July 22, 2015

Congress Should Support the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action

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The Deal Cuts Off Iran’s Pathways to a Nuclear Weapon

  • The time it would take Iran to enrich sufficient uranium for a single nuclear device is increased from 2-3 months to a full year for a decade.
  • Iran reduces its installed centrifuges by two-thirds for a decade.
  • Iran’s enrichment level is capped at 3.67%, far below weapons grade.
  • Iran’s uranium stockpile is cut by 97% to 300 kg for fifteen years, a fraction of the amount needed for a single nuclear weapon with further enrichment.
  • The core of the Arak reactor is destroyed and Iran redesigns the facility so that it will not produce weapons grade plutonium.
  • Iran foregoes reprocessing and ships out all spent fuel from Arak and future reactors.

The Agreement Imposes the Strongest Inspection Regime Ever Negotiated

  • The agreement is fully verifiable. If Iran tries to break out, it will be detected.
  • Iran’s entire nuclear fuel cycle will be closely monitored, including via a dedicated procurement channel and IAEA inspections of enrichment facilities, the Arak reactor, uranium mines and mills, and centrifuge production facilities.
  • Iran will implement and eventually ratify the IAEA Additional Protocol, ensuring that inspectors can access any suspicious site – including military sites – when they need to.
  • If Iran objects to IAEA access to a suspicious site, Iran has 24 days to permit access or have the matter referred to the UN Security Council, which can snap back sanctions.
  • 24 days is not sufficient to hide evidence of a covert enrichment facility, where traces of nuclear material could be detected months or years thereafter.
  • “Anytime, anywhere” access – as demanded by some critics – is neither necessary nor achievable.

Key Provisions of the Deal Last for Decades, and Some Forever

  • The ratification of the IAEA Additional Protocol will lock in intrusive inspections indefinitely, including at suspicious sites. This measure will last forever.
  • Iran’s commitments not to ever seek, develop or acquire nuclear weapons, to forego reprocessing, and to ship out spent fuel at the Arak reactor or any future reactors do not end.
  • The IAEA will have continuous monitoring of Iran’s uranium mines and mills for 25 years, and at centrifuge production facilities for 20 years.
  • Many limitations on enrichment – including the cap on enrichment threshold and on the size of Iran’s uranium stockpile – last for 15 years.

The Deal Could Facilitate New Diplomatic Opportunities

  • This deal depends on verification, not trust, to ensure Iran does not get a nuclear weapon. But it does open many opportunities to advance U.S. interests and security beyond the nuclear issue if further diplomacy is pursued.
  • Iran’s Supreme Leader, Foreign Minister and head of the Supreme National Security Council have all indicated that if the nuclear agreement is successful, Iran is willing to negotiate on other matters, including regional security issues.
  • Such openness could extend to areas of potential strategic convergence, like Afghanistan and Iraq, and divergence, such as Syria and Yemen. 
  • A successful resolution of the nuclear issue will empower Iran’s political moderates in addition to the Iranian people, who can press their leadership for both internal and external moderation.

The Alternatives are Grim

  • Without a deal, Iran’s breakout timeline could shrink from 2-3 months to less than a month, approaching an undetectable threshold.
  • Without a deal, the Arak reactor could come online in about a year without alterations and produce sufficient plutonium, if separated, for multiple nuclear weapons each year thereafter.
  • Rejecting a deal would unravel international enforcement of the sanctions regime. Constraints on and inspections of Iran’s nuclear program would diminish, or disappear altogether if Iran pulls out of the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty.
  • Military strikes cannot destroy Iran’s nuclear know-how, could only set Iran’s nuclear program back by a year or two, and would likely incentivize Iran’s pursuit of a nuclear deterrent.
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