Arms Control Association Experts Say the Agreement Creates a Strong, Effective Barrier Against a Nuclear-Armed Iran
For Immediate Release: July 14, 2015
Media Contacts: Daryl G. Kimball, executive director, 202-277-3478; Kelsey Davenport, director of nonproliferation policy, 317-460-8806; Greg Thielmann, senior fellow, 703-946-4407.
(Washington, D.C.)—Today's announcement from the P5+1 group (China, France, Russia, the United Kingdom, the United States, plus Germany) and Iran that they have achieved a verifiable, comprehensive agreement to limit Iran's sensitive nuclear activities is a historic breakthrough for nuclear nonproliferation and international security.
The agreement—known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action—establishes a strong and effective formula for blocking all of the pathways by which Iran could acquire material for nuclear weapons and promptly detecting and deterring possible efforts by Iran to covertly pursue nuclear weapons in the future.
We join with a wide range of nonproliferation and security experts in assessing that the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, which is consistent with the April 2 framework agreed to at Lausanne, is a net-plus for nuclear nonproliferation and is clearly in the interest of both the United States, its allies and partners in the Middle East, Iran, and the international community.
When implemented, the P5+1 and Iran agreement will establish long-term, verifiable restrictions on Iran's sensitive nuclear fuel cycle activities—many of these restrictions will last for 10 years, some for 15 years, and some for 25 years. Iran’s plutonium path to the bomb will be eliminated, its potential to “breakout” and amass enough bomb-grade uranium for one bomb will be expanded from approximately 2-3 months to at least 12 months.
Just as importantly, the agreement will put in place a layered monitoring regime, which will include very robust International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) inspections under Iran's additional protocol to its comprehensive safeguards agreement, giving international inspectors access to the any Iranian facility of proliferation concern including military sites, and also as the modified code 3.1 safeguards that require early notification of design changes or new nuclear projects by Iran. These provisions will last indefinitely to help detect and deter future nuclear weapons related efforts.
The sanctions relief that Iran will receive in return as it meets its key nuclear restrictions and nonproliferation commitments also serves as an incentive for Tehran to follow through on its obligations in the long term.
If both sides comply with, and faithfully implement, their multi-year obligations, the agreement will reduce the risk of a destabilizing nuclear competition in a troubled region and head off a potentially catastrophic military conflict over Iran's nuclear program.
Some critics of this deal in the United States may still believe that by rejecting the agreement and increasing sanctions pressure on Iran, the United States can somehow coerce the leaders in Tehran to dismantle Iran’s nuclear program or agree to better terms. That is a dangerous illusion. There is no better deal on the horizon.
If Congress somehow blocks implementation of this hard-won, balanced and effective multilateral deal, the United States will have broken from its European allies, the necessary international support for Iran-related sanctions would melt away, Iran would be able to rapidly and significantly expand its capacity to produce bomb-grade material; we would lose out on securing enhanced inspections needed to detect a clandestine weapons effort. The risk of a nuclear-armed Iran would thereby increase.
In the coming weeks, members of the U.S Congress on both sides of the aisle should carefully examine this complex agreement, evaluate its benefits, and evaluate the alternatives. This is the time to seize—not squander—the chance to put in place an effective, long-term, verifiable deal that blocks Iran’s pathways to nuclear weapons.—DARYL G. KIMBALL, executive director, and KELSEY DAVENPORT, director for nonproliferation policy.
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.