NIAC Statement on Iran Surpassing Enriched Uranium Stockpile Limit

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: Monday July 1, 2019
CONTACT: Mana Mostatabi | 202.386.6325 x103 | mmostatabi@niacouncil.org

In response to reports that Iran has surpassed the enriched uranium stockpile limit set by the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), or Iran nuclear deal, Jamal Abdi, President of the National Iranian American Council, released the following statement:

“The consequences of President Trump’s abandonment of the Iran nuclear deal continue to mount. Less than two weeks after the “maximum pressure” campaign nearly brought the U.S. into war, Iran has now exceeded nuclear stockpile limits that had been in place before Trump took office. President Trump inherited a successful nuclear deal and, with the goading of Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and National Security Advisor John Bolton, shredded that agreement with no serious endgame in place besides war.

“Thanks to Iran’s continued voluntary adherence to other provisions in the nuclear deal, Iran remains far from an undetectable nuclear breakout capability. Yet the further fraying of the nuclear deal is a setback for those who support diplomatic solutions to the standoff with Iran, and risks providing fodder for hawks like National Security Advisor John Bolton who are eager for military action.

“Make no mistake: the Trump administration’s approach towards Iran has senselessly and recklessly restarted the Iranian nuclear crisis. The goal of hawks like Bolton has from the get-go been to collapse the deal, and according to recent reports Bolton is now seeking even more aggressive sanctions to goad Iran towards this end.

“When you’re in a hole, the best advice is to stop digging. Returning the U.S. to compliance with the nuclear deal would be the best way to reverse the damage of Trump’s withdrawal. At minimum, Trump should suspend the “maximum pressure” sanctions in exchange for Iran suspending recent breaches of the nuclear deal and to allow space for negotiations. The top priority of the Trump Administration should be to reopen communication channels with Iran and engage in serious talks. Unless and until he does so, the U.S. and Iran will remain on the path to war.”

NIAC Applauds Open Letter Signed by Over 100 Iranian Human Rights Defenders Expressing Concern over U.S.-Iran Tensions

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: Thursday, June 27, 2019
CONTACT: Mana Mostatabi | 202.386.6325 x103 | mmostatabi@niacouncil.org

WASHINGTON DC –  The San Francisco-based human rights group, United For Iran, published a letter signed by over 100 Iranian human rights advocates expressing concern against further U.S. escalation with Iran. The letter expresses “grave concerns over the rising tension between the United States and the Islamic Republic of Iran, which risks a military confrontation that would cause massive human rights harms.” 

It further urges both countries to exercise restraint and emphasizes that war will only devastate Iran’s human rights defenders. The letter also underscores that “Only peace-focused policies that prioritize the rights and well-being of ordinary people in Iran and the region can provide meaningful, long-term benefits.” 

The full text of the letter and list of signatories can be found here.

In response to the letter, the National Iranian American Council (NIAC) issued the following statement:

“With conflict looming between Iran and the United States, Iranian human rights activists are emphatically joining the chorus of voices demanding that the U.S. refrain from abandoning diplomacy in favor of military action.

“Nothing can destroy Iranians’ quest to advance human rights in the country faster than war. Ultimately war is the biggest human rights violation. If the Trump administration is truly intent on supporting the Iranian people, it would do well to listen to those, both in and outside of Iran, who have dedicated their livelihoods to promoting an open society. The administration needs to adopt a pro-diplomacy approach to Iran, lest it continue to use human rights as a platform to push forth Trump’s dangerous maximum pressure campaign.

“The Iran nuclear deal was a platform that not only restricted Iran’s nuclear program. It was a platform for engagement that opened the door to progress within Iran and the easing of social restrictions. The decision by the Trump administration to violate the deal stifled this development and promoted confrontation. 

“That the Iranian government violates the rights of its citizens is without question. However, as these activists make clear, current U.S. policy on Iran can only exacerbate the devastating human rights situation in Iran. To choose human rights is to choose diplomacy–and any path forward with Iran must adopt engagement, including the lifting of sanctions and a return to the Iran nuclear deal, as its cornerstone.

“Rather than helping to advance the cause for human rights, war will destroy the lives of Iranians and create unforeseeable devastation that is far removed from the ideals of liberty or justice. As the prime defenders of human rights in Iran, it is incumbent upon us to heed their words.”

