November 19, 2018

New Report Says U.S. Return to Iran Nuclear Deal is Possible, Urges Incoming Congress and 2020 Presidential Challengers to Make JCPOA Restoration Foreign Policy Priority

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: Monday, November 19th, 2018
CONTACT: Yasmina Dardari | [email protected] | (407) 922-8149

WASHINGTON, D.C.—Today, the National Iranian American Council has launched a first-of-its-kind report detailing the urgency and legislative feasibility for the United States to return to the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), also known as the Iran Nuclear Deal. The report makes the case that seeking to return the United States into the JCPOA should be a significant foreign policy priority for the incoming Congress, and central to the foreign policy platform of those seeking to challenge Trump in 2020.


On May 8, 2018, President Trump announced his decision to withdraw the United States from the JCPOA and to re-impose all nuclear-related sanctions lifted under the nuclear accord following 90- and 180-day wind-down periods. The Trump administration also promised to utilize existing U.S. sanctions authorities to aggressively target Iran and companies engaged in sanctionable conduct therewith.

The report also outlines the damage to U.S. national interests triggered by the Trump administration’s violation of the deal, including strained relations with European Union allies and the ever-increasing threat of the U.S.-Iran conflict escalating into military action. The report concludes with recommendations to Congress and 2020 Presidential contenders to salvage the JCPOA and rehabilitate the United States on the global stage.

Jamal Abdi, President of the National Iranian American Council, explained:

“Donald Trump’s assault on the Iran nuclear deal sabotages America’s credibility and influence on the world stage, and threatens to provoke a new nuclear crisis in the Middle East. The President is armed with an ideologically hawkish cabinet on track to fully collapse the accord, increasing the risks of both war with Iran and an Iranian nuclear weapon. The incoming Congress and any 2020 Presidential challengers must vow to mitigate the damage from Trump’s Iran deal exit by signaling support for a return to the JCPOA. The benefits of re-entering the Iran Deal cannot be overstated: It would solidify Iranian nuclear concessions that last through 2030 and beyond, signal to Saudi Arabia that the blank check for their brazen behavior is at an end, and guarantee diplomacy with Iran that will take the United States away from the brink of yet another endless war in the Middle East.”

Expert Reactions to ‘Restoring U.S. Credibility: Returning to the Iran Nuclear Agreement

*Titles are for identification purposes only*

Narges Bajoghli, Assistant Professor at Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies

“It is crucial for America’s standing in the world that we work to re-enter the JCPOA in the near future. This report provides concrete steps that Congress can take now to ensure that we return to the promises we made to the international community. Without doing so, America will continue to act as a force of instability in the Middle East.”

Farideh Farhi, Independent Scholar and Affiliate Graduate Faculty at the University of Hawai’i at Manoa:

“The Trump Administration’s ill-conceived rejection of the JCPOA and policy of ‘maximum pressure’ can no doubt inflict pain on the Iranian people. It can also court disaster in risking Iran’s resumption of its nuclear activities, further destabilization of the Middle East, and possibly even another costly US war in the region. Remaining quiet in the face of these predictable harms is not an option. This report offers timely and reasonable recommendations for keeping the JCPOA alive as a pathway for the re-emergence of a saner approach to Iran.”

Bijan Khajehpour, economist and a managing partner at Eurasian Nexus Partners

“The US rejoining the JCPOA and helping to sustain a multilateral agreement will not only reduce the likelihood of an unnecessary nuclear arms race in the Middle East, but also prevent a radicalisation of Iranian politics. A moderate Iran is important for regional stability, the containment of jihadist movements and the future energy security for US allies globally.”

Hooman Majd, Iranian-American writer:

“It almost goes without saying that the best option for de-escalating tensions in the Middle East, and preventing nuclear proliferation, is for the U.S. to return to the JCPOA nuclear accord. It is unimaginable that Iran would agree to a new deal—or indeed any other deal on other issues of contention—without the U.S. first abiding by the commitments that it made when it signed on, along with five other powers, to the nuclear deal with Iran.”

Nicholas Miller, Assistant Professor of Government at Dartmouth College

“The JCPOA has successfully curtailed Iran’s nuclear program and remains the surest tool for preventing an Iranian bomb. The new Congress should do what it can to limit the serious damage done by the Trump administration’s withdrawal from the deal. If the administration’s ‘maximum pressure’ campaign continues to escalate, the odds increase that Iran will exit the agreement and move closer to a nuclear weapon, which could in turn spark a costly war.”

Paul Pillar, Nonresident Senior Fellow at the Center for Security Studies at Georgetown University

“Candidates and legislators of all political persuasions would do well to read and heed this report. The Trump administration’s abandonment of arms control and diplomacy in favor of conflict and confrontation has brought the United States only isolation and infamy as well as heightened risk of war. It is not too late to return to compliance with the JCPOA and to a course that demonstrably serves U.S. interests better than the current policy does.”

Ned Price, Director of Policy and Communication at National Security Action

“There is much that we still don’t know about the Trump administration’s plans and intentions regarding Iran, but here’s what we do know: the withdrawal from the Iran deal was a political maneuver designed solely to satisfy the President’s base. It was manifestly not in our national security interest, as it has the potential to free Iran from the most stringent verification and monitoring regime ever negotiated, while also simultaneously setting us on a possible path toward another disastrous Middle Eastern conflict. What we also know, however, is that the new Democratic House now has the oversight tools to spotlight and constrain the administration’s recklessness, just as we begin to clear the path for the next administration’s reentry into the deal. There may be tactical disagreements regarding how to most effectively confront Iran’s destabilizing regional activities, but there must be a strategic recognition that only the JCPOA provides a baseline that allows us to achieve our most important objective: a nuclear weapons-free Iran.”

Barbara Slavin, Director of the Future of Iran Initiative at The Atlantic Council:

“I concur that the next US administration should return to the JCPOA– assuming Iran has remained compliant — and also lift the travel ban. The US should also request new talks with Iran both on repairing the damage from the unilateral withdrawal from the JCPOA and on other issues of mutual concern.”

Lawrence Wilkerson, Col, USA (Ret), former chief of staff to secretary of state Colin Powell

“NIAC’s report, “Restoring U.S. Credibility – Returning to the Iran Nuclear Agreement”, is not only a powerful indictment of the Trump Administration’s security policy, it is a clear and clarion call for redress. The report makes quite clear that without a resumption of our agreed responsibilities under the JCPOA, alliances will fracture, de-dollarization movements will proceed apace, enemies will gain ground, and Iran will not be substantially prevented from acquiring a nuclear weapon. War could even result. The wonder is that the U.S. withdrew from the agreement in the first place; even more of a marvel–but entirely wise and proper–would be a successful return. Every concerned party should be working toward that end.”

For more information, or for interview with a NIAC spokesperson, please contact Yasmina Dardari at (407) 922-8149 or by email at [email protected]

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The National Iranian American Council is a nonpartisan, nonprofit organization dedicated to strengthening the voice of Iranian Americans and promoting greater understanding between the American and Iranian people.

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