the nuclear area but obviously things that could be relevant to chemical and biological weapons. Not exclusively with Iran, but across, across the region. And I think as we think about policing certain elements of this agreement like the procurement channel and making sure that Iran does not get access to a list of technology that we should bring to bear every tool in our tool kit to include some of these, some of these things.
I also think obviously, we have to be mindful of other countries that may pursue WMD. I mean one of the things we try to be -- look, we think this is a -- we think this a very good deal. But what we've tried to be honest about is, it doesn't solve every problem with Iran and it doesn't solve every problem in the Middle East. So we're going to continue to have to work on all the issues that, that you've worked on to include a WMD beyond the contours of this particular deal.
Tom, it's a great question. You know, I think we -- I think --look I think in a perfect world, Iran would have 0 fuel domestic indigenous fuel cycle activities. They wouldn't engage in any domestic enrichment period. But of course, we, we the U.S. government ran that play in 2003, 2004, 2005 during an earlier stage of negotiations with the Iranians where the Iranians basically temporarily froze their program and then came back to the Europeans who were beginning negotiations at a time to propose a deal that in many respects looks like the current deal and the Bush administration in 2005 rejected that as viable because they demanded 0 enrichment.
So I don't know that -- you know we, we've tried to demand 0 domestic enrichment in Iran for year and it hasn't worked. And part of the issue Iran has a very strong culture and identity of self-reliance. They're not the only country in the Middle East to have a culture like, like that. But they think of themselves as a great civilization as a great scientific and technological leader and have for a long time.
And I know that's not everybody's image of Iran, but it's their image of themselves. And the reason -- and, and they also have a narrative about how the international communities has reneged on a whole series of deals throughout the life of the Islamic Republic and even before that. So it's very difficult given that mindset, to get them in a place where they would be wholly reliant on international sources of fuel. Which is one of the reasons why I think that 0 enrichment option was never, never proved all that viable.
So we explored that. It wasn't something we could get the Iranians and the rest of the P5 plus 1 to sign onto. So instead we shrunk their program to contain it in a way that I think prevents them from getting a nuclear weapon but through a different pathway -- different route.
KIMBALL: All right. We've got a couple of questions over here. And then we'll take this third one.
QUESTION: Thank you Dr. Kahl, I'm Ali D. Maffnesum (ph).
The question has to do with the fact that it seems the deal is in the bag given what's happened in the Senate over the past few days. And because of that it seems like the remaining 16 months of the Obama administration are anything but a lame duck. And the question then becomes are there discussions underway among your colleagues and yourself regarding the real security threat in that region which is the calamity that's unfolding, has been unfolding is Syria and Iraq and Yemen and whether you think the success, the historic achievement that has been experienced by the U.S., led by the U.S., can be parlayed into a resolution or some kind of deal bringing in the various countries in the region. Thank you.
KIMBALL: All right. And then let's take Richard's question please. Right up front. Richard? Yep.
QUESTION: Thank you. Colin you mentioned three critiques of the agreement but there's -- and there are as you say many others. I wanted to ask if you would provide your perspective on critique about the Iran IIEA agreement, sort of the path forward to resolve the issue of possible military dimensions to previous historical Iran and nuclear work since that has been a times a big stumbling block for those in Congress and a lot of, I think misimpressions and misinformation have been out there in the public domain.
KAHL: Okay. Great. Pamedad (ph), actually I think we've done a lot since the last wave of, of Congressional luncheons to demonstrate that this administration is not a lame duck. The administration in the area (ph) formed policy in Cuba. The Iran deal, obviously getting trade promotion authority through the Congress and hopefully heading towards the Trans Pacific Partnership Agreement which would be a historic trade agreement that would link together economies that make up some 40% of the world's economy.
That's some serious business to get, to get done so I think -- the President said, "We're in the fourth quarter and big things happen in the fourth quarter." Whether you know, how this deal plays out as it relates to Syria is TBD. There's no question that what's going on in Syria is incredibly disturbing and heart-breaking. If there were easy answers, I mean I know some of our proponents, you drop a few bombs here, you put up a no-fly zone there and you snap your fingers and the war will go, go away.
As someone who used to oversee these types of things at the Pentagon in the first three years of the administration I can tell you that's not, that's not true. And our, our but, whether this deal allows us to pivot into a different diplomatic space on Syria, it's it's completely unclear. You know, a lot of that ball is firmly in Iran's court. Up to this point, more pragmatic actors like Rohani (ph) and Zahrif (ph), have really, you know, while they've been predominate in the nuclear file, they've been less predominant in the regional file as a whole where the revolutionary guards and curb line (ph) elements have certainly been more upfront. More on the vanguard of Iran's activities.
So, you know. We're certainly not going to, in a sense, cut a deal with Iran at the, at the, at the expense of the people in Syria or the rest of the region. The fundamental questions is whether Iran's calculation is starting to change and we don't know yet. But there -- one thing is, is clear.
I think the Syrian regime is probably more -- under more battlefield pressure than at any time since at least 2012. If you look at a map, they've lost a lot of territory. They're kind of besieged by, by all sides. I do think the Iranians and the Russians are worried about that.
Whether that creates a moment for us to figure out a viable political transitions of -- which is ultimately what's going to be required to end this conflict, we'll have to see. But if the Iranians in the Russians are, are willing to engage in a serious conversation about that, you know, we'll engage in that conversation along side our other partners in the region like Turkey and Saudia Arabia and, and others.
Richard. Yes, I didn't talk about the conspiracy theories of the secret side deals struck between the IIEA and Iran on the PMD issue, on the possibility of military dimensions issue. This is one of the greater misconceptions. There are no side deals. There are no pieces of paper in our possession that have not been given to Congress.
All of the general requirements that Iran has to meet to provide access to the people, places and documents necessary for the IIEA to complete it's investigation into PMD are spelled out in the road map which is available to members of Congress.
It is true that there is a technical annex, or technical document that does the kind of tick tock of when, where, how or that. It's an IIEA document with the Iranians. It's quote unquote safe guards confidential as all IIEA documents of it's type are to include the ones they have with us. There are reasons why documents like that don't get published on the interwebs. And that's because you don't want the world's road states and terrorists to learn about every other country's nuclear program.
We have an interest in the IAEA not publicizing our information either. But because this information was so important to us, we were briefed in detail on the plan and we have in turn briefed any member of Congress who, who wants to know about it. I don't know if you've read, Congresswoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz's op-ed the other day, but she remarked that she was very concerned about some of the reporting about side deals and self inspections at Parchin and everything else until she got the briefing on it and then -- and then she -- her concerns were put aside.
So there's no side deals, there's no secret deals, there's no self inspections. There's a process for the IAEA to get the access they need to conclude their investigation.
Last point I would make is let's all keep in mind, though, that this is (inaudible) set of past activities that we already know about, right? This isn't really about getting more information, it's about establishing the president that the IAEA can get access to facilities moving forward if they suspected illicit activities. And I'm satisfied and we're satisfied that the arrangements that the IAEA has with Iran on this issue are good enough, and that moving forward, they're very strong.
KIMBALL: All right, two quick questions and then we're going to have to close. I'm sorry.
QUESTION: Thank you very much. Benjamin Tory (ph), retired Foreign Service officer.
Could you speak to the likelihood that supporters of the deal will be able to muster the 41 votes to block a vote opposing the deal to get out of the Congress?
KIMBALL: All right. And then one question right here. And we'll do a third and then we'll ask Colin to answer all three.
QUESTION: Thank you for doing this. I'm (inaudible) from Kyodo News Japan. I'm wondering, so Iranian President Rouhani is coming to New York later this month. So do you think it's a good idea for President Obama to have direct talks with him to promote the deal and discuss other issues, security issues, in the region? Thank you.
QUESTION: All right. And then Colin, if I could just tag onto the first question, which is related to whether it will be 41 votes in support. Some members of Congress have hinted that they're going to be offering legislation that, in my view, seeks to try to modify the terms of the JCPOA, extend some sanctions provisions. One of them is Senator Cardin of Maryland.