NIAC Statement on Trump’s Imposition of New Iran Sanctions

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: Monday, June 25, 2019 
CONTACT: Mana Mostatabi | 202.386.6325 x103 | mmostatabi@niacouncil.org

WASHINGTON DC – Moments ago President Donald Trump signed off on an executive order imposing a new wave of sanctions on Iran following increased tensions between the U.S. and Iran last week. The sanctions target Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Khamanei and senior commanders from the Revolutionary Guard’s Navy, Aerospace, and Ground Forces, and aim to block Iran top leadership’s from accessing the international financial system. 

In response, Jamal Abdi, President of the National Iranian American Council (NIAC) issued the following statement:

“Sanctions are what got us into this mess, more sanctions will not get us out of it. Donald Trump needs to put his ego aside and abandon the ‘maximum pressure’ strategy that John Bolton and Mike Pompeo have foisted on the world. After coming within ten minutes of military strikes on Iran that could very well have triggered an all out regional conflagration, Trump should have fired Bolton and Pompeo on the spot. Instead, he is staying the course and driving us further towards the brink of a completely avoidable crisis of his administration’s making.

The strategy of maximum pressure is not designed to induce negotiations, but rather to push Iran away from the negotiating table while triggering further Iranian provocations that could serve as a pretext for war. We’ve already seen the fruit of this approach—a fraying nuclear accord, heightening tensions in the Persian Gulf, and a last second decision from Trump to put the brakes on a major war. Sanctions on the Supreme Leader may feel good, but they are purely symbolic. Yet, diplomacy is about signals and optics and today’s action seems intended to trample on any hopes for talks. 

“The Trump administration triggered this escalatory cycle by unilaterally exiting and violating the nuclear deal. Instead of getting caught up in what is the ‘proportionate’ response and perpetuating a deadly tit for tat, Trump needs to consider what is the right response to get us off the path of war through negotiations. Piling symbolic sanctions on Iran’s leadership isn’t it.

“This was Donald Trump’s chance for a do-over, he may not get another opportunity to take us off the war path. The Iranian government is keeping the door open to negotiating with Trump. And If Trump’s bottom line is truly to prevent Iran from building nuclear weapons, now is the time for him to pause the pressure campaign, bring on officials who can negotiate with the Iranians, and pursue negotiations based on mutual respect and realistic concessions.”

NIAC Urges That U.S. and Iran Practice Restraint as Tensions Escalate

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: Thursday, June 20, 2019
CONTACT: Mana Mostatabi | 202.386.6325 x103 | mmostatabi@niacouncil.org

Washington DC – Following Iran’s downing of a U.S. drone, the Trump Administration, flanked by National Security Council Advisor John Bolton, are reportedly exploring retaliatory measures the U.S. could take, including military options.

In response to the latest escalations between the two countries, NIAC President Jamal Abdi issued the following statement:

“At every fork in the road with Iran, Trump has allowed warmongers like John Bolton to direct his Iran policy. This has brought the United States to the precipice of a war that Trump claims he wanted to avoid. This administration needs to take a step back and dramatically rethink it’s Iran policy, and the officials guiding that policy, before it is too late. Moreover, Congress needs to step in and make clear that Trump does not have authorization to start a new war

“There is still time for Trump to defuse tensions with Iran and put to rest this manufactured crisis. Rather than opt for the military options that Bolton will undoubtedly propose, Trump should seek out third party mediators who can help de-escalate and bring the U.S. and Iran back to the negotiating table. Moreover, the UN Security Council should convene in order to ascertain the facts behind the crisis, including the allegations surrounding the recent tanker attacks and the downed U.S. drones, and chart out exit ramps for both the U.S. and Iran.

“Both Trump and his inner circle and Iran’s leadership should recognize that the U.S. and Iran have entered an escalation spiral. Adding fuel to the fire risks stoking this crisis to the point of no return. For the United States, any military retaliation is likely to be matched in kind by Iran. For Iran, any provocations risk further isolating the country and giving fodder to warhawks who won’t stop at a few retaliatory strikes.

“The night is always darkest before the dawn. We urge all leaders to put their countries’ best interests in mind and firmly step away from the path to war.”

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NIAC Statement in Response to Reports of Downed U.S. Drone

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: Thursday, June 20, 2019
CONTACT: Mana Mostatabi | 202.386.6325 x103 | mmostatabi@niacouncil.org

WASHINGTON DC – Today, Iranian forces reportedly shot down a U.S. military drone after it had allegedly entered into Iranian territory. U.S. officials maintain that the incident occurred in international airspace over the Strait of Hormuz.

