Photo Credit: Politico
Well, good afternoon everybody. I want to begin by thanking you, as others have, for your extraordinary patience. I know this has been a long couple of weeks for everybody, including, above all, the press, who have waited long hours during the day for very little news, and we’re very grateful for your patience. This is an historic day, but for me, it’s an historic day because it represents the first time in six weeks that I’ve worn a pair of shoes. (Laughter.)
Today, in announcing a Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, the United States, our P5+1 and EU partners, and Iran have taken a measureable step away from the prospect of nuclear proliferation, towards transparency and cooperation. It is a step away from the specter of conflict and towards the possibility of peace.
This moment has been a long time coming, and we have worked very hard to get here. A resolution to this type of challenge never comes easily – not when the stakes are so high, not when the issues are so technical, and not when each decision affects global and regional security so directly. The fact is that the agreement we’ve reached, fully implemented, will bring insight and accountability to Iran’s nuclear program – not for a small number of years but for the lifetime of that program. This is the good deal that we have sought.
Believe me, had we been willing to settle for a lesser deal, we would have finished this negotiation a long time ago. But we were not. All of us – not just the United States, but France, the United Kingdom, Germany, Russia, China, and the EU – were determined to get this right. And so we have been patient, and I believe our persistence has paid off.
A few months ago in Lausanne, we and our international partners joined Iran in announcing a series of parameters to serve as the contours of a potential deal. Experts and commentators were, in fact, surprised by all that we had achieved at that point. After three more months of long days and late nights, I’m pleased to tell you that we have stayed true to those contours and we have now finally carved in the details.
Now I want to be very clear: The parameters that we announced in Lausanne not only remain intact and form the backbone of the agreement that we reached today, but through the detail, they have been amplified in ways that make this agreement even stronger.
That includes the sizable reduction of Iran’s stockpile of enriched uranium and the number of centrifuges that it operates.
It also guarantees that Iran’s breakout time – the time it would take for Iran to speed up its enrichment and produce enough fissile material for just one nuclear weapon – that time will increase to at least one year for a period of at least 10 years.
And contrary to the assertions of some, this agreement has no sunset. It doesn’t terminate. It will be implemented in phases – beginning within 90 days of the UN Security Council endorsing the deal, and some of the provisions are in place for 10 years, others for 15 year, others for 25 years. And certain provisions – including many of the transparency measures and prohibitions on nuclear work – will stay in place permanently.
But most importantly, this agreement addresses Iran’s potential pathways to fissile material for a bomb exactly as we said it would – with appropriate limitations and transparency in order to assure the world of the peaceful nature of Iran’s nuclear program.
Now, let me explain exactly how it will accomplish that goal.
To start, the participants have agreed Iran will not produce or acquire either highly enriched uranium or weapons-grade plutonium for at least the next 15 years, and Iran declares a longer period of intent.
Iran’s total stockpile of enriched uranium – which today is equivalent to almost 12,000 kilograms of UF6 – will be capped at just 300 kilograms for the next 15 years – an essential component of expanding our breakout time. Two-thirds of Iran’s centrifuges will be removed from nuclear facilities along with the infrastructure that supports them. And once they’re removed, the centrifuges will be – and the infrastructure, by the way – will be locked away and under around-the-clock monitoring by the International Atomic Energy Agency.
Uranium enrichment at Natanz will be scaled down significantly. For the next 15 years, no uranium will be enriched beyond 3.67 percent. To put that in context, this is a level that is appropriate for civilian nuclear power and research, but well below anything that could be used possibly for a weapon.
For the next 10 years, Iran has agreed to only use its first-generation centrifuges in order to enrich uranium. Iran has further agreed to disconnect nearly all of its advanced centrifuges, and those that remain installed will be part of a constrained and closely monitored R&D program – and none will be used to produce enriched uranium.
Iran has also agreed to stop enriching uranium at its Fordow facility for the next 15 years. It will not even use or store fissile material on the site during that time. Instead, Fordow will be transformed into a nuclear, physics, and technology research center – it will be used, for example, to produce isotopes for cancer treatment, and it will be subject to daily inspection and it will have other nations working in unison with the Iranians within that technology center.
So when this deal is implemented, the two uranium paths Iran has towards fissile material for a weapon will be closed off.
The same is true for the plutonium path. We have agreed Iran’s heavy-water reactor at Arak will be rebuilt – based on a final design that the United States and international partners will approve – so that it will only be used for peaceful purposes. And Iran will not build a new heavy-water reactor or reprocess fuel from its existing reactors for at least 15 years.
But this agreement is not only about what happens to Iran’s declared facilities. The deal we have reached also gives us the greatest assurance that we have had that Iran will not pursue a weapon covertly.
Not only will inspectors be able to access Iran’s declared facilities daily, but they will also have access to the entire supply chain that supports Iran’s nuclear program, from start to finish – from uranium mines to centrifuge manufacturing and operation. So what this means is, in fact, that to be able to have a covert path, Iran would actually need far more than one covert facility – it would need an entire covert supply chain in order to feed into that site. And to ensure that that does not happen without our knowledge, under this deal, inspectors will be able to gain access to any location the IAEA and a majority of the P5+1 nations deem suspicious.
It is no secret that the IAEA also has had longstanding questions about the possible military dimensions of Iran’s nuclear program. That is one of the primary reasons that we are even here today, and we and our partners have made clear throughout the negotiations that Iran would need to satisfy the IAEA on this as part of the final deal. With that in mind, Iran and the IAEA have already entered into an agreement on the process to address all of the IAEA’s outstanding questions within three months – and doing so is a fundamental requirement for sanctions relief that Iran seeks. And Director Amano announced earlier this morning that that agreement has been signed.
Now, our quarrel has never been with the Iranian people, and we realize how deeply the nuclear-related sanctions have affected the lives of Iranians. Thanks to the agreement reached today, that will begin to change. In return for the dramatic changes that Iran has accepted for its nuclear program, the international community will be lifting the nuclear-related sanctions on Iran’s economy.
And the relief from sanctions will only start when Tehran has met its key initial nuclear commitments – for example, when it has removed the core from the Arak reactor; when it has dismantled the centrifuges that it has agreed to dismantle; when it has shipped out the enriched uranium that it has agreed to ship out. When these and other commitments are met, the sanctions relief will then begin to be implemented in phases.
The reason for that is very simple: Confidence is never built overnight. It has to be developed over time. And this morning, Foreign Minister Javad Zarif expressed his hope that this agreement can be a beginning of a change of the interactions between Iran and the international community.
