Ted Cruz Embodies the Degeneration of Foreign-Policy Conservatism

 Think nothing could be worse than a Trump presidency? Think again.

Source: Huff Post

Author: Andrew J. Bacevich

Emphasis Mine

W hen it comes to US foreign policy, what exactly does it mean to be a conservative?

Before the Vietnam War, conservatism in foreign policy had less to do with principles than with temperament. As president, Dwight Eisenhower represented the very embodiment of that temperament. From his days as a soldier, Ike knew war well enough to treat it warily. Raised in the heartland, he was something of a prairie nationalist, with an aversion to crusades and a limited appetite for risk. This did not imply passivity, and Eisenhower made his fair share of lamentable mistakes—instigating coups in Guatemala and Iran, initiating the US commitment to South Vietnam, and overreacting to the Cuban Revolution, among them. Yet his overall approach to the business of statecraft emphasized prudence and even circumspection. Say what you will about US foreign policy in the 1950s, it could have been much worse. Indeed, Ike’s immediate successors, disdaining his stewardship, wasted little time in demonstrating this point, most disastrously in Vietnam.

In the wake of the war in Vietnam and as a direct consequence of the defeat the United States suffered there, conservative thinking about foreign policy acquired a pronounced ideological edge. By denouncing the Evil Empire and scrubbing the American past clean of ambiguity, Ronald Reagan made himself a favorite on the right. Among those succumbing to the allure of the Great Communicator, Reagan’s willingness to condemn adversaries as unabashedly wicked seemed to restore to US policy the moral clarity it had lost during the 1960s. Even so, Reagan’s rhetoric did not necessarily translate into action. While he might demand that Mikhail Gorbachev “tear down this wall,” nowhere in that demand was there any implication that if the Soviet leader refused to comply, Reagan himself would do the bulldozing.

Only after 9/11 did Manichaeism become the explicit basis for action. When it came to rhetorical flourishes, George W. Bush outdid Reagan, setting his sights on destroying a 21st-century Axis of Evil en route to forcing large chunks of the Islamic world into compliance with his Freedom Agenda. Unlike Ike—no longer in the pantheon of conservative heroes—Bush knew next to nothing about war. Perhaps for that very reason, he evinced supreme confidence in his ability to put America’s matchless military to work.

The defining features of American conservatism now became hubris and vainglory. Prudence? That was for wusses. Circumspection? A euphemism for cowardice.

Not everyone on the right climbed aboard the Bush bandwagon. But the great majority did, led by the most fervent crusaders—commonly known as neoconservatives—who promptly set out to expel dissenters. Writing in National Review in March 2003, with the US invasion of Iraq just under way, David Frum announced the purge, declaring that conservatives daring to oppose the Iraq War were treasonous. “They deny and excuse terror,” Frum charged. “They publicize wild conspiracy theories.” Some even “yearn for the victory of their nation’s enemies.” No alternative existed but to banish them from the conservative movement altogether. “In a time of danger, they have turned their backs on their country. Now we turn our backs on them.”

Frum’s “we” promptly led the United States into a debacle of monumental proportions, its mournful consequences continuing to mount even today. As a direct consequence of Operation Iraqi Freedom, a name chosen without a trace of irony, the right’s claim to foresight and wisdom in the management of national security affairs took a major hit. Names such as Bush, Cheney, Rumsfeld, Wolfowitz, and Feith now became bywords for arrogant incompetence.

Few readers of this magazine will view with regret the blow to their reputations sustained by the architects of the Iraq War. Yet the disaster over which they presided has produced a further perversion in what passes for an ostensibly conservative approach to foreign policy. Rather than inspiring a return to prudence and circumspection, the failures and frustrations endured in Iraq and other post-9/11 military campaigns now find expression in compulsive truculence.

As the embodiment of this truculence, Texas Senator Ted Cruz, today finding favor among Republicans desperate to derail Donald Trump’s bid for the GOP nomination, stands alone. From the very outset of his candidacy, Cruz has depicted himself as the one genuinely principled conservative in the race. And in comparison to Trump, who is ideologically sui generis, Cruz does qualify as something of a conservative. When it comes to foreign policy, however, Cruz offers not principles but—like Trump himself—raw pugnacity.

Cruz has gone out of his way to deride the pretensions of democracy promoters, mocking “crazy neocon invade-every-country-on-earth” types wanting to “send our kids to die in the Middle East.” On the stump, Cruz advertises himself as Reagan’s one-and-only true heir. As such, he endorses “the clarity of Reagan’s four most important words: ‘We win, they lose.’” Upon closer examination, Cruz is actually advocating something quite different: “We win, they lose, then we walk away.” The key to “winning” is to unleash American military might. “If I am elected president, we will utterly destroy ISIS,” Cruz vows. “We won’t weaken them. We won’t degrade them. We will utterly destroy them. We will carpet-bomb them into oblivion…. We will do everything necessary so that every militant on the face of the earth will know…if you wage jihad and declare war on America, you are signing your death warrant.”

Yet rather than Reaganesque, Cruz’s prescription for dealing with Islamist radicalism represents a throwback to bomb-them-back-to-the-Stone-Age precepts pioneered by Gen. Curtis LeMay and endorsed by the likes of Barry Goldwater back when obliteration was in fashion. The embryonic Cruz Doctrine offers an approximation of total war. “I don’t know if sand can glow in the dark, but we’re going to find out!” he promises with evident enthusiasm.

Nowhere, however, does his outlook take into account costs, whether human, fiscal, or moral. Nor does it weigh the second-order consequences of, say, rendering large parts of Iraq and Syria a smoking ruin or of killing large numbers of noncombatants through campaigns of indiscriminate bombing. In essence, Cruz sees force as a way to circumvent history—a prospect that resonates with Americans annoyed by history’s stubborn complexities.

A similar logic—if we can call it that—is at play in Cruz’s promise on “day one” of his presidency to “rip to shreds” the Iran nuclear agreement. He has compared the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) to the “Munich Deal of 1938, allowing homicidal maniacs to acquire weapons of mass murder.” Apart from causing consternation among the several other signatories to the agreement—the other permanent members of the UN Security Council plus Germany—US withdrawal would accomplish nothing of substance. Even so, Cruz’s insistence that he will do so—begging the question then what?assures his supporters that he, like they, inhabits a world in which good guys are pitted against bad guys. In such a world, diplomacy simply plays into the hands of the enemy. “We stop the bad guys by using our guns,” Cruz insists, not by talking to them. His implied willingness to use guns to stop the bad guys in Tehran is unmistakable.

Not least among Cruz’s objections to the JCPOA is that it represents a “fundamental betrayal” of Israel, a country to which he professes great devotion. Cruz’s antagonism toward evildoers finds its counterpart in his deference toward Israel. More specifically, Cruz expresses unabashed admiration for the current head of the Israeli government, conferring on Benjamin Netanyahu the supreme conservative accolade of being “Churchillian.”

In reality, the comparison is an odd one. As a statesman, the quality setting Churchill apart was imagination, which he possessed in abundance—as prime minister, he was perpetually hatching wild schemes. Netanyahu’s defining characteristic is his absolute dearth of imagination; he is a willing prisoner of the status quo. Still, by paying homage to the Israeli leader—more broadly aligning himself with the eye-for-a-tooth Israeli approach to security policy—Cruz affirms his own bellicosity. Not surprisingly, Cruz promises to invite Netanyahu to attend his first State of the Union address. Going a step further, he has already previewed the greetings he will employ on the occasion: “Mr. Prime Minister, let me say, I enjoyed seeing you just recently at the grand opening of the new American Embassy in Jerusalem, the once and eternal capital of Israel.” Again, the question left hanging is unanswered: Then what? Whether Cruz possesses the capacity even to recognize the existence of such questions appears doubtful. All that matters is to project an attitude of toughness.

So too with his recently announced team of foreign-policy advisers, consisting in large part of certifiable loonies, Islamophobes, and zealots keen to wage the Christian equivalent of global jihad. Members of the team broadly share the candidate’s own assessment of “Islamic supremacism,” whose adherents are intent on forcing the world to “submit to their form of Islam or die.”

Representative of this crew as a whole is Michael Ledeen, unrepentant proponent of preventive war. Preliminary efforts to destroy the Axis of Evil have not fared well. Ledeen’s prescription? Broaden the problem set and double down. “We now face a more potent Axis of Evil,” he writes, one that incorporates “Russia, China, Cuba, Venezuela, Bolivia and other countries, and terrorist groups including al Qaeda, Hezbollah, and the Islamic State.” This new axis “includes Sunni and Shi’ite radical Muslims, Communists and other radical leftists, and nationalistic secular tyrants.” Together, they have “succeeded in wrecking hopes for a peaceful world.” The only way to eliminate this all-encompassing threat is through relentless and implacable war, from which, Ledeen concludes, there is “no escape.”

Under no plausible definition of the term does Ledeen qualify as even remotely conservative. That the leading “conservative” candidate for the GOP nomination has recruited such a wacko to advise him is itself evidence of how unhinged the American political right has become.

Think nothing could be worse than a Trump presidency? Think again.

Andrew J. Bacevich Andrew J. Bacevich is professor emeritus of history and international relations at Boston University.


Treason: Leaked Wiretaps Reveals Netanyahu Bribed Republicans To Sabotage Obama’s Iran Peace Deal

Source:Occupy Democrats

Author: Colin Taylor

Emphasis Mine

You may remember the ridiculous doomsday prophecies and outrageous fear-mongering that defined the Republican campaign against President Obama’s nuclear peace deal with Iran. The motivation behind their unwise and ultimately ineffective resistance to the President’s diplomatic agenda has finally come to light. A new report from the Wall Street Journal reveals that NSA wiretaps found that the the Israeli Prime Minister and other officials of the Israeli governments attempted to, and most likely succeeded, to bribe American legislators in exchange for their support against the deal.

“A U.S. intelligence official familiar with the intercepts said Israel’s pitch to undecided lawmakers often included such questions as: “How can we get your vote? What’s it going to take? Mr. Netanyahu and some of his allies voiced confidence they could win enough votes.” The answers to Israeli proposals have yet to be fully revealed, but it is clear that favors were offered – bribes were proposed – and from the subsequent behavior of Republican lawmakers, we can only infer that our legislators accepted those bribes, from a foreign government in exchange for opposing the diplomatic efforts of the Obama Administration. At the very least, the very discussion itself indicates that they conspired with a foreign government to undermine the foreign policy agenda of their elected Commander-in-Chief, which certainly amounts to treason.

Given the fact that Republican politicians are notorious for the amount of money they accept from special interests within the United States, what makes anyone think they wouldn’t accept them from a foreign government? The fact that forty-seven Republican Senators sent a letter to the Iranian government without consulting the administration in a direct attempt to undermine the President’s policies is only further evidence of their treachery, putting their ill-gotten rewards above the effectiveness of our foreign policy and consequently the good of our nation and the security of the voters they claim to represent.

It’s painfully ironic that the Republican Party is a major supporter of the NSA’s rampant spying on American citizens without warrants, but as soon as the tables are turned, they are suddenly die-hard supporters of privacy and free speech – which only further implicates them for treasonous activities, strongly implying that they have something to hide. While the Israeli government shrugged off the revelations that they had been spied upon (“Everyone listens to everyone else all the time”), the Republicans in Congress and the right-wing echo machine is working overtime to paint President Obama as the bad guy and accusing him of committing some kind of enormous diplomatic sin, while having laughed off the complaints of our allies when our intelligence organizations targeted Germany and the United Kingdom.

The Republican Party’s seditious letter to Iran has completely backfired and exploded in their faces. Sure, Tom Cotton, Mitch McConnell and their band of traitors in the Senate may have expected to be touted as heroes for defying the evil Obama administration and ensuring we risk starting a war with Iran and once again destabilizing the entire Middle East. Instead, the 47 Senators have widely received nothing but mockeryfrom Fox News, from President Obama, and even from Iranian government officials.

Now, the New York Times Editorial Board has joined in the universal mockery and condemnation of these 47 traitors in a scathing editorial posted on Wednesday. “After helping to ignite a firestorm over a possible nuclear agreement with Iran, Senator John McCain, a former Republican presidential candidate, is now sort of acknowledging his error. ‘Maybe that wasn’t exactly the best way to do that,’ he said on Fox News on Tuesday,” the Times began.

Indeed, McCain is scrambling to backpedal on his decision to sign the letter. Politico reported that McCain’s excuse…is a snowstorm:

“Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) said Republicans — many of whom blessed the missive during a brisk signing session at a Senate lunch a week ago, as senators prepared to flee a Washington snowstorm — should have given it closer consideration.

“‘It was kind of a very rapid process. Everybody was looking forward to getting out of town because of the snowstorm,’ McCain said. ‘I think we probably should have had more discussion about it, given the blowback that there is.’”

“The letter was an attempt to scare the Iranians from making a deal that would limit their nuclear program for at least a decade by issuing a warning that the next president could simply reverse any agreement,” the Editorial Board noted. “It was a blatant, dangerous effort to undercut the president on a grave national security issue by communicating directly with a foreign government.”

“Instead of trying to be leaders and statesmen,” the Board continued, “the Republicans in Congress seem to think their role is outside the American government, divorced from constitutional principles, tradition and the security interests of the American people.”

The editorial noted that, out of spite for President Obama, Republicans are not only willing to sabotage any deal with Iran but “to diminish America’s standing as a global power capable of crafting international commitments and adhering to them.”

The Editorial Board expressed concerns that this inappropriate and illegal attempt to interfere with negotiations could “embolden hard-liners in Iran who, like the Republicans and some of the Democrats in Congress, oppose any nuclear agreement between Iran, the United States and its major allies.”

So far, Iranian leaders have treated the letter as though it was a poorly-executed joke, mocking the signatories’ lack of knowledge of international law and of the U.S. Constitution. Iran’s Foreign Minister, Dr. Javad Zarif, replied to the letter, pointing out that “the authors not only do not understand international law, but are not fully cognizant of the nuances of their own Constitution when it comes to presidential powers in the conduct of foreign policy.”

Change of administration does not in any way relieve the next administration from international obligations undertaken by its predecessor in a possible agreement about Iran’s peaceful nuclear program,” Zarif added. “I wish to enlighten the authors that if the next administration revokes any agreement with the stroke of a pen, as they boast, it will have simply committed a blatant violation of international law.”

For now, the letter has had no visible impact on negotiations — but it has told our allies, enemies, and future allies that the United States does not honor its commitments. And, of course, if the negotiations fall through, the Republicans’ stunt will place millions of lives at risk.

“The best and only practical way to restrain Iran from developing a bomb is through negotiating a strict agreement with tough monitoring,” the Board concluded. “In rejecting diplomacy, the Republicans make an Iranian bomb and military conflict more likely.”

These 47 Senators broke the law in contacting the Iranian government outside official channels in an attempt to sabotage ongoing talks — specifically, the Logan Act, which  prohibits unauthorized citizens from directly or indirectly corresponding with foreign government officials  “with intent to influence the measures or conduct of any foreign government or of any officer or agent thereof, in relation to any disputes or controversies with the United States, or to defeat the measures of the United States.”

A petition asking that all 47 Senators be charged under the Logan Act has accumulated more than 230,000 signatures — well above the threshold required to receive a response from the White House.


On the 6 Nation treaty proposal

Source: wikipedia


Emphasis Mine

The Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) (Persian: برنامه جامع اقدام مشترک‎, abbreviated as برجام) is an international agreement on the nuclear program of Iran signed in Vienna on 14 July 2015 between Iran, the P5+1 (the fivepermanent members of the United Nations Security Council—China, France, Russia, United Kingdom, United States—plus Germany),[a] and the European Union.

Formal negotiations toward the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action on Iran’s nuclear program began with the adoption of theJoint Plan of Action—an interim agreement on the Iranian nuclear program signed between Iran and the P5+1 countries—in November 2013. For the next twenty months, Iran and the P5+1 countries engaged in negotiations, and in April 2015 agreed on a framework agreement for the final agreement. In July 2015, Iran and the P5+1 agreed on the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action.

Under the agreement, Iran agreed to eliminate its stockpile of medium-enriched uranium, cut its stockpile of low-enriched uranium by 98%, and reduce by about two-thirds the number of its centrifuges for at least fifteen years. For the next fifteen years, Iran will only enrich uranium up to 3.67%. Iran also agreed not to build any new uranium-enriching or heavy-water facilities over the same period. Uranium-enrichment activities will be limited to a single facility using first-generation centrifuges for ten years. Other facilities will be converted to avoid proliferation risks. To monitor and verify Iran’s compliance with the agreement, the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) will have regular access to all Iranian nuclear facilities. The agreement provides that in return for verifiably abiding by its commitments, Iran will receive relief from U.S., European Union, and United Nations Security Council nuclear-related sanctions.


N.B.: most readers could stop here…


A nuclear weapon uses a fissile material to cause a nuclear chain reaction. The most commonly used materials have been uranium 235 (U-235) and plutonium 239 (P-239). Both uranium 233 (U-233) and reactor-grade plutonium have also been used.[3][4][5] The amount of uranium or plutonium needed depends on the sophistication of the design, with a simple design requiring approximately 15kg of uranium or 6kg of plutonium and a sophisticated design requiring as little as 9kg of uranium or 2kg of plutonium.[6] Plutonium is almost nonexistent in nature, and natural uranium is about 99.3% uranium 238 (U-238) and 0.7% U-235. Therefore, to make a weapon, either uranium must be enriched, or plutonium must be produced. Uranium enrichment is also frequently necessary for nuclear power. For this reason, uranium enrichment is adual-use technology, a technology which “can be used both for civilian and for military purposes.”[7] Key strategies to prevent proliferation of nuclear arms include limiting the number of operating uranium enrichment plants and controlling the export of nuclear technology and fissile material.[5][7]

Iranian development of nuclear technology began in the 1970s, when the U.S. Atoms for Peace program began providing assistance to Iran, which was then led by theShah.[8] Iran signed the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons (NPT) in 1968 as a non-nuclear weapons state and ratified the NPT in 1970.[8]

In 1979, the Iranian Revolution took place, and Iran’s nuclear program, which had developed some baseline capacity, fell to disarray as “much of Iran’s nuclear talent fled the country in the wake of the Revolution.”[8] Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini was initially opposed to nuclear technology; and Iran engaged in a costly war with Iraq from 1980 to 1988.[8]

Starting in the later 1980s, Iran restarted its nuclear program, with assistance from Pakistan (which entered into a bilateral agreement with Iran in 1992), China (which did the same in 1990), and Russia (which did the same in 1992 and 1995), and from the A.Q. Khan network.[8] Iran “began pursuing an indigenous nuclear fuel cycle capability by developing a uranium mining infrastructure and experimenting with uranium conversion and enrichment.”[8] According to the nonpartisan Nuclear Threat Initiative, “U.S. intelligence agencies have long suspected Iran of using its civilian nuclear program as a cover for clandestine weapons development.”[8] Iran, in contrast, “has always insisted that its nuclear work is peaceful.”[9]

In August 2002, the Paris-based National Council of Resistance of Iran, an Iranian dissident group, publicly revealed the existence of two undeclared nuclear facilities, theArak heavy-water production facility and the Natanz enrichment facility.[8][10] In February 2003, Iranian President Mohammad Khatami acknowledged that the existence of the facilities and asserted that Iran had undertaken “small-scale enrichment experiments” to produce low-enriched uranium for nuclear power plants.[8] In late February,International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) inspectors visited Natanz.[10] In May 2003, Iran allowed IAEA inspectors to visit the Kalaye Electric Company, but refused to allow them to take samples, and an IAEA report the following month concluded that Iran had failed to meet its obligations under the previous agreement.[10]

In June 2003, Iran—faced with the prospect of being referred to the UN Security Council—entered into diplomatic negotiations with France, Germany, and the United Kingdom (the EU 3).[8][10] The U.S. refused to be involved in these negotiations.[10] In October 2003, the Tehran Declaration was reached between Iran and the EU 3; under this declaration Iran agreed to cooperate fully with the IAEA, sign the Additional Protocol, and temporarily suspend all uranium enrichment.[8][10] In September and October 2003, the IAEA conducted several facility inspections.[8] This was followed by the Paris Agreement in November 2004, in which Iran agreed to temporarily suspend enrichment and conversion activities, “including the manufacture, installation, testing, and operation of centrifuges, and committed to working with the EU-3 to find a mutually beneficial long-term diplomatic solution.”[8]

In August 2005, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, a hard-liner, was elected president of Iran. He accused Iranian negotiators who had negotiated the Paris Accords of treason.[10][11] Over the next two months, the EU 3 agreement fell apart as talks over the EU 3’s proposed Long Term Agreement broke down; the Iranian government “felt that the proposal was heavy on demands, light on incentives, did not incorporate Iran’s proposals, and violated the Paris Agreement.”[8][10] Iran notified the IAEA that it would resume uranium conversion at Esfahan.[8][10]

In February 2006, Iran ended its voluntary implementation of the Additional Protocol and resumed enrichment at Natanz, prompting the IAEA Board of Governors to refer Iran to the UN Security Council.[8][10] After the vote, Iran announced it would resume enrichment of uranium.[10] In April 2006, Ahmadinejad announced that Iran had nuclear technology, but stated that it was purely for power generation and not for producing weapons.[10] In June 2006, the EU 3 joined China, Russia, and the United States, to form the P5+1.[10] The following month, July 2006, the UN Security Council its first resolution demanding Iran stop uranium enrichment and processing.[10]Altogether, from 2006 to 2010, the UN Security Council subsequently adopted six resolutions concerning Iran’s nuclear program: 1696 (July 2006), 1737 (December 2006), 1747 (March 2007), 1803 (March 2008), 1835 (September 2008), and 1929 (June 2010).[12] The legal authority for the IAEA Board of Governors referral and the Security Council resolutions was derived from the IAEA Statute and the United Nations Charter.[12] The resolutions demanded that Iran cease enrichment activities and imposing sanctions on Iran, including bans on the transfer of nuclear and missile technology to the country and freezes on the assets of certain Iranian individuals and entities, in order to pressure the country.[8][10] However, in Resolution 1803 and elsewhere the Security Council also acknowledged Iran’s rights under Article IV of the NPT, which provides for “the inalienable right … to develop research, production and use of nuclear energy for peaceful Purposes.”[12][b]

In July 2006, Iran opened the Arak heavy water production plant, which led to one of the Security Council resolutions.[8] In September 2009, U.S. President Barack Obama, reveals the existence of an underground enrichment facility in Fordow, near Qom saying that “Iran’s decision to build yet another nuclear facility without notifying the IAEA represents a direct challenge to the basic compact at the center of the non-proliferation regime.”[18] Israel threatened to take military action against Iran.[10]

In a February 2007 interview with the Financial Times, IAEA director general Mohamed ElBaradei said that military action against Iran “would be catastrophic, counterproductive” and called for negotiations between the international community and Iran over the Iranian nuclear program.[19] ElBaradei specifically proposed a “double, simultaneous suspension, a time out” as “a confidence-building measure,” under which the international sanctions would be suspended and Iran would suspend enrichment.[19] ElBaradei also said that “if I look at it from a weapons perspective there are much more important issues to me than the suspension of [enrichment],” naming his top priorities as preventing Iran from “go[ing] to industrial capacity until the issues are settled”; building confidence, with “full inspection” involving Iranian adoption of the Additional Protocol; and “at all costs” preventing Iran from “moving out of the [treaty-based non-proliferation] system.”[19]

A November 2007 U.S. National Intelligence Estimate assessed that Iran “halted its nuclear weapons program” in 2003; that estimate and subsequent U.S. Intelligence Community statements also assessed that the Iranian government at the time had was “keeping open the ‘option’ to develop nuclear weapons” in the future.[20] A July 2015Congressional Research Service report said that “statements from the U.S. intelligence community indicate that Iran has the technological and industrial capacity to produce nuclear weapons at some point, but the U.S. government assesses that Tehran has not mastered all of the necessary technologies for building a nuclear weapon.”[20]

In March 2013, the U.S. began a series of secret bilateral talks with Iranian officials in Oman, led by William Joseph Burns and Jake Sullivan on the American side and Ali Asghar Khaji on the Iranian side.[10][21] In June 2013, Hassan Rouhani was elected president of Iran.[10][22] Rouhani has been described as “more moderate, pragmatic and willing to negotiate than Ahmadinejad.” However, in a 2006 nuclear negotiation with European powers, Rouhani said that Iran had used the negotiations to dupe the Europeans, saying that during the negotiations, Iran managed to master the conversion of uranium yellowcake at Isfahan. The conversion of yellowcake is an important step in the nuclear fuel process.[23] In August 2013, three days after his inauguration, Rouhani calls for a resumption of serious negotiations with the P5+1 on the Iranian nuclear program.[24] In September 2013, Obama and Rouhani had a telephone conversation, the first high-level contact between U.S. and Iranian leaders since 1979, and U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry had a meeting with Iranian foreign minister Mohammad Javad Zarif, signaling that the two countries had an opening to cooperation.[10][24]

After several rounds of negotiations, on 24 November 2013, the Joint Plan of Action, an interim agreement on the Iranian nuclear program, was signed between Iran and the P5+1 countries in Geneva, Switzerland. It consisted of a short-term freeze of portions of Iran’s nuclear program in exchange for decreased economic sanctions on Iran, as the countries work towards a long-term agreement.[25] The IAEA began “more intrusive and frequent inspections” under this interim agreement.[24] The agreement was formally activated on 20 January 2014.[26] On that day, the IAEA issues a report stating that Iran was adhering to the terms of the interim agreement, including stopping enrichment of uranium to 20 percent, beginning the dilution process (to reduce half of the stockpile of 20 percent enriched uranium to 3.5 percent), and halting work on the Arak heavy-water reactor.[24][26]

A major focus on the negotiations was limitations on Iran’s key nuclear facilities: the Arak IR-40 heavy water reactor and production plant (which was under construction, but never became operational, as Iran agreed as part of the November 2013 Joint Plan of Action (interim agreement) not to commission or fuel the reactor); the Bushehr Nuclear Power Plant; the Gachin uranium mine; the Fordow Fuel Enrichment Plant; the Isfahan uranium-conversion plant; the Natanz uranium enrichment plant; and theParchin military research and development complex.[27]


The agreement between the P5+1+EU and Iran on the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) is the culmination of 20 months of “arduous” negotiations.[28][29]

The agreement followed the Joint Plan of Action (JPA), an interim agreement between the P5+1 powers and Iran that was agreed to on 24 November 2013 at Geneva. The Geneva agreement was an interim deal,[30] in which Iran agreed to roll back parts of its nuclear program in exchange for relief from some sanctions. This went into effect on 20 January 2014.[31] The parties agreed to extend their talks with a first extension deadline on 24 November 2014[32] and a second extension deadline set to 1 July 2015.[33]

An Iran nuclear deal framework was reached on 2 April 2015. Under this framework Iran agreed tentatively to accept restrictions on its nuclear program, all of which would last for at least a decade and some longer, and to submit to an increased intensity of international inspections under a framework deal. These details were to be negotiated by the end of June 2015. The negotiations toward a Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action were extended several times until the final agreement, the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, was finally reached on 14 July 2015.[34][35] The JCPOA is based on the framework agreement from three months earlier.

