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November 26, 2013

Policy Memo: Iran Deal is a Victory for U.S. and Regional Security

 The interim agreement signed by Iran and the P5+1 is a major boost to American and regional security. For the first time in eight years, Iran’s nuclear program will be frozen and key elements will be rolled back, all under enhanced IAEA inspections.

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The interim agreement signed by Iran and the P5+1 is a major boost to American and regional security. For the first time in eight years, Iran’s nuclear program will be frozen and key elements will be rolled back, all under enhanced IAEA inspections. The interim deal will verifiably prevent an Iranian nuclear breakout option and ensure Iran cannot stall for time or advance its nuclear program during 6 month negotiations towards a final deal. In exchange, the U.S. and P5+1 offered modest relief from gold, petrochemical and civilian aircraft sanctions; access to limited frozen overseas funds; and the enablement of banking channels for humanitarian and other purposes.

A deal to freeze, rollback, and verify 

The deal requires Iran to rollback its enrichment program:

  • Iran will cease its enrichment at the 20% level
  • Iran’s existing stockpile of 20% enriched uranium will be converted to fuel or downblended to a lower grade.
  • Iran will not add to its stockpile of low enriched uranium (3.5-5%).

The deal imposes a freeze on Iran’s nuclear capabilities:

  • Iran cannot install or activate any new centrifuges
  • Iran cannot make any further advances on the Arak reactor.

The deal mandates unprecedented inspections to verify Iran does not cheat:

  • IAEA inspectors will be granted daily and surprise access to Iran’s enrichment facilities.
  • Any move to violate the terms of the agreement would be immediately detected.

Now, an agreement that ensures Iran never obtains nuclear weapons is within reach:

  • The final deal will not be about trusting Iran, it will be about putting the mechanisms in place to hold Iran accountable.
  • The end goal of nuclear negotiations is getting Iran to accept restrictions and maximal inspections that are necessary to ensure its nuclear program is limited exclusively to peaceful purposes. 

The “zero enrichment” fallacy

Some argue that the only acceptable outcome is “zero enrichment” in which Iran completely dismantles its nuclear program. 

  • A zero-enrichment ultimatum would convince the Iranians to walk away from negotiations without putting any constraints or verification mechanisms in place.
  • Even if plausible, requiring “zero enrichment” relies soley on trusting Iran to end enrichment. Instead of trusting, we must verify: put realstic constraints on Iran’s nuclear program and hold Iran accountable to those constraints through vigorous inspections.

The “more sanctions” fallacy 

  • Sanctions were intended to be used as diplomatic leverage — now is the opportunity to finally convert sanctions into a deal.
  • Without a credible offer of sanctions relief, Iran will have no incentive to make concessions. To get a comprehensive deal, we will need to trade in existing sanctions for Iranian compromises.
  • A vote for new sanctions would derail the talks and unravel existing sanctions without Iran making any concessions.
  • Passing more sanctions would be spun by Iranian hardliners who argue the West cannot be trusted even under the interim deal.

Americans do not want another war   

  • After a decade of wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, the American people will not stand for another ill-advised war of choice in the Middle East. 
  • According to a November 20, 2013 Washington Post/ABC poll, Americans support a diplomatic nuclear deal in which sanctions are relaxed by a 2 to 1 margin.

 

 

 

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