That is why none of the sanctions that we currently have in place will, in fact, be lifted until Iran implements the commitments that it has made. And some restrictions, including those related to arms and proliferation, will remain in place for some years to come. And I want to underscore: If Iran fails in a material way to live up to these commitments, then the United States, the EU, and even the UN sanctions that initially brought Iran to the table can and will snap right back into place. We have a specific provision in this agreement called snapback for the return of those sanctions in the event of noncompliance.
Now, there will be some who will assert that we could have done more – or that if we had just continued to ratchet up the pressure, Iran would have eventually raised a white flag and abandoned its nuclear program altogether. But the fact is the international community tried that approach. That was the policy of the United States and others during the years 2000 and before. And in the meantime, guess what happened? The Iranian program went from 164 centrifuges to thousands. The Iranian program grew despite the fact that the international community said, “No enrichment at all, none.” The program grew to the point where Iran accumulated enough fissile material for about 12 – 10 to 12 nuclear bombs.
I will tell you, sanctioning Iran until it capitulates makes for a powerful talking point and a pretty good political speech, but it’s not achievable outside a world of fantasy.
The true measure of this agreement is not whether it meets all of the desires of one side at the expense of the other; the test is whether or not it will leave the world safer and more secure than it would be without it. So let’s review the facts.
Without this agreement or the Joint Plan of Action on which it builds, Iran’s breakout time to get enough material – nuclear material for a weapon was already two to three months. That’s where we started. We started with Iran two months away with enough fissile material for 10 bombs. With this agreement, that breakout time goes to a year or more, and that will be the case for at least a decade.
Without this agreement, Iran could just double its enrichment capacity tomorrow – literally – and within a few years it could expand it to as many as 100,000 centrifuges. With this agreement, Iran will be operating about 5,000 centrifuges for a fixed period of time.
Without this agreement, Iran would be able to add rapidly and without any constraint to its stockpile of enriched uranium, which already at 20 percent was dangerous and higher than any of us were satisfied was acceptable. With this agreement, the stockpile will be kept at no more than 300 kilograms for 15 years.
Without this agreement, Iran’s Arak reactor could produce enough weapons-grade plutonium each year to fuel two nuclear weapons. With this agreement, the core of the Arak reactor will be removed and filled with concrete, and Iran will not produce any weapons-grade plutonium.
Without this agreement, the IAEA would not have definitive access to locations suspected of conducting undeclared nuclear activities. With this agreement, the IAEA will be able to access any location, declared or undeclared, to follow up on legitimate concerns about nuclear activities.
There can be no question that this agreement will provide a stronger, more comprehensive, and more lasting means of limiting Iran’s nuclear program than any realistic – realistic alternative. And those who criticize and those who spend a lot of time suggesting that something could be better have an obligation to provide an alternative that, in fact, works. And let me add this: While the nations that comprise the P5+1 obviously don’t always see eye-to-eye on global issues, we are in full agreement on the quality and importance of this deal. From the very beginning of this process, we have considered not only our own security concerns, but also the serious and legitimate anxieties of our friends and our allies in the region – especially Israel and the Gulf States. And that has certainly been the case in recent days, as we worked to hammer out the final details.
So let me make a couple of points crystal-clear: First, what we are announcing today is an agreement addressing the threat posed by Iran’s nuclear program – period – just the nuclear program. And anybody who knows the conduct of international affairs knows that it is better to deal with a country if you have problems with it if they don’t have a nuclear weapon. As such, a number of U.S. sanctions will remain in place, including those related to terrorism, human rights, and ballistic missiles. In addition, the United States will continue our efforts to address concerns about Iran’s actions in the region, including by our providing key support to our partners and our allies and by making sure we are vigilant in pushing back against destabilizing activities.
And certainly, we continue to call on Iran to immediately release the detained U.S. citizens. These Americans have remained in our thoughts throughout this negotiation, and we will continue to work for their safe and their swift return. And we urge Iran to bring our missing Americans home as well.
And we also know there is not a challenge in the entire region that would not become worse if Iran had a nuclear weapon. That’s why this deal is so important. It’s also why we met at Camp David with the Gulf States and why we will make clear to them in the days ahead the ways in which we will work together in order to guarantee the security of the region. The provisions of this agreement help guarantee that the international community can and will address regional challenges without the threat of a nuclear-armed Iran.
Second, no part of this agreement relies on trust. It is all based on thorough and extensive transparency and verification measures that are included in very specific terms in the annexes of this agreement. If Iran fails to comply, we will know it, because we’re going to be there – the international community, through the IAEA and otherwise – and we will know it quickly, and we will be able to respond accordingly.
And before closing, I would like to make – I would like to say thank you to some folks who really made a difference in the course of all of this. And I want to begin by thanking my president, President Obama, who had the courage to launch this process, believe in it, support it, encourage it, when many thought that the objective was impossible, and who led the way from the start to the finish. The President has been resolute in insisting from the day he came to office that Iran will never have a nuclear weapon, and he has been equally – equally strong in asserting that diplomacy should be given a fair chance to achieve that goal.
I want to thank my Cabinet colleagues – excuse me – for the many, many contributions that they have made – Treasury Secretary Jack Lew, Defense Secretary Ash Carter, the entire DOD – the department, but I especially want to thank my partner in this effort who came late to the process but has made an essential contribution to our achievement of this agreement, and that is Energy Secretary Ernie Moniz, who has put many long days here in Switzerland – here and in Switzerland – during these negotiations and, frankly, whose background as a nuclear scientist just proved to be essential in helping us, together with former foreign minister and Vice President Salehi, to be able to really work through very difficult issues, some of the toughest and technical issues.
I want to thank the members of Congress – my former colleagues – for their role in this achievement, particularly in designing and passing sanctions legislation that did exactly what the UN resolution set out to do, and that is bring Iran to the table in order to negotiate. It helped us achieve the goal of these negotiations, and I appreciate their counsel and I look forward to the next chapter in our conversations. Whatever disagreements might sometimes exist, we all agree on a goal of a Middle East where our interests are protected and our allies and our friends are safe and secure.
And I want to especially thank my friend and my exceptional colleague, the Under Secretary of State Wendy Sherman, who has piloted – (applause) – she has led our team, which you can tell is still pretty enthusiastic, notwithstanding the long stay – and she has really done so with just an amazingly strong will, with a clear sense of direction, very steady nerves, hardly any sleep – and she’s been doing that for several years, folks, with amazing periods of time away from home and away from family. She and our absolutely brilliant, tireless team of experts and diplomats have done an absolutely incredible job, and frankly, they deserve the gratitude of our nation. (Applause.) I also want to thank those who’ve served on the U.S. negotiating team in the past who were not here for the close but who were indispensable in helping to shape this negotiation – particularly former Deputy Secretary of State Bill Burns, Jake Sullivan, who were absolutely essential in the earliest days.