Subsequently the negotiations between Iran and the P5+1 continued. In April 2014, a framework deal was reached at Lausanne. Intense marathon negotiations then continued, with the last session in Vienna at the Palais Coburg lasting for seventeen days.[36] At several points, negotiations appeared to be at risk of breaking down, but negotiators managed to come to agreement.[36] As the negotiators neared a deal, U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry directly asked Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif to confirm that he was “authorized to actually make a deal, not just by the [Iranian] president, but by the supreme leader?”[36] Zarif gave assurances that he was.[36]

Ultimately, on 14 July 2015, all parties agreed to a landmark comprehensive nuclear agreement.[37] At the time of the announcement, shortly before 11:00 GMT, the agreement was released to the public.[38]

The final agreement’s complexity shows the impact of a bipartisan public letter written by a group of 19 U.S. diplomats, experts, and others in June 2015, written when negotiations were still going on.[39][40] That letter outlined concerns about the several provisions in the then-unfinished agreement and called for a number of improvements to strengthen the prospective agreement and win their support for it.[39] After the final agreement was reached, one of the signatories, Robert J. Einhorn, a former U.S. Department of State official now at the Brookings Institution, said of the agreement: “Analysts will be pleasantly surprised. The more things are agreed to, the less opportunity there is for implementation difficulties later on.”[39]

The final agreement is based upon (and buttresses) “the rules-based nonproliferation regime created by the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) and including especially the IAEA safeguards system.”[41]

Summary of provisions[edit]

The Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) runs to 109 pages, including five annexes.[29] Major provisions of the final accord include the following:[29][42]


JCPOA summary of enrichment-related provisions
(sources: The Economist[43] Belfer Center[44]:29)
Capability Before JCPOA After JCPOA
(for 10-year period)
After 15 years
centrifuges installed
19,138 capped at 6,104 Unconstrained
Advanced centrifuges installed 1,008 0 Unconstrained
Centrifuge R&D Unconstrained Constrained Unconstrained
Stockpile of
low-enriched uranium
7,154 kg 300 kg Unconstrained
Stockpile of
medium-enriched uranium
196 kg 0 kg Unconstrained
  • Iran’s current stockpile of low-enriched uranium will be reduced by 98 percent, from 10,000 kg to 300 kg. This reduction will be maintained for fifteen years.[29][45][46][47] For the same fifteen-year period, Iran will be limited to enriching uranium to 3.67%, a percentage sufficient for civilian nuclear power and research, but not for building a nuclear weapon.[45][46][48] However, the number of centrifuges is sufficient for a nuclear weapon, but not for nuclear power.[49] This is a “major decline” in Iran’s previous nuclear activity; prior to watering down its stockpile pursuant to the Joint Plan of Action interim agreement, Iran had enriched uranium to near 20% (medium-enriched uranium).[45][46][47] These enriched uranium in excess of 300 kg of up to 3.67% will be down blended to natural uranium level or be sold in return for natural uranium, and the uranium enriched to between 5% and 20% will be fabricated into fuel plates for the Tehran Research Reactor or sold or diluted to an enrichment level of 3.67%. The implementation of the commercial contracts will be facilitated by P5+1. After fifteen years, all physical limits on enrichment will be removed, including limits on the type and number of centrifuges, Iran’s stockpile of enriched uranium, and the where Iran may have enrichment facilities. According to Belfer, at this point Iran could “expand its nuclear program expand its nuclear program to create more practical overt and covert nuclear weapons options.”[44][50]
  • For ten years, Iran will place over two-thirds of its centrifuges in storage, from its current stockpile of 19,000 centrifuges (of which 10,000 were operational) to no more than 6,104 operational centrifuges, with only 5,060 allowed to enrich uranium,[29][45] with the enrichment capacity being limited to the Natanz plant. The centrifuges there must be IR-1 centrifuges, the first-generation centrifuge type which is Iran’s oldest and least efficient; Iran will give up its advanced IR-2M centrifuges in this period.[27][46][47] The non-operating centrifuges will be stored in Natanz and monitored by IAEA, but may be used to replace failed centrigfuges.[51][52] Iran will not build any new uranium-enrichment facilities for fifteen years.[45]
  • Iran may continue research and development work on enrichment, but that work will take place only at the Natanz facility and include certain limitations for the first eight years.[27] This is intended to keep the country to a breakout time of one year.[45]
  • Iran, with cooperation from the “Working Group” (the P5+1 and possibly other countries), will modernise and rebuild the Arak heavy water research reactor based on an agreed design to support its peaceful nuclear research and production needs and purposes, but in such a way to minimise the production of plutonium and not to produce weapons-grade plutonium. The power of the redesigned reactor will not exceed 20 MWth. The P5+1 parties will support and facilitate the timely and safe construction of the Arak complex.[53] All spent fuel will be sent out of the country.[27] All excess heavy water which is beyond Iran’s needs for the redesigned reactor will be made available for export to the international market based on international prices. For 15 years, Iran will not engage in, or research on, spent fuel reprocessing.[54]Iran will also not build any additional heavy-water reactors or accumulate heavy water for fifteen years.[27]
  • Iran’s Fordow facility will stop enriching uranium and researching uranium enrichment for at least fifteen years; the facility will be converted into a nuclear physics and technology center. For 15 years, Fordow will maintain no more than 1,044 IR-1 centrifuges in six cascades in one wing of Fordow. “Two of those six cascades will spin without uranium and will be transitioned, including through appropriate infrastructure modification,” for stable radioisotope production for medical, agricultural, industrial, and scientific use. “The other four cascades with all associated infrastructure will remain idle.” Iran will not be permitted to have any fissile material in Fordow.[27][45][47]
  • Iran will implement an Additional Protocol agreement which will continue in perpetuity for as long as Iran remains a party to the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT). The signing of the Additional Protocol represents a continuation of the monitoring and verification provisions “long after the comprehensive agreement between the P5+1 and Iran is implemented.”[55]
  • A comprehensive inspections regime will be implemented in order to monitor and confirm that Iran is complying with its obligations and is not diverting any fissile material.[45][46][c]
    • The IAEA will have multilayered[64] oversight “over Iran’s entire nuclear supply chain, from uranium mills to its procurement of nuclear-related technologies.”[65] For declared nuclear sites such as Fordow and Natanz, the IAEA will have “round-the-clock access” to nuclear facilities and will be entitled to maintain continuous monitoring (including via surveillance equipment) at such sites.[65][66] The agreement authorizes the IAEA to make use of sophisticated monitoring technology, such as fiber-optic seals on equipment that can electronically send information to the IAEA; infrared satellite imagery to detect covert sites, “environmental sensors that can detect minute signs of nuclear particles”; tamper-resistant, radiation-resistant cameras.[39][67] Other tools include computerized accounting programs to gather information and detect anomalies, and big data sets on Iranian imports, to monitor dual-use items.[64]
    • The number of IAEA inspectors assigned to Iran will triple, from 50 to 150 inspectors.[39]
    • If IAEA inspectors have concerns that Iran is developing nuclear capabilities at any non-declared sites, they may request access “to verify the absence of undeclared nuclear materials and activities or activities inconsistent with” the agreement, informing Iran of the basis for their concerns.[66] The inspectors would only come from countries with which Iran has diplomatic relations.[68] Iran may admit the inspectors to such site or propose alternatives to inspection that might satisfy the IAEA’s concerns.[66] If such an agreement cannot be reached, a process running to a maximum of 24 days is triggered.[66] Under this process, Iran and the IAEA have 14 days to resolve disagreements among themselves.[66] If they fail to, the Joint Commission (including all eight parties) would have one week in which to consider the intelligence which initiated the IAEA request. A majority of the Commission (at least five of the eight members) could then inform Iran of the action that it would be required to take within three more days.[69][70] The majority rule provision “means the United States and its European allies—Britain, France, Germany and the EU—could insist on access or any other steps and that Iran, Russia or China could not veto them.”[69] If Iran did not comply with the decision within three days, sanctions would be automatically reimposed under the snapback provision (see below).[70]

As a result of the above, the “breakout time”—the time in which it would be possible for Iran to make enough material for a single nuclear weapon—will increase from two to three months to one year, according to U.S. officials and U.S. intelligence.[29][45][71][d] An August 2015 report published by a group of experts at Harvard University‘sBelfer Center for Science and International Affairs concurs in these estimates, writing that under the JCPOA, “over the next decade would be extended to roughly a year, from the current estimated breakout time of 2 to 3 months.[44] The Center for Arms Control and Non-Proliferation also accepts these estimates.[73][74] By contrast, Alan J. Kuperman, coordinator of the Nuclear Proliferation Prevention Project at the University of Texas at Austin, disputed the one-year assessment, arguing that under the agreement, Iran’s breakout time “would be only about three months, not much longer than it is today.”[75]

The longer breakout time would be in place for at least ten years; after that point, the breakout time would gradually decrease.[29][71] By the fifteenth year, U.S. officials state that the breakout time would return to the pre-JCPOA status quo of a few months.[29][71] The Belfer Center report states: “Some contributors to this report believe that breakout time by year 15 could be comparable to what it is today—a few months—while others believe it could be reduced to a few weeks.[44]


Further information: Sanctions against Iran
  • No new UN or EU nuclear-related sanctions or restrictive measures will be imposed.[76]
  • Following the issuance of a IAEA report verifying implementation by Iran of the nuclear-related measures, the UN sanctions against Iran terminate, some EU sanctions terminate and some are suspended, and the U.S. “ceases” application of its nuclear-related sanctions.[77] This step is not tied to any specific date, but is expected to occur “roughly in the first half of 2016.”[77][78][79] Once sanctions are lifted, Iran will recover approximately $100 billion of its assets (U.S. Treasury Department estimate) frozen in overseas banks.[80]
    • Sanctions relating to ballistic missile technologies would remain for eight years; similar sanctions on conventional weapon sales to Iran would remain for five years.[29][81]
    • Eight years into the agreement, EU sanctions against a number of Iranian companies, individuals and institutions (such as the Revolutionary Guards) will be lifted.[82]
    • However, all U.S. sanctions against Iran related to alleged human rights abuses, missiles, and support for terrorism are not affected by the agreement and will remain in place.[47][83] U.S. sanctions are viewed as more stringent, since many have extraterritorial effect (i.e., they apply worldwide). EU sanctions, by contrast, apply only in Europe.[82]
  • If Iran violates the agreement, a “snap back” provision takes effect, under which the sanctions could “snap back” into place (i.e., be reimplemented, with certain exceptions).[45][46][76]
    • Specifically, the JCPOA establishes the following dispute resolution process: if a party to the JCPOA has reason to believe that another party is not upholding its commitments under the agreement, then the complaining party may refer its complaint to the Joint Commission, a body created under the JCPOA to monitor implementation.[47][84] If a complaint made by a non-Iran party is not resolved to the satisfaction of the complaining party within thirty-five days of referral, then that party could treat the unresolved issue as grounds to cease performing its commitments under the JCPOA, notify the United Nations Security Council that it believes the issue constitutes significant non-performance, or both.[84] The Security Council would then have thirty days to adopt a resolution to continue the lifting of sanctions. If such a resolution is not adopted within those thirty days, then the sanctions of all of the pre-JCPOA nuclear-related UN Security Council resolutions would automatically be re-imposed. Iran has stated that in such a case, it would cease performing its nuclear obligations under the deal.[38][84] The effect of this rule is that any permanent member of the Security Council (the U.S., Britain, China, Russia and France) can veto any ongoing sanctions relief, but no member can veto the re-imposition of sanctions.
    • Ankit Panda of The Diplomat states that this will make impossible any scenario where Iran is non-compliant with the JCPOA yet escapes re-imposition of sanctions.[84] Mark Dubowitz of the Foundation for Defense of Democracies (which opposes the agreement) argues, however, that because the JCPOA provides that Iran could treat reinstatement of sanctions (in part or entirely) as grounds for leaving the agreement, the U.S. would be reluctant to impose a “snapback” for smaller violations: “The only thing you’ll take to the Security Council are massive Iranian violations, because you’re certainly not going to risk the Iranians walking away from the deal and engaging in nuclear escalation over smaller violations.”[85]
    • Snapback sanctions “would not apply with retroactive effect to contracts signed between any party and Iran or Iranian individuals and entities prior to the date of application, provided that the activities contemplated under and execution of such contracts are consistent with this JCPOA and the previous and current UN Security Council resolutions.”[51]


Political and diplomatic reactions[edit]

There was a significant worldwide response following the announcement of the agreement; more than 90 countries endorsed the agreement,[86] as did many international organizations. Yet there was a strong negative response from the Israeli government, as well as almost all Republicans in the United States and many Iranian hardliners.

From countries that are parties to the JCPOA[edit]

  •  China
    • Foreign Minister Wang Yi said that “the most important achievement of the comprehensive agreement is that the international nuclear non-proliferation system is safeguarded. It can be said that China had played a unique and constructive role and thus is highly praised and affirmed by all parties. In the next step, there are still many matters to be attended to concerning the implementation of the agreement. China will continuously make new contribution to this end with a responsible attitude.”[87]
  •  European Union
  •  France
    • In a Bastille Day speech, President Francois Hollande praised the deal and called upon Iran to “show that it is ready to help us end” the Syrian civil war.[90] French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius told Le Monde that the pact was a “robust agreement” that would last at least a decade.[91] Both Hollande and Fabius pledged that France would be “extremely vigilant” in the implementation of the agreement.[90][91]
    • Fabius visited Iran on July 29, telling reporters in Tehran that “this deal allows the relations between our countries to develop and allows us to renew cooperation.” His visit was controversial in Iran and met with public anger for several reasons.[92][93]
  •  Germany
    • Chancellor Angela Merkel said that the agreement was “an important success” of international diplomacy.[94]
    • Vice Chancellor and Economy Minister Sigmar Gabriel said that the agreement was a “historic breakthrough.”[95] In mid-July 2015, Gabriel, along with a delegation of German industry and science representatives, completed a three-day visit to Iran focused on bolstering German-Iranian trade.[95] Gabriel said there was “great interest on the part of German industry in normalizing and strengthening economic relations with Iran.”[95]
  •  Iran
    • President Hassan Rouhani said the final agreement proved that “constructive engagement works” and presented the deal as a step on the road towards a wider goal of international cooperation: “With this unnecessary crisis resolved, new horizons emerge with a focus on shared challenges.”[88]
    • Minister of Foreign Affairs Mohammad Javad Zarif called it an “historic moment” and said: “Today could have been the end of hope on this issue, but now we are starting a new chapter of hope. Let’s build on that.”[96]
    • In a July 21 speech to the Iranian Parliament, Zarif said that the agreement was a defeat for Israel, saying that “Never before was the Zionist regime so isolated, even among her own allies.”[97] On August 12, after a meeting with Hizbullah leader Hassan Nasrallah, Zarif said that the agreement “created a historic opportunity to [sic] for regional cooperation to fight extremism and face threats posed by the Zionist entity.”[98]
    • Many Iranian families and youth celebrated at Vanak Square and elsewhere on the streets of Tehran on the evening of the agreement’s announcements.[99] Some held signs calling for the release of Iranian opposition leaders Mir Hussein Moussavi and Mehdi Karroubi from house arrest.[99] Other ordinary Iranians cheered the announcement on social media.[99]
    • On 16 July 2015, two days after the agreement was signed, Iran’s supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, made his first public comments on the final agreement in a letter to President Hassan Rouhani posted on Khamenei’s website.[100] Khamenei wrote that “bringing the negotiations to a conclusion was a milestone” but that “the prepared text, however, needs careful scrutiny.”[100] Iranian hard-liners took the letter as a signal of openness to criticize the deal.[100][101] In a speech in Tehran marking the end of Ramadan made two days later, Khamenei said, “Our policies toward the arrogant government of the United States will not be changed at all.”[102] However, Khamenei also praised the negotiators who arranged the deal, which was taken as a symbol that he would not seek to block the deal in theIranian parliament or the Supreme National Security Council.[102] Khamenei also expressed support for the agreement, saying: “After 12 years of struggling with the Islamic republic, the result is that they [the P5+1 nations] have to bear the turning of thousands of centrifuges in the country.”[103] Khamenei is believed to have approved the negotiations and the agreement, giving Rouhani crucial political cover to do so.[104]
    • The New York Times reported that “Iran’s influential hard-liners, who have criticized Mr. Rouhani in much the same way that President Obama has been denounced by Republicans in the United States, signaled their intent to undercut the agreement,” which they believe to be too favorable to the West.[99] Foad Izadi, a professor at the University of Tehran, complained that of the 19 Iranian “major red lines” identified by the supreme leader during negotiations, “18 and a half have been crossed.”[101] Conservative lawmaker Alireza Zakani said “celebrating too early can send a bad signal to the enemy.”[88]
    • Iran’s official Islamic Republic News Agency stressed that under the agreement “world powers have recognized Iran’s peaceful nuclear program and are to respect the nuclear rights of (Iran) within international conventions.”[105] The IRNA report also said that “The policy on preventing enrichment uranium is now failed” and stressed that “no Iranian nuclear facilities or centrifuges will be dismantled.”[105]
  •  United Kingdom
    • Prime Minister David Cameron applauded the agreement, saying that it would help “make our world a safer place” and that Iran now had a “real opportunity” to benefit economically.[94]
    • Foreign Secretary Philip Hammond criticized the Israeli government’s position on the JCPOA, saying in the House of Commons that “no agreement with Iran would have been enough for Netanyahu” and that “Israel prefers a permanent state of standoff” with Iran.[108][109] At a joint press conference the next day in Jerusalem, Hammond and Netanyahu “sparred publicly” over the agreement, “veering off prepared comments … in an awkward back-and-forth that extended what is usually a standard, brief public appearance with visiting officials into a spirited debate.”[109]
  •  United States
    • President Barack Obama addressed the nation in a 7 a.m. televised address from the White House, with Vice President Joe Biden at his side.[110][111] Obama stated that the agreement “meets every single one of the bottom lines we established when we achieved a framework earlier this spring. Every pathway to a nuclear weapon is cut off. And the inspection and transparency regime necessary to verify that objective will be put in place.”[111] The president emphasized that the agreement is “not built on trust—it is built on verification.”[29][111] Obama vowed to veto any congressional action that would block the agreement’s implementation, saying: “I am confident that this deal will meet the national security needs of the United States and our allies, so I will veto any legislation that prevents the successful implementation of this deal. We do not have to accept an inevitable spiral into conflict, and we certainly shouldn’t seek it.”[111] Obama stated: “I welcome scrutiny of the details of this agreement” and added that “This is not the time for politics or posturing. Tough talk from Washington does not solve problems. Hard-nosed diplomacy, leadership that has united the world’s major powers, offers a more effective way to verify that Iran is not pursuing a nuclear weapon.”[111]
    • At a press briefing in Vienna, Secretary of State John Kerry said that the agreement was “a measureable step away from the prospect of nuclear proliferation” and “the specter of conflict” and that “there can be no question that this agreement will provide a stronger, more comprehensive, and more lasting means of limiting Iran’s nuclear program than any realistic alternative.”[48] Kerry also stated that “The deal we have reached … gives us the greatest assurance that we have had that Iran will not pursue a weapon covertly.”[48] Addressing critics of the agreement, Kerry stated that “those who spend a lot of time suggesting that something could be better have an obligation to provide an alternative that, in fact, works” and that “sanctioning Iran until it capitulates makes for a powerful talking point and a pretty good political speech, but it’s not achievable outside a world of fantasy.”[48] Kerry also stated that “we are under no illusions that the hard work is over. No one is standing here today to say that the path ahead is easy or automatic. We move now to a new phase – a phase that is equally critical and may prove to be just as difficult – and that is implementation.”[48]
    • Republicans lined up against the deal.[88] The candidates for the Republican nomination for president in 2016 uniformly condemned the deal; for example, Jeb Bushcalled the agreement “dangerous, deeply flawed, and short sighted” while Lindsey Graham asserted that the deal was a “death sentence for the state of Israel.”[112][113][114] Former Obama advisor Daniel Pfeiffer tweeted that “none of these GOP contenders would end this Iran Deal if they got to the White House,” and that it would “massively damage US in the world.”[107]
    • Candidates for the Democratic nomination for president in 2016 welcomed the deal. Former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton called the agreement an “important step that puts the lid on Iran’s nuclear programs”; Senator Bernie Sanders called it “a victory for diplomacy over saber-rattling” that “could keep the United States from being drawn into another never-ending war in the Middle East.”[114]
    • Speaker of the House John Boehner, a Republican, called the JCPOA a “bad deal.”[115]
    • House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, a Democrat, said “I’ve closely examined this document. And it will have my strong support.”[116] Pelosi said that the agreement was “the product of years of tough, bold, clear-eyed leadership on the part of President Obama” and called it “a strong, effective option, for keeping the peace and stopping the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction.”[116]
    • Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, a Republican, opposed the agreement, saying “The comprehensive nuclear agreement announced today appears to further the flawed elements of April’s interim agreement because the Obama Administration approached these talks from a flawed perspective: reaching the best deal acceptable to Iran, rather than actually advancing our national goal of ending Iran’s nuclear program.”[117]
    • Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid, a Democrat, issued a brief statement on July 14 saying that the agreement was the result of years of hard work and that “now it is incumbent on Congress to review this agreement with the thoughtful, level-headed process an agreement of this magnitude deserves.”[118] On August 23, Reid endorsed the agreement, saying that the agreement “is the best path to stop Iran from obtaining a nuclear weapon” and that he would “do everything in my power to ensure that it stands.”[119]
    • Senate Armed Services Committee Chairman John McCain, a Republican, pledged to hold hearings on the deal during the sixty-day congressional review period and said that he is “totally opposed to” the agreement.[120] Senate Foreign Relations Committee chairman Bob Corker, another Republican, also opposed the deal, saying that he believed that the West had conceded too much.[121]
    • The New York Times editorial board wrote that the agreement “is potentially one of the most consequential accords in recent diplomatic history, with the ability not just to keep Iran from obtaining a nuclear weapon but also to reshape Middle East politics.” They wrote: “It would be irresponsible to squander this chance to rein in Iran’s nuclear program.”[122]

From other countries[edit]

  •  Holy See
    • The Vatican applauded the deal, saying in a statement: “The agreement on the Iranian nuclear program is viewed in a positive light by the Holy See.”[123]
  •  Israel
    • Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said: “Israel is not bound by this deal with Iran, because Iran continues to seek our destruction, we will always defend ourselves.”[124] Netanyahu called the deal a “capitulation” and “a bad mistake of historic proportions.”[125] Deputy Foreign Minister Tzipi Hotovely called the deal an “historic surrender” and said that Israel would “act with all means to try and stop the agreement being ratified”—indicating that it would try to use its influence to block the agreement in the U.S. Congress,[88] Naftali Bennett, leader of the Bayit Yehudi party (which is a member of the government coalition), said: “The history books have been rewritten again today, and this period will be deemed particularly grave and dangerous.”[125]
    • Most of Israel’s other political figures were similarly critical of the agreement. Netanyahu’s main political opponent, Zionist Union leader Isaac Herzog opposed the deal, stating that it “will unleash a lion from the cage” and make Iran “a nuclear-threshold state in a decade or so”;[126] another Zionist Union member of theKnesset, Shelly Yachimovich, called the JCPOA a “dangerous, damaging agreement”[125] Yair Lapid, head of the opposition Yesh Atid party, called the agreement “Israel’s biggest foreign policy failure since the establishment of the state.”[127] At the same time, many of these figures also criticized Netanyahu’s diplomatic campaign against the plan, calling it ineffectual and counter-productive. Yachimovich said that Netanyahu should “immediately cease and desist from confronting the Americans.”[125] Lapid called on the prime minister to resign,[125] stating: “I also am not thrilled by Obama’s polices. But Netanyahu crossed a line that caused the White House to stop listening to Israel. In the last year we weren’t even in the arena, we had no representative in Vienna, our intelligence cooperation was harmed, and the door to the White House was closed to us.”[125]
    • The head of the opposition Yisrael Beiteinu party, Avigdor Lieberman, described the agreement as a “surrender to terror.”[125]
    • Zehava Gal-On, head of the opposition Meretz party, voiced cautious support for the JCPOA, writing, “The agreement is not perfect, it does not turn Iran into lovers of Israel all of the sudden, but it does aim to prevent Iran from obtaining a bomb, regulate the international mechanisms to monitoring it and allows the international community to act if the agreement is violated.”[128]
    • The Joint (Arab) List party of Arab Israeli MKs welcomed the agreement.[128]
    • Ami Ayalon, former head of the Israeli internal security service Shin Bet and former commander of the Israeli Navy, said that the agreement was “the best option” for Israel, saying that “When negotiations began, Iran was two months away from acquiring enough material for a [nuclear] bomb. Now it will be 12 months.”[129] Ayalon said that opposition to the deal in Israel was “more emotional than logical.”[129][130] Efraim Halevy, the director of the Israeli intelligence agency Mossad from 1998 to 2002, wrote in support of the agreement in Yedioth Ahronoth, arguing that the JCPOA includes “components that are crucial for Israel’s security” and warning that a collapse of the agreement will leave Iran “free to do as it pleases.”[130] Chuck Freilich, a former deputy national security adviser in Israel and current senior fellow at Harvard University’s Belfer Center, wrote an op-ed for the New York Times arguing that the JCPOA is “a good deal for Israel” and that by avoiding the threat of a nuclear Iran, the agreement “will enable Israel to divert precious resources to more immediate threats” and to pressing domestic needs.[131]
  • Arab states of the Persian Gulf
    •  Kuwait: Sabah bin Ahmad Al-Sabah, the emir of Kuwait, congratulated all the nations involved in the negotiations and hoped the deal would lead to stability in the region.[132]
    •  Oman: Oman welcomed the agreement.[133] Oman and its leader, Sultan Qaboos bin Said al Said, were praised for its key role in the talks by diplomats and leaders from both Iran and the P5+1.[133] Oman has good relations with both Iran and the United States and played a key role in the beginning of the talks; Oman offered to establish a back channel between Iran and the U.S. in 2009, and the first secret talks were held between U.S. and Iranian diplomats in July 2012 inMuscat.[134][135]
    •  Qatar: The government welcomed the agreement as a “significant step” toward enhancing regional peace and stability.[136]
    •  Saudi Arabia: On July 14, the official Saudi Press Agency released a statement attributed to an “official source” saying that “The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia has always believed in the importance of reaching a deal regarding Iran’s nuclear program that ensures preventing Iran from obtaining nuclear weapons and at the same time includes a specific, strict and permanent mechanism for inspecting all sites—including military ones—along with a mechanism for rapidly and effectively re-imposing sanctions in case Iran violates the deal.”[137] U.S. Secretary of Defense Ashton B. Carter said that Saudi Arabia approved of the international agreement, despite the fact that “the Saudis, along with other Sunni Arab countries in the Persian Gulf, view the predominantly Shiite Iran as a regional adversary.”[138] The Saudis have undertaken a military campaign in Yemen against Iranian-backed Houthi insurgents there.[138]
  • Elsewhere in the Muslim world
    •  Afghanistan: Afghan president Mohammad Ashraf Ghani congratulated “the government and people of Islamic Republic of Iran on the occasion and reiterates that the government of Afghanistan welcomes any efforts that result in expansion of political and economic relations between states as well as consolidation and strengthening of peace and stability in the region.”[139]
    •  Egypt: The Egyptian foreign ministry said the deal will prevent an arms race in the Middle East. The statement expressed hopes that the Middle East can be free of all weapons of mass destruction, including nuclear weapons.[140]
    •  Iraq: The Iraqi government applauded the agreement.[132]
    •  Pakistan: The Ministry of Foreign Affairs “welcomed” the agreement, saying that “reciprocal confidence-building measures … auger well for peace and security in our region.”[141] Former President Asif Ali Zardari welcomed the deal as “a triumph of diplomacy and negotiations over coercion and hostility” and called upon the government to push forward with plans for construction of an Iran–Pakistan gas pipeline.[142]
    •  Turkey: The Ministry of Foreign Affairs welcomed the agreement in a statement saying that its implementation would contribute to regional peace, security and stability.[143] Observers noted that although Turkey would benefit economically from the lifting of sanctions in the future, Turkish officials seemed to be “uneasy” of the potential for Iran to reemerge as a regional power that might overshadow Turkey.[144]
    •  Syria: President Bashar al-Assad, an Iranian ally, called the agreement as “a great victory” and wrote in a letter to Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, the Iranian supreme leader, that the agreement would be a “major turning point in the history of Iran, the region and the world.”[145]
  • Other countries
    •  Australia: Minister for Foreign Affairs Julie Bishop endorsed the agreement, saying: “What it has done is [bring] Iran into the international regime of inspections of nuclear programs, and that is a good thing. I think we have to give this comprehensive plan a chance.”[146]
    •  Canada: Foreign Minister Rob Nicholson stated: “We appreciate the efforts of the P5+1 to reach an agreement. At the same time, we will continue to judge Iran by its actions not its words. To this end, Canada will continue to support the efforts of the International Atomic Energy Agency to monitor Iran’s compliance with its commitments.”[147] The Globe and Mail reported that Canada would keep its sanctions in place, at least initially, although Canada’s own sanctions will have little impact on the Iranian economy.[148]
    •  Colombia: President Juan Manuel Santos applauded the agreement as “another triumph of diplomacy over confrontation” and praised President Obama and Secretary of State Kerry for their “courage” in securing the deal.[149]
    •  North Korea: The Foreign Ministry said that North Korea had no interest in a nuclear disarmament agreement, saying: “We do not have any interest at all on dialogue for unilaterally freezing or giving up our nukes.”[150]
    •  Norway: In a statement, Foreign Minister Børge Brende said: “This historic agreement will benefit the international community, the Middle East and Iran. It will also pave the way for closer political and economic contact with Iran.”[151]
    •  Philippines: The Department of Foreign Affairs welcomed the agreement, saying that it was an important measure to promote both regional and global security. They also called on the international community to maintain the positive momentum for long-term peace created by the agreement.[152]