Could you comment on what you all know about Senator Cardin's bill and similar efforts to try to adjust the terms of the agreement please?
KIMBALL: And Joe, last but not least. You were going to ask about Cardin too? Look at that, simpatico.
KAHL: Benjamin, 41 votes. I'm not trying to be glib, you'll know when we know. We've put the full court press on all of the undecideds. There's only a handful left. We'll know in the next few days whether we get to 41 or not.
On the Rouhani-Obama UNGA possibility for direct talks, I have no idea and I certainly don't have anything to announce.
Cardin. Yes, there is -- there is some interest I think on the Hill to have some standalone legislation separate from the -- our review process on the deal itself that would put in place a combination of security assurances to our allies and a set of clarifications and other issues related to implementation of the -- of the deal.
Look, I think we have made clear consistently that we want to work with Congress on legislation that will help implement this deal because implementation is really important. We've also been clear with Congress and with our allies and partners that we want to move forward on deepening our already extraordinarily robust security assistance and cooperation relationships with Israel and our Arab partners. So we're ready to work with Congress on that.
I'll repeat something I said during my remarks. I mean, we've had numerous conversations with the Israeli government for months already, and those have basically been put on hold by them until we get beyond the Iran deal process.
As it relates to any particular piece of legislation like the draft legislation that Senator Cardin has been involved in, I don't want to litigate every line of it. I'll just say that the draft that I've seen is quite problematic. It has -- it undoubtedly does some good things, but it has a number of very problematic interpretations about the actual terms of the JCPOA which are just at odds with the explicit language in the JCPOA.
It has some things on the sanctions front that I think the P5+1 and Iran might see as inconsistent with some of the obligations under the JCPOA. And at the very least, it has a number of provisions in it that are quite provocative and not unnecessarily so at a time when what we should all be focused on once we get beyond this review is how to effectively implement this deal, because our number one national security objective as it relates to Iran's nuclear program at this -- once we get beyond the review is implementing the deal and making it effective.
And so it strikes me as an odd moment to put in place legislation that is unnecessary, gratuitous and provocative. So without prejudging every part of the -- of the legislation, because there were certainly parts of the -- of the draft that were reasonable and seemed like good ideas, there were a bunch of other things that were much more problematic.
KIMBALL: Great. All right, we -- we're out of time for this segment of our program. I want to ask everybody to join me in thanking Colin for an excellent tour de force presentation, for your hard work on this issue. And we will reconvene at 11 a.m. with our next panel of George Perkovich, Kelsey Davenport, Ellie Geranmayeh after the half-time show of Senator Harry Reid, who will be speaking upstairs on some of these congressional issues. So please join me in thanking Colin. Thank you very much.
KIMBALL: All right, welcome back everyone. I'm still Daryl Kimball, still the executive director of the Arms Control Association. We welcome you back to the second half of our program on why the Iran nuclear deal is a win for a nuclear nonproliferation and security.
I hope that many of you appreciated the comments that Minority Leader Reid made upstairs, the earlier remarks from Colin Kahl and now we're going to turn to our panel to talk about the implications of the agreement, what the agreement does. We're also going to talk about the Congressional debates. That is about to erupt. We're going to talk about some of the legislation that's been referred to this morning from Senator Cardin and others. And to, to do all of this, we have a great line up this morning beginning with Kelsey Davenport who is the director for nonproliferation policy at the Arms Control Association. Kelsey has been tireless in her efforts over the last couple of years researching the subject, tending the talks in Vienna, Geneva and elsewhere. And is the co-author of a report that we published last month, solving the Iran nuclear puzzle. And she's going to start off with a review of what this agreement actually does and why it is a net plus for nonproliferation.
We're also very pleased to have Ellie Geranmayeh who is a policy fellow at the European Council on Foreign Relations, who like virtually everybody else from Europe who's been working this issue has come to Washington to join in the fun the next couple of weeks as the United States Congress begins looking at this issue. He has been focusing intensively on this issue. On how it's going to impact regional dynamics and is going to be presenting her analysis on how governments in Europe look at this issue. And I think you'll find that it's a little bit different from many here in Washington, not all. So we're very pleased to have her perspectives here this morning.
And then also George Perkovich fresh from his introductory duties upstairs with Senator Reid. George, long time collaborator here at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace is the Vice President for Studies. And he has been working for decades on the problem of nuclear nonproliferation and disarmament and has been looking closely at the Iran deal. And so he's going to offer his perspectives on the situation today and with the debate on the JCPOA and what's ahead.
So, to begin, Kelsey, take it away, the podium is yours. And we're going to go, let me just remind folks, you know each speaker will speak for less than ten minutes or so so that we have sometime for Q and A from you all this morning.
DAVENPORT: Thank you Darryl and thank you all for staying with us today and spending most of your morning looking at the Iran deal. I want to talk today about what the Iran deal does and then address one of the fundamental concerns about the agreement. And that's what happens after year 15, and there I really want to make two points. One, that the restrictions that remain past year 15 will provide a significant amount of information and an early warning about any changes to Iran's nuclear program and also that there are a number of steps that can be taken both by the United States, the international community and within the region to strengthen the nonproliferation value of the deal itself.
So first, just to reiterate what we heard both from Colin Kahl and Senator Minority Leader Harry Reid this morning, particularly for the first decade, the Iran nuclear deal is extremely strong from a nonproliferation perspective. Currently if Iran wanted to produce enough fuel for a bomb it could do so in about two months. Under this deal that timeline would be pushed back to over a year because Iran's enrichment capacity will be cut in half. All of the additional centrifuges will be stored under seal. And Iran's stockpile of enriched material will be dramatically reduced, down to 300 kg. Just a fraction of what is necessary for a nuclear bomb.
And also Iran will only be enriching to reactor grade levels, about 3.67% for 15 years. The plutonium pathway even stronger. Iran would have to remove the core of the Arak reactor, and replace it with another core that will produce very little weapons-grade plutonium. And for the next 15 years Iran will not build any reactors that would produce that type of fuel.
As Colin noted this morning as well, the monitoring and verification is extremely strong as well, the strongest ever agreed to in a nonproliferation deal. Every element of Iran's nuclear supply chain, from the uranium mines to the enrichment will be under continuous surveillance. And the International Atomic Energy Agency, through the additional protocol and the additional restrictions in the deal, will be able to access sites if there are concerns about elicit nuclear activity within a timeframe of 24 days, which is unheard of.
So very strong particularly within the first 15 years of the deal. However, after 15 years, some of these restrictions begin to come off. Iran can increase its uranium enrichment capacity. The limits on centrifuges expire, the limits on stockpile expires. And that leads some critics of the deal to say Iran will be very close to a nuclear weapon and even some supporters of the deal to express concern about what Iran's uranium enrichment program will look like after 15 years.
However, I think the idea that Iran will dramatically ramp up its uranium enrichment at that point, is not a foregone conclusion. First, if Iran does decide to ramp up enrichment, there'll be a number of indicators that will demonstrate what Iran intends to do.
First I think it's important to note that the continuous surveillance on Iran's centrifuge production areas last for 20 years. The continuous surveillance on Iran's uranium mines and mills lasts for 25 years. Taken together, these will provide an early indication of what types of advanced centrifuges Iran is producing and in what numbers.
There are also a number of restrictions that are permanent. And we have up here on the screen a chart that appears in our briefing book, and I know the type here is probably to small to see. But what I want you to note is that a number of these provisions with the arrows demonstrate permanent provisions that this deal puts on Iran.
One of the most important I think does not receive enough attention in discussions of the deal. And that's in section -- annex one, section T of the agreement where Iran commits not to undertake certain activities related to weaponization, even if those activities have conventional purposes.
Essentially, this prevents some of the scenarios that we've seen in the past where Iran has conducted certain types of explosive experiments and said that they were conventional, for conventional purposes. Iran will not be able to do this in the future.