I also want to thank my counterparts from every other delegation. All of the political directors were absolutely stunning in this. It’s been a privilege of my public service to be able to work with the teams that I have worked with here and in the other cities we’ve been. Our counterparts have made absolutely critical contributions to this. This was a team effort. French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius; British Foreign Secretary Philip Hammond; Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov; German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier; and Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi.
I also want to thank the high representatives of the EU, there’s several – Javier Solana, Dame Cathy Ashton, and her successor, Federica Mogherini, who helped shepherd these past weeks in such an effective way. I also want to thank her deputy to the high representative, Helga Schmid, who, together with Wendy, they just formed an incredible unity, and they facilitated and guided our talks with enormous dedication and skill.
All of these leaders and the legion of aids who contributed countless hours to assisting us really set a new standard for international cooperation and hard work. And the fact that we have stood together and maintained our unity throughout these 18 months lends enormous weight and credibility to the agreement we have forged, but it also offers everybody a sign of possibilities, a sign of encouragement for those who believe in the power of diplomacy and of negotiation.
Thank you also to the Government of Austria, which has very generously hosted this last round of talks – perhaps for a bit longer than it may have expected – (laughter) – and it has also hosted countless rounds before this one, so they’ve made a very special contribution to this. And I’ll tell you, all the police and the folks in the hotels and everybody in Austria, Vielen dank. We thank you for a really remarkable welcome. (Applause.)
I want to thank the other nations that have hosted these talks – this has been sort of a traveling circus – in particular Switzerland, Oman, Turkey, Russia, Kazakhstan, Iraq, and my home country, the United States.
And I am particularly grateful – we are particularly grateful, all of us, to the sultan of Oman, for his very personal engagement and support for the possibility of an agreement. He and his government were there to help every step of the way.
And I finally want to express my deep respect for the serious and constructive approach that Iran’s representatives brought to our deliberations. The president of Iran, President Rouhani, had to make a difficult decision. We all know the tensions that exist. Foreign Minister Javad Zarif, a tough, capable negotiator, and patriot, a man who fought every inch of the way for the things he believed, and sometimes these were heated and passionate exchanges. But he and his team, while tough, always professional, always dedicated to finding solutions to difficult problems. And we were, both of us, able to approach these negotiations with mutual respect, even when there were times of a heated discussion, I think he would agree with me at the end of every meeting we left with a smile and with a conviction that we were going to come back and continue the process. We never lost sight of the goal that an agreement could bring and the best long-term interests of all concerned.
Now, we are under no illusions that the hard work is over. No one is standing here today to say that the path ahead is easy or automatic. We move now to a new phase – a phase that is equally critical and may prove to be just as difficult – and that is implementation. The 109 pages that we have agreed upon outline commitments made on both sides. In the end, however, this agreement will live or die by whether the leaders who have to implement it on both sides honor and implement the commitments that have been made.
There is reason to be optimistic. In January of last year, we took the first step by adopting the Joint Plan of Action. Man, were we told by skeptics that we were making a mistake of a lifetime – that Iran would never comply, that this was a terrible agreement. But you know what? They were dead wrong. All sides met their obligations. The diplomatic process went forward. And we are already nearing almost two years of Iran’s compliance, full compliance, with the agreement.
The entire world has a stake in ensuring that the same thing happens now. Not only will this deal, fully implemented, make the world safer than it is today, but it may also eventually unlock opportunities to begin addressing regional challenges that cannot be resolved without this kind of an agreement being in place in the first place. The past 18 months have been yet another example of diplomacy’s consummate power to forge a peaceful way forward, no matter how impossible it may seem.
Obviously, every country that has been at the table over the past 18 months has had its own domestic perspective to consider. The United States is no exception. Back home, the future of Iran’s nuclear program has long been the focus of a lot of debate, and I have absolutely no doubt that debate is going to become even more intense in the coming days. I’ll tell you what, we welcome the opportunity to engage. These are vitally important issues, and they deserve rigorous but fact-based discussion. I’ve heard more talk in the last days about concessions being made and people racing. We have not made concessions. Lausanne is more than intact. And the facts are what should define this agreement.
From the start, President Obama and I have pledged that we would not settle for anything less than a good deal – good for Americans and good for our partners, our friends, our allies, good for the future of the Middle East, and good for the peace of mind of the world. That is what we pursued and that is what we insisted on through long months of hard negotiations, and that is precisely what we believe we have achieved today.
I will just share with you very personally, years ago when I left college, I went to war. And I learned in war the price that is paid when diplomacy fails. And I made a decision that if I ever was lucky enough to be in a position to make a difference, I would try to do so. I believe this agreement actually represents an effort by the United States of America and all of its member – its colleagues in the P5+1 to come together with Iran to avert an inevitability of conflict that would come were we not able to reach agreement. I think that’s what diplomacy was put in place to achieve, and I know that war is the failure of diplomacy and the failure of leaders to make alternative decisions.
So we have a chance here and I hope that in the days ahead that people will look at this agreement hard for the facts that define it and that we will be able to fully implement it and move forward.
“Today, after two years of negotiations, the United States, together with our international partners, has achieved something that decades of animosity has not: a comprehensive long term deal with Iran that will prevent it from obtaining a nuclear weapon. This deal demonstrates that American diplomacy can bring about real and meaningful change — change that makes our country and the world safer and more secure. This deal is also in line with a tradition of American leadership. It’s now more than 50 years since president Kennedy stood before the American people and said, ‘Let us never negotiate out of fear but let us never fear to negotiate.’ He was speaking then about the need for discussions between the United States and Soviet Union, which led to efforts to restrict the spread of nuclear weapons. In those days the risk was a catastrophic nuclear war between two superpowers.
In our time, the risk is that nuclear weapons will spread to more and more countries, particularly in the Middle East, the most volatile region in our world. Today, because America negotiated from a position of strength and principle, we have stopped the spread of nuclear weapons in this region. Because of this deal, the international community will be able to verify that the Islamic Republic of Iran will not develop a nuclear weapon.
