Ernest J. Moniz
Co-Chair and Chief Executive Officer, NTI
“The United States rallied the world to isolate and enforce tough sanctions against Iran and then used that leverage to negotiate the most comprehensive agreement ever to prevent a country from developing a nuclear weapon. For two years, that agreement has been working, and Iran has been verifiably complying with its terms. By threatening to pull out of the accord at any time, passing the matter to Congress and urging Congress to impose new conditions on Iran unilaterally, President Trump is taking global pressure off Iran, isolating the United States and precipitating a diplomatic crisis with serious consequences where there was none.
“The agreement put an ironclad straitjacket on Iran’s ability to develop or obtain a nuclear weapon. Under the agreement, Iran has dismantled key aspects of its nuclear program, and it has and must continue to allow international inspectors continuous monitoring and verification, with the ability to access any site — including military sites — where nuclear activity is suspected. The most important aspects of the agreement are permanent — a prohibition on Iran ever having a nuclear weapon or a nuclear weapons program and the most comprehensive verification and transparency measures that currently exist. Those who argue that the agreement permits Iran to become a nuclear weapon state after 10 or 15 years are flat out wrong.
“President Trump wants to scrap this deal because it didn’t address the full range of Iran’s concerning behavior in the region. What he fails to acknowledge is that having Iran’s nuclear program tied down by the restrictions, transparency and verification in this agreement makes it easier to address the range of Iran’s regional activities that rightly concern us. The nuclear deal created the space and international support to address these issues.
“Our European allies, who are signatories to the agreement, had been prepared to elevate confrontation of Iran’s unacceptable regional behavior in concert with the United States, Israel and the Gulf countries by building on the foundation of the nuclear agreement. These allies have now made it clear that President Trump’s rejection of the agreement has put us on a path to a dangerous isolation. International cooperation on Iran sanctions was essential to their effectiveness and to constraining and providing visibility into Iran’s nuclear program, and American leadership and ability to work with other countries is necessary for resolving longstanding challenges in the Middle East and globally.
“With President Trump now asking the Congress to decide whether and when to abandon an agreement that is internationally certified to be working and is unquestionably effective in arresting any attempt by Iran to acquire a nuclear weapon, he has created a predicate for Iran also to take unilateral action to seek modifications or simply withdraw from the agreement. In plain words, the president has taken the decision to break with the agreement and seek new outcomes whose details and fate are now assigned to 535 members of the Congress. We always hope for wisdom from our Congress. We will need that wisdom now more than ever. An effort to unilaterally change the nuclear agreement would not meet that standard.
“A nuclear-armed Iran would be a threat to the region and the world and must never be allowed to happen. The 2015 nuclear agreement is a cornerstone for preventing that outcome, and it would be a strategic and tactical blunder of enormous proportion for the United States to break the agreement.”
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