Also, some of the monitoring and verification mechanisms that are so crucial will also be permanent. Iran will have to adhere to a mechanism known as code 3.1, which requires it to immediately notify the International Atomic Energy Agency when it intends to build a new nuclear facility.
That gives the agency time to adjust and develop an appropriate safeguards' approach. The additional protocol will also be permanent because Iran needs to ratify that within the first eight years of the deal. And that's an extremely important mechanism that the International Atomic Energy Agency can use to request access to any site within Iran if there are concerns about illicit activity.
Iran can take some steps to safeguard sensitive information, but ultimately with this measure in place, it will be up to the International Atomic Energy Agency to determine whether or not it receives appropriate access to ensure that Iran's program is entirely peaceful and that there are no elicit activities.
So these are some of the permanent measures that will give the international community a greater picture of where Iran's program is going after 15 years and provide an early warning of any significant changes to Iran's program. And like I said, it's not a foregone conclusion that after 15 years Iran will decide to dramatically ramp up its enrichment program.
And I think it would behoove the United States, the international community and the Middle East to consider steps, both at the regional level and at the international level to head off such enrichment -- to head off and disincentivize Iran from pursuing a much larger enrichment program.
One of the things that I think is important is that Iran has said in the past that some of the restrictions under this deal it would be willing to adhere to in perpetuity if other countries in the region were willing to accept those terms. The restriction on enrichment to reactor grade levels for instance. Iran said it would permanently cap its program at 3.67% enrichment if other countries in the region did the same.
Let's take the next 15 minutes to test that intention, to work with other countries in the region. Perhaps as a confidence building step toward a Middle East weapons of mass destruction free zone. To see if it's possible to put such a ban region wide. Some of the additional monitoring and transparency measures, including some of the continuous monitoring on enrichment. Iran has also said it would accept in perpetuity if other countries in the region were willing to accept similar constraints if they chose to pursue enrichment. That's another area that can be tested as a possible confidence building measure.
Also I think region wide there's some space to look at things like multi, multi-lateral enrichment. There's an excellent piece in Science from some of the scholars at Princeton that explore this in more detail. But if other countries in the region are looking at pursuing nuclear programs having them buy into the Iran's enrichment program would provide additional oversight and ensure that there's guaranteed fuel supplies for the region. So that's another area that I can be explored within the next 15 years.
There are also elements that the United States and the larger international community can and should take to strengthen this deal and hopefully head off any sort of Iranian enrichment on a larger scale after year 15. Right now Iran's sole nuclear power reactor, Bushehr is supplied by the Russian. Russia has also entered in a memorandum of understanding for additional reactors with Iran and has said it would supply those for the lifetime of the reactor.
We know that China is interested also in reactor contracts. Encouraging countries to provide lifetime fuel for reactors, not only in Iran, but in the Middle East, or really with any sale of reactors, disincentivizes the need for enrichment. We certainly know from Iran's past experiences with it's investments in Euro Diff for instance, that it has had experiences in the past where the international community has not delivered on nuclear fuel.
So these permanent fuel supply guarantees will ensure that Iran has the fuel that it needs for its reactors. Also I think when the United States and other countries that supply nuclear reactors to any country in the region or the rest of the world, should ensure that these countries have an additional protocol in place. Right now in the United States that's not a requirement on the U.S. Atomic Energy Act. That is an area where the U.S. could strengthen it's own norms and prevent then the further proliferation of some of these technologies within the region.
There are also a number of multi-lateral volunteer control regimes that could be strengthened. The proliferation security initiative, the missile technology control regime. These would help stem the further transfer of enrichment technologies, of reprocessing technologies, or technologies related to ballistic missile development that could sort of head of future attempts by Iran to pursue solid fuel missiles that pose more of a threat or inter-continental ballistic missiles once the UN Security Council restrictions on Iran's missile program come off after eight years.
The proliferation security initiative also has some potential in some areas where the international community could take steps to encourage further cooperative action on interdictions and information sharing both to ensure that technologies within Iran are not spread to non state actors, and that the established procurement channel that Iran will use for duel use technologies is not circumvented.
So while this agreement is certainly very strong from a nonproliferation perspective, it can be made stronger and it would behoove the United States to think about the next 15 years, to work with countries in the region, to work with nuclear supplier countries and take some of these steps that would prevent Iran from dramatically increasing its enrichment after 15 years or other countries in the region from pursuing enrichment if they are considering their own domestic nuclear power programs.
KIMBALL: All right, great, Kelsey, thank you very much. And another point that I think this chart and, and Kelsey's presentation makes is that there is no clear sunset date by which the JCPOA ends. This is a multi-part, multi-deadline, multi-requirement agreement.
Ellie, it's very good to have you here. We heard earlier this morning that if the United States were to walk away from this deal we would be alone. So tell us why that is and give us your perspectives on how Europe is looking at this agreement.
GERANMAYEH: Thank you very much. Good morning everyone. It's a pleasure to back in D.C. where the politics on Iran always has interesting twist. And thank you very much for the invitation. As Daryl said, for the last two years I've been looking at Europe-Iran relations and how they've been developing since the interim nuclear deal was signed. And looking also at the impact on the regional stakeholders in the Middle East particularly. And Kelsey and I were joking that it was really nice to see each other outside of lobbies, hotel lobbies following the nuclear negotiations. So it's good to be here.
I wanted to highlight three problems that have arisen with the debate in Congress over the past two months, particularly from a European angle and also three potential consequences for E.U. and U.S. foreign policy going forward.
But the headline I wanted to really start off with before that is that for European countries, this deal and this negotiation has always been seen through a multi-lateral lens. It's one that there are six or potentially seven stakeholders to. And for the most advanced nuclear states in Europe, mainly the UK and France and Germany, this is as good as a deal as it's going to get in their perspective.
They've also started looking at actively beyond this nuclear centric lens on Iran and really looking at, one, focusing on implementation of the deal for the 15 to 25 year process. And also beyond that, where European stakes are very high is one regional security issues in the Middle East, especially the ongoing conflict in Syria and also trade implications. And really the Europeans, unlike the United States, doesn't have the proximity luxury of being distant from the Middle East.
And we've seen the blowback for homeland security for Europe in the past year, with the refugee influx which has unfortunately been very mishandled and also impacts such as Charlie Hebdo, et cetera, et cetera. So they really feel that now shifting to a regional security focus with Iran is their number one priority.
At the same time they're looking at the U.S. debate, which for the last two months, has really morphed into one of U.S. domestic politics. It's not being seen as a multi-lateral accord, it's being looked at as a U.S.-Iran deal, which is entangled therefore in a lot of political baggage and historic enmities between these two countries. They've seen the millions of dollars that are being poured by both sides, advocates and opponents of the deal against -- against what the negotiations have created or in defense of them, and really this debate on this alternative or fantasy deal is just completely absent in Europe at the moment. They're looking at what's next to come.
And there's a worrying sense I think that Congress really expects Europe to follow suit in whatever is decided within the legislative organ here. There have been comments that Europe can either be persuaded or coerced into either renegotiating this deal or changing the parameters, and I think this is far from certain. And the tone that's actually come out of this debate, I think can have damaging repercussions for the Trans Atlantic Unity and Sanctions Framework going ahead.
So three of these problem areas I'll highlight quickly is firstly, Senator Menendez's comments and repercussions from July when he essentially said that, "Europeans are frothing at the mouth..." I quote, "...at the business opportunities arising from this deal." And I think a lot of people in Europe have seen this as a stab in the back.
I believe the Europeans were the ones who started this diplomatic initiative back in 2003 with Solanna (ph). They took the brunt of the sanctions framework. It wasn't the U.S., it wasn't Russia or China. It was the Europeans who essentially went from being Iran's first trading partner to its sixth now and even lower. And I think for them, if it was worth taking the cost of sanctions at a time when they were the highest trading partner, they would also do so again now when they're a lower trading partner.