This deal meets every single one of the bottom lines that we established when we achieved a framework earlier this spring. Every pathway to a nuclear weapon is cut off. In the inspection and transparency regime necessary to verify that objective will be put in place. Because of this deal Iran will not produce the highly enriched uranium weapons grade plutonium that form the raw materials necessary for a nuclear bomb. Because of this deal Iran will remove two-thirds of its installed centrifuges, the machines necessary to produce highly enriched uranium for a bomb, and store them under constant international supervision. Iran will not use its advanced centrifuges to produce enriched uranium for the next decade. Iran will also get rid of 98 percent of its stockpile of enriched uranium.
To put that in perspective Iran currently has a stockpile that can produce up to 10 nuclear weapons. Because of this deal, that stockpile will be reduced to a fraction of what would be required for a single weapon. This stockpile limitation will last for 15 years. Because of this deal, Iran will modify the core of its reactor in Iraq so that it will not produce weapons-grade plutonium. And it has agreed to ship the spent fuel from the reactor out of the country for the lifetime of the reactor. For at least the next 15 years, Iran will not build any new heavy water reactors.
Because of this deal we will for the first time be in a position to verify all of these commitments. That means this deal is not built on trust. It is built on verification. Inspectors will have 24/7 access to Iran’s key nuclear facilities. Iran will have access to Iran’s entire nuclear supply chain — its uranium mines and mills, its conversion facility and its centrifuge manufacturing and storage facilities. This ensures that Iran will not be able to divert materials from known facilities to covert ones. Some of these transparency measures will be in place for 25 years. Because of this deal inspectors will also be able to access any suspicious location.
Put simply, the organization responsible for the inspections, the IAEA, will have access where necessary, when necessary. That arrangement is permanent. And the IAEA has also reach an agreement with Iran to get access that it needs to complete its investigation into the possible military dimensions of Iran’s past nuclear research.
Finally, Iran is permanently prohibited from pursuing a nuclear weapon under the nuclear nonproliferation treaty, which provided the basis for the international community’s efforts to apply pressure on Iran. As Iran takes steps to implement this deal, it will receive relief from the sanctions that we put in place because of Iran’s nuclear program — both Americans’ own sanctions and sanctions imposed by the United Nations Security Council. This relief will be phased in. Iran must complete key nuclear steps before it begins to receive new sanctions relief. And over the course of the next decade, Iran must abide by the deal before additional sanctions are lifted, including five years for restrictions related to arms and eight years for restrictions related to ballistic missiles. All of this will be memorialized and endorsed in a new United Nations Security Council resolution. And if Iran violates the deal, all of these sanctions will snap back into place — so there’s a very clear and senate for Iran to fall through. And there are very real consequences for a violation.
That’s the deal. It has the full backing of the international community. Congress will now have an opportunity to review the details and my administration’s stands ready to provide extensive briefings on how this will move forward. As the American people and Congress review the deal, it will be important to consider the alternative. Consider what happens in a world without this deal. Without this deal, there is no scenario where the world joins us in sanctioning Iran until it completely dismantles its nuclear program. Nothing we know about the Iranian government suggest that it would simply capitulate under that kind of pressure. And the world would not support an effort to permanently sanction Iran into submission. We put sanctions in place to get a diplomatic resolution. And that is what we have done.
Without this deal, there would be no agreed-upon limitations for the Iranian nuclear program. Iran could produce, operate and test more and more centrifuges. Iran could fuel a reactor capable of producing plutonium for a bomb and we would not have any of the inspections that allow us to detect a covert nuclear weapons program. In other words, no deal means no lasting constraints on Iran’s nuclear program. Such a scenario would make it more likely that other countries in the region would feel compelled to pursue their own nuclear programs, threatening a nuclear arms race in the most volatile region of the world. It would also present the United States with fewer and less-effective options to prevent Iran from obtaining a nuclear weapon.
I’ve been president and commander in chief for over six years now. Time and again I have faced decisions about whether or not to use military force. It’s the greatest decision that any president has to make. Many times, in multiple countries, I have decided to use force. I’ll never hesitate to do so when it is in our national security interest. I strongly believe that our national security interest now depends upon preventing Iran from obtaining a nuclear weapon — which means that without a diplomatic resolution, either I or a future U.S. president would face a decision about whether or not to allow Iran to obtain a nuclear weapon or whether to use our military to stop it. Put simply, no deal means a greater chance of more war in the Middle East.
Moreover, we give nothing up by testing whether or not this problem can be solved peacefully. If, in the worst-case scenario, Iran violates the deal, the same options that are available to me today will be available to any U.S. president in the future. And I’ve no doubt that 10 or 15 years from now the person who holds this office will be in a far stronger position with Iran further away from my weapon and with the inspections and transparency that allow us to monitor the Iranian program. For this reason, I believe it would be irresponsible to walk away from this deal. But, on such a tough issue, it is important to the American people and their representatives in Congress get a full opportunity to review the deal. After all, the details matter. And we’ve had some of the finest nuclear scientists in the world working through those details. And we’re dealing with a country, Iran, that has been a sworn adversary of the United States for over 35 years.
So I welcome a robust debate in Congress on this issue and I welcome scrutiny of the details of this agreement. But I will remind Congress the you don’t make deals like this with your friends. We negotiated arms control agreements with the Soviet Union when that nation was committed to our destruction. And those agreements ultimately made us safer. I am confident that this deal will meet at the national security interest of the United States and our allies. So I will veto any legislation that prevents the successful implementation of this deal. We do not have to accept an inevitable spiral into conflict and we certainly shouldn’t seek it. And precisely because the stakes are so high, this is not the time for politics or posturing. Tough talk from Washington does not solve problems. Hard-nosed diplomacy leadership that has united the world’s major powers, offers a more effective way to verify that Iran is not pursuing a nuclear weapon.
Now, that doesn’t mean that this deal will resolve all of our differences with Iraq. We share the concerns expressed by many of our friends and Middle East, including Israel and the Gulf States, about Iran’s support for terrorism and its use of proxies to destabilize the region. That is precisely why we are taking this step. Because an Iran armed with a nuclear weapon would be far more destabilizing and far more dangerous to our friends and to the world. Meanwhile, we will maintain our own sanctions related to Iran’s support for terrorism, its ballistic missile program and its human rights violations. We will continue our unprecedented efforts to strengthen Israel’s security, efforts that go beyond what any American administration has done before. And we will continue the work we began at Camp David — to elevate our partnership with the gulf states to strengthen their capabilities to counter threats from Iran or terrorist groups like ISIL. However, I believe that we must continue to test whether or not this region, which is known so much suffering, so much bloodshed, can move in a different direction.
