A multiyear agreement between the U.S. and Iran that prevents a nuclear-armed Iran and war is of paramount importance for U.S. national security. Members of Congress should speak out in enthusiastic support.
—Fmr Chief of Staff to Sec. Colin Powell, Col. Lawrence Wilkerson
Israeli Security Experts
Some people would say that there is no time for diplomacy. Some people would say that we better bomb all installations in Iran and put them on their knees. Some people would say....that we should even have more sanctions. I would say, the way it looks to me, it's not so. The way it looks to me, this is time for diplomacy.
It's better than the alternative of no agreement, and obligates us to make every effort to ensure that the agreement six months from now rolls back the Iranian nuclear program… It is possible that had there been no agreement, [Iran] would have decided to make the breakthrough to a bomb.
I think [the deal] is an important step in itself because it is a beginning of Iran walking along a certain path, which should it continue along will inevitably lead it to sever with its past.
This is not just an American achievement, but also an Israeli achievement.
Obama promised he would not accept a nuclear Iran, and, indeed, the agreement distances Iran from nuclearization.
Considering the achievements such as the dismantling of [Iran’s] stockpile of uranium enriched to 20 percent, reducing the number of centrifuges, halting construction of the heavy water facility [in Arak], all the while the sanctions of Iranian oil and banking industries continue — compared to the alternative of a military strike at this point — it is clear that the agreement reached is far superior.
The new agreement does not allow the Iranians to further develop their nuclear facilities… The Iranians will be forced to dismantle their cascades of centrifuges and will have to make do with the old ones in their possession. Taking into account the knowledge the Iranians have amassed and the rate of their progress until now, there is no reason to mourn the agreement.
U.S. Security Experts
If the U.S. Congress imposes sanctions before we even know the answers to the questions we are asking, I think it is highly likely that Russia and China [would walk out and end the United Nations Security Council-backed effort to curb the Iranian program]. That would be, in my view, a very serious strategic error. Why would we want to be the catalyst for the collapse of negotiations before we really know whether there is something we can get out of them?
The U.S. intelligence community has assessed that imposing new unilateral sanctions now ‘would undermine the prospects for a successful comprehensive nuclear agreement with Iran.’ I share that view. It could rob us of the diplomatic high ground we worked so hard to reach, break the united international front we constructed, and in the long run, weaken pressure on Iran by opening the door for other countries to chart a different course.
While the complete end to Iran's nuclear program would be the best solution, an accord by which Iran would curb its nuclear ambitions under strict and intrusive inspections program would greatly improve the long-term security of the United States and our closest allies in the Middle East.
And military action holds less promise for decisively ending the nuclear threat than does a good negotiated accord.
[A deal] would not be a bouquet of roses...It has a lot of thorns in it. But the alternative is nothing but thorns. It would almost force a military reaction, which even under the best circumstances it would set back Iran two to three years and have ripple effects that would tremendously harm Israel, such as attacks from Hezbollah.
[New Iran sanctions] will break the talks. I think we should see them out and not take steps which would destroy the negotiations. I think we're on the homestretch. I think to change our strategy now might work, but I wouldn't do it at this stage.
I have a similar perspective [to Scowcroft against sanctions]. Iran is beginning to evolve. Don't forget that we're not the only negotiators on Iran.
Prior to the interim deal, these national security advisors wrote to Congress saying: "Additional sanctions now against Iran with the view to extracting even more concessions in the negotiations will risk undermining or even shutting down the negotiations. More sanctions now as these unprecedented negotiations are just getting underway would reconfirm Iranians in their belief that the US is not prepared to make any agreement with the current government of Iran."
The fact that the dialog continues is a good sign, and we should hope for a positive outcome.
Congress should refrain from taking action such as introducing additional sanctions that risk undermining these critical negotiations. Such action could prompt Iran to resume aggressive expansion of its nuclear program, and lead either to a nuclear-armed Iran or to a war. The negotiations may yet fail, but then it would be time to act, not now. These negotiations are the best tool for advancing US national security and that of its allies.