From international organizations[edit]

  •  United Nations
    • Secretary-General of the United Nations Ban Ki-moon issued a statement saying: “I warmly welcome the historic agreement in Vienna today and congratulate the P5+1 and Iran for reaching this agreement. This is testament to the value of dialogue. … The United Nations stands ready to fully cooperate with the parties in the process of implementing this historic and important agreement.”[153][154]
    • International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) – Director General Yukiya Amano welcomed the agreement and congratulated Iran, the P5+1 countries and the European Union and said he is confident that IAEA is capable of doing the necessary monitoring and verification activities when requested.[155]
  • Other international organizations and figures
    •  NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg called the agreement a “historic breakthrough” and stated: “It is critical for Iran to implement the provisions of today’s agreement and to fulfill all its international obligations and advance security in the region and beyond.”[156]
    •  Arab League Secretary-General Nabil Elaraby said he hoped the JCPOA would bring “stability and security” to the Middle East.[157]
    •  Gulf Cooperation Council – The Gulf Cooperation Council publicly announced backing for the agreement at an August 2, 2015 summit in Doha, Qatar.[158]Khalid al-Attiyah, the foreign minister of Qatar (which currently chairs the GCC) said at a news conference with U.S. Secretary of State Kerry following the summit that “This was the best option amongst other options in order to try to come up with a solution for the nuclear weapons of Iran though dialogue, and this came up as a result of the efforts exerted by the United States of America and its allies. [Secretary Kerry] let us know that there’s going to be a kind of live oversight for Iran not to gain or to get any nuclear weapons. This is reassuring to the region.”[158]
    • Association of Southeast Asian Nations – On August 6, 2015, following the 5th East Asia Summit Foreign Ministers’ Meeting, the foreign ministers of the 10 ASEAN nations, along with the foreign ministers of India, Japan, New Zealand and South Korea, endorsed the deal, welcoming it as an “important resolution” to a pressing global concern.[159][160] Shortly before the joint ASEAN statement was released, U.S. Secretary of State Kerry met Japanese Foreign Minister Fumio Kishida inKuala Lumpur to mark the 70th anniversary of the atomic bombing of Hiroshima.[159]
    • Mohamed ElBaradei, former director general of the International Atomic Energy Agency, hailed the agreement as a triumph of diplomacy.[107]
    • The International Crisis Group called the deal “a triumph of nuclear diplomacy” and urged both the United States Congress and Iranian Majlis to approve it.[161]

Expert reactions[edit]

The reception of the JCPOA among arms control analysts was “overwhelmingly positive,” while the reception among Middle East policy analysts was more divided.[162]The Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists invited top international security experts to comment on the final agreement.[163]

  • Arms control expert Jeffrey Lewis, director of the East Asia Nonproliferation Program at the Monterey Institute of International Studies, reviewed the final agreement and gave it a positive assessment, saying that he would give it an “A” grade.[162] While Lewis was skeptical about the chances of a workable deal emerging in 2014, during the negotiations, Lewis said that the final agreement was “a good deal because it slows down [the Iranian] nuclear program … And it puts monitoring and verification measures in place that mean if they try to build a bomb, we’re very likely to find out, and to do so with enough time that we have options to do something about it. There’s a verifiable gap between their bomb option and an actual bomb. That’s why it’s a good deal.”[162] Lewis said that the final agreement was very similar to the April 2015 framework agreement.[162] Lewis does not believe that the agreement will fundamentally alter the U.S.-Iranian relationship, seeing the agreement instead as “a really straightforward measure to slow down an enrichment program that was going gangbusters.”[162]
  • Lawrence Korb and Katherine Blakeley, senior fellow and policy analyst, respectively, at the Center for American Progress, wrote that the agreement was “one of the most comprehensive and detailed nuclear arms agreements ever reached.”[163] Korb and Blakeley wrote that “a good look at the three main legs of the agreement shows that this deal is, in fact, a good one, for the United States and for the international community.”[163] Korb and Blakey said that the agreement “precludes Iranian development of a nuclear weapon by shutting down all of the pathways Iran might use to accumulate enough nuclear material to make a weapon” and praised components of the agreement which keep Iran subject to the constraints of the Nuclear Non-proliferation Treaty, provides for robust IAEA monitoring and verification, and links the phased lifting of nuclear-related sanctions to IAEA verification of Iranian compliance.[163]
  • Frank von Hippel, senior research physicist and professor of public and international affairs emeritus at the Program on Science and Global Security at Princeton University, wrote that “The July 14 agreement is a political miracle” in which “Iran has agreed to back away from the nuclear-weapon threshold in exchange for a lifting of nuclear-related sanctions.”[163] Von Hippel wrote that “The Obama administration argues—and I agree—that the ratcheting back of Iran’s enrichment capacity will give the world a much longer warning time should Iran attempt to build a bomb.”[163] Von Hippel suggested that once the first ten years of the agreement were complete, “One option that should be explored is multinational ownership and management of Iran’s enrichment complex by a group of countries—perhaps including the United States.”[163]
  • Fred Fleitz, former CIA nonproliferation analyst and currently of the Center for Security Policy, wrote that “The provisions of this agreement . . . contains minor concessions by Iran but huge concessions by the United States that will Iran to continue its nuclear program with weak verification provisions. Conditions for sanctions relief will be very easy for Iran to meet. Iran will not only continue to enrich uranium under the agreement, it will continue to develop advanced centrifuges that will reduce the timeline to an Iranian nuclear bomb.”[164]
  • William H. Tobey, senior fellow at Harvard University’s Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs, was critical of the agreement, writing that given Iranian hostility to the U.S. and Israel, the agreement provides little “more than a speed bump on the path to Iran’s nuclear ambition.”[163] Tobey wrote that that “speed bump” is not “a good trade for at least $150 billion in sanctions relief.”[163]
  • Kingston Reif, director for disarmament and threat reduction policy at the Center for Arms Control and Non-Proliferation, said that although the JCPOA is “not perfect,” it “will be a net plus for nonproliferation and will enhance U.S. and regional security.”[163] Reif wrote that it was “clear that Tehran had to retreat from many of its initial demands, including in the areas of the scale of uranium enrichment it needed, the intrusiveness of inspections it would tolerate, and the pace of sanctions relief it would demand.”[163] Reif also wrote that the JCPOA “will keep Iran further away from the ability to make nuclear weapons for far longer than the alternative of additional sanctions or a military strike possibly could,” and as a result, the threat of regional proliferation throughout the Middle East was diminished.[163]
  • Siegfried S. Hecker of the Center for International Security and Cooperation at Stanford University wrote that “the Iran nuclear deal was hard-won and is better than any other reasonably achievable alternative.”[163] Hecker wrote that “Iran agreed to considerably greater restrictions on its program than what I thought was possible.”[163]Hecker’s view is that it is “imperative that the international community develops a credible and decisive response in the event of an Iranian violation of the agreement.”[163] He noted that “this agreement was one of the most technically informed diplomatic negotiations I have seen,” with both sides advised by “world-class nuclear scientists”: U.S. Secretary of State Kerry by U.S. Secretary of Energy Moniz, and Iranian Foreign Minister Zarif by Atomic Energy Organization of Iran chief Ali-Akbar Salehi.[163]
  • Zia Mian of the Program on Science & Global Security at Princeton University wrote that the JCPOA offers three “important lessons for those wanting to make progress towards nuclear disarmament and a more peaceful world.”[163] The first lesson was that “nuclear diplomacy can work. But it requires hard political work of many kinds”; Mian praised both the “creative technical and policy analysis work from within and outside governments to create options for negotiators to find common ground” as well as “the patient grassroots work to engage and mobilize public constituencies that brought to power leaders in the United States and in Iran willing to engage with each other and to take risks for a more peaceful relationship between their countries.”[163] The second lesson was that “International nuclear politics is bound to domestic politics, for good and ill. The Iran agreement has come despite determined hostility from conservatives within the United States, Israel, Saudi Arabia, the Gulf states, and Iran. Seeing the world as a hierarchy shaped by power and fear, and locked in rigid, exclusivist national or religious identities, they press for advantage and privilege or to maintain the status quo. Sharing a propensity for mistrust, coercion, and violence, they would risk war with those they see as enemies rather than try dialogue and possible agreement on a peaceful future based on the ideals of equity and respect for others. These opponents will derail the Iran deal if they can.”[163]The third lesson is that “nuclear disarmament issues do not exist in isolation”; Mian called for more foreign minister-level talks in the Middle East, rather than expanded U.S. military assistance in the region.[163]
  • U.S. Secretary of Energy Ernest Moniz, a nuclear physicist and former professor at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology who advised the U.S. on the agreement, stated that the JCPOA helps put Iran further from a nuclear weapon not only in the first fifteen years, with “lots of very, very explicit constraints on the program that roll back current activities,” but also beyond that period, because the agreement commits Iran to join the Additional Protocol.[165][166] Former IAEA Deputy Director Olli Heinonen and former Iraq weapons inspector David Albright expressed concerns with the length of a review process for inspecting undeclared facilities, stating that a delay up to a maximum of 24 days was too long.[167] Heinonen said that “it is clear that a facility of sizable scale cannot simply be erased in three weeks’ time without leaving traces,” but said there was a risk that the Iranians could hide small-scale work, such as creating uranium components of a nuclear weapon, particularly because they have experience with cheating.[167] Albright said that activities on “a small scale,” such as experiments with high explosives or a small plant to make centrifuges operation could possibly be cleared out in 24 days.[167] Former U.S. State Department official Robert J. Einhorn, who took part in P5+1 nuclear talks with Iran from 2009 to 2013, said that “a limit shorter than 24 days would have been desirable,” but “it is probably the case that the greater the significance of a covert activity, the more difficult it will be to remove evidence of it in 24 days.”[167] U.S. Energy Department officials said that if the Iranians attempted to conduct centrifuge test, uranium conversion, or other activities, contamination would be generated that is very difficult to conceal.[167]

Public opinion surveys[edit]

United States (nationwide)[edit]

Public polling on the issue has yielded varied and sometimes contradictory results, depending on the question wording,[168] whether the poll explains the provisions of the agreement, and whether an “undecided” option is offered.[169] Polls have consistently shown polarization by party affiliation, with majorities of self-identified Democrats supporting the agreement and majorities of self-identified Republicans opposing it.[170][171][172][173]

Poll Sample Conducted Sample size
margin of error
Question(s) Asked Findings Reference
YouGov U.S. adults July 14–16 1000; ±3.9% Support/oppose (major provisions described) 43% support, 30% oppose, 26% unsure [170][174]
Abt-SRBI for Washington Post/ABC News U.S. adults July 16–19 1,002; ±3.5% Support/oppose (major provisions described)
Confidence that agreement will prevent Iran from developing nuclear weapons
56% support, 37% oppose, 7% no opinion
35% very/somewhat confident, 64% not confident
Pew Research Center U.S. adults July 14-20 2,002; ±2.5; 1,672; ±2.7% Have you heard about agreement?
Support/oppose based on what you know (provisions not described)
34% heard a lot, 44% heard a little, 22% have not heard
(Among those who have heard at least a little) 48% disapprove, 38% approve, 14% do not know
Steven M. Cohen/Social Science Research Solutions for Los Angeles Jewish Journal U.S. adults July 16–20 505 Support/oppose (major provisions described)
Should Congress vote to approve or oppose the deal?
28% support, 24% oppose, 48% don’t know enough to say
41% approve, 38% disapprove, 21% undecided.
Steven M. Cohen/Social Science Research Solutions for Los Angeles Jewish Journal Jewish Americanadults July 16–20 501 Support/oppose (major provisions described)
Should Congress vote to approve or oppose the deal?
47.5% approve, 27.6% oppose, 24.6% don’t know enough to say
53.6% approve, 34.7% oppose, 11.7% don’t know
YouGov for The Economist U.S. adults July 18–20 1000; ±4.3% Support/oppose (major provisions described)
Do you want your Senators to support or oppose the international agreement?
15% strongly support, 26% tend to support; 16% tend to oppose; 17% strongly oppose; 16% not sure
45% support; 27% oppose; 27% not sure
Public Policy Polling U.S. registered voters July 23–24 730; ±3.6% Support/oppose (major provisions described)
Should Congress allow agreement to go forward or block it?
35% strongly support; 19% somewhat support; 6% somewhat oppose; 32% strongly oppose; 8% not sure
54% go forward; 39% block; 7% not sure
ORC for CNN U.S. adults July 22–25 1,017; ±3% Should Congress approve or reject the deal? 44% approve; 52% reject; 5% no opinion [182]
Quinnipiac U.S. registered voters July 23–28 1,644; ±2.4% Support/oppose (provisions not described) 28% support; 57% oppose; 15% don’t know/NA [183]
Public Opinion Strategies & Hart Research Associates for Wall Street Journal/NBC News U.S. adults July 26–30 500 Support/oppose (major provisions described) 35% support, 33% oppose, 32% do not know enough [173][184][185]
Anderson Robbins Research & Shaw & Company Research for Fox News U.S. registered voters August 11–13 1,008
In you were in Congress, would approve or reject the deal? 31% approve, 58% reject, 10% don’t know [186][187]
ORC for CNN U.S. adults August 13–16 500
Favor/oppose a hypothetical agreement (major provisions explained) 50% favor, 46% oppose, 4% no opinion [188]
ORC for CNN U.S. adults August 13–16 500
Should Congress approve or reject the deal? (provisions not described) 41% approve, 56% reject, 2% no opinion [188]

United States (specific communities)[edit]

  • According to a Zogby Research Services poll for the Public Affairs Alliance of Iranian Americans, conducted May 20–31, 2015, 64% of Iranian Americans support the Iran deal, and 8 in 10 say it will improve Iran’s relations with the West.[189]
  • A poll of American Jewish adults conducted by GBA Strategies for J Street (which supports the agreement) from July 21–23 found that 60 percent of American Jews support the agreement.[190] The poll found that: “There is broad support for the agreement, regardless of age, gender, region, Jewish organizational engagement, and awareness about the agreement.”[190] The poll found that support was strong across every denomination except for Orthodox Jews, with 67% of Reform Jews in support, 63% of Jews of no particular denomination in support, and 55% of Conservative Jews in support.[190]
  • According to a Quinnipiac poll taken July 30–August 4, 43% of New York City voters oppose the agreement, while 36% support it; 42% said that the agreement would make the world less safe, while 40% said it will make the world more safe. Among Jewish voters in New York City, 33% support the agreement while 53% oppose it, and say 51% say the agreement will make the world less safe, while 37% say that the agreement will make the world more safe.[191]
  • According to a Public Policy Polling poll of New York City voters taken August 11-12, 58% of New York City voters support the Iran agreement, while 35% oppose it; 49% of New York City voters want their members of Congress to let the agreement go forward, while 33% want their members of Congress to block the agreement. The agreement achieved majority support from women and men; whites, African Americans, and Hispanics; and in every age group.[192]


  • According to an Iranian government poll released August 6, 2015, 80%-88% of Iranians support the Iran deal, whereas 4% oppose it.[194]

Next steps[edit]

Incorporated into international law by the United Nations Security Council[edit]

As provided for in the JCPOA, the agreement was formally endorsed by the UN Security Council,[195][196] incorporating it into international law.[197][198][e]

On 15 July 2015, the American ambassador to the UN, Samantha Power, circulated a fourteen-page draft to Council members.[196] On 20 July 2015, the Security Council unanimously approved the fourteen-page resolution—United Nations Security Council resolution 2231[205]—in a 15–0 vote.[198] The resolution delays its official implementation for 90 days, to allow for the U.S. Congress’ consideration under the Iran Nuclear Agreement Review Act of 2015.[197][198] The resolution lays out the steps for terminating sanctions imposed by seven past Security Council resolutions, but retains an arms embargo and ballistic missile technology ban.[195][198] The resolution also did not affect the sanctions imposed separately by the United States and the European Union.[198] The resolution also codifies the “snapback” mechanism of the agreement, under which all Security Council sanctions will be automatically reimposed if Iran breaches the deal.[195]

Speaking immediately after the vote, Power told the Security Council that sanctions relief would start only when Iran “verifiably” met its obligations, and also called upon Iran “to immediately release all unjustly detained Americans,” specifically naming Amir Hekmati, Saeed Abedini, and Jason Rezaian, who are imprisoned in Iran, andRobert A. Levinson, who has been missing in the country.[198][206]

Approved by European Union[edit]

On the same day that the Security Council approved a resolution, the European Union formally approved the JCPOA via a vote of the EU Foreign Affairs Council (the group of EU foreign ministers) meeting in Brussels. This sets into motion the lifting of certain EU sanctions, including those prohibiting the purchase of Iranian oil.[198][207]The EU continues its sanctions relating to human rights and its sanctions prohibiting the export of ballistic missile technology.[198] The approval by the EU was seen as a signal to the U.S. Congress.[207]

Review period in the United States Congress[edit]

Secretary of State John Kerry, Secretary of Energy Ernest Moniz, and Secretary of the Treasury Jack Lew defending the JCPOA at a hearing of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee on 23 July 2015

Under U.S. law, the JCPOA is in the form of an executive agreement.[208][209] In contrast to treaties, which require two-thirds of the Senate to consent to ratification, executive agreements ordinarily require no congressional approval.[208][f]

Under the terms of the Iran Nuclear Agreement Review Act of 2015, which was signed into law on May 22, 2015,[g] the agreement is undergoing a sixty-day review in the United States Congress.[218] Under that Act, once all documents have been sent to the Capitol, Congress will have sixty days in which it can pass a resolution of approval, a resolution of disapproval, or do nothing.[218] (The Act includes additional time beyond the sixty days for the president to veto a resolution and for Congress to take a vote on whether to override or sustain the veto.)[219] President Obama has said he will veto any resolution of disapproval.[218] Thus, Republicans will only be able to defeat the deal if they can muster the two-thirds of both houses of Congress needed to override a veto of any resolution of disapproval.[218][220] This means that 34 votes in the Senate could sustain a veto and place the JCPOA into effect.[219][221]

On July 19, 2015, the State Department officially transmitted to Congress the JCPOA, its annexes, and related materials.[222]These documents include the Unclassified Verification Assessment Report on the JCPOA and the Intelligence Community‘s Classified Annex to the Verification Assessment Report.[222] The sixty-day review period began the next day, July 20,[222][223]and will end September 17.[224] On July 30, Senator Ted Cruz introduced a resolution seeking a delay in the review period, arguing that the sixty-day congressional review under the Act should not begin until the Senate obtains a copy of all bilateral Iran-IAEA documents.[225][226]

Obama administration[edit]

The international community has long sought a landmark diplomatic agreement with Iran on its nuclear program, and such an agreement was also a long-sought foreign-policy goal of the Obama administration.[227][228][229]

In comments made in the East Room of the White House on 15 July 2015, President Obama urged Congress to support the agreement, saying “If we don’t choose wisely, I believe future generations will judge us harshly, for letting this moment slip away.”[230] Obama stated that the inspections regime in the agreement was among the most vigorous ever negotiated, and criticized opponents of the deal for failing to offer a viable alternative to it.[230] Obama stated: “If 99 percent of the world’s community and the majority of nuclear experts look at this thing and they say ‘this will prevent Iran from getting a nuclear bomb,’ and you are arguing either that it does not … then you should have some alternative to present. And I haven’t heard that.”[231][232] The same day, Obama made a case for the deal on the agreement in an interview with New York Times columnist Thomas Friedman.[233] Obama stated:

With respect to Iran, it is a great civilization, but it also has an authoritarian theocracy in charge that is anti-American, anti-Israeli, anti-Semitic, sponsors terrorism, and there are a whole host of real profound differences that we [have with] them… [T]heir argument was, ‘We’re entitled to have a peaceful nuclear program.’… You know, I have a lot of differences with Ronald Reagan, but where I completely admire him was his recognition that [we] were able to verify an agreement that [was negotiated] with the evil empire [the Soviet Union] that was hellbent on our destruction and was a far greater existential threat to us than Iran will ever be… I had a lot of disagreements with Richard Nixon, but he understood there was the prospect, the possibility, that China could take a different path. You test these things, and as long as we are preserving our security capacity — as long as we are not giving away our ability to respond forcefully, militarily, where necessary to protect our friends and our allies — that is a risk we have to take. It is a practical, common-sense position. It’s not naïve; it’s a recognition that if we can in fact resolve some of these differences, without resort to force, that will be a lot better for us and the people of that region.”[233]

Also on July 15, Vice President Joe Biden met with Senate Democrats on the Foreign Relations Committee on Capitol Hill, where he made a presentation on the agreement.[234]

On July 18, Obama devoted his weekly radio address to the agreement, stating that “this deal will make America and the world safer and more secure” and rebutting “a lot of overheated and often dishonest arguments about it.”[235] Obama stated “as commander-in-chief, I make no apology for keeping this country safe and secure through the hard work of diplomacy over the easy rush to war.”[235] On July 23, President Obama met in the White House Cabinet Room with about a dozen undecided House Democrats to speak about the agreement and seek their support.[236]

The debate over the agreement has been marked by acrimony between the White House and with Republicans inside and outside of Congress. Senator Ted Cruz of Texas said that under the agreement would cause “the Obama administration will become the leading financier of terrorism against America in the world.”[237] Former GovernorMike Huckabee of Arkansas, a candidate for the Republican presidential nomination, called the president “naive” and repeatedly invoked the Holocaust, saying that the president’s policy would “take the Israelis and march them to the door of the oven.”[238] This comparison was denounced by the Anti-Defamation League, the National Jewish Democratic Council, and various Israeli government officials.[238][239][240] At a June 27 news conference, Obama specifically criticized Huckabee, Cruz, and Cotton, saying that such remarks were “just part of a general pattern we’ve seen that would be considered ridiculous if it weren’t so sad,” especially from “leaders in the Republican Party.”[237] Obama stated that “fling[ing] out ad hominem attacks like that … doesn’t help inform the American people” and stated: “This is a deal that has been endorsed by people like Brent Scowcroft and Sam Nunn … historic Democratic and Republican leaders on arms control and on keeping America safe. And so when you get rhetoric like this, maybe it gets attention and maybe this is just an effort to push Mr. Trump out of the headlines, but it’s not the kind of leadership that is needed for America right now.”[241]

On August 5, Obama gave a speech before an audience of around 200 at American University, marking a new phase in the administration’s campaign for the agreement.[242][243] Obama stated: “Let’s not mince words: The choice we face is ultimately between diplomacy and some form of war—maybe not tomorrow, maybe not three months from now, but soon. How can we in good conscience justify war before we’ve tested a diplomatic agreement that achieves our objectives?”[242] In his speech, Obama also invoked a speech made by John F. Kennedy at American University in 1963 in favor of the Partial Nuclear Test Ban Treaty.[242] Obama also said that the opponents of the agreement were the same people who created the “drumbeat of war” that led to the Iraq War and criticized “knee-jerk partisanship that has become all too familiar, rhetoric that renders every decision made to be a disaster, a surrender.”[242]

New York Senator Chuck Schumer, a senior Democrat, made a different assessment of prospects for war by distinguishing between nuclear and non-nuclear aspects of the agreement. In each case he asked whether we are better off with the agreement or without it and his conclusion was: “… when it comes to the nuclear aspects of the agreement within ten years, we might be slightly better off with it. However, when it comes to the nuclear aspects after ten years and the non-nuclear aspects, we would be better off without it.” Then Schumer assessed the Iranian regime, saying, “Who’s to say this dictatorship will not prevail for another ten, twenty, or thirty years? To me, the very real risk that Iran will not moderate and will, instead, use the agreement to pursue its nefarious goals is too great.” And, finally, Schumer concluded: “I will vote to disapprove the agreement, not because I believe war is a viable or desirable option, nor to challenge the path of diplomacy. It is because I believe Iran will not change, and under this agreement it will be able to achieve its dual goals of eliminating sanctions while ultimately retaining its nuclear and non-nuclear power.”[244]

In the same speech, Obama stated: “Just because Iranian hard-liners chant ‘Death to America‘ does not mean that that’s what all Iranians believe. In fact, it’s those hard-liners who are most comfortable with the status quo. It’s those hard-liners chanting ‘Death to America’ who have been most opposed to the deal. They’re making common cause with the Republican caucus.”[243][245] This statement was criticized by congressional Republican leaders. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell called it “crass political rhetoric” that was a strategy to “Demonize your opponents, gin up the base, get the Democrats all angry, and rally around the president.” McConnell said “This is an enormous national security debate that the president will leave behind, under the Constitution, a year and a half from now, and the rest of us will be dealing with the consequences of it. So I wish he would tone down the rhetoric and let’s talk about the facts” and promised that Republicans would discuss the agreement respectfully in September.[246][247] Republican Senator Bob Corker, the chairman of Foreign Relations Committee, asserted that the president was “trying to shut down debate by saying that those who have legitimate questions, legitimate questions — are somehow unpatriotic, are somehow compared to hardliners in Iran.”[248] The president subsequently stood by his statement, with White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest calling it a “statement of fact”[246] and the president saying in an interview, “Remember, what I said was that it’s the hard-liners in Iran who are most opposed to this deal. And I said, in that sense, they’re making common cause with those who are opposed to this deal here. I didn’t say that they were equivalent.”[245] In the same interview, Obama said: “A sizable proportion of the Republicans were opposed before the ink was even dry on the deal.”[245]

In comments made at the Aspen Security Forum in Aspen, Colorado in July 2015, Director of National Intelligence James Clapper said that the JCPOA will improve the U.S.’s ability to monitor Iran, saying “[The agreement] puts us in a far better place in terms of insight and access” than no agreement.[249] While Clapper remains “concerned about compliance and deceit,” but “pointed out that during the negotiation period [Iran] complied with rules” negotiated under the interim agreement (the Joint Plan of Action).[249]