So to question, as Senator Menendez did, whether Europeans would be willing to call a violation a violation because of business interests certainly took some people by surprise, particularly given the level of cooperation that European companies and policy makers have had with the U.S. Treasury over the past few years.
Secondly was comments from Senator Schumer who's seen -- you know, and the European see him as quite an influential member of the U.S. Congress. And this was in respect of the use of secondary sanctions going forward. He essentially said that this is a very powerful weapon for the U.S. Congress, and not only can Iran be persuaded to renegotiate a deal with increased sanctions but also that European members could be coerced back to renegotiating through the use of secondary sanctions.
Now, while there's no doubt that secondary sanctions have been very powerful particularly in targeting Iran's business interests with European companies, I think this statement ignores a history behind how secondary sanctions came to be imposed. And a big part of that was the cooperation of European Union member states with the U.S. administration on going along with imposing their own unilateral sanctions on Iran's financial sector and energy sector. So essentially what happened was that actions that were penalized under U.S. law were deemed to be similarly penalized under European Union law.
And so now for members of Congress to threaten European companies and European member states with the use of secondary sanctions is not being viewed very lightly in the debate in Europe. Certainly I think the recent developments of the weekend with Senator Cardin's opposition to the deal and the assumption really in his Washington, Washington Post op-ed that Europe will be on board and has no choice but to be on board with whatever the U.S. Congress does. I think there are, as Colin remarked before, there are certain problematic interpretations of the, this proposed bill in regard to how the final deal has been actually interpreted. And for Europeans I think this is going to create a dilemma in terms of, if this deal passes Congressional review, will there be more processes in Congress to settle it, or to undermine the parameters going forward?
And really, how will this play out with the Iranian debate that is going to follow after Congress reviews it, because the Iranians are going to see this as another back-handed way of undermining the negotiations. And I think Europeans are also going to worried about that.
Now, very quickly, three costs that I think a no boat or a premature derailment of this deal by the U.S. deal will have on U.S.-European relations. This is particularly so if Iran isn't even given a chance to start implementing, or once it starts implementing there are new ways of sanctions that essentially through back door means change the deal.
I think, first, the Europeans are going to be placed in a dilemma scenario. It's going to be -- I've heard from officials time and time again, this is going to be a nightmare for them to essentially decide whether to go along with a legislative organ of a foreign country and how it sees this accord playing out versus, essentially, the decision of 28 heads of state in the European Union to unanimously endorse this deal and to put resource and energy into implementing the deal.
And I think if they see this as a unreasonable obstruction of a diplomatic initiative that has taken 10 years to unfold, that the European Union has backed all the way, that the U.S. president has backed all the way, that scientists around the world have backed all the way, it's going to be very difficult for them to digest then, having this altered by a U.S. legislative organ.
Secondly, I think it's going to have costs for Western foreign policy and the unity on sanctions regimes going forward.
Iran has been a test case, essentially, for how the European Union and U.S. Congress works together in quite an unprecedented way to impose sanctions, and to have this snap-back mechanism also imposed is quite unprecedented for the European Union. So if they lose this -- lose face in this Iran test case, I think they're not going to be on board for future cases.
You know, we've seen a lot of the liberation in Europe as well as in the U.S. on Russia, for example, and other countries coming under Western sanctions. And I think for Europeans, sanctions have always been seen as a foreign-policy tool to achieve a means, a diplomatic end, and if they're being seen as perpetual punishment on Iran, which, as Colin said, if -- if Cardin's bill essentially is a back-door way of imposing nuclear-related sanctions but under a different name, then I think it's going to be very difficult to restore European Union countries that in the future -- that sanctions will be used wisely.
And third and finally, I think one of the things that the senators here, in some of their discussions, don't expect and I think what they should give more consideration is a European pushback against new Sanctions on Iran, new nuclear-related sanctions or a bill that changes the parameters of the current deal, because if the European Union caves on this issue, it will really set a dangerous precedent for its own foreign-policy decision making.
We've seen before in the 1990s, when it came to Cuba or Libya or Iran with the Clinton administration's push on sanctions on European companies, a real pushback by the European Union, and I think we may be able to see the same thing happening now.
And for Europeans, really, the number-one goal is to curtail Iran's nuclear program so that it remains peaceful and secondly to prevent a military confrontation with Iran that's going to set a potentially incalculable fragility in the Middle East going forward.
And if they can find some sort of economic package to provide to Iran to prevent them from either going nuclear or to a military confrontation, I think they would do so, and they would push back against U.S. Congress's trying to derail the nuclear diplomatic initiative.
I think the clearest sign of that is really what's happened in the last two months with the Europeans and Iran. We've seen Frederica Mogherini, the E.U. High Rep visiting back to back Riyadh and Iran and really outlining that her goal and their foreign policy on the Middle East is about engagement on some of the most contentious and difficult issues. And I think the mantra for her is really that you don't make peace with your friends.
Secondly, we've seen Fabius, we've seen Foreign Minister Hammond, we've seen the German vice chancellor visiting Tehran for the first time. Very high-level visit. And I think this is the signal really for the domestic debate here in -- in Congress that Europe isn't going to wait for this domestic debate. It's going to have its own agenda on Iran, and it's going to reopen embassies, and it's going to talk about the regional issues and talk about trade.
And so I think that's -- that -- those are some of the implications to take into considerations when certain senators think that Europeans are automatically going to follow suit, whatever decision is made here in this capital.
KIMBALL: Thank you very much. That was very important and useful reminders here in Washington, which we often forget about.
And to bat clean-up, I would like to invite George Perkovich to offer his thoughts about the -- the JCPOA, its impacts and the consequences of potential rejection down the line.
So George, thanks for being here with us and...
PERKOVICH: Thanks, Daryl. And I thought Kelsey and Ellie's presentations were terrific. So I -- I -- I -- I want to, in a sense, take up after them and say that the more I've been looking at the debate in Washington and especially on the Hill -- sorry -- I -- I -- I conclude that you can't explain the vote based on an analysis of the deal or of its alternatives.
So we're all doing our jobs, and Senator Reid, I thought, did a masterful job, made a very powerful case for the deal and -- and -- and -- and also suggesting the lack of alternatives.
And -- and I don't think -- when you look at the explanations of the votes in -- in many cases, it's just -- it's not based on this kind of analysis.
And I think there're a couple of ways to see that. I mean, if it were based on the deal, which -- again, any deal is imperfect, so I'm not suggesting that -- that it is perfect. But if it were based on a deal, you'd hear a lot more about some of the things that Kelsey mentioned on her list, and so I won't dilate on them, but I'll just mention some of them.
The -- the dedicated procurement channel, very important, very innovative. If you really worried about a clandestine program and detecting that and -- and strengthening the intelligence community's capacity to detect that, you would focus a lot more on that.
Something that Kelsey did mention, the weaponization R&D ban, that it specified that it's permanent, that it's unprecedented, that it fills a gap where the Nonproliferation Treaty never defined a nuclear weapon, never specified kinds of R&D that were out of bounds. This agreement does.
It also, the discussion, neglects the incentives for Iran. So in other words, OK, it's, you know -- inevitably, Iran will cheat and everything else. Well, there's so much in this deal that, on the negative side, should deter them from cheating. So the different verification elements that are added, the detectability and -- and all that.
But precisely because it -- it got some things it wanted, it has positive reasons also to -- to comply with the agreement, and -- and that kind of seems to be lost in a lot of the discussion here. But so were some of the other incentives for the Iranians, I think, lost.
For example, I would argue that they have an incentive to trap us into demanding inspections, where we're going to think or allege that there's clandestine work going on and they're going to want us to do that, because then it's going to go be shown that there was nothing going on, and they can use that to humiliate us and to make it much harder for us to ask in the future when in fact, maybe there would be something going on.
But there's very little discussion of -- of that kind of -- of -- of pitfall and the care that you have to take in going -- going forward on this.