Time and again I’ve made clear to the Iranian people that we will always be open to engagement on the basis of mutual interests and mutual respect. Our differences are real. And the difficult history between our nations cannot be ignored. But it is possible to change. The path of violence and rigid ideology, a foreign policy based on threats to attack your neighbors or eradicate Israel — that’s a dead end. A different path, one of tolerance, and peaceful resolution of conflict, leads to more integration into the global economy, more engagement with the international community, and the ability of the Iranian people to prosper and thrive.
This deal offers an opportunity to move in a new direction. We should seize it. We have come a long way to reach this point. Decades of an Iranian nuclear program, many years of sanctions and many months of intense negotiations. Today, I want to thank the members of Congress from both parties who helped us put in place the sanctions that have proven so effective, as well as the other countries who joined us in that effort. I want to thank our negotiating partners — the United Kingdom, France, Germany, Russia, China — as well as the European Union, for our unity in this effort, which showed that the world can do remarkable things when we share a vision of peacefully addressing conflicts. We showed what we can do when we do not split apart.
And finally, I want to thank the American negotiating team. We had a team of experts working for several weeks straight on this, including our Secretary of Energy, Ernie Moniz. And I want to particularly thank John Kerry, our secretary of state, who began his service to this country more than four decades ago when he put on our uniform and went off to war. He’s now making this country safer through his commitment to strong-principled American diplomacy. History shows that America must lead, not just with our might, but with our principles. It shows we are stronger not when we are alone but when we bring the world together. Today’s announcement marks one more chapter in this pursuit of a safer and more helpful, more hopeful world. Thank you. God bless you. And god bless the United States of America.”
Check out the latest article on the Iran deal from the New York Times here.
“The notion that Iran is undeterrable–it’s simply not the case. And for us to say, ‘Let’s try’–understanding that we’re preserving all our options, that were not naive–but if in fact we can resolve these issues diplomatically, we are more likely to be safe, more likely to be more secure, in a better position to protect our allies, and who knows? Iran may change. If it doesn’t, our deterrence capabilities, our military superiority stays in place…We’re not relinquishing our capacity to defend ourselves or our allies. In that situation, why wouldn’t we test it?”
-President Obama in an interview with New York Time’s op-ed columnist Thomas L. Friedman on the risks of the Iran Nuclear Deal, published April 6, 2015
By: Harry C. Blaney III
In many ways this “framework” agreement achieves the key necessary elements for assurance against any Iranian unknown nuclear “breakout.” It provides the basis for future initiatives that might, with great focus and a large amount of wisdom and patience by all sides, move some of the destructive dynamics in the region towards some measure of reconciliation and what we used to call ‘detente.” Yet, from the cries from its critics at home, the hysterical opposition of Netanyahu and his right-wing supporters, and some in the Sunni Gulf States, there is still a lot of hefty lifting to do to sell this effort by President Obama and Secretary John Kerry at home and abroad.
The road towards the final text and agreement may still produce some bumps, but the key signal is that both sides want and need an agreement that puts to rest the dangers of both the Iranian weapons program and the likely dangers of a non-agreement for a long period. This agreement also can set the stage, with some luck, for other measures of dialogue and possible understandings that might serve American interests in achieving a more general security landscape for all nations in the region.
While right now this seems a very difficult task given the convulsions now seen, for that very reason it is one that needs to be undertaken and likely may take years or even a decade to come fully to fruition.
The domestic opposition comes from the same expected right-wing neo-cons and Republicans hawks that seem to think that anything short of bloody war is unacceptable. Would they put American troops on the ground in Iran? Would they have us bomb Iran to smithereens for Israel’s own misguided right wing war-hawks or to help facilitate a mad joint attack? They have not said about “then what” because there is no good answer or outcome of that option. They talk in vague generalities and provide no clear security and mutual accommodation path towards stable peace in the Middle East, but indeed seem to want added conflict and chaos.
President Obama already has indicated he will “consult” with Congress. But sadly, it is likely that the diehards on the right of the GOP and even some Democrats will be seen as skeptical to appease their paymasters and crazies in deadly opposition to Obama no matter what is in the agreement. The key now is to stop any effort to pass a new sanctions bill on Iran or one that would require Congressional agreement to the final accord. There is a long history of such international agreements by both Republican and Democrat presidents. If this had been Ronald Reagan, the Republicans would be praising the hell out of this accord.
Obama holds hopefully the high card here as, in the end, he can veto any bill that tries to destroy this agreement. Obama will need to work hard to get enough support in Congress to prevent the dismantling of the agreement. It will be a very hard hill to climb to get them to agree to revoking sanctions. However, there are other avenues to this end via Presidential actions, our cooperative allies, and the UN Security Council.
The problem with getting understanding, let alone agreement with Prime Minister Netanyahu is that the whole justification of his regime is to maintain a constant state of aggression and antipathy against the Palestinians and Iran. While there is some understanding for this given the past, it is a counterproductive stance if one wants long-term peace and security for all in the region. It is doubtful that Bibi will relent and may likely employ his minions in the U.S. to fight this accord no matter the circumstances.
Yet, many supporters of Israel know that an agreement that ensures a de-nuclearized Iran for a long period of time, the full engagement of the U.S. in the region, and the creation of a true peace deal, is in the real interests of Israel and the required two-state agreement. The former security officials of Israel know that it is unfortunate that Bibi only cares about his own political future, rather than his people and keeping Israel’s state security free from continued threats and the escalation of military capabilities. While some kind of reconciliation with the U.S. would be hoped for, it is for Bibi to make the first move given his continued intransigency and duplicitous behavior. Yet, in some way the administration needs badly to make clear to Israel’s citizens that this agreement is in their interest, that we care about and support their security, and want and will still seek a peaceful region. For that, we are already rethinking our stance in the region and paths towards some kind of firm of peace settlement.
The other task is to get the support of the American people and our allies as to the benefits of this agreement. Most of the public has little knowledge of the issues, the trade-offs, and the importance of this agreement. This needs to change. Administration leaders need to get on the airwaves to argue for this accord. Obama can expect widespread conservative and right-wing media opposition from the likes of Fox News, the Wall Street Journal, the Washington Post and the talking nuts on radio. This will be hard to overcome unless the administration, experts in the area, and Democratic politicians do a full court press on the merits of this accord with the media. On their side is the polls show most Americans do not want to make war with Iran.