Public debate[edit]

An intense public debate in the U.S. is taking place during the congressional review period.[221] “Some of the wealthiest and most powerful donors in American politics, those for and against the accord,” became involved in the public debate,[250] although “mega-donors” opposing the agreement have contributed substantially more money than those supporting it.[251] From 2010 to early August 2015, the foundations of Sheldon Adelson, Paul Singer, and Haim Saban contributed a total of $13 million (at least $7.5 million, at least $2.6 million, and at least $2.9 million, respectively) to advocacy groups opposing an agreement with Iran.[251] On the other side, three groups lobbying in support of the agreement have received at least $803,000 from the Ploughshares Fund, at least $425,000 from the Rockefeller Brothers Fund, and at least $68,500 fromGeorge Soros and his foundation.[251] Other philanthropists and donors supporting an agreement include S. Daniel Abraham, Tim Gill, Norman Lear, Margery Tabankin, and Arnold Hiatt.[250]

Many Iranian Americans, even those who fled repression in Iran and oppose the regime there, welcomed the JCPOA as a step forward.[252] The National Iranian American Council (NIAC), Iranian American Bar Association, and other Iranian American organizations welcomed the JCPOA.[252][253] The NIAC released a statement saying: “Our negotiators have done their job to win a strong nuclear deal that prevents an Iranian nuclear weapon, all the while avoiding a catastrophic war. Now is the time for Congress to do theirs. Make no mistake: if Congress rejects this good deal with Iran, there will be no better deal forthcoming and Congress will be left owning an unnecessary war.”[254] NIAC created a new group, NIAC Action, to run advertisements supporting the agreement.[251] NIAC also organized an open letter from 73 Middle East and foreign affairs scholars stating that “reactivating diplomatic channels between the United States and Iran is a necessary first step” to reduce conflict in the region, and that while “the nuclear deal will not automatically or immediately bring stability to the region … Ultimately, a Middle East where diplomacy is the norm rather than the exception will enhance U.S. national security and interests,”[255] Signatories to the letter include John Esposito, Ehsan Yarshater, Noam Chomsky, Peter Beinart, John Mearsheimer, and Stephen Walt.[255]

U.S. pro-Israel groups divided on the JCPOA.[256] The American Israel Public Affairs Committee opposes the agreement, and formed a new 501(c)(4) group, Citizens for a Nuclear Free Iran, to run a television advertising campaign against the JCPOA.[242][256][257][258] In August 2015, it was reported that AIPAC and Citizens for a Nuclear Free Iran plan to spend between $20 million and $40 million on its campaign.[259] From mid-July to August 4, 2015, AIPAC’s Citizens for a Nuclear Free Iran spent more than $11 million running network television political advertisements opposing the agreement in 23 states, spending more than $1 million in the large states of California, Florida, New York, and Texas.[259][260] In the first week of August, AIPAC said that it had 400 meetings with congressional offices as part of its campaign to defeat the agreement.[259]

In contrast to AIPAC, another pro-Israel organization, J Street, supports the agreement, and plans a $5 million advertising effort of its own to encourage Congress to support the agreement.[259][261] During the first week of August, J Street launched a $2 million, three-week ad campaign in support of the agreement, with television ads running in Colorado, Maryland, Michigan, Oregon, and Pennsylvania.[262][262][263] From mid-July through early August, J Street reported having 125 meetings with congressional offices.[259] J Street has also paid to fly prominent Israelis who support the agreement (including Amram Mitzna, a retired Israeli general, member of theKnesset, and mayor of Haifa) to the U.S. to help persuade members of Congress to support the agreement.[259]

The group United Against Nuclear Iran (UANI) opposes the agreement and committed to spending more than $20 million on a national “TV, radio, print and digital campaign” against the agreement.[251][264] After UANI announced its opposition, the group’s president and co-founder, nonproliferation expert Gary Samore, announced that he had concluded “that the accord was in the United States’ interest” and supported the agreement.[251][265][265] Samore thus stepped down as president and was replaced by ex-Senator Joseph I. Lieberman.[265] By August 20, UANI had released its third national television ad against the agreement.[264]

Various other groups that have also run ad campaigns for or against the agreement. John R. Bolton‘s Foundation for American Security and Freedom has run advertisements against the agreement, as has “Veterans Against the Deal,” a group which does not disclose its donors.[266] Various pro-agreement ads were run by MoveOn.org (which ran an ad with the title “Let Diplomacy Work” theme), Americans United for Change (which warned “They’re back – the Iraq war hawks are fighting the Iran deal, want more war” over photos of Bolton, Dick Cheney, and Donald Rumsfeld), and Global Zero (which ran a humorous ad featuring actors Jack Black, Morgan Freeman, and Natasha Lyonne).[266]

The New York-based Iran Project, a nonprofit led by former high-level U.S. diplomats and funded by the Rockefeller Brothers Fund, along with the United Nations Association of the United States, supports the agreement.[267] The Rockefeller fund has also supported the San Francisco-based Ploughshares Fund, which has spent several years marshaling support for an agreement.[267]

On July 17, 2015, a bipartisan open letter endorsing the Iran agreement was signed by more than 100 former U.S. ambassadors and high-ranking State Department officials.[268][269] The ex-ambassadors wrote: “If properly implemented, this comprehensive and rigorously negotiated agreement can be an effective instrument in arresting Iran’s nuclear program and preventing the spread of nuclear weapons in the volatile and vitally important region of the Middle East. In our judgment the [plan] deserves Congressional support and the opportunity to show it can work. We firmly believe that the most effective way to protect U.S. national security, and that of our allies and friends is to ensure that tough-minded diplomacy has a chance to succeed before considering other more costly and risky alternatives.”[268][269] Among the signatories to the letter were Daniel C. Kurtzer, James Robert Jones, Frank E. Loy, Princeton N. Lyman, Jack F. Matlock, Jr., Donald F. McHenry, Thomas E. McNamara, and Thomas R. Pickering.[269]

A separate public letter to Congress in support of the agreement from five former U.S. ambassadors to Israel from administrations of both parties, and three former Under Secretaries of State was released on July 26, 2015.[270] This letter was signed by R. Nicholas Burns, James B. Cunningham, William C. Harrop, Daniel Kurtzer, Thomas R. Pickering, Edward S. Walker, Jr., and Frank G. Wisner.[271] The former officials wrote: “We are persuaded that this agreement will put in place a set of constraints and monitoring measures that will arrest Iran’s nuclear program for at least fifteen years and assure that this agreement will leave Iran no legitimate avenue to produce a nuclear weapon during the next ten to fifteen years. This landmark agreement removes the threat that a nuclear-armed Iran would pose to the region and to Israel specifically.”[271]

Another public letter to Congress urging approval of the agreement was signed by a bipartisan group of more than sixty “national-security leaders,” including politicians, retired military officers, and diplomats.[270] This letter, dated July 20, 2015, stated: “We congratulate President Obama and all the negotiators for a landmark agreement unprecedented in its importance for preventing the acquisition of nuclear weapons by Iran…We have followed carefully the negotiations as they have progressed and conclude that the JCPOA represents the achievement of greater security for us and our partners in the region.”[270][272] Among the Republicans who signed this letter are former Treasury Secretary Paul O’Neill, former U.S. Trade Representative Carla Anderson Hills, and former Senator Nancy Landon Kassebaum.[270] Among the Democrats who signed the letter are former Secretary of State Madeleine Albright; former Senate Majority Leaders George J. Mitchell and Tom Daschle, former SenatorCarl Levin, and former Defense Secretary William Perry.[270][273] Also signing were former National Security Advisors Zbigniew Brzezinski and Brent Scowcroft; Under Secretaries of State R. Nicholas Burns and Thomas R. Pickering; U.S. Ambassadors Ryan Crocker and Stuart Eizenstat; Admiral Eric T. Olson; Under Secretary of Defense for Policy Michele Flournoy; and Assistant Secretary for Nonproliferation Robert Einhorn.[273]

On August 8, 2015, 29 prominent U.S. scientists, mostly physicists, published an open letter endorsing the agreement.[274][275] The letter, addressed to President Obama, says: “We congratulate you and your team on negotiating a technically sound, stringent and innovative deal that will provide the necessary assurance in the coming decade and more than Iran is not developing nuclear weapons, and provides a basis for further initiates to raise the barriers to nuclear proliferation in the Middle East and around the globe.”[275] The letter also states that the agreement “will advance the cause of peace and security in the Middle East and can serve as a guidepost for future nonproliferation agreements.”[274][275] The 29 signatories included “some of the world’s most knowledgeable experts in the fields of nuclear weapons and arms control,” many of whom have held Q clearances and have been longtime advisers to Congress, the White House, and federal agencies.[274] Six Nobel Prize in Physics laureates signed the letter: Philip W. Anderson of Princeton University; Leon N. Cooper of Brown University; Sheldon L. Glashow of Boston University; David Gross of the University of California, Santa Barbara; Burton Richter of Stanford University; and Frank Wilczek of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.[274] Among the other scientists to sign are Richard L. Garwin (a nuclear physicist who played a key role in the development of the first hydrogen bomb and who was described by the New York Times as “among the last living physicists who helped usher in the nuclear age”); Siegfried S. Hecker (a Stanford physicist and the former director of Los Alamos National Laboratory); Rush D. Holt (a physicist and former U.S. Representative who is now the president of the American Association for the Advancement of Science); Freeman Dyson (of Princeton), and Sidney Drell (of Stanford).[274]

On August 11, 2015, an open letter endorsing the agreement signed by 36 retired military generals and admirals, entitled “The Iran Deal Benefits U.S. National Security: An Open Letter from Retired Generals and Admirals,” was released.[276][277] The letter, signed by retired officers from all five branches of the U.S. armed services, said that the agreement was “the most effective means currently available to prevent Iran from obtaining nuclear weapons,” and said that “If at some point it becomes necessary to consider military action against Iran, gathering sufficient international support for such an effort would only be possible if we have first given the diplomatic path a chance. We must exhaust diplomatic options before moving to military ones.”[277] The signers included General James E. “Hoss” Cartwright of the Marine Corps, former vice chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff; General Joseph P. Hoar of the Marine Corps, the former commander of the U.S. Central Command; and Generals Merrill McPeak andLloyd W. Newton of the Air Force.[276][277] Other signers include Lieutenant Generals Robert G. Gard, Jr. and Claudia J. Kennedy; Vice Admiral Lee F. Gunn; Rear Admirals Garland Wright and Joseph Sestak; and Major General Paul D. Eaton.[277] This letter was answered on August 25, 2016, by a letter signed by 190 retired generals and admirals opposing the deal, with a letter arguing that “The agreement does not ‘cut off every pathway’ for Iran to acquire nuclear weapons. To the contrary, it provides Iran with a legitimate pathway for doing exactly that simply by abiding by the deal.”[278][279] This letter was organized by Leon A. “Bud” Edney; signers includedWilliam G. “Jerry” Boykin (deputy undersecretary of defense for intelligence under President George W. Bush and now executive vice president of the Family Research Council) and John Poindexter and Richard Secord (known for their roles in the Iran-Contra affair).[278] Retired Marine Corps General Anthony Zinni said that he had refused requests from both sides to sign their letters, saying to Time magazine: “I’m convinced that 90% of the guys who signed the letter one way or the other don’t have any clue about whether it’s a good or bad deal. They sign it because somebody’s asked them to sign it.”[280]

On August 13, retired Senators Carl Levin of Michigan, a Democrat, and John Warner of Virginia, a Republican, co-wrote an op-ed in support of the agreement—entitled “Why hawks should also back the Iran deal”—published in Politico.[281] Levin and Warner, both past chairmen of the Senate Armed Services Committee, argued that “If we reject the agreement, we risk isolating ourselves and damaging our ability to assemble the strongest possible coalition to stop Iran” in the event that military action was needed in the future.[281] Levin and Warner wrote that “The deal on the table is a strong agreement on many counts, and it leaves in place the robust deterrence and credibility of a military option. We urge our former colleagues not to take any action which would undermine the deterrent value of a coalition that participates in and could support the use of a military option. The failure of the United States to join the agreement would have that effect.”[281] On August 14, retired senators Richard Lugar of Indiana, a Republican, and J. Bennett Johnston of Louisiana, a Democrat, also wrote in support of the agreement.[282] In a column for Reuters, Lugar and Johnston argued that “Rejection of the agreement would severely undermine the U.S. role as a leader and reliable partner around the globe. If Washington walks away from this hard-fought multilateral agreement, its dependability would likely be doubted for decades.”[282] They also wrote: “Tehran would be the winner of this U.S. rejection because it would achieve its major objective: the lifting of most sanctions without being required to accept constraints on its nuclear program. Iran could also claim to be a victim of American perfidy and try to convince other nations to break with U.S. leadership and with the entire international sanctions regime.”[282]

On August 17, 2015, a group of 75 arms control and nuclear nonproliferation experts issued a joint statement endorsing the agreement.[283][284] The statement says that “the JCPOA is is a strong, long-term, and verifiable agreement that will be a net-plus for international nuclear nonproliferation efforts” and that the JCPOA’s “rigorous limits and transparency measures will make it very likely that any future effort by Iran to pursue nuclear weapons, even a clandestine program, would be detected promptly, providing the opportunity to intervene decisively to prevent Iran from acquiring a nuclear weapon.”[283][284] The letter was organized through the nonpartisan Arms Control Association.[284] Among the 75 signatories are the Valerie Plame and Joseph C. Wilson; former IAEA director-general Hans Blix; Morton H. Halperin; and experts from theBrookings Institution, Stimson Center, and other think tanks.[283][284]

Foreign diplomats are also involved in the congressional debate. The Israeli ambassador to the United States Ron Dermer appeared on cable television shows to attack the agreement, while ambassadors from European nations, including Sir Peter Westmacott, the British ambassador to the United States, “came on to say the precise opposite.”[285] Dermer also lobbied members of Congress on Capitol Hill against the agreement,[286] while diplomats from France, Britain, and Germany made the rounds on Capitol Hill to advocate for the agreement.[287] On August 4, P5+1 diplomats held “a rare meeting of world powers’ envoys on Capitol Hill” with about 30 Senate Democrats to urge support for the agreement, saying that “If Congress rejects this good deal, and the U.S. is forced to walk away, Iran will be left with an unconstrained nuclear program with far weaker monitoring arrangements, the current international consensus on sanctions would unravel, and international unity and pressure on Iran would be seriously undermined.”[288]

Former Ambassador Dennis Ross, a longtime American negotiator in the Middle East, wrote that he was not yet convinced by either proponents or opponents of the agreement.[289] Ross wrote that the U.S.’s should be focused on “deterring the Iranians from cheating” (e.g., by producing highly enriched uranium) after year fifteen of the agreement.[289] Ross wrote that “President Obama emphasizes that the agreement is based on verification not trust. But our catching Iran cheating is less important than the price they know they will pay if we catch them. Deterrence needs to apply not just for the life of the deal.”[289] As part of a deterrence strategy, Ross proposed transferring to Israel the U.S.’s Massive Ordnance Penetrator (MOP) “bunker buster” bomb at some point before year fifteen of the agreement.[289]

The Jewish American community was divided on the agreement. On August 19, 2015, leaders of the Reform Jewish movement, the largest Jewish denomination in the U.S., issued a lengthy public statement expressed a neutral position on the agreement.[290][291] The statement, signed by the leaders of the Union for Reform Judaism,Central Conference of American Rabbis, Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism and Association of Reform Zionists of America, reflected what Rabbi Rick Jacobs, president of the URJ, called “deep divisions within the movement.”[290] On August 20, 2015, a group of 26 prominent current and foreign American Jewish communal leaders published a full-page ad in the New York Times with a statement backing the agreement; signers included three former chairs of the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations as well as former AIPAC executive director Tom Dine.[292] Separately, a group of 340 rabbis organized by Ameinu issued a public letter to Congress on August 17, 2015, in support of the agreement, saying: “We, along with many other Jewish leaders, fully support this historic nuclear accord.”[293] The signers were mostly Reform rabbis, but included at least 50 rabbis from the Conservative movement and at least one Orthodox rabbi.[294] Prominent rabbis who signed this letter included Sharon Brous, Burton Visotzky, Nina Beth Cardin, Lawrence Kushner, Sharon Kleinbaum, and Amy Eilberg.[293] Conversely, a group of 900 rabbis signed an open letter written by Kalman Topp and Yonah Bookstein in late August, calling upon Congress to reject the agreement.[295] The Orthodox Union and American Jewish Committee also announced opposition to the agreement.[296][297]

The Roman Catholic Church has expressed support for the agreement. In a July 14, 2015 letter to Congress, Bishop Oscar Cantú, chairman of the Committee on International Justice and Peace of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, stated that the JCPOA was “a momentous agreement” which “signals progress in global nuclear non-proliferation.”[298][299] Cantú wrote that Catholic bishops in the U.S. “will continue to urge Congress to endorse the result of these intense negotiations because the alternative leads toward armed conflict, an outcome of profound concern to the Church.”[298][299]

On August 25, 2015, a group of 53 Christian faith leaders from a variety of denominations sent a message to Congress urging them to support the agreement.[255] The Christian leaders wrote: “This is a moment to remember the wisdom of Jesus who proclaimed from the Sermon on the Mount, ‘Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called children of God’ (Matthew 5:9). … There is no question we are all better off with this deal than without it.”[255] The letter was coordinated by a Quaker group, theFriends Committee on National Legislation.[255] Signatories to the letter included Jim Wallis of Sojourners; John C. Dorhauer, general minister and president of the United Church of Christ; Shane Claiborne; Adam Estle of Evangelicals for Middle East Understanding; Archbishop Vicken Aykazian of the Armenian Orthodox Church; A. Roy Medley, the head of American Baptist Churches USA; the Reverend Paula Clayton Dempsey of the Alliance of Baptists, senior pastor Joel C. Hunter of Northland, A Church Distributed; and Sister Simone Campbell, a leader of the Catholic “Nuns on the Bus” campaigns.[255][300]

Congressional committee hearings[edit]

A hearing on the JCPOA before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee took place on July 23, 2015. Secretary of State Kerry, Treasury Secretary Jack Lew, and Energy Secretary Moniz testified.[236][301] Republican Senator Bob Corker of Tennessee, the committee chairman, said in his opening statement that when the talks began the goal was to dismantle the Iranian nuclear program, whereas the achieved agreement codified “the industrialization of their nuclear program.”[302][303] Corker, addressing Secretary of State Kerry, said, “I believe you’ve been fleeced” and “…what you’ve really done here is you have turned Iran from being a pariah to now Congress, Congress being a pariah.”[287] Corker asserted that a new threshold in U.S. foreign policy was crossed and the agreement would “enable a state sponsor of terror to obtain sophisticated, industrial nuclear development program that has, as we know, only one real practical need.”[304] The committee’s ranking Democratic member, SenatorBenjamin Cardin of Maryland, said he had many questions and his hope was that the answers will cause a debate “in Congress and the American people.”[304] Democrats, led by Senator Barbara Boxer of California, expressed support for the agreement, with Boxer saying that criticisms by Republicans were “ridiculous,” “unfair,” and “wrong.”[236][287] Corker and Cardin sent a letter to Obama saying the bilateral IAEA-Iran document should be available for Congress to review.[287]

At the hearing Kerry, Lew, and Moniz “were unequivocal in their statements that the accord was the best that could be achieved and that without it, the international sanctions regime would collapse.”[236] Kerry warned that if the United States would be “on our own” if it were to walk away from a multi-lateral agreement alongside the five global powers.[287] Kerry stated that the belief that “some sort of unicorn arrangement involving Iran’s complete capitulation” could be achieved was “a fantasy, plain and simple.”[236] The Washington Post reported that “Moniz emerged as the calm center of the proceedings, beginning his interjections with recitations of what he described as ‘facts,’ and mildly observing that Republican characterizations were ‘incorrect.'”[287] Kerry, Lew, and Moniz faced “uniform animus of Republicans” at the hearing,[236] with Republican senators giving “long and often scathing speeches denouncing what they described as a fatally flawed agreement and accusing the administration of dangerous naivete” and showing “little interest in responses” from the three cabinet secretaries.[287] Washington Post reported on twelve issues related to the agreement over which the two sides disagreed at the hearing.[305]

On July 28, Kerry, Moniz, and Lew testified before the House Committee on Foreign Affairs.[306] Committee chairman Ed Royce, Republican of California, said in his opening statement that “we are being asked to consider an agreement that gives Iran permanent sanctions relief for temporary nuclear restrictions.”[306][307] “Royce also said the inspection regime ‘came up short’ from ‘anywhere, anytime’ access to Iran’s nuclear facilities and criticized the removal of restrictions on Iran’s ballistic missile program and conventional arms.”[308] The committee’s ranking member, Representative Eliot Engel, Democrat of New York, said he has “serious questions and concerns” about the agreement.[308][309] Kerry, Lew, and Moniz spent four hours testifying before the committee.[310][311] At the hearing, Kerry stated that if Congress killed the deal, “You’ll not only be giving Iran a free pass to double the pace of its uranium enrichment, to build a heavy-water reactor, to install new and more efficient centrifuges, but they will do it all without the unprecedented inspection and transparency measures that we have secured. Everything that we have tried to prevent will now happen.”[312]

Senators John McCain (Republican of Arizona), the committee chair, and Jack Reed (Democrat of Rhode Island), the committee ranking member, at a hearing of the Senate Armed Services Committee on the JCPOA, 29 July 2015.

On July 29, Secretary of Defense Ashton Carter, General Martin Dempsey, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Kerry, Moniz, and Lew appeared before the Senate Armed Services Committee in a three-hour hearing.[313] Carter and Dempsey had been invited to testify by Republican Senator John McCain of Arizona, the chairman of the committee; Kerry, Moniz, and Lew attended the hearing at the invitation of the Pentagon.[314][315] In his opening statement, McCain said that if this agreement failed and U.S. armed forces were called to take action against Iran, they “could be at greater risk because of this agreement.” He also asserted that the agreement may lead American allies and partners to fateful decisions and result in “growing regional security competition, new arms races, nuclear proliferation, and possibly conflict.”[316] The committee’s ranking Democratic member, Senator Jack Reed of Rhode Island, said Congress had an obligation “to independently validate that the agreement will meet our common goal of stopping Iran from acquiring a nuclear weapon” and stated that “the agreement, no matter your position on it, is historic and, if implemented scrupulously, could serve as a strategic inflection point in the world’s relations with Iran, for international non-proliferation efforts, and for the political and security dynamics in the Middle East.”[317][318]

Carter said the agreement prevented Iran from “getting a nuclear weapon in a comprehensive and verifiable way.”[314] He assured the committee that the deal would not limit the U.S. to respond with military force if needed.[319] In response to a question from McCain, Carter said he had “no reason to foresee” that the agreement would cause Iran’s threatening behavior to change more broadly, stating “That is why it’s important that Iran not have a nuclear weapon.”[315][320] Dempsey offered what he described as a “pragmatic” view.[313] He neither praised nor criticized the deal, but did testify that the agreement reduced the chances of a near-term military conflict between the U.S. and Iran.[313] Dempsey said that the agreement works to keep Iran from developing nuclear weapons, but does not address other concerns about Iran’s malign activities in the region, ranging from “ballistic missile technology to weapons trafficking, to … malicious activity in cyberspace.”[321] Dempsey testified that “Ultimately, time and Iranian behavior will determine if the nuclear agreement is effective and sustainable” and stated that he would continue to provide military options to the president.[321] Senator Joni Ernst expressed disagreement with President Obama who stated that the choice was the Iran nuclear deal or war. When General Martin Dempsey testified that the U.S. had “a range of options” and he presented them to the president, Ernst said: “it’s imperative everybody on the panel understand that there are other options available.”[322][323]

Under the JCPOA, Iran must submit a full report on its nuclear history before it can receive any sanctions relief.[324] The IAEA has confidential technical arrangements with many countries as a matter of standard operating procedure.[325][324][326] “Republican lawmakers refer to these agreements as ‘secret side deals’ and claim that the JCPOA hinges on a set of agreements no one in the administration has actually seen.”[325] Senator Tom Cotton of Arkansas, a Republican opponent of the agreement, said that Kerry had “acted like Pontius Pilate and “washed his hands, kicked it to the IAEA, knowing Congress would not get this information unless someone went out to find it.”[327] On July 30, Republican Senator Ted Cruz of Texas introduced a resolution seeking a delay in the review period, arguing that “The 60-calendar day period for review of such agreement in the Senate cannot be considered to have begun until the Majority Leader certifies that all of the materials required to be transmitted under the definition of the term ‘agreement’ under such Act, including any side agreements with Iran and United States Government-issued guidance materials in relation to Iran, have been transmitted to the Majority Leader.”[225][226] On August 5, Yukiya Amano, director general of the IAEA, spoke with members of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee in a closed briefing about two IAEA documents: an agreement on inspection protocols with Iran and an agreement with Iran regarding Iranian disclosure of its previous nuclear activity (known as Possible Military Dimensions).[328][325] Following this briefing with Amano, Republican Senator Bob Corker, the committee chairman, told reporters: “The majority of members here left with far more questions than they had before the meeting took place” and “We can not get him to even confirm that we will have physical access inside of Parchin.” The committee’s ranking Democratic member, Senator Benjamin Cardin told reporters: “I thought today was helpful, but it was not a substitute for seeing the document.”[329]

State Department spokesman John Kirby responded that “There’s no secret deals between Iran and the IAEA that the P5+1 has not been briefed on in detail” and stated “These kinds of technical arrangements with the IAEA are a matter of standard practice, that they’re not released publicly or to other states, but our experts are familiar and comfortable with the contents, which we would be happy to discuss with Congress in a classified setting.”[326] The Center for Arms Control and Non-Proliferation writes that: “The arrangement specifies procedural information regarding how the IAEA will conduct its investigation into Iran’s past nuclear history, including mentioning the names of informants who will be interviewed. Releasing this information would place those informants, and the information they hold, at risk.”[324] Mark Hibbs of the Nuclear Policy Program at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace and Thomas Shea, a former IAEA safeguards official and former head of Defense Nuclear Nonproliferation Programs at the Pacific Northwest National Laboratory, wrote that the charges of a “secret side deal” made by opponents of the agreement were a “manufactured controversy.”[63] Hibbs and Shea noted: “The IAEA has safeguards agreement with 180 countries. All have similar information protection provisions. Without these, governments would not open their nuclear programs for multilateral oversight. So IAEA Director General Yukiya Amano was acting by the book on August 5 when he told members of Congress that he couldn’t share with them the details of [the] verification protocol the IAEA had negotiated with Iran as part of a bilateral ‘roadmap.'”[63]David Albright, founder and president of the Institute for Science and International Security and a former IAEA nuclear inspector, stated that the demands for greater transparency regarding the agreement between Iran and IAEA “aren’t unreasonable” and that “Iran is a big screamer for more confidentiality. Nonetheless, if the IAEA wanted to make it more open, it could.”[330] Albright also proposed that the U.S. “should clearly and publicly confirm, and Congress should support with legislation, that if Iran does not address the IAEA’s concerns about the past military dimensions of its nuclear programs, U.S. sanctions will not be lifted.”[331]

Congressional support and opposition[edit]