Amb. Morton Abramowitz, Sandy Berger, Hamid Biglari, Zbigniew Brzezinski, Amb. Nicholas Burns, Gen. James E. Cartwright, Brig. Gen. Stephen Cheney, Joseph Cirincione, Amb. Ryan Crocker, Suzanne DiMaggio, Amb. James Dobbins, Robert Einhorn, Stu Eizenstat, Rep. Lee Hamilton, Stephen B. Heintz, Carla A. Hills, Gen. Joseph Hoar, James Hoge, Lt. Gen. Frank Kearney, Amb. Daniel C. Kurtzer, Amb. Winston Lord, Amb. William H. Luers, Sen. Richard Lugar, Jessica T. Mathews, Amb. Richard T. McCormack, Amb. William G. Miller, Amb. Richard Murphy, Adm. Eric Olson, George Perkovich, Amb. Thomas Pickering, Paul Pillar, Amb. Nicholas Platt, William A. Reinsch, Amb. J. Stapleton Roy, Barnett Rubin, Karim Sadjapour, Rear Adm. Joe Sestak, Lt. Gen. Brent Scowcroft, Gary Sick, Anne-Marie Slaughter, Paul A. Volcker, James Walsh, John C. Whitehead, Col. Lawrence Wilkerson, Tim Wirth, Amb. Frank Wisner, and Gen. Anthony Zinni.
While all other options remain, none is superior to a sound diplomatic resolution of our differences with the Islamic Republic of Iran.
Stuart Eizenstat, chairman, Iran Task Force; Barbara Slavin, Senior Fellow and Coordinator, Iran Task Force; and members: Odeh Aburene, James Cartwright, Joseph Cirincione, Michael V. Hayden, Jim Moody, John Limbert, Trita Parsi, Thomas R. Pickering, Ramin Asgard, William Reinsch, Richard Sawaya, Greg Thielmann, Harlan Ullman
An agreement between Iran and the p5+1 now being negotiated would be the best available way of assuring that Iran does not go down the path of acquiring nuclear weapons.
Triggered sanctions, where they come into effect in a mandatory way, is perceived by the Iranians as putting a gun to their head and leads them to put together trigger-advancements in their nuclear program.
Achieving that objective in the upcoming negotiation is hard enough. We should not derail it from the start by prescribing its terms.
But that essentially would be the effect of the Iranian sanctions bill being considered in the Senate. It would not simply sanction Iran if it fails to comply with its commitments; it would apply new sanctions if Iran does not accept a nuclear deal that meets conditions it requires. That essentially presents Iran with this choice: Accept our terms or be sanctioned. Negotiations are unlikely to begin under those circumstances.
The interim nuclear accord between Iran and the six world powers is a significant accomplishment by any measure... The interim agreement itself places meaningful constraints on several dimensions of Iran's nuclear program in exchange for providing Iran with a degree of financial relief from existing economic sanctions. The accord, better understood as a ceiling than a freeze, also establishes a level of inspections that is far more intrusive than what has existed.
The Obama team has won the first round on the six-month agreement with Iran by a knockout... Yes, there were disproportionate compromises made-by the Iranians. They froze, to greater and lesser degrees, virtually all of their nuclear programs. And critically for Western intelligence, Tehran also agreed to vast new inspections of their nuclear facilities by international experts. In return, the U.S. agreed to provide around $7 billion in sanctions relief. This is first rate bargaining by the American side.
A major achievement that deserves enthusiastic applause.
No matter what you think of it, this is a historic deal.
The deal in the short run accomplishes a tremendous amount. In the long run, a lot of work has to be done and a lot of issues have to be settled.
Although no diplomatic agreement is perfect, the one reached in Geneva is pretty darn good.
The National Journal conducted a survey of 56 national security insiders finding, "A strong majority of National Journal's National Security Insiders thought the recent agreement between world powers and Iran-to limit its nuclear program in exchange for some sanctions relief-is a 'good deal,' ... The agreement... 'is better than expected and rolls back key aspects of the Iranian progress toward bomb-grade highly enriched uranium,' one Insider said." In the survey, 75.5% responded yes to the question, "Is the recent agreement between world powers and Iran to limit its nuclear program in exchange for some sanctions relief a good deal?
We are persuaded that this agreement arrests Iran's nuclear program for the first time in nearly a decade and opens the possibility of ultimately stopping Iran from developing a nuclear weapons capability. More than any other option, a diplomatic breakthrough on this issue will help ensure Israel's security and remove the threat that a nuclear-armed Iran would pose to the region generally and Israel specifically. We are encouraged that this first-step agreement with Iran will constrain and make much more transparent its nuclear program. This agreement contains concessions and limitations from Iran that few of us thought would have been possible just scant weeks ago.
We ought to give diplomacy a chance.
We are proud that many Oregon legislators have backed the administration's diplomatic initiative with Iran. Obstructing the talks risks the prospect that Iran's nuclear program will not be resolved through a diplomatic process and could likely push our countries toward war.
This article was originally published on December 4th, 2013.
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