On the issue of dealing with the largely Sunni Gulf States and in particular Saudi Arabia, the president has invited the leaders of these states this Spring to Camp David. Already Saudi King Salman has taken a less confrontational position and has said to Obama that he hoped it would strengthen “stability and security in the region.” The discussion will include not only the new agreement, but likely an attempt to get some measure of wide cooperation on a strategy that will also address other security concerns in the region, as well as to see if a path is possible for some measure of cooperation and meeting of the minds between Sunni and Shia nations. This is but only one step towards a more stable region, but it is one of the key building blocks in a very complex region filled with conflict and mutual animosity that needs to be addressed.
In the end, we and our allies will need to talk to both leaders of Sunni and Shia nations as there are already signs of common interest in putting down ISIS’s universal butchery towards both Sunni and Shia as well as other minorities and in bringing stability and economic prosperity to the entire region. This is a job for more than one administration and America had better be wise in its future choice of its own leaders.
We welcome your comments!
A version of this essay was also carried at the London School of Economics and Political Science Web Blog. Visit the Link Here: http://bit.ly/1HM1Toi
By: Harry C. Blaney III
Below is the summary “fact sheet” from the White House outlining the recent framework agreement on Iran’s nuclear program. While there are some issues that still need added agreement and clarification, and lots of very technical elements that need to be spelled out, the outline makes it clear that the critical elements in the framework achieve the needed bottom line that Iran would need at least one year before being able to build a bomb, also that key avenues to build a bomb have been blocked for some 10-25 years, that inspections are all that we truly need along with key “full scope” IAEA inspections, all facilities would be inspected by IAEA including the secret Fordow facility, in short a high level of guaranteed transparency,. Further, key nuclear weapons technology will be either be “mothballed” or dismantled like the Arak heavy water reactor and rebuilt in a way that would not produce weapons-grade plutonium, further, its 10,00 kilograms of low-enriched uranium would be reduced to 300 kilograms, and centrifuges would be reduced to just 6,104 from 19,000. See below for more details.
The end produces an agreement that, subject to any changes, provides truly the safeguards against an unknown “breakout” by Iran and also provides for phased sanctions relief which still need to be agreed as to its phasing and extent. This can and must be a “Win-Win” outcome for both sides since this balanced document can only be the basis for a viable international agreement.
This is a significant agreement and a positive step away from war. Our more detained analysis and assessment will follow.
Parameters for a Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action Regarding the Islamic Republic of Iran’s Nuclear Program
Below are the key parameters of a Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) regarding the Islamic Republic of Iran’s nuclear program that were decided in Lausanne, Switzerland. These elements form the foundation upon which the final text of the JCPOA will be written between now and June 30, and reflect the significant progress that has been made in discussions between the P5+1, the European Union, and Iran. Important implementation details are still subject to negotiation, and nothing is agreed until everything is agreed. We will work to conclude the JCPOA based on these parameters over the coming months.
- Iran has agreed to reduce by approximately two-thirds its installed centrifuges. Iran will go from having about 19,000 installed today to 6,104 installed under the deal, with only 5,060 of these enriching uranium for 10 years. All 6,104 centrifuges will be IR-1s, Iran’s first-generation centrifuge.
- Iran has agreed to not enrich uranium over 3.67 percent for at least 15 years.
- Iran has agreed to reduce its current stockpile of about 10,000 kg of low-enriched uranium (LEU) to 300 kg of 3.67 percent LEU for 15 years.
- All excess centrifuges and enrichment infrastructure will be placed in IAEA monitored storage and will be used only as replacements for operating centrifuges and equipment.
- Iran has agreed to not build any new facilities for the purpose of enriching uranium for 15 years.
- Iran’s breakout timeline – the time that it would take for Iran to acquire enough fissile material for one weapon – is currently assessed to be 2 to 3 months. That timeline will be extended to at least one year, for a duration of at least ten years, under this framework.
Iran will convert its facility at Fordow so that it is no longer used to enrich uranium
- Iran has agreed to not enrich uranium at its Fordow facility for at least 15 years.
- Iran has agreed to convert its Fordow facility so that it is used for peaceful purposes only – into a nuclear, physics, technology, research center.
- Iran has agreed to not conduct research and development associated with uranium enrichment at Fordow for 15 years.
- Iran will not have any fissile material at Fordow for 15 years.
- Almost two-thirds of Fordow’s centrifuges and infrastructure will be removed. The remaining centrifuges will not enrich uranium. All centrifuges and related infrastructure will be placed under IAEA monitoring.
Iran will only enrich uranium at the Natanz facility, with only 5,060 IR-1 first-generation centrifuges for ten years.
- Iran has agreed to only enrich uranium using its first generation (IR-1 models) centrifuges at Natanz for ten years, removing its more advanced centrifuges.
- Iran will remove the 1,000 IR-2M centrifuges currently installed at Natanz and place them in IAEA monitored storage for ten years.
- Iran will not use its IR-2, IR-4, IR-5, IR-6, or IR-8 models to produce enriched uranium for at least ten years. Iran will engage in limited research and development with its advanced centrifuges, according to a schedule and parameters which have been agreed to by the P5+1.
- For ten years, enrichment and enrichment research and development will be limited to ensure a breakout timeline of at least 1 year. Beyond 10 years, Iran will abide by its enrichment and enrichment R&D plan submitted to the IAEA, and pursuant to the JCPOA, under the Additional Protocol resulting in certain limitations on enrichment capacity.
Inspections and Transparency
- The IAEA will have regular access to all of Iran’s nuclear facilities, including to Iran’s enrichment facility at Natanz and its former enrichment facility at Fordow, and including the use of the most up-to-date, modern monitoring technologies.
- Inspectors will have access to the supply chain that supports Iran’s nuclear program. The new transparency and inspections mechanisms will closely monitor materials and/or components to prevent diversion to a secret program.
- Inspectors will have access to uranium mines and continuous surveillance at uranium mills, where Iran produces yellowcake, for 25 years.
- Inspectors will have continuous surveillance of Iran’s centrifuge rotors and bellows production and storage facilities for 20 years. Iran’s centrifuge manufacturing base will be frozen and under continuous surveillance.
- All centrifuges and enrichment infrastructure removed from Fordow and Natanz will be placed under continuous monitoring by the IAEA.
- A dedicated procurement channel for Iran’s nuclear program will be established to monitor and approve, on a case by case basis, the supply, sale, or transfer to Iran of certain nuclear-related and dual use materials and technology – an additional transparency measure.
- Iran has agreed to implement the Additional Protocol of the IAEA, providing the IAEA much greater access and information regarding Iran’s nuclear program, including both declared and undeclared facilities.