Republican leaders vowed to attempt to kill the agreement as soon as it was released, even before classified sections were made available to Congress, and “Republican lawmakers raced to send out news releases criticizing it.”[332] According to the Washington Post, “most congressional Republicans remained deeply skeptical, some openly scornful, of the prospect of relieving economic sanctions while leaving any Iranian uranium-enrichment capability intact.”[333] Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, Republican of Kentucky, said the deal “appears to fall well short of the goal we all thought was trying to be achieved, which was that Iran would not be a nuclear state.”[333]A New York Times news analysis stated that Republican opposition to the agreement “seems born of genuine distaste for the deal’s details, inherent distrust of President Obama, intense loyalty to Israel and an expansive view of the role that sanctions have played beyond preventing Iran’s nuclear abilities.”[332] The Washington Postidentified twelve issues related to the agreement on which the two sides disagreed, including the efficacy of inspections at undeclared sites; the effectiveness of the snapback sanctions; the significance of limits on enrichment; the significance of IAEA side agreements; the effectiveness of inspections of military sites; the consequences of walking away from an agreement; and the effects of lifting sanctions.[305][h]

One area of disagreement between supporters and opponents of the JCPOA is the consequences of walking away from an agreement, and whether renegotiation of the agreement is a realistic option.[305] Senator Chuck Schumer, Democrat of New York, an opponent of the agreement, called for the U.S. government to keep sanctions in place, strengthen them, and “pursue the hard-trodden path of diplomacy once more, difficult as it may be.”[244] Senator Bob Corker, Republican of Tennessee, said that he believed that it was “hyperbole” to say that the agreement was the only alternative to war.[305] President Obama, by contrast, argued that renegotiation of the deal is unrealistic, stating in his American University speech that “the notion that there is a better deal to be had. … relies on vague promises of toughness” and stated that “Those making this argument are either ignorant of Iranian society, or they are not being straight with the American people. … Neither the Iranian government, or the Iranian opposition, or the Iranian people would agree to what they would view as a total surrender of their sovereignty.”[243] Obama also argued that “those who say we can just walk away from this deal and maintain sanctions are selling a fantasy. Instead of strengthening our position, as some have suggested, Congress’ rejection would almost certainly result in multi-lateral sanctions unraveling,” because “our closest allies in Europe or in Asia, much less China or Russia, certainly are not going to enforce existing sanctions for another five, 10, 15 years according to the dictates of the U.S. Congress because their willingness to support sanctions in the first place was based on Iran ending its pursuit of nuclear weapons. It was not based on the belief that Iran cannot have peaceful nuclear power.”[243] Secretary of State Kerry has echoed these remarks, saying in July 2015 that the idea of a “‘better deal,’ some sort of unicorn arrangement involving Iran’s complete capitulation …. is a fantasy, plain and simple, and our intelligence community will tell you that.”[305][341] Senator Al Franken, Democrat of Minnesota, a supporter of the agreement wrote: “Some say that, should the Senate reject this agreement, we would be in position to negotiate a “better” one. But I’ve spoken to representatives of the five nations that helped broker the deal, and they agree that this simply wouldn’t be the case.”[342][i]

On July 28, 2015, Representative Sander M. Levin, Democrat of Michigan, the longest-serving Jewish member now in Congress, announced in a lengthy statement that he would support the JCPOA, saying that “the agreement is the best way” to stop Iran from obtaining a nuclear weapon and that a rejection of the agreement would lead the international sanctions regime to “quickly fall apart,” as “sanctions likely would not be continued even by our closest allies, and the U.S. would be isolated trying to enforce our unilateral sanctions as to Iran’s banking and oil sectors.”[310][346][347]

A key figure in the congressional review process is Senator Benjamin Cardin of Maryland, a Democrat who is the ranking member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee.[220] Cardin took a phone call from Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu opposing the agreement and participated in a private 90-minute session with Energy Secretary Moniz supporting the agreement.[220] On July 21, Cardin said that if the agreement is implemented, the U.S. should increase military aid to Israel and friendly Gulf states.[220]

On August 4, 2015, three key and closely watched Senate Democrats—Tim Kaine of Virginia (a Foreign Relations Committee member), Barbara Boxer of California (also a Foreign Relations Committee member), and Bill Nelson of Florida—announced their support for the agreement.[348] In a floor speech that day, Kaine said that the agreement is “far preferable to any other alternative, including war” and that “America has honored its best traditions and shown that patient diplomacy can achieve what isolation and hostility cannot.”[348] In a similar floor speech the same day, Nelson said that: “I am convinced [that the agreement] will stop Iran from developing a nuclear weapon for at least the next 10 to 15 years. No other available alternative accomplishes this vital objective”[349][350] and “If the U.S. walks away from this multinational agreement, I believe we would find ourselves alone in the world with little credibility.”[351] Conversely, another closely watched senator, Chuck Schumer of New York, who is expected to make a bid to become Senate Democratic leader,[221] announced his opposition to the agreement on August 6, writing that “there is a strong case that we are better off without an agreement than with one”[244][352]

According to an Associated Press report, the classified assessment of the United States Intelligence Community on the agreement concludes that because Iran will be required by the agreement to provide international inspectors with “unprecedented volume of information about nearly every aspect of its existing nuclear program,” Iran’s ability to conceal a covert weapons program will be diminished.[353][354] In an August 13 letter to colleagues, ten current and former Democratic members of the House Select Committee on Intelligence (including House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi and Intelligence Committee ranking member Adam Schiff) referred to this assessment as a reason to support the agreement, writing that “We are confident that this monitoring and the highly intrusive inspections provided for in the agreement – along with our own intelligence capabilities – make it nearly impossible for Iran to develop a covert enrichment effort without detection.”[354][355] The ten members also wrote “You need not take our word for it” and referred members to the classified assessment itself, which is located in an office in the Capitol basement and is available for members of Congress to read.[354][355]

Upcoming congressional votes[edit]

The formal resolution of disapproval in the House was introduced by Representative Ed Royce, Republican of California, the chair of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, and a vote in both the House and Senate is expected in September.[356] A similar resolution of disapproval was introduced on July 16 by Representative Peter Roskam, Republican of Illinois, who announced on August 3 that he had obtained 218 cosponsors (a majority of the House).[357][358][359] Roskam’s resolution “is not the formal disapproval measure that the House is expected to take up in September”;[357] it is expected that it is the resolution by Royce, as the relevant committee chair, will be the one ultimately voted upon.[358]

A resolution of disapproval is expected to pass, meaning that “the real challenge for the White House is whether they can marshal enough Democrats to sustain the veto.”[357][360] Two-thirds of both houses (the House of Representatives and the Senate) are required to override a veto, meaning than one-third of either house (146 votes in the House, or 34 in the Senate) could sustain (uphold) President Obama’s veto of a resolution of disapproval.[361][362]

The Washington Post maintains a “whip count” with senators’ expressed opinions. As of August 24, 33 senators were “yes or leaning yes”; 57 were “no or leaning no”; and 10 were unknown or unclear.[363]

On August 20, 2015, House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi said that House Democrats had the votes to uphold a veto of a resolution of disapproval[364] To sustain a veto, Pelosi would need to hold only 145 of the 188 House Democrats;[365] by August 20, about 60 House Democrats have publicly declared their support for the final agreement,[366] and about 12 had publicly declared their opposition.[364] In May 2015, before the final agreement was announced, 151 House Democrats signed in support for the broad outlines in the April framework agreement; none of those signatories have announced opposition to the final agreement.[362]

Review period in Iran[edit]

On June 21, 2015, the Iranian Parliament decided to form a committee to study the JCPOA and to wait at least 80 days before voting on it.[367] Foreign ministerMohammad Javad Zarif and Atomic Energy Organization of Iran chief Ali Akbar Salehi, defended the deal in Parliament on the same day.[367] Although the Iranian constitution gives Parliament the right to cancel the deal, it was reported that this outcome is unlikely.[367] The New York Times reported that “the legislators have effectively opted to withhold their judgment until they know whether the American Congress approves of the deal.”[367]

In televised remarks made on July 23, 2015, Iranian President Hassan Rouhani rejected domestic criticism of the JCPOA from Iranian hardliners, “such as the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps and its allies,” which “have criticized the accord as an invasive affront to the country’s sovereignty and a capitulation to foreign adversaries, particularly the United States.”[368] In remarks described by the New York Times as “blunt” and uncharacteristically frank, Rouhani claimed a popular mandate to make an agreement based on his election in 2013 and warned that the alternative was “an economic Stone Age” brought on by sanctions which (as the Times described) have “shriveled oil exports and denied the country access to the global banking system.”[368] On July 26, a two-page, top-secret directive sent to Iranian newspaper editors from Iran’s Supreme National Security Council surfaced online.[369] In the document, newspapers are instructed to avoid criticism of the agreement and to avoid giving the impression of “a rift” at the highest levels of government.[369] The BBC reported that the document appears to be aimed at constraining criticism of the JCPOA by Iranian hardliners.[369]

Abbas Milani and Michael McFaul write that: “those [in Iran] supporting the deal include moderates inside the government, many opposition leaders, a majority of Iranian citizens, and many in the Iranian American diaspora—a disparate group that has rarely agreed on anything until now.”[370] Within the government, Rouhani and Foreign Minister Javad Zarif, who negotiated the agreement, “are now the most vocal in defending it against Iranian hawks.”[370] Also vocally supporting the agreement are former presidents Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani and Mohammad Khatami and moderates within parliament.[370] The agreement is also supported by most prominent opposition leaders, including Mir-Hossein Mousavi, a 2009 presidential candidate who is under house arrest for his role as a leader of the Green Movement.[370]

Conversely, “the most militantly authoritarian, conservative, and anti-Western leaders and groups within Iran oppose the deal.”[370] The anti-agreement coalition in Iran includes former president Ahmadinejad, known for his Holocaust denial and calls for the elimination of Israel; Fereydoon Abbasi (the director of the Iranian nuclear program during Ahmadinejad’s term); ex-nuclear negotiator Saeed Jalili; and various conservative clerics and Revolutionary Guard commanders.[370] This group has “issued blistering attacks on the incompetence of Iran’s negotiating team, claiming that negotiators caved on many key issues and were outmaneuvered by more clever and sinister American diplomats.”[370]

In the Iranian media, the leading reformist newspapers, Etemad and Shargh, “continue to write approvingly of the negotiations and their outcome.”[371] Conversely, the leading conservative paper Ettelaat has criticized the agreement.[371] The most “bombastic and hard-line criticism of the deal” has come from Kayhan, which is edited byHossein Shariatmadari and closely associated with Khamenei, the supreme leader.[371]

The agreement is supported by many Iranian dissidents, including Nobel Peace Prize laureate, human rights activist, and Iranian exile Shirin Ebadi, who “labeled as ‘extremists’ those who opposed the agreement in Iran and America.”[370] Likewise, dissident journalist and former political prisoner Akbar Ganji expressed hope that “step-by-step nuclear accords, the lifting of economic sanctions and the improvement of the relations between Iran and Western powers will gradually remove the warlike and securitized environment from Iran.”[370] Other dissidents opposed the agreement, citing the Iranian government’s human rights violations and the lack of religious and political freedom in the country. Dissidents opposing the agreement include Ahmad Batebi, Nazanin Afshin-Jam, and Roozbeh Farahanipour, who signed an open letter arguing that “more pressure should be applied to the regime, not less.”[372]

Impacts and potential impacts[edit]


With the prospective lifting of some sanctions, the agreement is expected to have a significant impact on both the economy of Iran and global markets. The energy sector is particularly important, with Iran having nearly 10 percent of global oil reserves and 18 percent of natural gas reserves.[373] Millions of barrels of Iranian oil may come onto global markets, lowering the price of crude oil.[373][374] However, the impact will not be immediate, because Iran will not be able to implement measures that are needed to lift sanctions until the end of 2015.[374] Technology and investment from global integrated oil companies are expected to increase capacity from Iran’s oil fields and refineries, which have been in “disarray” in recent years, plagued by mismanagement and underinvestment.[373][374] Senior executives from oil giants Royal Dutch Shell,Total S.A, and Eni met with the Iranian oil minister in Vienna in June, the month before the JCPOA was announced, and have been seeking business opportunities in Iran.[374]

The economic impact of a partial lifting of sanctions extends beyond the energy sector; the New York Times reported that “consumer-oriented companies, in particular, could find opportunity in this country with 81 million consumers,” many of whom are young and prefer Western products.[373] Iran is “considered a strong emerging marketplay” by investment and trading firms.[373]

French auto manufacturer PSA Peugeot Citroën has emerged as one of the first Western companies to re-establish commercial ties following the deal.[375]


In July 2015, Richard Stone wrote in the journal Science in July 2015 that if the agreement is fully implemented, “Iran can expect a rapid expansion of scientific cooperation with Western powers. As its nuclear facilities are repurposed, scientists from Iran and abroad will team up in areas such as nuclear fusion, astrophysics, and radioisotopes for cancer therapy.”[376]


In August 2015, the British embassy in Tehran reopened almost four years after it was closed after protesters attacked the embassy in 2011.[377] At a reopening ceremony, Hammond said that since Rouhani’s election as president, British-Iranian relations had went from a “low point” to steady “step-by-step” improvement.[377] Hammond said: “Last month’s historic nuclear agreement was another milestone, and showed the power of diplomacy, conducted in an atmosphere of mutual respect, to solve shared challenges. Re-opening the embassy is the logical next step to build confidence and trust between two great nations.”[377] The BBC‘s diplomatic correspondent, Jonathan Marcus, reported that the nuclear agreement “had clearly been decisive in prompting the UK embassy to be reopened,” stating that British-Iranian “ties have slowly been warming but it is clearly the successful conclusion of the nuclear accord with Iran that has paved the way for the embassy reopening.”[378]

See also[edit]


  1. Jump up^ The P5+1 are also sometimes referred to as the “E3+3” (for the “EU three” countries (France, the UK, and Germany) plus the three non-EU countries (the U.S., Russia, and China)). Both terms are interchangeable. This article uses the “P5+1” phrase.[1][2]
  2. Jump up^ The meaning of Article IV of the Nuclear Non-proliferation Treaty, and its application to Iran, is a matter of dispute.[13][14] Gary Samore writes that “Whether the NPT guarantees signatories a right to enrichment is a long-standing dispute among the parties to the treaty.”[15] Iran and other countries (such as Argentina, Brazil, Germany, Japan, and South Africa) assert that signatories to the NPT have a right to enrich uranium under Article IV of the NPT.[16][17] Professor William O. Beeman of the University of Minnesota, as well as Henry D. Sokolski, executive director of theNonproliferation Policy Education Center, agree with this interpretation of the NPT.[16]The U.S. position was unclear before 2006, but after that time the U.S. has taken the position that Iran does not have the right to uranium enrichment because this activity is not specifically cited in the NPT.[14][16] In testimony before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee in October 2013, Sherman stated that the “the U.S. position that that article IV of the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty does not speak about the right of enrichment at all [and] doesn’t speak to enrichment, period. It simply says that you have the right to research and development. And many countries such as Japan and Germany have taken that [uranium enrichment] to be a right. But the United States does not take that position. … We do not believe there is an inherent right by anyone to enrichment.”[16] The U.S. officials has also made the additional argument that whatever Iran’s rights under the NPT might be, they were superseded by a series of UN Security Council resolutions demanding “that Iran suspend enrichment and reprocessing activities until ‘confidence is restored in the purely peaceful nature of Iran’s nuclear program.'”[14][15][16] U.S. Secretary of State Kerry has said: “We do not recognize a right to enrich. It is clear … in the nonproliferation treaty, it’s very, very (clear) that there is no right to enrich. [The Iranians] have the ability to negotiate it, but they could only gain that capacity to have some enrichment as some countries do, if they live up to the whole set of terms necessary to prove its a peaceful program.”[13] In March 2011 testimony before the House Foreign Affairs Committee, then-U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton expressed a similar position, indicating that Iran should be permitted to enrich uranium under IAEA supervision once the international concerns over its nuclear program are resolved.[17]
  3. Jump up^ At the same time that the JCPOA was agreed to, Iran and the IAEA signed a separate document, the Roadmap for Clarification of Past and Present Outstanding Issues.[56] The roadmap includes “the provision by Iran of explanations regarding outstanding issues” and provides “for technical expert meetings, technical measures and discussions, as well as a separate arrangement regarding the issue of Parchin,” an Iranian military research and development site.[56] “The specific measures that Iran is committed to take with respect to technical expert meetings and discussions and access to Parchin are contained in two separate documents between Iran and the IAEA that are not public.”[56] On August 19, 2015, the Associated Press reported that an anonymous official had given the AP an unsigned, preliminary draft of one of the confidential bilateral IAEA-Iran agreements. This draft indicated that Iran would be allowed to use its own inspectors to investigate the Parchin site.[57] (The AP reported that two anonymous officials officials had told it that the draft does not differ from the final, confidential agreement between the IAEA and Iran).[58] The AP said that the draft “diverges from normal procedures.”[57] Several hours after posting the article, the AP removed several details of the story (without issuing a formal retraction), and published another article that noted that “IAEA staff will monitor Iranian personnel as they inspect the Parchin nuclear site.”[59] The AP restored the contentious details the next morning and said it was standing by its entire story. It further published the full document it had transcribed.[60] The following day, IAEA Director General Yukiya Amano issued a statement stating: “I am disturbed by statements suggesting that the IAEA has given responsibility for nuclear inspections to Iran. Such statements misrepresent the way in which we will undertake this important verification work … the arrangements are technically sound and consistent with our long-established practices. They do not compromise our safeguards standards in any way. The Road-map between Iran and the IAEA is a very robust agreement, with strict timelines, which will help us to clarify past and present outstanding issues regarding Iran’s nuclear programme.”[61] The IAEA did not elaborate on the provisions of the confidential agreement, but the Arms Control Association has noted that “under managed access procedures that may be employed the IAEA, the inspected party may take environmental swipe samples at a particular site in the presence of the IAEA inspectors using swabs and containment bags provided by the IAEA to prevent cross contamination. According to former IAEA officials, this is an established procedure. Such swipe samples collected at suspect sites under managed access would likely be divided into six packages: three are taken by the IAEA for analysis at its Seibersdorf Analytical Lab and two to be sent to the IAEA’s Network of Analytical Labs (NWAL), which comprises some 16 labs in different countries, and another package to be kept under joint IAEA and Iran seal at the IAEA office in Iran a backup and control sample if re-analysis might be required at a later stage. The process ensures the integrity of the inspection operation and the samples for all parties.”[62] Mark Hibbs of the Nuclear Policy Program at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace and Thomas Shea, a former IAEA safeguards official and head of Defense Nuclear Nonproliferation Programs at the Pacific Northwest National Laboratory described a similar protocol in an article entitled “No, Iran is not allowed to inspect itself.”[63] Hibbs and Shea wrote that the claims that Iran would be in charge of inspections at Parchin were “wholly specious” and “unfounded.”[63] Arms control expert Jeffrey Lewis of the Monterey Institute of International Studies stated that the procedures referred to in the AP report were consistent with expert practice: “There are precedents for just providing photos and videos. When the South Africans disabled their nuclear test shaft, they video-recorded it and sent the IAEA their video. I don’t care who takes a swipe sample or who takes a photograph, so long as I know where and when it was taken, with very high confidence, and I know that it hasn’t been tampered with.”[59] Lewis expressed the opinion that “the point of the leak was to make the IAEA agreement on Parchin sound as bad as possible, and to generate political attention in Washington.”[59]
  4. Jump up^ Ali Vaez, the senior analyst on Iran at the International Crisis Group, notes that breakout time is not precisely measurable and is “estimated rather than calculated,” depending on various assumptions and factors. Vaez notes that “Breakout estimates … usually assume that an Iranian dash for the bomb would face none of the technical challenges that have plagued the program over the past decade.”[72]
  5. Jump up^ The extent to which the JCPOA is legally binding on the United States—i.e., whether a future president could lawfully repudiate the JCPOA once it goes into effect—is a matter of dispute. Legal scholars Bruce Ackerman of Yale Law School and David Golove of the New York University School of Law argue that the Iran Nuclear Agreement Review Act of 2015 had the effect of making the agreement (once implemented) into a congressional-executive agreement.[199] Golove states that the president cannot “ignore commitments [made by him or by a past president] in congressional-executive agreements without congressional authority to do so,” and believes that the agreement is binding under international law, irrespective of any White House declaration, because it contains no provision saying otherwise.[199][200]Ackerman agrees, arguing that “Presidents do not have the power to repudiate congressional-executive agreements without strictly following the procedures laid out by Congress in its original authorizing legislation.”[199] Others, such as Michael Ramsey of the University of San Diego School of Law, argue that unless Congress expressly approves of the agreement via a resolution of approval (which is unlikely), the agreement is nonbinding under domestic law, so that “this president can implement to the extent of his statutory and constitutional authority [and] future presidents can refuse to follow.”[199] Ramsey points out, however, that even if the agreement is a nonbinding executive agreement under domestic law, it may still be binding under international law, since domestic invalidity is not a defense to failure to follow an international agreement.[199]
    The position of the U.S. government is different. Secretary of State Kerry stated in a Senate Foreign Relations Committee hearing that “with respect to the talks, we’ve been clear from the beginning. We’re not negotiating a, quote, ‘legally binding plan.’ We’re negotiating a plan that will have in it a capacity for enforcement.”[201] (Kerry also said that a future president is, as a practical matter, unlikely to “turn around and just nullify it” given the international agreement from the other P5+1 powers.[202]) Several legal scholars support this argument. John B. Bellinger III argues: “The next president will have the legal right under both domestic and international law to scrap the JCPOA and reimpose U.S. nuclear sanctions on Iran.”[203] Bellinger states that “such an action would be inconsistent with political commitments made by the Obama administration” and would likely cause a major rift with U.S. allies and Iran to resume its nuclear activities,” but that “would not constitute a violation of international law, because the JCPOA is not legally binding.”[203] Orde Kittrie of Arizona State University similarly writes that the JCPOA is a kind of “nonbinding, unsigned political” agreement considered “more flexible than treaties or other legally binding international agreements.”[204]
  6. Jump up^ The “vast majority of international agreements” negotiated by the United States, especially in recent decades, have been executive agreements, rather than treaties.[208][210] In 2003, the U.S. Supreme Court held in American Insurance Association v. Garamendi that “our cases have recognized that the President has authority to make ‘executive agreements’ with other countries, requiring no ratification by the Senate or approval by Congress, this power having been exercised since the early years of the Republic.”[209][211] Various opponents of the JCPOA, including David B. Rivkin Jr., Lee A. Casey, and Michael Ramsey have criticized the form of the agreement, arguing that it should be considered a treaty rather than an executive agreement.[212][213] Other commentators disagree; the constitutionality of the executive agreement form of the JCPOA has been defended by Jack Goldsmith, who called arguments for the illegality of the agreement “weak,”[214] and by John Yoo, who wrote that the executive agreement form of the JCPOA is consistent with the Treaty Clause of the Constitution.[215]
  7. Jump up^ The Iran Nuclear Agreement Review Act of 2015, Pub.L. 114–17, was an amendment to the Atomic Energy Act of 1954.[216] The act was passed by the Senate as S. 615 on May 7, 2015, in a 98-1 vote, and was passed by the House as H.R. 1191 on May 14, 2015, in a 400-25 vote, and was approved by President Obama on May 22, 2015.[217]
  8. Jump up^ “Much of the criticism of the deal” from opponents in the U.S. Congress and from the Israeli government “derives from the fact that slowing and shrinking Iran’s nuclear program this way falls well short of the original diplomatic goal, which was to end entirely Iran’s ability to enrich uranium—the ‘zero enrichment’ goal.”[334] Before the JCPOA, there was “a preference on the part of the United States and many of its allies for zero enrichment in Iran (indeed, opposition to the spread of any uranium enrichment capability to any additional countries has been long-standing U.S. policy and an important nonproliferation principle),” although “the potential to discuss with Iran the conditions under which it could continue enrichment is not new” and was “built into the proposals that the P5+1 have offered Iran since 2006, spanning the George W. Bush and Barack Obama administrations.”[335]
    Some commentators, such as Michael Singh of the Washington Institute for Near East Policy (writing in 2013), argued for a “zero enrichment” approach: i.e., that no agreement contemplating any enrichment by Iran should be made.[336] This was also the position of Senator Bob Menendez of New Jersey, who introduced the Nuclear Weapons Free Iran Act, a proposed bill (not enacted) which would require that Iran reduce its uranium enrichment to zero before an agreement is made.[337]
    Other commentators have said that “zero enrichment” has long been an implausible goal, including R. Nicholas Burns of Harvard’s Belfer Center, the Under Secretary of State for Political Affairs and leading figure on Iranian nuclear matters during the second Bush administration, said that this was implausible given that Iran has 19,000 centrifuges, stating: “If I could get an ideal solution, or you could, where the Iranians submitted to every demand we had, I would take that. In a real world, you have to make real-world decisions.”[334] Similarly, Michael A. Levi of the Maurice R. Greenberg Center for Geoeconomic Studies at the Council on Foreign Relations argued in the August–September 2011 edition of the journal Survival that “it is far from clear that zero enrichment is a realistic goal” and stated that “the goal of current US policy, even if it is not typically articulated this way,” is “limited enrichment, in which Iran has some non-trivial enrichment capability, but is unable to produce a bomb (or small arsenal) without risking strong international retaliation, including military destruction of its enrichment infrastructure.”[338] Similar arguments have been advanced by Mark Jansson, adjunct fellow at the Federation of American Scientists (who wrote in October 2013 in The National Interest that “there is nothing clear-eyed or realistic about the demand for zero enrichment” and “nor is it technically necessary” to prevent proliferation)[339] and George Perkovich, director of the Nonproliferation Program at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace (who argued in January 2014 inForeign Affairs that “the complete elimination of Iran’s nuclear fuel cycle program” is not “an achievable goal” and what is needed is “not the cessation of Iran’s nuclear enrichment but its capacity to create a nuclear weapon quickly”).[340]
  9. Jump up^ Scholars differ on whether a “better deal” from the American point of view is realistic.Stephen M. Walt of Harvard, writing an article entitled “The Myth of the Better Deal” inForeign Policy magazine, argued that the idea of an achievable better deal is “magical thinking” that is at odds with the facts and “ignores Diplomacy 101.”[343] Albert Carnesale of Harvard’s Belfer Center wrote that “there is no real alternative that would serve the interests of the United States and our allies and friends as well as the deal that is now before Congress. A ‘better deal’ is unachievable; a military solution is unrealistic (and probably would be counterproductive); and an international agreement without U.S. participation is less attractive than an agreement in which the U.S. has a strong voice in resolving of issues that might arise.”[344] Conversely, Robert Satloff of the Washington Institute for Near East Policy argues that “a better deal with Iran is possible,” and that congressional rejection of the agreement would not immediately result in the collapse of the JCPOA or military action,[345] and law professor Orde Kittrie of Arizona State University argued that Congress could send the JCPOA back for renegotiation.[204]