In response, Sina Toossi, Research Associate at the National Iranian American Council (NIAC), said:

“Reports that Iran has shot down a U.S. drone over the Persian Gulf are alarming and serve as yet another potential tripmine to all-out war erupting. As U.S.-Iran tensions have soared in recent weeks, the need for deconfliction channels between the two countries is more pronounced than ever. These vital channels of communication existed in the past, allowing both sides to delineate boundaries and avoid collisions between their respective militaries in the Persian Gulf, Iraq, Syria and in other theaters. However, the Trump administration, in pursuit of a counterproductive and destabilizing so-called ‘maximum pressure’ campaign, has eliminated all levels of communication between the two sides.

“If it is proven that Iran shot down the U.S. drone over international waters, it is provocative act that must be condemned by the international community. Regardless, there is a vital need for immediate U.S.-Iran deescalation. There are no military solutions to the U.S. disputes with Iran—only diplomatic ones. However, rather than pursue sincere diplomacy, President Trump has elected to pile on pressure with no strategic foresight at the behest of uber-hawkish advisors like John Bolton. If Trump wants to avoid a disastrous conflict at this critical juncture, he needs new advisors that would reopen channels of dialogue and enact policies that would bring Trump closer to a deal with Tehran, not war.”

Toossi continued:

“The fact is that the Trump White House’s policies have set the U.S. on a path to conflict with Iran. Actions such as designating as a foreign terrorist organization Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC), a state-run military force which operates in the Persian Gulf in close proximity to U.S. forces, were bound to lead to the dangerous scenarios unfolding today. Indeed, the Pentagon and U.S. intelligence agencies long warned against designating the IRGC for precisely this risk of escalation. They have since also held that Iran’s recent, more threatening activity is due to the Trump’s administration aggressive actions, including the IRGC designation and terminating sanction waivers for importers of Iranian oil.”

NIAC Statement on Latest Persian Gulf Tanker Attacks

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: Thursday, June 13, 2019
CONTACT: Mana Mostatabi | 202.386.6325 x103 | mmostatabi@niacouncil.org

WASHINGTON D.C. – Today, reports broke that for the second time this month two oil tankers in the Strait of Hormuz came under attack. U.S. officials were quick to blame Iran, while Iran’s foreign minister Javad Zarif seemed to deny the attacks and described them as “suspicious.”

In response to the reports that more oil tankers were sabotaged in the Persian Gulf, Jamal Abdi, President of the National Iranian American Council, said:

“With John Bolton seeking to maneuver the U.S. into a war with Iran, the sabotage of more oil tankers underscores the increasingly dangerous situation in the Middle East as the Trump administration pursues its maximum pressure approach toward Iran. The sabotage of oil tankers in May has not yet been attributed to any state. There is a plausible motive to attribute to Iran, but also to other actors in the region and beyond who want to maneuver the U.S. into a war.

The fact that the sabotage occurred amid Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s state visit to Iran–where he is believed to have communicated a message from Trump to Iran’s Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei–underscores that the likely motive of the attackers is to prevent any easing of tensions and block off exits ramps to war.

“We may know more about these attacks in the weeks ahead, but we urge all actors – in particular the Trump administration and Iran – to exercise restraint. Trump cannot mitigate the risks of war through pressure, but only by pausing his pressure campaign and by seriously investing in sober negotiations.

“For Congress, these attacks are yet another warning sign that Trump and his team are leaning into a disastrous war in the Middle East. Worse still, Trump officials have made clear they may not even seek Congressional authorization prior to launching a war. The House Armed Services Committee just held a rigorous debate on war powers and Iran in the early morning hours, where Chairman Adam Smith (D-WA) underscored his commitment to ruling out an unauthorized war with Iran. That is precisely what is needed. However, the longer Congress waits to act while the situation unravels, the greater the likelihood of catastrophe.”

NIAC Welcomes Release of U.S. Resident After Four Years Imprisonment in Iran

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: Tuesday, June 11, 2019
CONTACT: Mana Mostatabi | 202.386.6325 x103 | mmostatabi@niacouncil.org

Washington DC – Today, news broke that a Lebanese-born U.S. permanent resident was released after spending nearly four years in Iran’s notorious Evin prison. Zakka, a 52-year-old IT specialist, was originally detained in 2015 after arriving in Iran to speak at a conference at the invitation of government officials. He was falsely charged with espionage, sentenced to ten years in prison, and reportedly hit with a fine in excess of $4 million.