And then I think also what's missing, and this shocks me the most in a lot of ways, is that the most powerful thing I've read in this debate over the last months was by Reuel Marc Gerecht and, what's his name, Mark Dubowitz in the Wall Street Journal in July.
And Reuel, who writes often for the Weekly Standard -- and I admire him. He's a very intellectually honest guy. He's advocated military force against Iran for at least 10 years and also advocated and said, "Look, this isn't like a three-week bombing campaign. I'm talking about a 10-year warm," and goes into it in detail and says, "This is what we should do."
So they write this piece in July, and he says, "For those of us who believe that only military force will ultimately solve the Iranian problem because of the nature of the regime, this deal is required." Because without a deal, without having demonstrated the United States' willingness to negotiate, to make compromises, to pursue diplomacy and then to reach an agreement, without that and then Iran breaking it, you can't get to military force. You can only have that option if there is a deal and then Iran breaks it, which seems rather obvious and -- and, again, so surprising to try to -- "OK, what's the motive of the people who -- who are opposing this." Because if they have a different strategy, the different strategy would be much stronger if Iran broke a deal than it is without a deal, where we're the ones who are blamed.
So I think other things are -- are going on.
One of the things that's going on, but it's an exhaustive list, is, you know, there is this sense -- and Senator Reid talked about, you know, people wanting it both ways. Well, it's -- it's different -- it's -- and it's -- it's in our body politic now in a lot of ways.
There's -- there's a view that you just don't negotiate. You don't make compromises, It's unprincipled, it's a defiance of one's principles, it's immoral, it's -- it's bad to make compromises, so this wasn't -- so you shouldn't think about a negotiation.
OK, fine. How that gets manifested, one of the ways that gets manifested is, "Well, we shouldn't be relieving the sanctions, because the sanctions will strengthen Iran's capacity to do all of these other bad things on terrorism, so on and so forth." All right, it's a genuine concern.
But then I think that view is very -- I try to put it in Republican terms. I mean, you always talk about, you know, taxes. It's not our -- it's not the government's money; it's our money. Well, these sanctions weren't America's money. The sanctions were either Iran's money or the other companies and countries who were doing business with Iran, which then forewent that business.
They agreed in essence to accept a tax in the form of sanctions in order to get us to negotiate with Iran a nuclear deal, where Iran would meet basic terms, right?
So now our position is, "OK, we're going to take money we tax from them, we got the deal which was the explanation for why we needed the tax. Now, we've changed our mind. We're going to use your money to pursue regime change for Iran forever and not end the tax."
And it -- it just -- the mind boggles that -- that they think that somehow you would've had this money if you hadn't promised to give it back to the -- to the Iranians. But there's very little discussion.
Similarly on the sanctions sequence, the problem is, the sanctions are being relieved immediately. They should come later.
I was walking in the Adirondacks hiking a couple weeks ago. Like, I shouldn't -- I had a great vacation, but still, I think a lot about this.
So I'm, like, hiking up the mountain, and I go, "F." Like, have you ever watched a gangster movie where the gangster either gives you the hostage or the weapons that they're selling you and says, "Don't worry. I'll take the payment in five years." It's all -- the whole movie is about the timing of the exact coterminous nature of the transfer, and the worry that as I'm handing it Kelsey, I'm going to get shot or my guys are going to shoot her and how do we -- you know, it's all about simultaneous. And so I'm trying to think of the Iranians, with whom we have total distrust and they mistrust us more than we mistrust them, like way more, if that's possible -- it is possible.
And so the idea that somehow -- OK, we're going to deliver and you're good, you Americans are good for the congressional support of the sanctions relief in five years and I'll go back and tell the leader this was a deal I guess. And yet, that's still part of our discourse, so it's -- it's -- it's shocking.
So the last thought I have, and this one is hard to talk about, but I think it's super important and Ellie alluded to it a little bit but she's very diplomatic. If somehow the U.S. reneges on this by act of Congress, ultimately a big part of that motivation is going to be -- be very successful and talented work of the American Israel Public affairs committee, which when you go up on the Hill people will tell you privately is kind of the driving factor.
And if they derail it, they'll be public about it, because they need to claim -- they'll -- they'll want to publicize that because they will have satisfied their donors and that's their objective and it will be a great triumph there.
The -- the longer-term issue that we don't talk about is the effect on U.S. power, including power to defend Israel's interest, over time if the rest of the world feels like you can't negotiate with the U.S. ultimately because you don't know what you're going to get, because the government of Israel has veto power on the United States capacity to make policy and agreements in the Middle East.
And if -- and if that's the conclusion, I would -- I submit that will be the conclusion drawn if this is -- if this is blocked, then what are the longer-term implications? Now I don't -- I think the people who are voting this way and taking the money, I don't think they care, but -- but the Republic itself has an interest.
I would argue the Republican Party has a longer-term interest that they want to govern and that this is something our European allies are being polite -- you know, and not really articulating, but it will be a very active problem that we will have to confront going forward. And so again, I -- I think it's something we ought to talk about, perhaps after the vote.
KIMBALL: Great George, those were are all very excellent points and I must say I must've had a more relaxing vacation than you, because I watched "The Maltese Falcon" with Humphrey Bogart and -- and it did not occur to me to -- to draw the analogy with the JCPOA. I just enjoyed the movie.
PERKOVICH: Mental health, that's good mental health.
KIMBALL: So we've -- I mean -- our three panels have put a lot of good ideas and -- and points on the table and as we have been doing so, I would just note for those of you listening carefully and not watching your Twitter feed, that three additional senators have publicly expressed their support for the JCPOA: Senator Blumenthal of Connecticut, Senator Ron Wyden of Oregon, Senator Gary Peters of Michigan.
I think there is one, maybe two more senators who have not expressed their view on this. So how this debate plays out in the next few days, whether there is a filibuster of the underlying resolutions approval or not will get to be seen.
But one of the issues that -- that has been raised a couple times, and I wanted to start out our discussion on this, is -- you know, is this just the -- the first vote, first debate on -- in an ongoing debate about the agreement? And is -- is -- those opponents in Congress who oppose the deal, are they going to continue to try to find ways to undermine and re-litigate, renegotiate this deal?
Kelsey and I had the pleasure of seeing one of the earlier drafts of Senator Cardin's legislation late last week, and I think it might be useful if she could offer some thoughts about what we see as some of the problematic elements of this draft legislation, which has not yet been introduced because that just may be a -- a preview of things to come.
So if you could address some of that, Kelsey, that would be good to start us off with and then we'll open up the floor to -- to your questions.
DAVENPORT: So the legislation that Senator Cardin is proposing is problematic for several reasons. One of the initial points that I think is worth highlighting is that it would transfer a bomb, known as the Massive Ordnance Penetrator, the MOP, to Israel. That's a 30-pound -- 30,000-pound bomb and that bomb can only be delivered, as we know, by the B-52 H bomber or the B-2 bomber.
Now Israel does not have in its domestic capacity the ability to deliver the Massive Ordnance Penetrator, so it would -- we would also need to transfer these aircraft to Iran, and that would be a violation of the new START Treaty, given that these aircraft deliver both conventional and nuclear weapons. So fulfilling this element of the legislation, if it becomes law as written, would then violate our new START Treaty obligations with -- with Russia, so very problematic element there.
Also, it is unclear if Israel has even asked for this weapon. There is no sort of known Israeli request, given that they do not actually have the air filter delivery capacity for this weapon. There are a number of elements of the legislation that also attempt to renegotiate the provisions of the deal. While some of these are expressed only in a sense of Congress, the optics that it would present are still quite problematic.
One section, for instance, says that Iran will not produce highly-enriched uranium under the JCPOA. Now Iran will not produce highly-enriched uranium for the first 15 years of the deal, but as we have demonstrated, elements of the deal far exceed 15 years and if Iran upped its enrichments after 15 years, while that is undesirable and unnecessary, it would not be a violation of the agreement.
So Iran's response to the U.S. Congress renegotiating elements, I think, would be significantly problematic in terms of implementation going forward. Also problematic, the legislation requires the International Atomic Energy Agency to provide the United States with complete information regarding its past military dimensions investigation.