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  76. ^ Jump up to:a b Jessica Simeone & Anup Kaphle, Here Are The Highlights of the Iran Nuclear Agreement, Buzzfeed News (July 14, 2015).
  77. ^ Jump up to:a b Ellie Geranmayeh, Explainer: The Iran nuclear deal, European Council on Foreign Relations (July 17, 2015).
  78. Jump up^ Timeline: Implementation of the Iran nuclear agreement, Reuters (14 July 2015).
  79. Jump up^ Nuclear Deal with Iran Establishes Plan for Sanctions Relief, Davis Polk & Wardwell LLP (August 11, 2015), p. 5 (“According to the JCPOA’s ‘Implementation Plan’ annex, Implementation Day occurs when two things happen ‘simultaneously’: (i) the ‘IAEA-verified implementation by Iran’ of certain nuclear-related measures; and (ii) the P5+1’s implementation of specified forms of sanctions relief, including the termination of previous UNSC sanctions on Iran pursuant to UNSC Resolution 2231.22 Implementation Day, the crucial starting point for sanctions relief, is expected to occur in the first half of 2016, although the JCPOA sets no specific date on which, or by which, it will necessarily take place.”)
  80. Jump up^ Jackie Northam, Lifting Sanctions Will Release $100 Billion To Iran. Then What?,All Things Considered, NPR (July 16, 2015).
  81. Jump up^ Bryan Bender, How the Pentagon got its way in Iran deal: Restrictions on advanced military weapons sales to Iran will remain in place for five to eight years, Politico (14 July 2015).
  82. ^ Jump up to:a b Felicia Schwartz, When Sanctions Lift, Iranian Commander Will Benefit, The Wall Street Journal (15 July 2015).
  83. Jump up^ Elizabeth Whitman, What Sanctions Against Iran Won’t Be Lifted? Bans For Terrorism Support, Human Rights Abuses To Remain Intact, International Business Times (14 July 2015).
  84. ^ Jump up to:a b c d Ankit Panda, How the Iran Deal’s ‘Snap Back’ Mechanism Will Keep Tehran Compliant, The Diplomat (15 July 2015.
  85. Jump up^ Jackie Northam. “A Look At How Sanctions Would ‘Snap Back’ If Iran Violates Nuke Deal”. NPR.
  86. Jump up^ Jacob J. Lew, The High Price of Rejecting the Iran Deal, New York Times (August 13, 2015).
  87. Jump up^ Wang Yi: China Plays Unique and Constructive Role in Reaching Comprehensive Agreement on Iranian Nuclear Issue, Minister of Foreign Affairs of the People’s Republic of China (14 July 2015).
  88. ^ Jump up to:a b c d e Parisa Hafezi, Louis Charbonneau, John Irish & Arshad Mohammed, Iran deal reached, Obama hails step toward ‘more hopeful world’, Reuters (14 July 2015).
  89. Jump up^ Statement by President Donald Tusk on the agreement on Iran’s nuclear programme, European Council (15 July 2015).
  90. ^ Jump up to:a b Associated Press, French President Hollande calls on Iran to help in Syrian conflict (14 July 2015).
  91. ^ Jump up to:a b Iran deal “sufficiently robust” for 10 years, says France’s foreign minister Laurent Fabius, Reuters (14 July 2015).
  92. Jump up^ Thomas Erdbrink, Laurent Fabius, French Foreign Minister, Visits Iran, New York Times (July 29, 2015).
  93. Jump up^ “Fabius visit stirs bad blood in Iran — Al-Monitor: the Pulse of the Middle East”. Al-Monitor. Retrieved 3 August 2015.
  94. ^ Jump up to:a b Robin Millard, World leaders voice relief at Iran nuclear deal, AFP (14 July 2015).
  95. ^ Jump up to:a b c Gabriel heads off to forge business links with Iran, Deutsche Welle (July 19, 2015).
  96. Jump up^ Reuters, Iran’s Zarif, EU say nuclear deal is new chapter of hope (16 July 2015).
  97. Jump up^ “Iran Calls Nuclear Deal Great Defeat for Israel: ‘Never Has the Zionist Regime Been So Isolated'”. Reuters. July 21, 2015.
  98. Jump up^ Newman, Marissa. “Zarif in Beirut: Nuke deal ‘historic opportunity’ to face Israeli threats”.
  99. ^ Jump up to:a b c d Thomas Erdbrink, Iran Celebrates Nuclear Deal, Tempered by Cynicism and Hard-Liner Warnings, The New York Times (14 July 2015).
  100. ^ Jump up to:a b c Thomas Erdbrink, Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei Urges ‘Careful Scrutiny’ of Iran Deal, The New York Times (15 July 2015).
  101. ^ Jump up to:a b Thomas Erdbrink, Iranian Hard-Liners Say Nuclear Accord Crosses Their Red Lines, The New York Times (16 July 2015).
  102. ^ Jump up to:a b Ali Akbar Dareini, Iran’s Supreme Leader Says Nuclear Deal Won’t Change Policy Toward ‘Arrogant’ U.S., Associated Press (July 18, 2015).
  103. Jump up^ Thomas Erdbrink, Ayatollah Khamenei, Backing Iran Negotiators, Endorses Nuclear Deal, New York Times (July 18, 2015).
  104. Jump up^ Wiklin, Sam (14 July 2015). “Iran’s Khamenei lent cautious support to pursuit of nuclear deal”. Reuters. Retrieved 17 July 2015.
  105. ^ Jump up to:a b Greg Botelho, Iran nuclear deal full of complex issues and moving parts, CNN (July 14, 2015).
  106. Jump up^ Maria Stromova & Alastair Jamieson, Iran Nuclear Deal: Russia Hails ‘Positive Step’ for Middle East, NBC News (14 July 2015).
  107. ^ Jump up to:a b c Claire Phipps. “Iran nuclear deal: historic agreement in Vienna – live updates”. The Guardian.
  108. Jump up^ Barak Ravid, Israel prefers permanent standoff to any Iran deal, says U.K.’s foreign secretary, Haaretz (15 July 2015).
  109. ^ Jump up to:a b Associated Press, Netanyahu and Hammond spar over Iran nuclear agreement(16 July 2015).
  110. Jump up^ Ray Locker, First take: Obama’s winning streak continues with Iran deal, USA Today (14 July 2015).
  111. ^ Jump up to:a b c d e Paul Lewis, Obama vows to veto any Republican attempt to derail Iran nuclear deal, The Guardian (14 July 2015).
  112. Jump up^ Carrie Dann, 2016 Republican Candidates Slam Iran Nuke Deal, NBC News (14 July 2015).
  113. Jump up^ Tom LoBianco & Sophie Tatum, GOP 2016 hopefuls slam Iran nuclear deal, CNN (14 July 2015).
  114. ^ Jump up to:a b Adam Wollner, How the 2016 Presidential Candidates Are Reacting to the Iran Deal, National Journal (14 July 2015).
  115. Jump up^ Lawder, David (14 July 2015). Trott, Bill, ed. “U.S. House Speaker Boehner says Iran accord looks like a ‘bad deal'”. Retrieved 15 July 2015.
  116. ^ Jump up to:a b Nora Kelly, Nancy Pelosi Is On Board With the Iran Nuclear Deal, National Journal (July 16, 2015).
  117. Jump up^ “McConnell: Iran Deal a Result of ‘Flawed Perspective'”. ABC News Radio. 14 July 2015. Retrieved 24 July 2015.
  118. Jump up^ Reuters, Reid calls for “level-headed” review of Iran nuclear deal (July 14, 2015).
  119. Jump up^ Associated Press, Reid Says He’s Going to Support Obama’s Iran Nuclear Deal(August 23, 2015).
  120. Jump up^ Sarah Mimms, The GOP’s Iran Deal Point Man Is Holding His Fire, National Journal (14 July 2015).
  121. Jump up^ Troyan, Mary. “Corker warns of ‘breathtaking’ concessions on Iran deal”.
  122. Jump up^ Editorial: An Iran Nuclear Deal That Reduces the Chance of War, The New York Times (14 July 2015).
  123. Jump up^ Antonia Blumberg, Vatican Says It Views Iran Deal In a ‘Positive Light’, The Huffington Post (14 July 2015).
  124. Jump up^ Itamar Sharon, Jonathan Beck and Avi Lewis (14 July 2015). “Netanyahu: Israel ‘not bound’ by Iran deal, will defend itself”. The Times of Israel. Retrieved 14 July 2015.
  125. ^ Jump up to:a b c d e f g Peter Beaumont, Netanyahu denounces Iran nuclear deal but faces criticism from within Israel, The Guardian (14 July 2015).
  126. Jump up^ Goldberg, Jeffrey (16 July 2015). “Israeli Opposition Leader: Iran Deal Will Bring Chaos to the Middle East”. The Atlantic.
  127. Jump up^ Bender, Arik (July 15, 2015). “Lapid says Iran nuclear deal ‘Israel’s biggest foreign policy failure ever'”. The Jerusalem Post.
  128. ^ Jump up to:a b Tamar Pileggi, Arab Israeli MKs welcome Iran nuclear agreement, Times of Israel (July 14, 2015).
  129. ^ Jump up to:a b Jonathan Alter, Ex-Intel Chief: Iran Deal Good for Israel, The Daily Beast (July 21, 2015).
  130. ^ Jump up to:a b Carol Giacomo, In Israel, Some Support the Iran Deal, New York Times (July 23, 2015).
  131. Jump up^ Chuck Freilich, Op-ed: A Good Deal for Israel, New York Times (July 20, 2015).
  132. ^ Jump up to:a b Nabih Bulos, Iran deal: Arab world’s cautious reaction reflects deep fault lines,Los Angeles Times (14 July 2015).
  133. ^ Jump up to:a b Sarah MacDonald, His Majesty lauded for his role as global peacemaker,Times of Oman (July 22, 2015).
  134. Jump up^ Jay Solomon, Secret Dealings With Iran Led to Nuclear Talks: Years of clandestine exchanges between the two countries helped build a foundation for nuclear negotiations, Wall Street Journal (June 28, 2015).
  135. Jump up^ Christa Case Bryant, The man behind secret US-Iran talks: Sultan Qaboos,Christian Science Monitor (November 24, 2013).
  136. Jump up^ Qatar Welcomes Iran Nuclear Deal, Kuwait News Agency (15 July 2015).
  137. Jump up^ Official Source on Nuclear Deal between Iran and P5+1 Group, Saudi Press Agency (July 14, 2015).
  138. ^ Jump up to:a b Helene Cooper, Saudi Arabia Approves of Iran Nuclear Deal, U.S. Defense Chief Says, New York Times (July 22, 2015).
  139. Jump up^ Xinhua, Afghan president welcomes Iran nuclear deal (14 July 2015).
  140. Jump up^ Mindock, Clark (14 July 2015). “Iran Nuclear Deal Reactions: Egypt Hopes Agreement Will Avoid Middle East Arms Race”. International Business Times. Retrieved 15 July 2015.
  141. Jump up^ AFP, Pakistan, global powers welcome Iran nuclear deal (14 July 2015).
  142. Jump up^ Mateen Haider, Zardari welcomes Iran nuclear deal, Dawn (15 July 2015).
  143. Jump up^ Deniz Arslan, Turkey welcomes Iran’s nuclear deal with West, Today’s Zaman(July 14, 2015).
  144. Jump up^ Cengiz Çandar, How Turkey Really Feels About the Iran Deal, Al-Monitor (June 21, 2015).
  145. Jump up^ AFP, Syria’s Assad praises Iran deal as ‘great victory’ (July 14, 2015).
  146. Jump up^ Katharine Murphy, Tony Abbott welcomes Iran nuclear deal – with great caution,The Guardian (14 July 2015).
  147. Jump up^ Minister Nicholson Comments on Nuclear Deal Reached by P5+1 and Iran, Canadian Department of Foreign Affairs, Trade and Development (14 July 2015).
  148. Jump up^ Graham Clark, Canada to keep sanctions against Iran despite nuclear deal, The Globe and Mail (14 July 2015).
  149. Jump up^ Adriaan Alsema, Santos says Iran nuclear deal is ‘another triumph of diplomacy over confrontation’, Colombia Reports (14 July 2015).
  150. Jump up^ James Pearson & Seung Yun Oh, North Korea says not interested in Iran-like nuclear talks with U.S., Reuters (July 21, 2015).
  151. Jump up^ Norway hails ‘historic’ Iran deal, The Local (14 July 2015).
  152. Jump up^ “Statement on the Iran Nuclear Deal”. Department of Foreign Affairs. Retrieved17 July 2015.
  153. Jump up^ U.N. Leader Welcomes Iran Deal, The New York Times (14 July 2015).
  154. Jump up^ UN applauds ‘historic’ deal on Iranian nuclear programme, UN News Centre (14 July 2015).
  155. Jump up^ Director General’s Statement on the Announcement by the E3/EU + 3 and Iran on the Agreement of the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, International Atomic Energy Agency (14 July 2015).
  156. Jump up^ Statement on Iran Nuclear agreement, North Atlantic Treaty Organization (15 July 2015).
  157. Jump up^ Doug Bolton, Arab League chief Nabil Elaraby calls out ‘double standard’ of international attitude to Israeli nuclear programme, The Independent (July 16, 2015).
  158. ^ Jump up to:a b Jay Solomon & Carol E. Lee, Gulf Arab States Voice Support for Iran Nuclear Deal, Wall Street Journal (August 3, 2015).
  159. ^ Jump up to:a b Matthew Lee, Asian nations endorse Iran nuke deal as Kerry says Hiroshima anniversary shows accord’s import, Globe & Mail (August 6, 2015).
  160. Jump up^ Statement on the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action To Address Iran’s Nuclear Programme by Ministers Participating in The 5th East Asia Summit Foreign Ministers’ Meeting (August 6, 2015).
  161. Jump up^ “The Triumph of Nuclear Diplomacy”. International Crisis Group.
  162. ^ Jump up to:a b c d e Max Fisher, “I would give it an A”: Why nuclear experts love the Iran deal,Vox (15 July 2015).
  163. ^ Jump up to:a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p q r s t John Mecklin, The experts assess the Iran agreement of 2015, Bulletin of Atomic Scientists (14 July 2015).
  164. Jump up^ Fleitz, Fred. “Iran nuclear deal much worse than experts predicted”.
  165. Jump up^ U.S. Energy Secretary: Deal Keeps Iran Further Away From A Nuclear Weapon,All Things Considered, NPR (15 July 2015).
  166. Jump up^ Kristina Peterson & Amy Harder, The Nuclear Physicist Answering Lawmakers’ Questions on Iran Deal, The Wall Street Journal (16 July 2015).
  167. ^ Jump up to:a b c d e Gordon, Michael (July 23, 2015). “Verification Process in Iran Deal Is Questioned by Some Experts”. New York Times.
  168. Jump up^ Ariel Edwards-Levy, Contradictory Iran Polls Show Why It Matters How You Ask: People sometimes fall back on partisan cues when they lack information, Huffington Post (July 21, 2015).
  169. Jump up^ Greg Sargent, What does the American public really think of the Iran deal?,Washington Post (August 3, 2015).
  170. ^ Jump up to:a b William Jordan, Americans tend to favor Iran deal, despite serious doubts, YouGov (July 17, 2015).
  171. Jump up^ “CNN/ORC International Poll”. CNN/ORC. 20 August 2015. Retrieved 23 August2015.
  172. ^ Jump up to:a b “Iran Nuclear Agreement Meets With Public Skepticism”. Pew Research Center. 21 July 2015. Retrieved 27 July 2015.
  173. ^ Jump up to:a b Laura Meckler and Kristina Peterson (August 3, 2015). “U.S. Public Split on Iran Nuclear Deal — WSJ/NBC Poll”. Wall Street Journal. Retrieved August 10, 2015.
  174. Jump up^ Full YouGov tables.
  175. Jump up^ Scott Clement, 56 percent of people support Obama’s Iran deal. But they don’t think it will work, Washington Post (July 20, 2015). See also poll details.
  176. ^ Jump up to:a b Steven M. Cohen, New poll: U.S. Jews support Iran deal, despite misgivings,Jewish Journal of Greater Los Angeles (July 23, 2015).
  177. ^ Jump up to:a b LA Jewish Journal Survey: The Iran Deal Poll
  178. Jump up^ Tables from the survey of the American general population.
  179. Jump up^ Tables from Cohen Survey of American Jews
  180. Jump up^ Kathy Frankovic (July 24, 2015). “The Economist/YouGov Poll” (PDF). YouGov. Retrieved August 11, 2015.
  181. Jump up^ Tom Jensen, Americans Strongly in Favor of Iran Deal, Public Policy Polling (July 27, 2015).
  182. Jump up^ Jennifer Agiesta (28 July 2015). “CNN/ORC poll: Majority wants Congress to reject Iran deal”. CNN. Retrieved 29 July 2015. (see also full results)
  183. Jump up^ “American Voters Oppose Iran Deal 2-1, Quinnipiac University National Poll Finds…”. Quinnipiac University. 3 August 2015. Retrieved 5 August 2015.
  184. Jump up^ Mark Murray, Poll: American Public Divided on Iran Nuclear Deal, Meet the Press, NBC News (August 3, 2015).
  185. Jump up^ NBC News/Wall Street Journal Poll conducted by Hart Research Associates (D) and Public Opinion Strategies (R). July 26-30, 2015. N=approx. 500 adults nationwide..
  186. Jump up^ Dana Blanton (15 August 2015). “Fox News Poll: Majority would reject Iran nuke deal”. Fox News Channel. Retrieved 15 August 2015.
  187. Jump up^ Fox News poll: August 11-13, 2015 – full results
  188. ^ Jump up to:a b Jennifer Agiesta and Jeremy Diamond (20 August 2015). “Poll: Most Americans want Congress to reject Iran deal”. CNN. Retrieved 23 August 2015.. See also Full results.
  189. Jump up^ Hannah Volmar (June 22, 2015). “Iranian Americans and the American public at large support efforts to reach a nuclear agreement with Iran”. PAAIA. RetrievedAugust 14, 2015.
  190. ^ Jump up to:a b c New Poll: Majority of American Jews Support Iran Nuclear Deal, J Street (July 28, 2015).
  191. Jump up^ Maurice Carroll (August 11, 2015). “New York City Voters Oppose Iran Nuclear Pact, Quinnipiac University Poll Finds” (PDF). Quinnipiac University. Retrieved August 13,2015.
  192. Jump up^ Tom Jensen, New York City Voters Strongly Support Iran Deal, Public Policy Polling (August 13, 2015).
  193. Jump up^ Nancy Gallagher, Ebrahim Mohseni, and Clay Ramsay (June 23, 2015). “Majority of Iranian Public Approves of Pursuing Nuclear Agreement, New Study Finds”. University of Maryland School of Policy. Retrieved August 14, 2015.
  194. Jump up^ Entekhab (August 6, 2015). “جهانگیری: مخالفان توافق هسته ای 4 درصد هستند، پس لحن طلبکارانه نداشته باشند و در حد همان 4 درصد حرف بزنند”. Entekhab. RetrievedAugust 14, 2015.
  195. ^ Jump up to:a b c Iran nuclear deal: UN Security Council likely to vote next week: US diplomats to promote deal to UN counterparts in coming days, Thomson Reuters (15 July 2015).
  196. ^ Jump up to:a b Somini Sengupta, Consensus Gives Security Council Momentum in Mideast, but Question Is How Much, The New York Times (16 July 2015).
  197. ^ Jump up to:a b CBS News/Associated Press, Iran deal set to become international law (17 July 2015).
  198. ^ Jump up to:a b c d e f g h Somini Sengupta, U.N. Moves to Lift Sanctions on Iran After Nuclear Deal, New York Times (July 20, 2015).
  199. ^ Jump up to:a b c d e Steven Nelson, Iran Deal May Bind Next President: Scholars say the nuclear agreement could be binding under domestic and international law, U.S. News & World Report (July 15, 2015).
  200. Jump up^ David Golove, Presidential Authority to Conclude an Iran Nuclear Agreement—and the Senate’s Self-Defeating Bill, Just Security (August 20, 2014).
  201. Jump up^ Michael J. Glennon, The Iran Nuclear Deal: The Dispensability of Obligation, Just Security (March 16, 2015).
  202. Jump up^ Felicia Schwartz, Iran Nuclear Deal, If Reached, Wouldn’t Be ‘Legally Binding,’ Kerry Says, Wall Street Journal (March 11, 2015).
  203. ^ Jump up to:a b Zachary Laub, How Binding Is the Iran Deal? (interview with John B. Bellinger III), Council on Foreign Relations (July 23, 2015).
  204. ^ Jump up to:a b Orde Kittrie (August 12, 2015). “Congress Can Rewrite the Iran Deal”. Wall Street Journal. Retrieved August 16, 2015.
  205. Jump up^ United Nations Security Council Resolution 2231 (2015), adopted by the Security Council at its 7488th meeting, on 20 July 2015
  206. Jump up^ Samantha Power, U.S. Permanent Representative to the United Nations,Explanation of Vote at a UN Security Council Vote on Resolution 2231 on Iran Non-proliferation (July 20, 2015).
  207. ^ Jump up to:a b Robin Emmott & Francesco Guarascio, Europe backs Iran nuclear deal in signal to U.S. Congress, Reuters (July 20, 2015).
  208. ^ Jump up to:a b c Amber Phillips, Can Congress stop the Iran deal?, Washington Post (July 1, 2015).
  209. ^ Jump up to:a b Scott Bomboy, Veto showdown on tap for Congress after Iran nuclear deal, National Constitution Center (July 15, 2015).
  210. Jump up^ Matthew Fleming, Iran Deal: Treaty or Not?, Roll Call (July 21, 2015).
  211. Jump up^ 539 U.S. 396 (2003).
  212. Jump up^ Rivkin, David; Lee A. Casey (July 27, 2015). “The Lawless Underpinnings of the Iran Nuclear Deal”. Wall Street Journal: A13.
  213. Jump up^ Michael Ramsey, Is the Iran Deal Unconstitutional?, Originalism Blog (July 15, 2015).
  214. Jump up^ Jack Goldsmith, More Weak Arguments For The Illegality of the Iran Deal,Lawfare Blog (July 27, 2015).
  215. Jump up^ John Yoo, Why Obama’s Executive Action on Iran Does Not Violate the Law,National Review (July 26, 2015).
  216. Jump up^ Iran Nuclear Agreement Review Act of 2015, Pub.L. 114–17.
  217. Jump up^ Iran Nuclear Review Act Becomes Law, Davis Polk & Wardwell LLP (May 29, 2015).
  218. ^ Jump up to:a b c d Jonathan Weisman & Julie Hirschfeld Davis, Republican Lawmakers Vow Fight to Derail Nuclear Deal, The New York Times (14 July 2005).
  219. ^ Jump up to:a b Kevin Liptak, Now that he has a deal with Iran, Obama must face Congress, CNN (July 14, 2015).
  220. ^ Jump up to:a b c d Susan Page, Cardin: If Iran deal survives, more U.S. aid likely to Israel, Gulf states, USA Today (July 21, 2015).
  221. ^ Jump up to:a b c Deb Riechmann, High-stakes lobbying on Iran deal; pressure for Congress, Associated Press (July 22, 2015).
  222. ^ Jump up to:a b c Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, United States Department of State (June 19, 2015).
  223. Jump up^ Eric Bradner, State Dept. sends Iran deal to Congress, CNN (July 19, 2015).
  224. Jump up^ Patricia Zengerle, House to vote on Iran deal disapproval resolution, Reuters (August 4, 2015).
  225. ^ Jump up to:a b Jordain Carney (31 July 2015). “Cruz wants delay in Iran review period because of ‘side deals'”. The Hill. Retrieved 14 August 2015.
  226. ^ Jump up to:a b “S. RES. 238”. Congress.gov. 30 July 2015. Retrieved 14 August 2015.
  227. Jump up^ Maya Rhodan, Western Powers Reach Long-sought Nuclear Deal With Iran, Time(July 14, 2015).
  228. Jump up^ History of Official Proposals on the Iranian Nuclear Issue, Arms Control Association (last updated July 14, 2015).
  229. Jump up^ Laurence Norman & Jay Solomon, Iran, World Powers Reach Nuclear Deal, Wall Street Journal (July 14, 2015).
  230. ^ Jump up to:a b Michael D. Shear & Julie Hitschfeld Davis, Obama Begins 60-Day Campaign to Win Over Iran Deal Skeptics at Home and Abroad, The New York Times (15 July 2015).
  231. Jump up^ Full text: Obama’s news conference on the Iran nuclear deal, The Washington Post (15 July 2015).
  232. Jump up^ Iran nuclear deal: ‘99% of world agrees’ says Obama, BBC News (15 July 2015).
  233. ^ Jump up to:a b Thomas Friedman, Obama Makes His Case on Iran Nuclear Deal, New York Times (July 15, 2015).
  234. Jump up^ Deirdre Walsh & Ted Barrett, WH dispatches Joe Biden to lock down Iran deal on Capitol Hill, CNN (July 16, 2015).
  235. ^ Jump up to:a b Weekly Address: A Comprehensive, Long-Term Deal with Iran, White House Office of the Press Secretary (July 18, 2015).
  236. ^ Jump up to:a b c d e f Jonathan Weisman & Michael R. Gordon, Kerry Defends Iran Nuclear Deal Before Skeptical Senate, New York Times (July 23, 2015).
  237. ^ Jump up to:a b Peter Baker, Obama Criticizes Huckabee, Trump, Cruz and Other Republicans,New York Times (July 27, 2015).
  238. ^ Jump up to:a b Nick Gass, Mike Huckabee not backing down after Holocaust remark, Politico(July 27, 2015).
  239. Jump up^ Amita Kelly, ‘Offensive,’ ‘Sad’: Reaction To Huckabee’s Holocaust ‘Oven’ Reference, NPR (July 27, 2015).
  240. Jump up^ Ishaan Tharoor, Israelis scold Huckabee for saying Iran deal sends them to ‘door of the oven’, Washington Post (July 28, 2015).
  241. Jump up^ Remarks by President Obama and Prime Minister Hailemariam Desalegn of Ethiopia in Joint Press Conference, National Palace Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, White House Office of the Press Secretary (July 27, 2015).
  242. ^ Jump up to:a b c d e Julie Hirschfeld Davis, It’s Either Iran Nuclear Deal or ‘Some Form of War,’ Obama Warns, New York Times (August 5, 2015).
  243. ^ Jump up to:a b c d Remarks by the President on the Iran Nuclear Deal, American University, Washington, D.C., White House Office of the Press Secretary (August 5, 2015). Another transcript of this speech was also printed by the Washington Post.
  244. ^ Jump up to:a b c Chuck Schumer (7 August 2015). “My Position on the Iran Deal”. Medium. Retrieved 7 August 2015.
  245. ^ Jump up to:a b c Eliza Collins, President Obama stands by comments linking Republicans to Iranian hard-liners, Politico (August 10, 2015).
  246. ^ Jump up to:a b Michael McAuliff (6 August 2015). “Mitch McConnell Scolds Obama To Tone Down Iran Rhetoric”. Huffington Post. Retrieved 11 August 2015.
  247. Jump up^ “Transcripts”. CNN. 6 August 2015. Retrieved 12 August 2015.
  248. Jump up^ Jordain Carney (6 August 2015). “Corker: Obama ‘trying to shut down’ Iran debate”. The Hill. Retrieved 11 August 2015.
  249. ^ Jump up to:a b Eliza Collins, Clapper: Iran deal gives U.S. access, insight, Politico (July 24, 2015).
  250. ^ Jump up to:a b Jonathan Weisman & Nicholas Confessore, Donors Descend on Schumer and Others in Debate on Iran, New York Times (August 12, 2015).
  251. ^ Jump up to:a b c d e f Catherine Ho, Mega-donors opposing Iran deal have upper hand in fierce lobbying battle, Washington Post (August 13, 2015).
  252. ^ Jump up to:a b Ali Gharib, Iranian-Americans welcome nuclear deal, despite opposition to regime, Al Jazeera America (July 16, 2015).
  253. Jump up^ Joint Statement of Iranian-American Organizations on the U.S.-Iran Nuclear Deal, National Iranian American Council (July 29, 2015).
  254. Jump up^ NIAC Applauds Historic Iran Deal, National Iranian American Council (July 14, 2015).
  255. ^ Jump up to:a b c d e f Nahal Toosi, Scholars: Iran deal will stabilize Mideast: The latest letter on the Iran nuclear deal focuses on potential benefits to the volatile region, Politico(August 27, 2015). See also full text of letter.
  256. ^ Jump up to:a b Felicia Schwartz, Pro-Israel Groups in U.S. Square Off Over Iran Nuke Deal,Wall Street Journal (July 16, 2015).
  257. Jump up^ Alexander Bolton, New group backed by AIPAC targets deal, The Hill (July 17, 2015).
  258. Jump up^ Byron Tau, AIPAC Funds Ads Opposing Iran Nuclear Deal, Wall Street Journal(July 17, 2015).
  259. ^ Jump up to:a b c d e f Ailsa Chang, Lobbyists Spending Millions to Sway the Undecided on Iran Deal, NPR (August 6, 2015).
  260. Jump up^ John Bresnahan & Anna Palmer, Iran deal foes spend big, get little so far, Politico(August 4, 2015).
  261. Jump up^ Jacob Kornbluh, J Street launches multimillion dollar campaign in support of Iran nuclear deal, Haaretz (July 16, 2015).
  262. ^ Jump up to:a b Gus Burns, First look at $2 million J-Street ad campaign in support of Iran nuclear deal, MLive.com (August 4, 2015).
  263. Jump up^ John Fritze, J Street runs ads in Maryland supporting Iran deal, Baltimore Sun(August 4, 2015).
  264. ^ Jump up to:a b Citizens for a Nuclear Free Iran (CNFI) Launches Third National TV Ad (press release), United Against Nuclear Iran (August 20, 2015).
  265. ^ Jump up to:a b c Michael R. Gordon, Head of Group Opposing Iran Accord Quits Post, Saying He Backs Deal, New York Times (August 11, 2015).
  266. ^ Jump up to:a b Allison Kaplan Sommer, Ad Nauseum: How Supporters and Opponents Are Trying to Sell the Iranian Nuclear Deal, Haaretz (August 26, 2015).
  267. ^ Jump up to:a b Peter Waldman, How Freelance Diplomacy Bankrolled by Rockefellers Has Paved the Way for an Iran Deal, Bloomberg Politics (July 2, 2015).
  268. ^ Jump up to:a b Julian Hattem, More than 100 ex-US ambassadors pledge backing for Iran deal, The Hill (July 17, 2015).
  269. ^ Jump up to:a b c Letter to the President from over 100 former American Ambassadors on the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action on Iran’s Nuclear Program (July 17, 2015).
  270. ^ Jump up to:a b c d e James Fallows, A Guide to the Iran Nuclear Deal’s Supporters and Opponents, The Atlantic (July 28, 2015).
  271. ^ Jump up to:a b Letter to Congressional Leadership from Former Under Secretaries of State and former American Ambassadors to Israel on the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action(July 27, 2015).
  272. Jump up^ Statement by 60 National Security Leaders on the Announcement of a Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, The Iran Project (July 20, 2015).
  273. ^ Jump up to:a b Joe Cirincione, 60 of America’s Top National Security Leaders Endorse Iran Deal, Huffington Post (July 21, 2015).
  274. ^ Jump up to:a b c d e William J. Broad, 29 U.S. Scientists Praise Iran Nuclear Deal in Letter to Obama, New York Times (August 8, 2015).
  275. ^ Jump up to:a b c Scientists’ Letter to Obama on Iran Nuclear Deal (August 8, 2015), reprinted by the New York Times.
  276. ^ Jump up to:a b Karen DeYoung, Dozens of retired generals, admirals back Iran nuclear deal,Washington Post (August 11, 2015).
  277. ^ Jump up to:a b c d Read: An open letter from retired generals and admirals on the Iran nuclear deal (letter released August 11, 2015), reprinted by the Washington Post.
  278. ^ Jump up to:a b Morello, Carol (August 26, 2015). “Retired generals and admirals urge Congress to reject Iran nuclear deal”. Washington Post.
  279. Jump up^ “Read: An open letter from retired generals and admirals opposing the Iran nuclear deal”.
  280. Jump up^ Mark Thompson, Retired Generals Wage Letter War Over Iran Nuclear Deal Vote,Time (August 27, 2015).
  281. ^ Jump up to:a b c Carl Levin & John Warner, Why hawks should also back the Iran deal,Politico (August 13, 2015).
  282. ^ Jump up to:a b c Richard Lugar & J. Bennett Johnston, Why we disagree with Chuck Schumer on the Iran deal, Reuters Great Debate (August 14, 2015).
  283. ^ Jump up to:a b c The Comprehensive P5+1 Nuclear Agreement With Iran: A Net-Plus for Nonproliferation: Statement from Nuclear Nonproliferation Specialists, Arms Control Association (August 17, 2015).
  284. ^ Jump up to:a b c d Michael Crowley, Nuclear experts fall in behind Obama: The deal with Iran exceeds historical standards for arms control agreements, 75 experts say, Politico(August 18, 2015).
  285. Jump up^ Peter Foster, Barack Obama’s big gamble: Will Iran deal secure his presidential legacy?, Telegraph (July 18, 2015).
  286. Jump up^ Deb Riechmann, Dermer becomes PM’s pointman as battle over Iran deal moves to DC, Associated Press (July 19, 2015).
  287. ^ Jump up to:a b c d e f g Karen DeYoung, Senate opponents of Iran deal draw hard lines against White House, Washington Post (July 23, 2015).
  288. Jump up^ John Hudson, P5+1 Nations Press Senate Democrats to Support Iran Deal,Foreign Policy (August 6, 2015).
  289. ^ Jump up to:a b c d Dennis Ross, How to Make Iran Keep its Word, Politico (July 29, 2015).
  290. ^ Jump up to:a b Chemi Shalev, Reflecting Deep Divisions, Reform Movement Abstains From ‘Yes’ or ‘No’ on Iran Deal, Haaretz (August 19, 2015).
  291. Jump up^ Reform Jewish Movement Response to Iran Deal: Address Important Concerns, Focus on the Day After, Union for Reform Judaism (August 20, 2015).
  292. Jump up^ Nathan Guttman, 26 Top Jewish Leaders Back Iran Deal in New York Times Ad(August 20, 2015).
  293. ^ Jump up to:a b 340 U.S. rabbis sign letter supporting Iran deal, Jewish Telegraphic Agency (August 17, 2015).
  294. Jump up^ Lauren Markoe, 340 rabbis urge Congress to approve Iran nuclear deal, Religion News Service (August 17, 2015).
  295. Jump up^ Aron Chilewich, More than 900 rabbis sign letter opposing Iran nuclear deal,Jewish Journal (August 27, 2015).
  296. Jump up^ Orthodox Rabbis to Join Lobbying Push Against Iran Deal, Jewish Telegraphic Agency (July 30, 2015).
  297. Jump up^ American Jewish Committee Opposes Iran Nuclear Deal, Jewish Telegraph Agency (August 5, 2015).
  298. ^ Jump up to:a b Vinnie Rotondaro, Signs of ‘seamless garment’ in Catholic support for Iran nuke deal, National Catholic Reporter (August 13, 2015).
  299. ^ Jump up to:a b Bishop Cantú Welcomes Iran Nuclear Deal, Urges Congress To Endorse Result of Negotiations, United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (July 14, 2015).
  300. Jump up^ Bob Allen, 51 Christian leaders support Iran nuclear deal, Baptist News (August 25, 2015).
  301. Jump up^ Iran Nuclear Agreement Review, United States Senate Committee on Foreign Relations (July 23, 2015) (video of hearing).
  302. Jump up^ “Senator Corker Opening Statement at Hearing to Review the Iran Nuclear Agreement”. U.S. Senate Committee on Foreign Relations. 23 July 2015. Retrieved5 August 2015.
  303. Jump up^ “Iran Nuclear Agreement (Senate Committee on Foreign Relations – hearing)”. C-SPAN. 23 July 2015. Retrieved 5 August 2015.
  304. ^ Jump up to:a b Teresa Welsh (23 July 2015). “Corker to Kerry: ‘You’ve Been Fleeced’ on Iran Deal”. U.S. News & World Report. Retrieved 5 August 2015.
  305. ^ Jump up to:a b c d e Karoun Demirjian (23 July 2015). “Twelve things in the Iran deal that lawmakers can’t agree on”. The Washington Post. Retrieved 29 July 2015.
  306. ^ Jump up to:a b Kristina Wong (28 July 2015). “House chairman: Nuclear deal gives Iran a ‘cash bonanza'”. The Hill. Retrieved 3 August 2015.
  307. Jump up^ “Chairman Royce opening statement”. United States House Committee on Foreign Affairs. 28 July 2015. Retrieved 3 August 2015.
  308. ^ Jump up to:a b “Cabinet Secretaries on Iran Nuclear Agreement (House Foreign Affairs Committee hearing)”. C-SPAN. 28 July 2015. Retrieved 3 August 2015.
  309. Jump up^ Susan Davis (28 July 2015). “House panel questions Iran nuclear deal”. USA Today. Retrieved 3 August 2015.
  310. ^ Jump up to:a b Jennifer Steinhauer, Iran Nuclear Deal Gets Support of House Israel Backer, Sander Levin (July 28, 2015).
  311. Jump up^ Iran Nuclear Agreement: The Administration’s Case (video of Secretary Kerry’s opening remarks before the House Committee on Foreign Affairs on July 28, 2015).
  312. Jump up^ Carol Morello, House panel grills administration officials about Iran deal,Washington Post (July 28, 2015).
  313. ^ Jump up to:a b c Helene Cooper, Nuclear Deal Reduces Risk of Conflict With Iran, Top U.S. General Says, New York Times (July 29, 2015).
  314. ^ Jump up to:a b Molly O’Toole (29 July 2015). “Three Cabinet Secretaries Crashed John McCain’s Iran Hearing”. Defense One. Retrieved 10 August 2015.
  315. ^ Jump up to:a b “Impacts of the JCPOA on U.S. Interests and the Military Balance in the Middle East (Senate Armed Services Committee – hearing)”. C-SPAN. 29 July 2015. Retrieved 10 August 2015.
  316. Jump up^ “Opening Statement of Chairman John McCain (Armed Services Committee – hearing)” (PDF). U.S. Senate Committee on Armed Services. 29 July 2015. Retrieved 10 August 2015.
  317. Jump up^ “Opening Statement of U.S. Senator Jack Reed (Armed Services Committee – hearing)” (PDF). U.S. Senate Committee on Armed Services. 29 July 2015. Retrieved 10 August 2015.
  318. Jump up^ Opening Statement by Ranking Member Jack Reed, SASC Hearing on Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (July 29, 2015).
  319. Jump up^ Anne K Walters (30 July 2015). “US defence chief tells Congress military options remain against Iran”. Deutsche Presse-Agentur. Retrieved 10 August 2015.
  320. Jump up^ Tom Bowman, Senate Republicans Raise Concerns About Lifting Iran Economic Sanctions, NPR (July 29, 2015).
  321. ^ Jump up to:a b Michael Bowman, US Lawmakers Seek Details of Iran Nuke Inspection Regime, Voice of America (July 29, 2015).
  322. Jump up^ Karoun Demirjian (29 July 2015). “Senators push to go it alone on Iran”. The Washington Post. Retrieved 16 August 2015.
  323. Jump up^ Dempsey: ‘We Have a Range of Options’ Between Iran Deal and War (video of General Dempsey’s testimony before the the Senate Armed Services Committee on July 29, 2015).
  324. ^ Jump up to:a b c The Real Facts on the Iran Nuclear Deal, Center for Arms Control and Non-proliferation (last updated August 12, 2015).
  325. ^ Jump up to:a b c Nathan Guttman, Fact-Checking the Flame Throwers on Both Sides of Iran Deal, Jewish Daily Forward (August 13, 2015).
  326. ^ Jump up to:a b Martin Matishak, Obama officials deny ‘secret deals’ in Iran nuclear pact, The Hill (July 22, 2015).
  327. Jump up^ “Sen. Cotton: John Kerry “Like Pontius Pilate, Washing His Hands” Of Iran Nuclear “Side Deal””.
  328. Jump up^ Associated Press, IAEA can’t give Congress its nuke document with Iran, Amano says (August 6, 2015).
  329. Jump up^ Michael Mathes (5 August 2015). “IAEA chief fails to reassure US senators on Iran deal”. Agence France-Presse. Retrieved 11 August 2015.
  330. Jump up^ David Lerman (30 July 2015). “‘Secret Side Deals’ on Iran Accord Are New Republican Target”. Bloomberg L.P. Retrieved 14 August 2015.
  331. Jump up^ David Albright (10 August 2015). “What Iran’s hostile reaction to the Parchin issue means for the nuclear deal”. The Washington Post. Retrieved 14 August 2015.
  332. ^ Jump up to:a b Jennifer Steinhauer, Republicans Have Minds Made Up as Debate Begins on Iran Nuclear Deal, New York Times (July 23, 2015).
  333. ^ Jump up to:a b Mike DeBonis and Steven Mufson (July 14, 2015). “On Capitol Hill, deep skepticism persists as lawmakers react to Iran deal”.
  334. ^ Jump up to:a b Gerald F. Seib, An Expert View: Accept the Deal but Move to Contain Iran,Wall Street Journal (July 20, 2015).
  335. Jump up^ Tim Farnsworth, U.S. Position on Iran Enrichment: More Public Recognition Than Policy Shift, Arms Control Association, Arms Control Now (April 30, 2012).
  336. Jump up^ Michael Singh, The Case for Zero Enrichment in Iran, Arms Control Today, Arms Control Association (March 2013).
  337. Jump up^ Kate Nelson, US bill requiring zero enrichment would be a deal breaker, British American Security Information Council (January 17, 2014).
  338. Jump up^ Michael A. Levi, Drawing the Line on Iranian Enrichment, Survival: Global Politics and Strategy (August–September 2011), doi:10.1080/00396338.2011.603568(reprinted by the Council on Foreign Relations).
  339. Jump up^ Mark Jansson, The Siren Song of Zero Enrichment, The National Interest(October 12, 2013).
  340. Jump up^ George Perkovich, Demanding Zero Enrichment From Iran Makes Zero Sense,Foreign Affairs (January 15, 2014) (reprinted by the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace.
  341. Jump up^ See also Lucy Westcott, With an Eye on Congress, Kerry Says There Is No Better Iran Deal, Newsweek (August 11, 2015) (Kerry: “”When I hear a senator or a congressman stand up and say, ‘Well, we should get a better deal,’ that is not going to happen. There isn’t a ‘better deal’ to be gotten. You can’t just sit there and say, ‘I say no, let’s not do this deal, we’ll just go get a better one’ and not take into account the history of the road that has been traveled.”).
  342. Jump up^ Al Franken, Why I support Iran deal, CNN (August 13, 2015).
  343. Jump up^ Stephen M. Walt, The Myth of a Better Deal, Foreign Policy (August 10, 2015).
  344. Jump up^ Albert Carnesale, Deal or No Deal: The Choice Before Congress, National Interest(August 5, 2015) (reprinted by the Harvard Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs).
  345. Jump up^ Robert Satloff, A Better Deal With Iran Is Possible, The Atlantic (August 13, 2015).
  346. Jump up^ Levin Statement on the Iran Nuclear Agreement (July 28, 2015).
  347. Jump up^ Melissa Nann Burke & David Shepardson, Rep. Levin backs Iran nuke agreement; others undecided, Detroit News (July 28, 2015).
  348. ^ Jump up to:a b Mike DeBonis, Three Senate Democrats came off of the fence to support the Iran deal, Washington Post (August 4, 2015).
  349. Jump up^ Senator Bill Nelson on Iran Nuclear Agreement, C-SPAN (August 4, 2015).
  350. Jump up^ Zac Anderson, Nelson supports Iran nuclear deal, Herald-Tribune (August 4, 2011).
  351. Jump up^ Alex Leary, Bill Nelson announces support for Iran nuclear deal, Tampa Bay Times (August 4, 2015).
  352. Jump up^ Paul Kane, Sen. Charles Schumer announces opposition to nuclear pact with Iran,Washington Post (August 6, 2015).
  353. Jump up^ Ken Dilanian, US officials say they can tell if Iran is cheating on deal, Associated Press (August 12, 2015).
  354. ^ Jump up to:a b c Karoun Demirjian, House Dems pounce on intel assessment of Iran deal,Washington Post (August 13, 2015).
  355. ^ Jump up to:a b Current and Former House Intelligence Committee Members Urge Colleagues to Review Intelligence Community Assessments of Iran Nuclear Deal, United States House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence Democratic Office (August 13, 2015).
  356. Jump up^ Kristina Peterson, GOP Leaders Back Vote to Disapprove of Iran Nuclear DealWall Street Journal (August 4, 2015).
  357. ^ Jump up to:a b c Lauren French, GOP can disapprove Iran deal, but veto remains a hurdle,Politico (August 3, 2015).
  358. ^ Jump up to:a b Emma Dumain, Royce, Boehner Set Stage for House Disapproval of Iran Deal,Roll Call (August 4, 2015).
  359. Jump up^ H. Res. 367 (introduced July 16, 2015).
  360. Jump up^ Julie Hirschfeld Davis, Lobbying Fight Over Iran Nuclear Deal Centers on Democrats, New York Times (August 17, 2015).
  361. Jump up^ Amber Phillips, Whip count: Where the Senate stands on the Iran deal,Washington Post (August 5, 2015).
  362. ^ Jump up to:a b Lauren French, Liberals poised to give Barack Obama a win on Iran, Politico(August 13, 2015).
  363. Jump up^ Amber Phillips, Whip count: Where the Senate stands on the Iran deal,Washington Post (August 18, 2015).
  364. ^ Jump up to:a b Sabrina Siddiqui, Congress does not have votes to block Iran deal, says Nancy Pelosi, The Guardian (August 20, 2015).
  365. Jump up^ Ryan Grim & Laura Barron-Lopez, Nancy Pelosi May Save The Iran Negotiations For Obama, Huffington Post (April 14, 2015).
  366. Jump up^ Erica Werner, Pelosi: House Democrats will sustain Obama veto on Iran deal, Associated Press (August 20, 2015).
  367. ^ Jump up to:a b c d Thomas Erdbrink, Iran Lawmakers to Wait 80 Days Before Voting on Nuclear Deal, New York Times (July 21, 2015).
  368. ^ Jump up to:a b Thomas Erdbrink & Rock Gladstone, Iran’s President Defends Nuclear Deal in Blunt Remarks, New York Times (July 23, 2015).
  369. ^ Jump up to:a b c Kasra Naji, Iran nuclear: Media ordered to be positive about deal, BBC Persian (July 26, 2015).
  370. ^ Jump up to:a b c d e f g h i Abbas Milani & Michael McFaul, What the Iran-Deal Debate Is Like in Iran, The Atlantic (August 11, 2015).
  371. ^ Jump up to:a b c Tara Kangarlou, Tehran’s debate over nuclear pact mirrors Washington’s, Al-Jazeera (August 13, 2015).
  372. Jump up^ Iranian Dissidents Against the Iran Deal, Daily Beast (August 14, 2015).
  373. ^ Jump up to:a b c d e Clifford Krauss, A New Stream of Oil for Iran, but Not Right Away, The New York Times (14 July 2015).
  374. ^ Jump up to:a b c d Bill Spindle, Nicole Friedman & Benoît Faucon, Iran Deal Raises Prospect of Fresh Oil Glut, The Wall Street Journal (14 July 2015).
  375. Jump up^ Jason Chow, Peugeot in Talks to Re-Establish Auto Manufacturing in Iran, The Wall Street Journal (15 June 2015).
  376. Jump up^ Richard Stone, In Depth: Nuclear Diplomacy: Iran nuclear deal holds ‘goodies’ for scientists, Science, Vol. 349 no. 6246 pp. 356-357,doi:10.1126/science.349.6246.356.
  377. ^ Jump up to:a b c British embassy in Tehran reopens four years after closure, BBC News (August 23, 2015).
  378. Jump up^ UK embassy in Tehran to reopen after thaw in British-Iranian relations, BBC News (August 20, 2015).