In response to Zakka’s release, President of the National Iranian American Council (NIAC) Jamal Abdi issued the following statement:

NIAC welcomes the release of Lebanese national and U.S. permanent resident Nizar Zakka after four years of unjust imprisonment in Iran. Like the many dual nationals who have been arrested in Iran on fraudulent charges, Zakka’s case was exceptionally cruel. He travelled to Iran upon the invitation of a senior Rouhani administration official for a conference, only to be arrested by the Revolutionary Guards and falsely accused of espionage.

Zakka endured many abuses during his time in Iranian custody, including spending roughly 40 days in solitary confinement and being pressured to give a false confession. NIAC condemns the Iranian government in the strongest terms for these abuses and reiterates its call on Iranian authorities to comply with Iran’s international human rights obligations. Sadly, the Iranian judiciary has long victimized its own citizens with unfair trials and elements in the country have long taken dual nationals as hostages to use as bargaining chips and undermine their moderate rivals.

Zakka’s release is a positive step and is hopefully a prelude to the release of all other dual nationals unjustly held in Iran. To this end, we strongly encourage the Trump administration to test Iran’s alleged openness to negotiations that could secure the release of others who have been left behind. The Iranian government must once and for all end its detestable practice of imprisoning dual nationals and other political targets under trumped up charges and free all political prisoners held unjustly in the country.

NIAC Responds to State Department’s Decision to Suspend Funding to Grantee Using Funds to Attack U.S. Civil Society

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: Friday, May 31, 2019 
CONTACT: Mana Mostatabi | 202.386.6325 x103 | mmostatabi@niacouncil.org

Washington D.C. – Today, the State Department announced that it is suspending funding to a grantee of the department’s Global Engagement Center (GEC), the Iran Disinformation Project (Iran Disinfo), after it was revealed that the group was using funds to attack journalists, analysts, and American civil society organizations, like NIAC, online. The suspension of IranDisinfo follows a major astroturf campaign against NIAC last weekend involving hawkish pro-war organizations like Foundation for Defense of Democracies (FDD) and radical diaspora groups like the Mujahedin-e Khalq (MEK) – which operates a social media “troll farm” in Albania.

NIAC President Jamal Abdi said in response to these developments:

“Suspending funding for this organization is a fine start. But the American people deserve to know if this is part of a larger conspiracy funded by U.S. taxpayer dollars. We need answers as to whether any member of the Trump Administration or U.S. government agency has been involved in guiding, coordinating, or encouraging attacks and propaganda against critics or political opponents of the Trump Administration.”

Abdi elaborated on the links between the groups in question and the Trump Administration:

“There are close ties between officials in the Trump Administration organizations involved in these attacks. We know that the President’s National Security Advisor John Bolton is fond of the MEK, has advocated publicly for the group, and has likely received payment in the form of speaking fees from this former terrorist organization. We also know that former senior FDD officials now sit in John Bolton’s National Security Council and that Secretary of State Mike Pompeo – while he was the CIA Director – took the highly unusual step of declassifying documents and providing them exclusively to FDD to make the case for military action against Iran.”

Abdi continued:

“If the Trump Administration is funneling funds or coordinating with the perpetrators of this campaign, it is incumbent on Congress to get to the bottom of it. We look forward to working to uncover the truth behind these attacks and any involvement by the U.S. government as well as foreign state sponsored actors. We will not let anyone silence our voices and create a chilling effect meant to deter political engagement within our community.”

BACKGROUND

In last week’s online propaganda campaign, IranDisinfo along with FDD and MEK attempted to spread the outrageously false claim that NIAC and any Iranian American journalist, academic, or political candidate who has spoken out against Donald Trump’s Iran policies or opposed war against Iran are supporters of, or even supported by, the Iranian government.

The attacks utilized an army of bots and inauthentic social media accounts to launch hundreds of thousands of tweets intended to create a false narrative that Iranians and Iranian Americans support the Trump Administration’s “maximum pressure campaign” and push for war with Iran. The coordinated assault also aimed to discredit pro-peace Iranian Americans by claiming they are supportive of or even supported by the Islamic Republic.

FDD analyst Saeed Ghasseminejad is the main research contributor to IranDisinfo and FDD operates an identical “IranDisinfo” section on its own website. IranDisinfo’s website is also hosted by Tavanna, another organization that is funded by the State Department, and its Executive Director lists IranDisinfo among her affiliations.