If you heard Colin this morning, he talked about these being phrased as the quote/unquote, sort of "secret side deals" with the IAEA and he remarked that there is a need for these agreements, particularly on access to military sites, to remain confidential. The U.S. would demand this, it'd make sense that Iran demand this, because making this information public certainly provides a security problem.
So requiring the IAEA to report on the safeguards confidential document not only impinges upon the integrity of the agency and its processes, but also would again be unacceptable to Iran based on statements that we have heard from within Iran itself.
You know, there are other elements that are problematic relating to -- to U.S. sanctions and when that sort of relief would come in relation to the additional protocol, that could actually delay Iran's permanent ratification of the additional protocol.
So for a number of reasons, this legislation is problematic and a rush to consider legislation that increases support for Israel in this way and seeks to renegotiate terms of the deal, could actually erode implementation rather than strengthen the deal, even though there are some positive elements in Cardin's legislation, like ensuring funding for the International Atomic Energy Agency.
So as Congress considers legislation moving forward, it will be important not to -- to jump the gun and sign off on anything that actually erodes the chances of the agreement being implemented.
KIMBALL: All right, thank you very much. All right, so we'll open up the floor and it's always good at Carnegie to start with Jessica Matthews. So...
QUESTION: Not anymore.
KIMBALL: Not anymore. Always -- Jessica.
QUESTION: Thanks, Daryl.
I just wanted to follow up immediately on this question of the Cardin bill, because it -- it -- I mean, I think we're clear now, it's not going to be a clear no on this deal, but it could be a muddle. And I look at the Cardin bill and I think of the Majlis writing their version of the Cardin bill and all of a sudden we will be very quickly in who violated first, right?
So I was surprised you didn't mention the question of re-imposing sanctions -- that -- that the phrase in there that nothing in the bill prohibits sanctions on human rights, terrorism, dah, dah, dah, whereas my understanding the JCPOA says you can't take sanctions you've just lifted for nuclear reasons and slap them back on.
So can you talk a little about that and also the -- is the current version also says, as the earlier one did, that Iran has no right to enrich?
KIMBALL: Well on the first point, and then I want to ask Ellie to address your -- your first question -- yeah, the draft that we've seen asserts that Iran does not have the right to enrich uranium. That's in the policy language section. I think that's a gratuitous statement, I mean, many of us would agree that no, Iran doesn't really have to enrich uranium for its domestic energy needs, but they have been very steadfast in preserving their right to pursue the peaceful use of nuclear energy.
I mean -- so this is the kind of a poke in the eye from Congress that is just not going to be helpful, it doesn't serve any purpose and it could lead to an equal and negative reaction from the Majlis.
But Ellie, if you could -- why don't you address this broader question that Jessica is raising about the continued imposition of sanctions on human rights and terrorism and further sanctions, and how Iran might respond to that, both in the context the JCPOA and as well as broader relations?
GERANMAYEH: So I think it's a great question and comment. Just to highlight, the debate in Congress has already delayed the implementation process for about two months. This is a time that basically after it became clear we're going to review process, Iran was quick to say, "Then our Majlis has the right to review once Congress has review.
So I think the supreme leader, for his constituencies, has played his card very smartly to say, "We're not going to fully sign off on this deal until the domestic debate in the U.S. is over." My concern with Cardin's bill is that even once we pass this hurdle, hopefully this week, next week on the congressional review process, that that's not the end of it, that we're going to get Iranian process of review delayed because they're going to want to see what happens with these new bills and legislation's. Or premise any implementation on the basis they're not going to remove the nuclear related sanctions label and put on human rights and terrorism -- label on it.
And I think one point, also the previous talk with Colin where there was conversation about the Europeans going into do business with Iran and forgetting the human rights and terrorism sanctions. Well Europeans already have sanctions on terrorism and human rights, which will remain in place.
The point is they're not going to now impose a new set of sanctions which can be misinterpreted as essentially the same nuclear related sanctions. And I think if that move is made, there's going to be a big debate in Majlis. And I think it's important to remember that this team in administration now, the Zarif Rouhani team, these were the guys that worked on essentially making a deal with U.S. and Afghanistan in 2001 and afterward they were burnt quite heavily within the domestic debate in Iran after the axis of evil campaign. And so, I think this for them -- if they now get burnt on this attempt to negotiate with America, I think our ability to again, go back and re-negotiate is going to be closed for quite a long period of time.
KIMBALL: All right, thanks a lot. All right, why don't we -- let's see we've got five question. We'll try to get to everybody. Why don't we start with Dr. Mein(ph) and then we'll go to Mr. Certsioni(ph), and then we'll got to the other side.
QUESTION: Thanks. George, my question is for you about your last point, about this -- about what lessons one can learn about the practice of American leadership of whatever word one uses to substitute for leadership? Given the fact that in the letters that the president to various members of congress and Secretary Kerry said, "those letters are actually quite belligerent in tone," and stressed the enormous military commitment that the United States has made to Israel and will continue to make for the foreseeable future and to some of the gulf Arab states.
You know, 20% of the Israeli is American foreign military financing. Now the president says -- and so, the question, what has that model of engagement bought in terms of actual policy outcomes for the United States in any significant way, either with Israeli or with the gulf Arab states, given the actual situations that were priorities such as the settlements, and the Palestinian and Syria and Iraq and so many other things? So what lessons do you think the Washington community can learn from this experience over the last few years?
KIMBALL: Now, why don't we take Joe's question and then we'll address the questions.
QUESTION: Thank you very much. Excellent presentations by all three, and my questions is related, I want to take advantage of your presence here, Ellie, to have you comment on this last observation by George.
How does this look to the Europeans? How does this look to the Europeans? Is it -- does it seem as if Israel has a veto over U.S. National Security Policy?
PERKOVICH: My certainty is obviously -- this is just a cursory response to you vary large question. But that, the -- a big part of the impetuous for this model of policy and for the financial assistance and security assistance to Israel and everything else was -- well goes back before 1948 and after. But in general in the region, a lot of emerged from Camp David and the process there.
And so there as a sense that there was a piece effort. Israel had made piece at least, you know with Egypt and Jordan and others. The U.S. needed to support that, so it allotted money to Egypt which then we've run into what happened since 2011 in Egypt. A lot of money to Israel obviously, assistance to Jordan, and then I think some of the underwriting of the GCC states, which was originally about oil supply.
So that was before the shale revolution and everything else, we wanted their oil. So that transaction took in a lot people's minds worked. It was keeping gas prices, keeping oil and gas available, but also keeping prices manageable. So that was a business proposition in a lot of ways.
And we haven't really changed much of it even though the perception of the need for that oil and such has changed. But there was also an element of, "yes, they didn't normalize relations with Israel, but they would kind of go easy on the Israelis and wouldn't, you know, cause too much trouble." Instead they ended focusing in Afghanistan as you know well and Taliban and the Salafi movements that don't focus so much on Israel but on sectarian conflicts on us about whether that was a good deal or not.
So I guess what I'm trying to say is I don't think it's -- that, that model has been ineffective and hasn't had positive outcomes from the U.S. point of view. But I would say, a lot of premises are debated -- deserve to be debated now. A lot of the conditions have changed and we haven't adapted in any way or very slightly to those changes. And so one of the ways that you see that one the Iran deal is that -- you know people on the hill -- I mean I testified in February and a Senator from Nebraska is like you know, " we should give a peace treaty to Saudi Arabia."
To Saudi Arabia? I looked at him and I said," The UAE tried to buy a port, they tried to pay for a port in the U.S. and congress, I think 400 to you know 34 voted against it. Now you want to guarantee Saudi Arabia's security? You know, blah blah blah.
Well she goes, "well I think we should do." And I said, you know, I looked her in the eyes and said, "well, you got the votes for that?" So there and so there's very little awareness for example, like what the Saudi regime is, who they support, you know, what sides are on, on a lot of issues. But there's still a lot of people out saying, that's the problem with the Iran deal. Is that our poor Saudi friends we have to really reassure them.