External links[edit]

See: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Joint_Comprehensive_Plan_of_Action

Don’t Count Out the GOP From Trying to Sink Obama’s Historic Iran Deal: They’ve Done It Before

Republican attempts to sabotage a Democratic president’s deal with Iran are nothing new.

Source: AlterNet

Author: Thom Hartmann

Emphasis Mine

Ronald Reagan – or at least his campaign – committed treason to become president, and normalizing relations with Iran may expose the whole thing.  

As news of a US-Iranian nuclear deal spread like wildfire this week, the mainstream media began to ask its usual set of questions. Is the deal for real? Can we trust the Iranians? And the Republicans in Congress are going totally nuts.

Republican attempts to sabotage a Democratic president’s deal with Iran are nothing new, however. Just ask Jimmy Carter.

In the early fall of 1980, Carter thought he had reached a deal with newly elected Iranian President Abdolhassan Bani-Sadr over the release of the 52 hostages held by radical students at the American Embassy in Tehran. President Bani-Sadr was a moderate, and as he explained in an editorial in the Christian Science Monitor published on March 5, 2013, he had successfully run for president of Iran on the popular position of releasing the hostages:

“I openly opposed the hostage-taking throughout the election campaign…. I won the election with over 76 percent of the vote…. Other candidates also were openly against hostage-taking, and overall, 96 percent of votes in that election were given to candidates who were against it [hostage-taking].”

President Carter was confident that with Bani-Sadr’s help, he could end the embarrassing hostage crisis that had been a thorn in his political side ever since it began in November 1979. But Carter underestimated the lengths his opponent in the 1980 presidential election, California governor Ronald Reagan, would go to win the presidency.

Behind Carter’s back, the Reagan campaign had previously worked out a deal with the leader of Iran’s radical faction, Supreme Leader Ayatollah Khomeini, to keep the hostages in captivity until after the 1980 presidential election in order to humiliate Carter and hand the election to Reagan. This was nothing short of treason.

As President Bani-Sadr wrote for the Monitor, “I was deposed in June 1981 as a result of a coup against me. After arriving in France, I told a BBC reporter that I had left Iran to expose the symbiotic relationship between Khomeinism and Reaganism. Ayatollah Khomeini and Ronald Reagan had organized a clandestine negotiation, later known as the ‘October Surprise,’ which prevented the attempts by myself and then-US President Jimmy Carter to free the hostages before the 1980 US presidential election took place.”

The Reagan campaign’s secret negotiations with Khomeini — the so-called “October Surprise” — were successful in sabotaging Carter and Bani-Sadr’s attempts to free the hostages. And as President Bani-Sadr told the Christian Science Monitor, “The fact that they were not released tipped the results of the [1980] election in Reagan’s favor.”

Iran released the hostages on Jan. 20, 1981, at the exact moment Ronald Reagan was sworn into office, by way of saying, “We kept up our part of the deal; now we expect you to start shipping us those weapons you promised.”

That October Surprise emboldened the radical forces inside Iran. A politically weakened Bani-Sadr was overthrown in June 1981 and replaced with Mohammed Ali Rajai, a favorite of Khomeini’s.

The October Surprise also led to the deaths of thousands of innocent people around the world, and in Central America in particular. Reagan took money from the Iranians and used that money to destabilize Nicaragua, Honduras and El Salvador in ways that still haunt the region. And he set the Supreme Court (by appointing Scalia and two other right-wingers) and the nation on a course that would see the destruction of much of the New Deal and the evisceration of America’s middle class.

But those are just the most obvious results of the October Surprise. If Carter were able to free the hostages like he and Bani-Sadr had planned, Carter would have won re-election. After all, he was leading in most polls in the months leading up to the election, and most Americans saw Reagan as a right-wing radical shill for the billionaire class (history proved them right).

So, now that the doors of Tehran may be thrown open to the press, Republican leadership is facing a huge crisis: Saint Ronnie could be exposed. If former Iranian president Bani-Sadr is telling the truth – and all the evidence (including the fact that Reagan was selling weapons to Iran in violation of US law) points to his treason — then there’s certainly evidence of it floating around in Tehran. If that evidence surfaces, it could make for considerable discomfort on the Republican side of the aisle.

Of course, this is not the first time a Republican presidential candidate committed treason to gain the White House. Consider the case of Richard Nixon.

In the fall of 1968, President Lyndon Johnson had finally negotiated a tentative agreement to end the Vietnam war. But Richard Nixon knew that if the war continued, it would tarnish Democrat Hubert Humphrey’s chances of winning the election. So Nixon had envoys from his campaign talk to South Vietnamese leaders to encourage them not to attend an upcoming peace talk in Paris. Nixon promised South Vietnam he would give them a better deal when he was president than LBJ could.

The CIA intercepted the communications and turned them over to President Johnson, who thus found out about this political maneuver to prolong the Vietnam war just three days before the 1968 election. He immediately phoned the Republican Senate leader Everett Dirksen. Here’s a transcript (audio here):

President Johnson: Now, I can identify ‘em, because I know who’s doing this. I don’t want to identify it. I think it would shock America if a principal candidate [Nixon] was playing with a source like this [South Vietnam] on a matter this important.  I don’t want to do that.

But if they’re going to put this kind of stuff out, they ought to know that we know what they’re doing. I know who they’re talking to, and I know what they’re saying. …Some of our

folks, including some of the old China lobby, are going to the Vietnamese embassy and saying please notify the president [of South Vietnam] that if he’ll hold out ’til November the second [US election day] they could get a better deal. Now, I’m reading their hand, Everett. I don’t want to get this in the campaign. And they oughtn’t to be doin’ this. This is treason.

Sen. Dirksen: I know.

In subsequent tapes, Dirksen relates his efforts to get Nixon to pull back, and his lack of success. Unable to end the war, Vice President Hubert Humphrey lost the election to Nixon, and both Johnson and Dirksen took the secret of Nixon’s treason to their graves.

Those tapes were just released by the LBJ library three years ago, and the fact that there wasn’t a media firestorm is a true testament to how well the media protects the establishment parties… or to how incompetent the media has become after all the media consolidation of the past 30 years and the death of investigative journalism. 

South Vietnam took Nixon’s deal and boycotted the peace talks in 1968. The war continued, and Nixon won the White House thanks to it. And the war continued for four more years, and another 20,000 Americans and a million more Vietnamese died.

And Reagan’s treason –just like Nixon’s treason — worked perfectly. The Iran hostage crisis continued and torpedoed Jimmy Carter’s re-election hopes. And the same day Reagan took the oath of office — almost to the minute — the American hostages in Iran were released.

And in exchange for that, Reagan began selling the Iranians weapons and spare parts in 1981, and continued until he was busted for it in 1986; remember the “Iran Contra” scandal?

So twice in recent times, Republicans took the White House through naked treason.

Makes you wonder what they’re planning for next year…and what they’re willing to do to keep Tehran wrapped in a blanket of sanctions-silence.

Thom Hartmann is an author and nationally syndicated daily talk show host. His newest book is “The Crash of 2016: The Plot to Destroy America — and What We Can Do to Stop It.

See: http://www.alternet.org/news-amp-politics/dont-count-out-gop-trying-sink-obamas-historic-iran-deal-theyve-done-it?akid=13305.123424.CNFQGv&rd=1&src=newsletter1039390&t=1

How Bush & Cheney’s ‘Cowboy Diplomacy’ Provoked Iran’s Nuclear Growth

This is a major achievement that we cannot let Republican war-hawks derail.

Source: OccupyDemocrats.com

Author: Colin Taylor

Emphasis Mine

President Obama achieved a historic victory this week by signing a deal to restrain Iran’s nuclear ambitions while enabling the isolated nation to rejoin the international community. Republicans across the board erupted in fury without even reading the bill, so ingrained is the knee-jerk automatic rejection of anything President Obama says or does. Some even came out of the woodwork, like former Vice President and admitted war criminal Dick Cheney, who decided it was time to rear his ugly head up once again and criticize our President for rectifying a crisis which was his fault.