NIAC Statement on Twitter’s Takedown of Thousands of Fake Iran-Linked Accounts

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: Wednesday, May 29, 2019 
CONTACT: Mana Mostatabi | 202.386.6325 x103 | mmostatabi@niacouncil.org

Washington D.C. – Yesterday, Twitter’s Head of Site Integrity, Yoel Roth, tweeted that the social platform had removed over 2,800 inauthentic accounts originating in Iran. The accounts are thought to be part of a foreign information operations campaign intending to manipulate information for “national or geopolitical ends.” Separately, Facebook also announced it had removed a number of Iranian origin accounts, groups, and pages that had violated its policy prohibiting “coordinated inauthentic behavior.”

Jamal Abdi, President of the National Iranian American Council (NIAC), issued the following statement in response:

“There is no place for foreign interference in American elections or our political process. We applaud Twitter and Facebook for their efforts to remove accounts, likely Iranian-state backed, that were propagating disinformation or distorting public discourse. At the same time, we are concerned there are still many actors – also potentially state-backed – that are utilizing inauthentic social media accounts and campaigns to manipulate the U.S. political and policy making process.

“Over Memorial Day weekend, a coordinated astroturf campaign was orchestrated on Twitter that slandered and even threatened violence against NIAC and Iranian American journalists, academics, and political candidates who have spoken out against Donald Trump’s Iran policies or otherwise opposed war against Iran.

“Our community has been on the receiving end of attacks from both sides. Iranian-state backed entities have called us agents of Israel and the U.S. government, while fringe groups like the MEK with deep ties to Saudi funding or Israeli-linked groups like the Foundation for Defense of Democracies, have accused us of working for the Islamic Republic.  

“The goal of these latest attacks was to create a false perception that Iranians and Iranian Americans support the Trump Administration’s policies towards Iran, including sanctions and potential war, and that pro-peace voices within the Iranian-American community are supportive of or even supported by the Islamic Republic.

“In the lead up to the 2003 invasion of Iraq, the Bush Administration amplified the voices of Ahmad Chalabi and other Iraqi exiles who helped sell the case that the U.S. would be ‘welcomed as liberators.’ In lieu of an Iranian Chalabi, the forces agitating for war with Iran are using social media manipulation campaigns to fill that role.

“It goes without saying that these outrageous attacks are patently false and that pro-peace advocates, objective analysts, and civil society organizations are integral to the pillars of a functioning American democracy – not products of an Iranian theocracy. 

“We call on platforms like Twitter that are committed to ‘protecting public conversation,’ to review all instances of such coordinated attacks that aim to manipulate American political discourse and undermine or intimidate American civil society. We have already witnessed how social media manipulation helped potentially swing the results of a U.S. Presidential Election, we cannot afford to sit idly by while a similar campaign steers the U.S. into a disastrous war.”

NIAC Statement on Trump’s Tweet Threat to “End” Iran

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: Sunday, May 19, 2019
CONTACT: Mana Mostatabi | 202.386.6325 x103 | mmostatabi@niacouncil.org

Washington, D.C. – Today, President Trump threatened to “end” Iran in a tweet on the heels of reports that rockets landed near the U.S. embassy compound in Baghdad.

In response, President of the National Iranian American Council, Jamal Abdi, issued the following statement:

“President Trump’s saber-rattling about Iran has reached a dangerous new low with his threat to “end” Iran—a country of 83 million men, women, and children. Since the President reneged on the Iran nuclear deal last year, the administration’s policies have been geared towards provoking Iran into retaliation to give cover for a perilous escalation favored by administration hawks. There is no doubt that National Security Advisor John Bolton will use the slightest Iranian action—even bereft of reliable intelligence—as a pretext to push for the war he’s always wanted.

“Trump’s belligerent threat to destroy Iran comes on the heels of reports that a “low-grade” rocket landed in an empty lot near the U.S. embassy compound in Baghdad. Last September, a similar incident led to Bolton asking the Pentagon for options to militarily strike Iran. At the time, then-Secretary of Defense James Mattis shot down Bolton’s plans. With Mattis gone today, Bolton is well positioned to push Trump and the U.S. into a conflict that would be catastrophic for U.S. interests and regional and global stability.

“The fact is that the United States and the world should not be in this position where a war with Iran is even a possibility. America’s traditional allies in Europe, as well as the Pentagon and U.S. intelligence, have repeatedly warned that the administration’s actions are leading to a dangerous tit-for-tat with Iran. Simply stated, the current state of heightened tensions between the U.S. and Iran is exclusively due to the policies of the Trump administration, which abandoned a nonproliferation agreement that was working in favor of a so-called “maximum pressure campaign.”