So there's a lot of catching up that's going to have to be done on all of this. I don't know who's going to do it because I don't see -- I mean you don't see in this debate people really raising that question. So I guess it's going to have a you be you know, folks like you or us?
GERANMAYEH: So I think the E3 in particular after this deal have been very clear on outlining the -- there are institutional lengths that the Israeli establishment remains firm and they are in addition to the United States. Where you have examined their commitment to Israeli security, but I think the public discourse and also the policy discourse in Europe is very different on the position of Israel.
Europe has it's version of APAC, but they have no where near the same influential policy here in Washington. And I think that there is now a conversation much more broadly happening across Europe about the issue of the Middle East peace process and re-igniting that. And what costs are going to be imposed on Netanyahu's government for essentially ignoring every demand that the Europeans have made on this issue.
And this is one of their -- the issues that potentially Federica Mogherini is going to bring back to light in the Middle East -- her Middle East program and agenda. But I think also the -- the appearance of Netanyahu in Congress back in March slightly shocked Europeans, and the debate that ignited from that.
In a way, the policy debate essentially shifted shifted from that moment from being one focused on the nuclear issue to all of the regional problems that we have with Iran, and they were very worried that that could impact the negotiation that had been so intensely focused on the nuclear issue.
And -- you know, I speak to European policy makers all the time, and they say, "well, you know, it was the Israeli government that told us not to link these issues at the beginning, and now they're insisting on us linking them again.
And, you know, even -- even speaking to the Saudis, I was in Saudi Arabia last week, speaking to high officials, including the foreign minister, and they said, "no, actually, from our standpoint, we're firm that the regional issues have -- shouldn't have been linked to the nuclear issue, because we wanted to be in the room when the regional issues were debated."
So I think that there are a lot of conflicting messages from Israel for -- for the Europeans, but they've managed to distance themselves in the public discourse, in the policy discourse, when it comes to Iran, on what is the intention of the Netanyahu government in a way that is quite different to the U.S. debate.
And I think that will essentially feed the conspiracy theory that if APAC does have this win on this issue, that Washington is somehow governed and ruled by the Israeli agenda on Iran.
KIMBALL: All right. We have some questions over here. We're gonna start in the back with Ambassador Loris (ph), and then we'll come forwards to the man in pink. Microphone, please.
QUESTION: Daryl, I just would like to ask a very specific question. It's been fascinating, thank you very much for putting it on.
About what this Cardin bill is supposed to do. Presumably the earlier panel here discussed it, but I've talked to a lot of Democratic senators who I think are involved in a process, including Bennet and a couple of others, who want to turn this into some sort of a -- a partner of the actual approval bill, of the bill that will actually be discussed.
I don't know how that works from a legislative point of view, but my sense is that many of the Democrats who've signed on this have signed off -- have signed on to it with -- with the qualifications that you see reflected in the Cardin bill, and I don't know how that actually will play out, because we'll probably know in the next couple of days, but we're going to be spending some time on the Hill tomorrow.
Did -- did anybody illuminate that issue? How this Cardin bill is gonna relate to the actual bill that will be voted on?
KIMBALL: Well, let me try to address that, and let me just remind you that we're speaking here in real time, this bill is still in draft form. The Senate is about to begin debate in two hours. The supporters of the JCPOA have just reached 41.
So there are a lot of things that you've just asked about that we cannot answer sitting here at this very moment. But let me say three things about the Cardin bill that I think will apply, going forward.
One is Senator Cardin had a chance to look very carefully at the JCPOA. He came out with the wrong decision. He's -- he's gonna vote no, even though he does not have a viable alternative, and his suggestion that there is the possibility a better deal out there is, as was said over and over again, is pure fantasy. So I think it's -- it's an ill-conceived decision on his part.
And now he's offering a bill that, as Kelsey described, would reinterpret the JCPOA, would suggest that certain sanctions be extended for quite some time ahead, which sends the wrong signal to Iran, and that certain weapons should be transferred to Israel that can only be seen as -- you know, direct military threats to Iran.
This is not the time for Congress to be trying to inject these kinds of ideas into the discussion and debate about the JCPOA as envisioned by the original Corker/Cardin Iran deal review bill. There will be time for the Senate and the House to look at ways in which the United States can and should reinforce our security relationship with Israel and the Gulf states, but at some later point in time.
So, to those members of Congress who are seeking to attach parts of this bill to the resolution on the Iran deal itself, I would say this is just not the right time. These things have to be considered carefully, and it has to be considered in the context of how this affects the implementation of this very important agreement.
So those are all good questions, Bill, but I just -- you know, I don't think we can really address all of them on...
QUESTION: I'm just saying I think it's coming down to a potential that many of the Democrats who've already signed on will be signing on with Republicans...
KIMBALL: Maybe yes, maybe no. I think you're...
QUESTION: But why -- wouldn't it have to -- would...
QUESTION: I don't know.
QUESTION: Isn't there a committee process, number one. Number two, when Republicans then try to amend it because it's not strong enough for them, and once they start throwing amendments on, then some of the Democrats kind of go, "well, I didn't sign up for"...
QUESTION: Look, Daryl's right. Daryl's right, it's too difficult to speculate. But we're gonna be meeting some staff members tomorrow, and I just don't know what the thinking is.
My sense is that there's a lot of Republicans who would agree with the Democrats who feel that this is the way to get a win, or a mini-win out of this vote. And I think...
QUESTION: Right now, Bill, there's one -- there's one Democrat who supports this bill. It is Ben Cardin. We don't know if there's any others supporting.
So let me just -- let's leave it there.
QUESTION: I'm sorry.
KIMBALL: Okay. We could go on and on to speculate, but I was trying to say, we don't really want to speculate too much at this particular moment.
QUESTION: Let me just say one thing about George -- George's remarks.
KIMBALL: Very quickly, thank you.
QUESTION: This has nothing to do with the issue of the bill. I heard Cheney just before I came here. I went to the AEA (sic) in my hat of talking with the enemy, and his presentation was about a totally different bill than you're talking about.
It had analysis that I've never heard before -- I mean, I've heard pieces of it, but you've gotta read this to know how little what we've been saying here relates to what is the word out there.
KIMBALL: So, George, would this be the first time that Vice President Cheney has been operating in his own world, or...
Seriously, I would say we haven't heard the former vice president's comments, but we'll look forward to that. Let me go to the next question. Yes, sir.
QUESTION: My name is Mohamed Alaa (ph) from American University. Just one question to Kelsey. You suggested that Iran, over the coming 15 years, might take steps to sort of extend the terms of the agreement as long as -- as other powers in the region can participate.
My question is, can Israel court -- participate somehow? Can there be some sort of measures to build confidence? Can we, for a change, forget about the sort of -- you know, balance, traditional balance of power approach to solving nuclear issues, and, in the Middle East, think about nuclear-free zone, with Israel signing the non-proliferation treaty, participating in the region, setting an example?
Israel is the only country in the region with nuclear weapons. This is one thing. The other thing is, I just came from a visit to the Middle East, and I've talked to lots of people. Speaking about public opinion in the Middle East, not about leaders, public opinion, people don't care about -- as much about Iran, which does not have a nuclear weapon.
People care more about Israel. So what leverage does the United States have -- and diplomacy, and just -- even public diplomacy, to say, "let's think in terms of sort of a liberal approach to solving this issue." Thank you.
KIMBALL: Thank you. Good question. Why don't you take that Kelsey?
DAVENPORT: OK. I think there are a number of steps that can be taken at a regional level to increase confidence. I don't think that Israel signing on to the NPT is going to be the first step. I think it's going to be the very last step.
Unfortunately, at the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty review conference this spring, the lack of consensus on a final document derailed some of the very limited progress that was actually being made on establishing a Middle East weapons of mass destruction-free zone.
