For Immediate Release: November 23, 2013
Media Contacts: Daryl G. Kimball, Executive Director, 202-463-8270, ext. 107; Kelsey Davenport, Nonproliferation Analyst, 202-463-8270, ext. 102.
(Washington, D.C.) Experts with the independent Arms Control Association called the agreement between the P5+1 (China, France, Russia, the United Kingdom, the United States, plus Germany) and Iran an "historic breakthrough" in the decade-old impasse over Iran's nuclear program and a "net plus for nuclear nonproliferation and international security."
The framework agreement's first phase steps will verifiably freeze progress in all areas of acute concern regarding Iran's nuclear program, roll-back Iran's capabilities in some areas, and at the same time significantly increase International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) monitoring of its nuclear projects in exchange for limited, reversible sanctions relief.
"The limits on Iran's nuclear program are, unequivocally, a major success in reining-in Iran's nuclear potential and an essential stepping stone toward the negotiation of an even more effective, final agreement," said Daryl G. Kimball, executive director of the independent, nongovernmental Arms Control Association, based in Washington, D.C.
"The additional transparency measures--including daily access by IAEA inspectors at Iran's two enrichment facilities--are unprecedented and will significantly improve detection time for any non-compliance," Kimball noted.
"The P5+1/Iran agreement deserves the full support of the international community and the U.S. Congress," Kimball urged.
"The limits on Iran's nuclear program required by the new agreement are tougher than those proposed by the P5+1 earlier this year," noted Kelsey Davenport, ACA nonproliferation analyst and a co-author of the 2013 ACA report Solving the Iranian Nuclear Puzzle.
"The implementation of the first phase of the agreement will significantly increase the time Iran would theoretically need to produce enough fissile material for one nuclear weapon. On the other hand, without the first phase limits in place, Iran's enrichment capabilities and low- and medium-enriched uranium stockpiles could significantly increase," she said.
"Since 2007, the U.S. Intelligence Community has assessed that Iran has a nuclear weapons capability--that is, 'Iran has the scientific, technical and industrial capacity eventually to produce nuclear weapons if it decides to do so,' noted Greg Thielmann, ACA Senior Fellow and former State Department intelligence analyst.
"Current U.S. intelligence continues to assess that leaders in Tehran have not made such a decision and they assess that Iran is still more than a year away from being able to produce enough weapons grade uranium and possibly build nuclear weapons," Thiemann noted.
"This agreement enhances the security of the United States and our allies, including Israel, because it clearly increases the time it would take Iran to 'breakout' from the nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty," he said.
"With the unprecedented transparency measures that will go in place, the international community will have near-constant monitoring capabilities that effectively prevent 'breakout' using the Natanz and Fordow enrichment facilities for the duration of the agreement," Kimball noted.
"The first phase deal provides the time and momentum to negotiate a more permanent, final phase agreement, which could significantly roll-back--but not zero-out--Iran's overall enrichment capacity and lead to even more intrusive IAEA inspections designed to guard against any possible secret nuclear weapons-related activities," Kimball said.
"Unfortunately, some Members of Congress believe further U.S.-mandated sanctions would improve the United States negotiating position in the next round of talks. Such a strategy is illogical and would be counterproductive. The existing, core sanctions regime provides more than sufficient leverage on Iran to take further concrete measures to restrain its nuclear potential," Kimball said.
"What's more, the framework agreement reached today is based on the presumption that there will be no additional sanctions levied upon Iran. Further sanctions would undermine the implementation of this critical agreement and jeopardize a final phase agreement," Kimball warned.
"Leaders in Washington, Tehran, and other key capitals must follow-through with implementation and the prompt negotiation of the final phase agreement based upon realistic and attainable goals," Kimball added.
The Arms Control Association is an independent, membership-based organization dedicated to providing authoritative information and practical policy solutions to address the threats posed by the world's most dangerous weapons.