- Iran will be required to grant access to the IAEA to investigate suspicious sites or allegations of a covert enrichment facility, conversion facility, centrifuge production facility, or yellowcake production facility anywhere in the country.
- Iran has agreed to implement Modified Code 3.1 requiring early notification of construction of new facilities.
- Iran will implement an agreed set of measures to address the IAEA’s concerns regarding the Possible Military Dimensions (PMD) of its program.
Reactors and Reprocessing
- Iran has agreed to redesign and rebuild a heavy water research reactor in Arak, based on a design that is agreed to by the P5+1, which will not produce weapons grade plutonium, and which will support peaceful nuclear research and radioisotope production.
- The original core of the reactor, which would have enabled the production of significant quantities of weapons-grade plutonium, will be destroyed or removed from the country.
- Iran will ship all of its spent fuel from the reactor out of the country for the reactor’s lifetime.
- Iran has committed indefinitely to not conduct reprocessing or reprocessing research and development on spent nuclear fuel.
- Iran will not accumulate heavy water in excess of the needs of the modified Arak reactor, and will sell any remaining heavy water on the international market for 15 years.
- Iran will not build any additional heavy water reactors for 15 years.
- Iran will receive sanctions relief, if it verifiably abides by its commitments.
- U.S. and E.U. nuclear-related sanctions will be suspended after the IAEA has verified that Iran has taken all of its key nuclear-related steps. If at any time Iran fails to fulfill its commitments, these sanctions will snap back into place.
- The architecture of U.S. nuclear-related sanctions on Iran will be retained for much of the duration of the deal and allow for snap-back of sanctions in the event of significant non-performance.
- All past UN Security Council resolutions on the Iran nuclear issue will be lifted simultaneous with the completion, by Iran, of nuclear-related actions addressing all key concerns (enrichment, Fordow, Arak, PMD, and transparency).
- However, core provisions in the UN Security Council resolutions – those that deal with transfers of sensitive technologies and activities – will be re-established by a new UN Security Council resolution that will endorse the JCPOA and urge its full implementation. It will also create the procurement channel mentioned above, which will serve as a key transparency measure. Important restrictions on conventional arms and ballistic missiles, as well as provisions that allow for related cargo inspections and asset freezes, will also be incorporated by this new resolution.
- A dispute resolution process will be specified, which enables any JCPOA participant, to seek to resolve disagreements about the performance of JCPOA commitments.
- If an issue of significant non-performance cannot be resolved through that process, then all previous UN sanctions could be re-imposed.
- U.S. sanctions on Iran for terrorism, human rights abuses, and ballistic missiles will remain in place under the deal.
- For ten years, Iran will limit domestic enrichment capacity and research and development – ensuring a breakout timeline of at least one year. Beyond that, Iran will be bound by its longer-term enrichment and enrichment research and development plan it shared with the P5+1.
- For fifteen years, Iran will limit additional elements of its program. For instance, Iran will not build new enrichment facilities or heavy water reactors and will limit its stockpile of enriched uranium and accept enhanced transparency procedures.
- Important inspections and transparency measures will continue well beyond 15 years. Iran’s adherence to the Additional Protocol of the IAEA is permanent, including its significant access and transparency obligations. The robust inspections of Iran’s uranium supply chain will last for 25 years.
- Even after the period of the most stringent limitations on Iran’s nuclear program, Iran will remain a party to the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT), which prohibits Iran’s development or acquisition of nuclear weapons and requires IAEA safeguards on its nuclear program.
We welcome your comments!
By: Harry C. Blaney III
March 26th I opened my New York Times as usual and low and behold there was an op-ed by former Ambassador John R. Bolton of Iraqi war renown with the title “To stop Iran’s Bomb, Bomb Iran”, and its sub-headline “Tehran can’t be trusted on a nuclear deal. Force is the only option.” Besides being very wrong on a host of other issues like his view of the United Nations in the past, which having been sent there by a right-wing Republican president, he straightaway aimed to undermine its authority, cut it resources, and tried in every which way to eviscerate. Now it seems he wants us to go to into a senseless and costly war again with his other neo-con crazy co-conspirators.
At the moment the fate of the nuclear negotiations are still not fully known, and least of all what will follow in the event of an agreement or a failure at this effort. But one thing is certain, and that is that preemptive war is mad and disastrous for all sides.
The only conclusion one can reach from this Bolton essay in fantasy is how crazy we have all become when we fall again into the “war hawks” dead end traps. These traps will bring such destruction to not only Iran and its many anti-regime and pro-American citizens, but to exacerbate more conflicts in the whole region and any hope for a peaceful and diplomatic region wide accommodation that has any hope to batten down the upheavals that have created the current chaos in the first place.
Bolton’s proscriptions, contrary to his flawed conclusions on the behavior of nations in the region, would create those dangerous things which he says bombing would avoid sooner and with more force. Further, most strategic experts including most of the analysis by our own government finds that such a military attack would create such horrific added conflict to an already unstable region and still not a long-term stop to a possible Iranian weapons program.
Bolton says it would do so for 3 to 5 years, but an agreement would stop Iran from just such an effort for at least 10 years and it just might mitigate the existing corrosive Shia-Sunni warfare that it at the real bottom of the existing instability.
Besides poor, almost non-existent analysis of outcomes of war actions, Bolton’s assumption is that Iran will not negotiate away its “nuclear program.” I am not sure exactly what he means by “nuclear program.” They certainly will not be dissuaded from a civilian nuclear power and research effort that they have invested billions of dollars into, but the reality is that a nuclear weapons effort should be seen by the Iranian leadership as the worst possible outcome for their own security. It is a course of societal and governmental suicide in the end. That does not mean that the Iranian leaders are fully rational and are acting fully in the interest of the well-being of their people, since if they were they would not be in the current situation.
Yet the likely reason for the present negotiations, contrary to Bolton’s assertion, is that they have decided that sanctions hurt, that having the bomb may be more dangerous to their security than not having it, and that they need to rebuild their failing economy and society. What they want however is clearly a best deal to keep their options open and not be seen as “giving in” to the West.
The key flaw of Bolton’s article is he did not mention the real cost and consequences of his war proposal. The reason is simply it would totally undermine his whole argument and expose its wrong assumptions about the dynamics of the actions he proposes…
Bolton and his Republican neo-con affiliates have argued in the past for (unnecessary and costly) war – in Iraq. But he still seems to think that indeed war is the answer to anything, but does not want or can’t honestly think through his myopic ideological lenses and truly evaluate the cost of such action, deaths, and risks on all sides of the consequences of his policies.