Prior to that, the Arab League and Israel and Iran, when it was able to take time away from the nuclear negotiations, actually were sitting down at the -- at -- at the table together under Finnish facilitator Jaakko Laajava, and were making some progress on coming up with an agenda to hold a conference to establish a zone.
Now, that is a very long process when you consider that they're just holding meetings, not holding a conference. But it demonstrated that there were steps that both sides were willing to take to compromise on the agenda for the zone, in which case, you know, Israel wants to include conventional weapons. They want a -- a broader mandate for the -- for the zone, to discuss larger regional security issues, where the Arab League has traditionally been sort of more narrow.
I think -- so I think it -- it is unfortunate that that process was derailed, because Egypt is a very hard-line position on where they wanted the zone discussions to go over the next year. That being said, I don't think the process should be abandoned.
I think, in the next year as -- you know, we -- we look forward to the -- the 2017 PrepCom, there could be opportunities to reinvigorate parts of that process. And there are steps that the countries in the region can take, independent of the process.
If you look here at the Middle East, you know, Iran, Israel and Egypt, none of these countries have ratified the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty. That's a step that they could all take together to provide assurance that nuclear tests would be -- any nuclear test in the region would -- would be detected, and also reaffirm commitment to the general principle of working towards a Middle East weapons of mass destruction-free zone.
So I mean, yes, it will be desirable at some point for Israel to sign on to the NPT, but first, it will be necessary to build confidence, and I think, looking at some of these interim measures like restrictions on enrichment, like more comprehensive monitoring and verification, will help provide some of that confidence at the regional level that will allow Israel to eventually move to a position where it would be willing to discuss giving up its nuclear weapons.
KIMBALL: All right. We're gonna take two questions here and then we're gonna be wrapping up, so, yes sir.
QUESTION: Ellie, you mentioned that the Europeans will be maintaining their sanctions for human rights and terrorism, which the U.S. also. To what extent, and this goes back to Menendez's statement and other people's statement, the expectation that European businesses will be running to Iran to do business, which I guess some trade missions have indicated.
But to what extent would the continuation of U.S. sanctions that are permitted under the agreement inhibit European companies from doing business in Iran, even after the agreement is -- goes forward?
KIMBALL: All right, good question. All right, and then Mr. Cochrane (ph), your second swing at the ball.
QUESTION: George, I'm not in favor of using force, and I'm not arguing against the deal, but I want to challenge one of your arguments, if I understood it correctly, and that's where you said you need the JCPOA in order to justify using force if they violate it.
Iran violated its safeguards agreement when it -- it illicitly bought and loaded with uranium and spun centrifuges, and by violating its safeguards agreement, it violated the NPT, and it's violated sanction -- I mean, resolutions of the U.N. Security Council, of which it is a member of the -- so, isn't the justification enough for all of these violations that you don't need another deal to justify whatever you were gonna do in the way of force?
And that goes also -- do you believe, under the NPT, that Iran has the right to enrich if its enrichment capability was developed illicitly in violation of the NPT and its safeguards agreement?
KIMBALL: All right. So Ellie, you want to start out, and then go to George?
PERKOVICH: Can I -- can I -- can I be -- can I be -- I've got to take my son to the airport, so can I try to answer that one really quick and then...
KIMBALL: OK, you go first, then.
PERKOVICH: I apologize, but he's very anxious.
KIMBALL: I'm sure.
PERKOVICH: So just quickly, on -- Tom, I -- I -- I think in politics and psychology -- you know, it's three strikes, you're out. I mean, we know this in childrearing, and in all sorts of other ways, like -- and so it really matters to have a president who came in and, in a very controversial part of the 2008 election, said "I will do business with these people. I will try to negotiate." He was hammered for it.
He did it again in 2012. So this is the guy who's really taken risk for diplomacy, but that's a very different predicate than the shah signed the NPT, All right, before the revolution, and, yes, and then the ambiguities about -- you know, clandestine sentry.
This is like a negotiated deal, after all these years with this president bending over backwards, being accused for it -- I mean -- for doing that, that if the Iranians make that agreement and then violate it, yes, it's going to be politically a very different thing than -- than what they did before.
So I think the dynamic of it would be very changed, especially for whatever president comes after this president. So -- and I think the Iranians know that, by the way, which is a good thing. So it strengthens the deterrent against cheating.
But yes, I would say it's a different predicate. Then on the -- the right to enrich. I mean, where I would disagree -- I mean, I don't think -- it's gratuitously asking for fights to say Iran doesn't have a right to enrich. I think it happens to be the case, but they also don't not have a right.
The NPT doesn't speak to it one way or the other. It's a political issue. And I had this discussion in Iran in 2005, and the Iranian diplomats basically agree. They say, "yeah, it's true. I mean, as long as you're willing to acknowledge that we don't not have a right, yeah, fine, we, you know, can say it doesn't say we have a right."
But that's the issue. So then the question of, okay, they acquired it by cheating. My response is, well, they would have gotten it one way or the other, and then they can say, "no, no, we knew how to do it over here, and yes, we got -- you know, this centrifuge, but we could've gotten that centrifuge."
So you really -- I mean, seems to me that's a capillary issue rather than a big issue of how they acquired the capacity to -- to enrich. It doesn't -- I don't think that one gets you very far.
KIMBALL: Thank you. All right. Ellie?
GERANMAYEH: Can I just tag on a few comments of what George just said? I think one thing from Colin's remark that was interesting to hear a U.S. administration official say is this importance of self-reliance for the Iranians, and the history of mistrust definitely goes both ways.
And I think for them, in terms of the nuclear capacity issue from the -- from a peaceful program angle is one thing that probably they've been aspiring to get to since the Shah's time, it's been their way of balancing themselves with Israel. And I think that had they not done it by cheating, George is completely right. They would have gotten them some other way.
And secondly, this issue of America using military force, I think one thing that this administration has done is really revamped the image of the U.S. police copying (ph) the Middle East image after Iraq which had, I think, quite dramatic impact, particularly in Europe, how they viewed the U.S. policy on the Middle East.
So I think going to extreme lengths to exhaust the diplomatic angle will also bring with it, if there is cheating from the Iranian side, European support for any action, military action in Iran should it go to that length.
On the question about business from the European angle, since the interim deal, there's been trade delegations going into Iran, there's been attacks on these trade delegations for potentially boosting (ph) sanctions, and we know for a fact that that hasn't really been the case. In fact, European business with Iran hasn't really increased, even in the -- in the allowed, permitted areas under the interim deal, because most European companies are so hands-off that the impact that the U.S. Treasury has had on European business has been quite blunt and quite huge in terms of scaring the living life out of them in doing business particularly with big financial sectors and the energy sector.
And really, those are the two sectors that Iran is hoping to re-integrate into the European business -- financial sector and the energy sector. And my prediction has been talking with CEOs of major oil companies in Europe is they're going to tread with a lot of caution going back into Iran. They took a big financial hit having to pull their resources and their projects out of Iran, and they're going to want to see at least a year or two of the successful implementation of this deal before they march back in.
And you know there's been worries that at a state level in the U.S., sanctions are going to be imposed in various forms on this nuclear issue, and I think they're going to watch very carefully how this plays out in the U.S. both at a state level and also in terms of the next U.S. president implementing this deal.
So I don't think we're going to see a flood of energy investment that Iran needs in the next year or two, and I think it's a Burma (ph) case that will -- the level of sanctions on Iran have really been unprecedented. So I think it's going to be a slower process than what people claim.
KIMBALL: All right. Well, thank you very much. We're out of time for this morning's event. Appreciate everybody being here. With the presentations from Kelsey, Ellie and George, we've tried to underscore why this is a game-changer for nuclear nonproliferation, why it's in the U.S. national security interest and that of our allies and why we have 41 senators right now expressing their strong support for this agreement, despite the very partisan nature of the debate.
And so we thank you for being here and look forward to engaging in the future on how this deal plays out and the other problems that we all are concerned about. So please join me in thanking the speakers.