“President Trump has claimed that he doesn’t want war, but his bombastic rhetoric is ensuring that he walks into one. Threats of destruction, a la “fire and fury,” will not get him a deal with Iran, just as they haven’t with North Korea. Instead, if Trump is sincere about wanting diplomatic compromise, he should cease his policy of economic warfare that is strangling the Iranian people and pursue a tone of mutual respect with Tehran. Foremost, this would require him to fire John Bolton, who has made clear he opposes U.S.-Iran diplomacy in principle.”

NIAC Statement on Bolton’s Latest Military Plans for Iran

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: Monday, May 13, 2019
CONTACT: Mana Mostatabi | 202.386.6325 x103 | mmostatabi@niacouncil.org

Washington, D.C. – Today, reports broke that John Bolton ordered updates to a military plan that detailed sending up to 120,000 troops to the Middle East should Iran attack U.S. forces or escalate its nuclear activities.

In response, President of the National Iranian American Council, Jamal Abdi, issued the following statement:

“John Bolton is methodically setting the stage for war with Iranforcing Iran into a corner and then readying war plans for when Iran takes the bait. There are two ways Bolton can be stopped: either Trump can fire him or Congress can pass legislation to block a war before it starts. It’s time for our leaders to stop sleepwalking and the public to speak out as an unrestrained Iraq war architect repeats the playbook from that generational catastrophe with Iran.”

NIAC Deeply Concerned by Continued Deterioration of the Iran Nuclear Deal

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: Wednesday, May 7, 2019 
CONTACT: Mana Mostatabi | 202.386.6325 x103 | mmostatabi@niacouncil.org

Washington, D.C. – Today, reports broke that Iran will halt compliance with two limits in the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), or Iran nuclear deal, a year following Trump’s violation of U.S. sanctions lifting commitments.

In response, Jamal Abdi, President of the National Iranian American Council (NIAC), issued the following statement:

“Iran’s announcement that it will halt compliance with certain limits under the Iran nuclear deal if parties to the agreement do not uphold their promises on sanctions relief carries substantial risk. It is precisely what John Bolton and other Iran hawks have sought via their efforts to ratchet up tensions in recent weeks: a deteriorating nuclear deal that they will exploit to justify actions that move the U.S. toward war. Via their sabotage, Bolton and the Trump administration own the consequences as the agreement moves closer to collapse.

“If Iran continues to adhere to significant elements of the accord, it will still be possible for all parties to return to compliance with this vital agreement. Yet, barring political will in Europe and the United States to stand up to Donald Trump as he lets John Bolton shatter yet another vital nonproliferation agreement, the JCPOA has moved closer to outright collapse – and the U.S. and Iran closer to war.

“Remaining parties to the deal should take steps to ensure Iran receives some benefit if it adheres to the accord, while Congress and presidential contenders should state clearly that they would shore up Iranian compliance by returning the U.S. to its commitments. The time is running short, and the risks of war are growing longer. Failure to act risks foreclosing the exit ramps to conflict permanently.”

Abdi continued:

“The Trump administration’s incoherent and self-defeating Iran policy is now entering a new stage of costs for the U.S. and security in the Middle East with the resumption of the Iranian nuclear crisis. Meanwhile, the Iranian people continue to be the biggest victims of the escalation ladder, as they become further impoverished in the face of a growing the threat of war.

“It is important to keep Iran’s announcement in context. The text of the JCPOA makes clear that Iran reserves the right to cease compliance with the JCPOA – in whole or in part – in response to the reimposition of sanctions. That is precisely what Iran has begun via its decision to cease observing two thresholds outlined in the deal that were targeted by Trump administration sanctions. One, a soft cap on Iran’s ability to produce heavy water, is not directly relevant to Iran’s ability to produce a nuclear weapon. The second, a 300 kg limit on Iran’s enriched uranium stockpile that is supposed to last through 2030, delivers substantial nonproliferation benefits. Yet, given that Iran reduced its enriched uranium stockpile by 97% as part of the JCPOA, the near term risks of the decision are limited.

“However, while Iranian President Rouhani has stressed that the door to diplomacy is still open and that Iran is ready to fully return to its commitments under the deal if others deliver on sanctions relief, he also issued a conditional threat to cease compliance with all enrichment limits and to resume work at the Arak reactor in 60 days, which would pose substantial risks and further strain the accord.”