Secretary John Kerry has been right to test diplomacy and indeed the agreed temporary accord already has inhibited any further push towards a weapon. Nothing in diplomacy in this messy world is easy. The time has come for an end of costly and unnecessary war making which ends mostly in disasters for all. Let’s all hope that in time there will be a “good” agreement since that would be a “win-win” for all sides, for the region, and the world.
We welcome your comments!
By Harry C. Blaney III
This month will bring together a number of critical events and actions which could determine whether we can see a clear path towards a measure of progress that can start the process of healing and mitigating the hate and carnage that we see today and lessen the chance of a total cataclysm. What is required is a high level of creativity, resources, and focus by all sides looking at their long-term interests. But frankly, recent events, not least the Israeli elections, do not bode well for lasting peace and building the mutual confidence and sense of common interest that must be the foundation of long-term security for all in the region and beyond.
The first critical event is the elections in Israel. Clearly, given the outcome Israeli society remains divided between a constant “war” strategy and a long-term peace strategy. This time the “war hawks” won out but not by that much. This contradictory bitter split should be recognizable to Americans in our current corrosive political environment. The question is whether there can be, in this divisive environment, any growing consensus that develops into some kind of momentum towards returning to honest negotiations with the Palestinians to build a stable two state outcome that provides security for all sides. What then is the alternative?
Incredibly, there was even post-election speculation that Bibi might go back to the two state solution, but after his victory based on anti-Palestinian policies and even promising thousands of more settlements, it is hard to envision at this moment. The question is when will the realities of the increasingly precarious situation of Israel set in and be the lever for a move towards a peace deal.
The history of the reign of Netanyahu has been a series of acts, that in its totality, were against any reasonable settlement with the Palestinians. After mouthing from time to time the idea of a “two state” solution, he revealed just a day before the elections his true motivation all along, in trying to grab the West Bank and possibly displace people from their land or perhaps even confine them to unlivable, frankly, semi-concentration camps, looked over by their Israeli guards.
The sad result of Bibi in his firm opposition to a two state solution, and saying there will be no Palestinian state under his rule, plus his attack after his election victory on the Arab citizens of Israel because, according to the NY Times, they had voted! His statement was even characterized by the New York Times editorial as a “racist rant.” Increasingly, there is a new authoritarian bent by Netanyahu and his Likud party; and a rigidity and myopic militancy that bodes badly for peace in the region and Israel’s own long-term security. There is a real danger that he will lead a democratic Israel down a path to self-destruction both externally and internally. What other option now can be possible other than a deliberate policy of impoverishment and degradation of the Islamic and Christian Arab West Bank population, and its own Arab citizens?
He has already poisoned the key US-Israeli bi-partisan relationship as we have noted previously. The question that must be asked: what policy and direction should America and Europe take now that the very basis of any lasting peace agreement has been destroyed by Bibi’s actions? Having served in the White House I have no doubt that the lights there will be burning late to provide an answer.
One key question is what should the U.S. do with its allies and other actors in the region to put back the building blocks of a lasting agreement that provide peace, security, and even a measure of prosperity for the people in the region. For the Israelis who are experiencing serious economic hardships including inflation that is robbing ordinary people of their livelihood and sense of self-worth; and who also desire a future free from conflict, they now face a very uncertain future, increased insecurity and new added risks.
While coalition building still must take place and is currently unknown, a reassessment of American policy towards the Middle East and Israel is required. Already, there is a movement in Europe to recognize a Palestinian state. Bibi unfortunately leaves little scope for a constructive American role in seeking a settlement between Israel and the Palestinian Authority especially given the desire by Bibi to get America to preemptively attack Iran or contribute to new illegal settlements and to act as a supporter of dangerous actions that will only exacerbate the existing unrest and conflict in the region. Further, Bibi by playing a partisan and self-interested divisive role in American politics may have defeated any hope for the kind of constructive cooperative efforts by the U.S. to bring true peace to his people. Evolving events in the region may play the decisive role that may call for a basic reassessment of Israel’s security as noted by the statements of a group of senior security leaders who pointed to dangerous trends and poor policies by Bibi.
The second event shaping the region is the beginning of serious “end state” negotiations on the Iran nuclear long-term “deal” that could put a stop on Iran getting a nuclear weapon at least for the next decade. If in the end a “good” deal is agreed with the proper verification elements, one of the truly disruptive (in the real meaning of this word, not the Silicon Valley robber baron meaning) elements fundamentally creating widespread conflict and insecurity might change the landscape of new nuclear danger to the region. It could also create an opening to larger political and military problem solving and deal with the upward trajectory of Shia-Sunni conflict.
Already, Secretary John Kerry has been working to find a consensus among the Middle East states, both largely Shia and Sunni to form some common ground especially in light of the common threat of ISIS. This is frankly an effort against the odds. But there is a small opening now for a rethinking of old hatreds and a new assessment of existential risks of the ISIS ascendancy and the spread of terrorist extremism aimed at both traditional Sunni and Shia governments and people. In the end, this opening will have to be recognized by governments that too often have been dominated by prejudice and narrow interests.
What might be needed is perhaps a new regional compact that creates a wider Middle East security structure that encompasses both Sunni and Shia nations and might include support and reinforcement by America and our European and Asian allies that have a large stake in stability and peace in the region. While Arab nations would naturally be a part of this, also non-Arab nations like Iran and Turkey should be part of such a regional compact of mutual security.
It is clear that without some major political, economic, and military changes both in Israel and in the wider Middle East the trajectory towards chaos and destruction will overwhelm the fabric of cooperation and modest restraint and upheavals and civil strife will destroy the lives of all citizens and bring only perpetual war and killing as the norm.
Our problem is that the acts by Bibi, the shortsighted viewpoints by some Middle East leaders, and our partisans in our Congress has undermined America’s role as the “indispensable nation.” They have deliberately sabotaged every key tool and effort to bring a measure of peace to our globe by President Obama and Secretary Kerry. There is a strong Republican desire to see Obama fail no matter what the cost in lives and security including that of Israel. More war and putting American troops at risk is their only option. Their new crazy right-wing budget and proposed heedless sanction and laws on Iran undermines the authority and the needed resources for a strong American capability to create a more stable, peaceful, secure and prosperous world. Without support at home by all of our parties, the chances of creating a more secure Middle East and beyond would be hindered. Disorder, humanitarian needs, and added wars will be the order of the day.
We welcome your comments!