For it was under the George W. Bush and Dick Cheney’s adminstration that Iran drastically expanded their nuclear program. The Islamic Republic of Iran had 164 centrifuges in 2003, and wanted to negotiate in order to get the sanctions that have been crippling their economy and stunting the growth of their middle class– which coincidentally repressed the growth of civil society and helped keep the theocratic regime secure. Cheney responded that “We don’t talk to evil,” and threatened war and more sanctions. In response to the disrespectful offer, Iran began drastically expanding their nuclear program. Just two years later, the Iranians had constructed 5,000 centrifuges, and had built 8,000 by the end of the Bush Administration.

Jon Chait of NY Mag notes that using Cheney’s own logic that he attempts to smear Obama with paints a very different picture of Cheney’s vendetta against Iran: “What’s more, the expansion of Iran’s power under Bush was not limited to the blossoming of its nuclear program. In 2003, an extremely hostile neighboring regime (that had launched a war against it two decades before) was deposed, creating a power vacuum that Iran filled. Cheney seems to have played a role there. A Cheney-style analysis of the Bush administration’s Iran policy would conclude that it was carrying out a deliberate plan to elevate Iran’s standing.”

What’s more, Cheney and the rest of the jingoist hyper-nationalists in the Republican Party are utterly off the mark with their fear-mongering statements and doomsday prophecies. “This is the first time that the number of centrifuges Iran operates will have been reduced. No other policy has achieved this. The critics can’t touch this.” writes Trita Parsi. “The critics said Iran would never honor its word. They were wrong. The IAEA has consistently attested that both the United States and Iran have lived up to their commitments.” Iran has wanted to negotiate and was willing to roll back their program the whole time, but Bush and Cheney never wanted to negotiate- so once again, President Obama had to clean up their mess.

This is a major achievement that we cannot let Republican war-hawks derail. Cheney must not be allowed to re-write the narrative and let the world forget that the Iranian nuclear program is just another entry on his long list of failures and crimes. The Republican Party cannot see anything beyond their desperate hunger for the White House, and will say and do anything in their ham-fisted efforts to grasp it. We cannot let the people who have already done so much damage to our nation and to stability in the world get away with their crimes, and we cannot let them torpedo this bright opportunity for a better future- not only for us, but potentially for the rest of the world.

Why the Nuclear Deal with Iran Could Be the First Step in Creating a Much More Secure Middle East

We need to avoid pouring more weapons into an area already wracked by conflict.

Source: Huff Post, via AlterNet

Author: Bill Hartung

Emphasis Mine

The historic Iran nuclear deal is a positive development in its own right. It puts strict, detailed restrictions on Iran’s ability to develop a nuclear weapon for ten years, with certain limits continuing for 15 to 25 years. This is a huge step away from the ill-considered calls for military action against Iran that have emanated from U.S. neoconservatives. It’s good for America, good for Iran and good for the region.

But there is one potential obstacle to the approval of the deal that needs to be cleared up. Opponents of the deal in the U.S. Congress and the region are likely to cry foul over the proposal for a phased elimination of the United Nations embargo on conventional arms transfers to Iran, alleging that it will embolden Iran, thereby increasing security threats to U.S. regional allies like Saudi Arabia and Israel. This concern is misplaced for two reasons.

First, as experts Trita Parsi and Tyler Cullis have pointed out in a recent piece in Foreign Policy, Saudi Arabia and Arab Gulf states currently have massive conventional superiority over Iran, a gap that it would take years, if not decades, for Iran to close, if it could do so at all. Data from the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI) puts Saudi Arabia’s military budget at $80 billion in 2014, four to five times what Iran spends. Anthony Cordesman of the Center for Strategic and International Studies has summarized the situation in a recent report on the strategic balance in the Middle East:

[T]he present forces of the Arab Gulf states have improved strikingly over the past few decades as the GCC states have made massive investments in improved land, air, and naval weaponry. In contrast, Iran has been unable to compete in terms of both investment and access to advanced foreign systems.

The second reason an Iran deal is unlikely to tilt the military balance in the region is that the nuclear deal keeps the United Nations arms embargo on Iran in place for five to eight years, further delaying any possibility that Tehran could build forces that would be a conventional threat to U.S. forces in the region.  The real challenge posed by Iran comes through “asymmetric” capabilities — threats that don’t seek to match its adversaries’ tank for tank or plane for plane, but which seek to exploit particular weaknesses. These threats basically boil down to Iranian support for the Assad regime in Syria and non-state actors like Hezbollah in Lebanon and Hamas, which is Israel’s primary adversary; and the potential development of ballistic missiles that could hit Saudi Arabia or Israel with non-nuclear warheads.

There are two points to be made regarding Iran’s “asymmetric threats.” The first is that increasing Saudi Arabia and Israel’s already heavily stocked conventional forces will not eliminate the threats posed by non-state actors like Hamas and Hezbollah. The second is that the Iran nuclear deal prevents the sale of components that could be used by Iran to build a long-range ballistic missile by eight years. So, if anything, the nuclear deal will reduce the potential conventional threat that Iran poses to U.S. allies in the region.

There is also the possibility that once an Iran nuclear deal is in place, diplomatic initiatives on Syria and the arming of non-state groups could be pursued, perhaps involving the same nations that worked to craft the nuclear deal, supplemented by the key players in the region. It’s a case of first things first — the nuclear deal needs to be nailed down before other regional issues are addressed, as it is beneficial in its own right.

Part of any broader diplomatic initiative should involved a clear-eyed look at the impact of U.S. arms sales to the region. For example, Saudi Arabia’s use of U.S.-supplied weapons in its bombing campaign in Yemen has seriously undermined the stability of the region, creating a desperate humanitarian emergency even as it opens space for Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) to strengthen its position in the country. And in Bahrain, U.S. weapons have been used to put down the democracy movement there. U.S. weapons sales to the region should be assessed in their own right, not in response to an Iranian conventional threat that does not currently exist.  Once the Iran nuclear deal is in place, the remaining, serious security issues in the region should be addressed diplomatically, not by pouring more arms into an area already wracked by conflict.

See: http://www.alternet.org/world/why-nuclear-deal-iran-could-be-first-step-creating-much-more-secure-middle-east?akid=13301.123424.FVOlLs&rd=1&src=newsletter1039345&t=9

The Rare Courage and Respect That Drove Iran Deal

The men and women who conducted this diplomacy deserve great thanks from the entire world.

Source: Alternet

Author: Rami Khoury

Emphasis Mine

The agreed parameters of a Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) on Iran’s nuclear program that were reached Thursday between Iran and the P5+1 powers represent a monumental achievement that affirms the power of reason and diplomacy over the ravages of fear and warfare. The technical details of the complex understanding remain to be completed. For now, though, the lasting significant aspects of this development are about the past and the future: The past being the bold leadership that Iran and the United States have shown in launching and advancing the diplomatic negotiations, and the future being about the potential significant regional changes that will follow the implementation of a full agreement.

I will assess in a separate column the potential positive changes in the region that this agreement could trigger. Here I would note enthusiastically the historic lessons to be learned about the power of negotiations over threats. More specifically, this is about the capacity of serious and responsible leaders to advance a diplomatic negotiation by having the courage and confidence to change positions they had long held, but that had become untenable over time. It took serious courage, for example, for the United States and the others with it to finally accept that Iran has the right to enrich uranium for peaceful purposes, under international inspections and safeguards.

The United States and Israel in particular for years had fervently opposed allowing Iran to maintain any enrichment facilities that would allow it to produce its own nuclear fuel. Israel stuck to its extremist position, but the United States came to terms with the reality that threats, sanctions and repeated talk of war had not slowed down Iran’s uranium enrichment program, but in fact only saw it expand. The United States’ tacit acknowledgment in 2013 that Iran would maintain its enrichment capabilities — because it had already achieved them and they could not be bombed away — opened the door for a serious negotiation.

Toning down the constant threats of American military attacks against Iran also helped to open that door. Never mind that Washington continues until this day to use offensive language about Iran that presupposes Tehran’s deception and mendacity in conducting its policies and negotiations, treating Iran like one would treat a delinquent offender who has to be nursed back into a normal life under strict police supervision. Iran understood that this was primarily for domestic U.S. and Israeli consumption, where racist language against Arabs, Iranians and others in this region is routine.

Iran largely ignored the offensive tone, in favor of focusing on the substance of the negotiations that had to allow Iran two things: to continue its nuclear program, including enriching uranium and conducting research and development work, for verifiably peaceful purposes; and, simultaneously to result in lifting the sanctions against Iran. The Americans and their partners eventually acknowledged these two demands.

The Iranians also had to make some significant changes in their positions. These included issues like the length of the agreement, the nature of inspections and monitoring, the pace of sanctions reduction, and the magnitude and kinds of nuclear materials production facilities. Iranian leaders mustered significant humility and courage to accept the key demands of the P5+1 parties that are supposed to prevent Iran from achieving a speedy breakthrough to producing a nuclear bomb.

Iran made such big concessions for two important reasons, or principles, that others in conflict situations can learn from: reciprocity and respect. When the Americans and their colleagues started dealing with Iran on the basis that concessions would be made by both sides, and that such concessions would happen on the basis of respecting the rights of all parties equally, breakthroughs started to happen.

The obvious agreement that could have been identified a decade ago finally moved ahead towards consummation in the past year, with all negotiators getting their key demands. Israel has been left in the dust to a large extent for now. The human and political sides of reaching agreement have been much tougher than the technical details. Rarely in modern history have we seen such decisive statesmanship, reflecting a rare combination of realism, honesty, humility, boldness and foresighted leadership. These attributes rarely all gather in the chests of individual human beings, but they have done so here.

We have seen such history-making leadership in several other episodes in the past two generations: when the United States and China reconciled, when the Apartheid South African system transformed to democratic majority rule, when Northern Ireland leaders ended their conflict and shared power democratically, when Polish leaders and opposition members negotiated a transition away from Communist authoritarianism towards an elected government, and when Mikhail Gorbachev saw the bankruptcy of Soviet authoritarianism and initiated a transition to something better for his people.

The men and women who conducted this diplomacy join a special group of leaders and officials, all of whom deserve great thanks and appreciation from the entire world for reminding us of the immense power of negotiating on the basis of reciprocity and respect.

Rami G. Khouri is published twice weekly in the Daily Star. He was founding director and now senior policy fellow of the Issam Fares Institute for Public Policy and International Affairs at the American University of Beirut. Follow him on Twitter @ramikhouri.

See: http://www.alternet.org/world/rare-courage-and-respect-drove-iran-deal?akid=12970.123424.SiLuJY&rd=1&src=newsletter1034293&t=11

The U.S. in the Middle East: A Remarkably Rich Menu of Foreign-Policy Failures

n a recent speech, noted retired U.S. diplomat, Charles Freeman Jr., offers a frank assessment of the “remarkably rich menu of U.S. foreign-policy failures” in the Middle East. Most, he says, are due to America’s noisy but strategy-free approach, adding, “don’t just sit there, bomb something” isn’t much of a strategy. But, to cure the dysfunction in U.S. Middle East policy, Freeman says, we must cure the dysfunction and venality of our politics.

Source: PortSide

Author: Charles Freeman

Emphasis Mine

I want to speak with you today about the Middle East. This is the region where Africa, Asia, and Europe come together. It is also the part of the world where we have been most compellingly reminded that some struggles cannot be won, but there are no struggles that cannot be lost.

It is often said that human beings learn little useful from success but can learn a great deal from defeat. If so, the Middle East now offers a remarkably rich menu of foreign-policy failures for Americans to study.

• Our four-decade-long diplomatic effort to bring peace to the Holy Land sputtered to an ignominious conclusion a year ago.

Our unconditional political, economic, and military backing of Israel has earned us the enmity of Israel’s enemies even as it has enabled egregiously contemptuous expressions of ingratitude and disrespect for us from Israel itself.

• Our attempts to contain the Iranian revolution have instead empowered it.

Our military campaigns to pacify the region have destabilized it, dismantled its states, and ignited ferocious wars of religion among its peoples.

• Our efforts to democratize Arab societies have helped to produce anarchy, terrorism, dictatorship, or an indecisive juxtaposition of all three.

In Iraq, Libya, and Syria we have shown that war does not decide who’s right so much as determine who’s left.

• Our campaign against terrorism with global reach has multiplied our enemies and continuously expanded their areas of operation.

• Our opposition to nuclear proliferation did not prevent Israel from clandestinely developing nuclear weapons and related delivery systems and may not preclude Iran and others from following suit.

• At the global level, our policies in the Middle East have damaged our prestige, weakened our alliances, and gained us a reputation for militaristic fecklessness in the conduct of our foreign affairs. They have also distracted us from challenges elsewhere of equal or greater importance to our national interests.

That’s quite a record.

One can only measure success or failure by reference to what one is trying to achieve. So, in practice, what have U.S. objectives been? Are these objectives still valid? If we’ve failed to advance them, what went wrong? What must we do now to have a better chance of success?

Our objectives in the Middle East have not changed much over the course of the past half century or more. We have sought to

1. Gain acceptance and security for a Jewish homeland from the other states and peoples of the region;
2. Ensure the uninterrupted availability of the region’s energy supplies to sustain global and U.S. security and prosperity;
3. Preserve our ability to transit the region so as to be able to project power around the world;
4. Prevent the rise of a regional hegemon or the deployment of weapons of mass destruction that might threaten any or all of these first three objectives;
5. Maximize profitable commerce; and
6. Promote stability while enhancing respect for human rights and progress toward constitutional democracy.

Let’s briefly review what’s happened with respect to each of these objectives. I will not mince words.

Israel has come to enjoy military supremacy but it remains excluded from most participation in its region’s political, economic, and cultural life. In the 67 years since the Jewish state was proclaimed, Israel has not made a single friend in the Middle East, where it continues to be regarded as an illegitimate legacy of Western imperialism engaged in racist removal of the indigenous population. International support for Israel is down to the United States and a few of the former colonial powers that originally imposed the Zionist project on the Arabs under Sykes-Picot and the related Balfour Declaration. The two-state solution has expired as a physical or political possibility. There is no longer any peace process to distract global attention from Israel’s maltreatment of its captive Arab populations.

After years of deference to American diplomacy, the Palestinians are about to challenge the legality of Israel’s cruelties to them in the International Criminal Court and other venues in which Americans have no veto, are not present, or cannot protect the Jewish state from the consequences of its own behavior as we have always been able to do in the past. Israel’s ongoing occupation of the West Bank and siege of Gaza are fueling a drive to boycott its products, disinvest in its companies, and sanction its political and cultural elite. These trends are the very opposite of what the United States has attempted to achieve for Israel.

In a stunning demonstration of his country’s most famous renewable resource — chutzpah — Israel’s Prime Minister chose this very moment to make America the main issue in his reelection campaign while simultaneously transforming Israel into a partisan issue in the United States. This is the very opposite of a sound survival strategy for Israel. Uncertainties about their country’s future are leading many Israelis to emigrate, not just to America but to Europe. This should disturb not just Israelis but Americans, if only because of the enormous investment we have made in attempts to gain a secure place for Israel in its region and the world. The Palestinians have been silent about Mr. Netanyahu’s recent political maneuvers. Evidently, they recall Napoleon’s adage that one should never interrupt an enemy when he is making a mistake.

This brings me to an awkward but transcendently important issue. Israel was established as a haven from anti-Semitism — Jew hatred — in Europe, a disease of nationalism and Christian culture that culminated in the Holocaust. Israel’s creation was a relief for European Jews but a disaster for the Arabs of Palestine, who were either ethnically cleansed by European Jewish settlers or subjugated, or both.  But the birth of Israel also proved tragic for Jews throughout the Middle East — the Mizrahim.

In a nasty irony, the implementation of Zionism in the Holy Land led to the introduction of European-style anti-Semitism — including its classic Christian libels on Jews — to the region, dividing Arab Jews from their Muslim neighbors as never before and compelling them to join European Jews in taking refuge in Israel amidst outrage over the dispossession of Palestinians from their homeland. Now, in a further irony, Israel’s pogroms and other injustices to the Muslim and Christian Arabs over whom it rules are leading not just to a rebirth of anti-Semitism in Europe but to its globalization.

The late King `Abdullah of Saudi Arabia engineered a reversal of decades of Arab rejectionism at Beirut in 2002. He brought all Arab countries and later all 57 Muslim countries to agree to normalize relations with Israel if it did a deal — any deal — with the Palestinians that the latter could accept. Israel spurned the offer. Its working assumption seems to be that it does not need peace with its neighbors as long as it can bomb and strafe them. Proceeding on this basis is not just a bad bet, it is one that is dividing Israel from the world, including Jews outside Israel. This does not look like a story with a happy ending.

It’s hard to avoid the thought that Zionism is turning out to be bad for the Jews. If so, given the American investment in it, it will also have turned out to be bad for America. The political costs to America of support for Israel are steadily rising. We must find a way to divert Israel from the largely self-engineered isolation into which it is driving itself, while repairing our own increasing international ostracism on issues related to Israel.

Let me turn, very briefly, to the second U.S. objective in the region, security of access to energy supplies. Triumphalist nonsense about North American energy independence has just suffered a major comeuppance, as Saudi Arabia has shown its capacity to let oversupply rip, bankrupting or sidelining frackers and forcing mass layoffs in our previously booming oil and gas industry. The Middle East, where two-thirds of global fossil fuel reserves are located, still matters.

The question, therefore, is not whether untrammeled access to the energy resources of the Persian Gulf is essential to global prosperity. It is. Rather, it is whether the United States should or even could indefinitely bear the sole burden of ensuring access to Gulf energy resources on our own. Should we seek to share responsibility for assuring energy security with Europe and countries like China, India, Japan, and Korea that are far more dependent on Middle East oil than we are? Current U.S. policy assumes that “no” is the answer. Watch that space!

The third U.S. objective, sustaining freedom of transit through the region, is more subtle still. Tens of thousands of U.S. military flights transit Saudi and Egyptian airspace annually en route between Europe and Asia. Flight clearance is a fundamental privilege of sovereignty. It is done  in the region on an incredibly labor-intensive ad hoc basis. There are no agreements obligating countries there to grant it. The prevailing overflight regime reflects relationships with the countries of the region that are now fraying. Transit is not currently in jeopardy but it cannot be counted upon. Every once in a while, to remind us of this reality, the Saudis refuse permission for overflight. These refusals remind us of the importance to our position as a world power of cordial relations with Saudi Arabia, Egypt, and the other countries of the Red Sea-Persian Gulf area.

Our fourth objective has been preventing the rise of a serious threat to Israel, energy flows, or freedom of navigation through the region’s air and sea space.

First: a little history.

During the Cold War, the Soviet Union and regional allies like Egypt and Syria seemed to pose such a threat. The United States balanced it with our own security partnerships. In 1964, we dropped our arms embargo on Israel. Nine years later, in 1973, we delivered massive military assistance to Israel to enable it to avoid defeat in war with Egypt and Syria. We have since become committed to sustaining Israel’s military supremacy in the region. To keep Egypt at peace with Israel, since 1979 we have provided it with generous subsidies. In 1994, we added Jordan to this equation.

After the fall of the Shah of Iran in 1979, we first bolstered Saudi Arabia as a counter to the Islamic Republic of Iran and then helped Iraq avoid defeat in its eight-year war with Iran. In 1990, when Saddam Hussein’s Iraq annexed Kuwait and threatened to dominate the region and hence global oil prices, we and the Saudis organized coalitions including Egypt, Pakistan, and Syria to dislodge Iraq from Kuwait, reduce its power to levels that Iran could balance, and thus end the threat it posed to the Gulf Arab states. So far so good.

But in 1993, the Clinton Administration abruptly abandoned the effort to use Iraq to balance Iran. Instead, it proclaimed a policy of “dual containment,” under which Washington undertook unilaterally to balance both Baghdad and Tehran simultaneously. This made sense in terms of our interest in protecting Israel from either Iraq or Iran, but it placed the primary burden of defending Persian Gulf energy resources on the United States rather than on the Gulf Arabs or the international community. It secured a place for U.S. forces astride the routes between Asia and Europe. But it also required the creation of a long-term U.S. military presence in the Gulf Arab countries, especially Saudi Arabia. The Kingdom was strapped for cash but we wanted  it to pay for our presence and, amidst popular resentment, it did. The stationing of U.S. troops on soil considered by many Muslims to be sacred and off-limits to unbelievers was a political irritant that helped stimulate the September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks on New York and Washington.

A fully justified and brilliantly executed U.S. punitive raid on al Qaeda and its Taliban hosts in Afghanistan somehow morphed into a military campaign to pacify Afghanistan and save it from militant Islam. Most Muslims, like the rest of the world, stood with Americans on 9/11. We have long since squandered that support. Over time, we began to kill Muslims we suspected of opposing us with drones — remote-controlled robots that rain death from the sky, killing militants along with their families, friends, and coreligionists as well as innocent bystanders.  The practical effect of this is that we kill one (possible) terrorist and get ten free.

Meanwhile, our invasion of Iraq in 2003 accomplished none of its declared objectives but ended domestic tranquility in that country and resulted in a huge number of Arab deaths. No country, other than Israel, had urged us to attack Iraq. No weapons of mass destruction were found there. We were not welcomed as liberators. We staged elections but did not transform the country into a democracy. Iraq neither embraced Israel nor became our ally. In 2011, at Iraqi insistence, we withdrew, leaving behind a divided, shattered, and embittered country. We not only failed to impress the world with our power, as the proponents of the war hoped we would, we demonstrated our limitations. We showed that our military can defeat armies and militias but that it cannot bend foreign societies to our will, pacify their populations, or refute their ideas.

The net effect of our invasion and occupation of Iraq was to install a pro-Iranian Shiite-majority government in Baghdad that tyrannized Iraq’s Sunni minority. Thus, we at once added Iraq to the list of Iran’s client states and incubated a new crop of anti-American terrorists.

Earlier, we had driven Iran’s enemies from power in Afghanistan. In 2006, Israel’s aerial maiming of Lebanon elevated the Iranian-supported Shiite Hezbollah to the commanding heights of Lebanese politics. We did not respond to efforts by Damascus to dilute its dependence on Iran by establishing a more cooperative relationship with us.

In sum, we carelessly sponsored the rise of the very sort of anti-Israel and anti-Gulf Arab alliance our policies were aimed at precluding. We handed Iran dominant influence in Iraq, Lebanon, and Syria. The Arab uprisings of 2011 added Bahrain to the list of places where Iran can exploit Shiite grievances. Now pro-Iranian Houthi tribesmen have seized control of much of Yemen. The Gulf Arabs see Iran encircling them.

The Saudis and others in the Gulf remember the days when the United States saw the Shah’s Iran as the regional gendarme. Their fears that those days might come again are far-fetched but understandable, given all that has happened. As a result of U.S. bungling in Iraq and elsewhere Iran has, after all, greatly expanded its reach in the region. Gulf Arab apprehension about the proposed agreement to cap and constrain Iran’s nuclear programs is less about a military threat from Iranian nuclear weapons than about the possibility that we and other members of the U.N. Security Council will effectively acknowledge, if not endorse, Iran’s new proto-hegemony in the region.

America is at war with the renegade Islamist insurgency that calls itself “the Islamic State.” (I see no reason to dignify it with that title and, like most people in the region, I prefer to call it by its pretentious Arabic acronym, “Daesh.”) For many reasons, the Gulf Arabs doubt our reliability. Iraq has emerged as the most effective regional opponent of Daesh. The Gulf Arabs fear that we Americans may be driven to make common cause with Iran to combat Daesh.

Despite Mr. Netanyahu’s recent public hysteria about Iran and his efforts to demonize it, Israel has traditionally seen Iran’s rivalry with the Arabs as a strategic asset. It had a very cooperative relationship with the Shah. Neither Israelis nor Arabs have forgotten the strategic logic that produced Israel’s entente with Iran. Israel is very much on Daesh’s list of targets, as is Iran.

For now, however, Israel’s main concern is the possible loss of its nuclear monopoly in the Middle East. Many years ago, Israel actually did what it now accuses Iran of planning to do. It clandestinely developed nuclear weapons while denying to us and others that it was doing so. Unlike Iran, Israel has not adhered to the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty or subjected its nuclear facilities to international inspection. It has expressed no interest in proposals for a nuclear-free zone in the Middle East. It sees its ability to bring on nuclear Armageddon as the ultimate guarantee of its existence.

Unlike Israel, Iran does not have nuclear weapons and seems prepared to settle for more conventional means of ensuring its security. Despite all the pain our sanctions have inflicted and whether the current nuclear negotiations with it succeed or fail, Iran seems destined to exercise strategic suzerainty in a major part of the Middle East

Like the Israelis, the Saudis do not trust Iran to halt at nuclear latency if there is a deal with it by the United States and its Security Council partners. But unlike the Israeli prime minister, Riyadh judges that, if the negotiations with Iran fail to produce an agreement, this will precipitate an Iranian decision actually to build a nuclear deterrent. An agreement would confer added prestige on Iran.  That’s bad. A nuclear deterrent would give Iran added freedom from U.S. or other coercion. That’s worse.

The Saudis have little confidence in U.S. protection, given America’s inadvertent  empowerment of Iran and incubation of Daesh, as well as the erratic behavior of the United States during the Arab uprisings that toppled Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak. They now seem to be building a coalition to counter Iran and contain Daesh, with or without the United States.

In recent weeks, King Salman has met in rapid succession with King Abdullah II of Jordan, Prime Minister Sharif of Pakistan, President Al-Sisi of Egypt, and President Erdoğan of Turkey. After initially seeing Daesh as a useful opponent of Iran’s allies in Damascus and Baghdad, the Saudis have concluded that it is a menace that they must confront. The Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan is Daesh’s next intended battleground. It is also the Saudi gateway to Syria, in whose affairs Turkey is also a key player. The threat to Jordan is such that Amman  may now finally be regaining the regional backing it lost when it sided with Saddam Hussein in 1990.

Egypt and Turkey have been at odds over the Muslim Brotherhood and related issues. Egypt fears the Brotherhood, while Turkey sees it as a democratic Islamist movement that is not only legitimate but a potential pan-Arab antidote to Daesh. King Salman has begun an effort to persuade the Egyptians and Turks  to reconcile and resolve their differences. This will not be easy but, given the stakes for his Kingdom, Salman is likely to persist.

King Salman’s interest in convening the recent flurry of dialogue was, however, far from limited to Daesh and matters of religious interpretation. His main concern was undoubtedly how to balance and contain Iran.  There is a potential division of labor between the countries with which he met. Pakistan could extend nuclear deterrence to the Gulf Arabs. Egypt could provide the military mass and manpower the Saudis and other Gulf Arabs lack. Turkey’s powerful army could flank Syria and Iran to the north.

All three of these countries have significant armaments industries. Saudi Arabia and the Gulf Arabs are the world’s largest importers of armaments. There are real synergies to be gained by cooperation among the parties who have just gathered in Riyadh. The fact that these are being explored signals momentous change.

In 2006, then Secretary of State Condoleeza Rice infamously proclaimed the birth of a “new Middle East.” A new order in the Middle East is now belatedly coming into being. But it is not the one Secretary Rice envisaged. The influence of the United States and the prospects for the peaceful integration of Israel into the region have both been adversely affected by the events of the past fifteen years.

To many, Israel now seems to have acquired the obnoxious habit of biting the American hand that has fed it for so long. The Palestinians have despaired of American support for their self-determination. They are reaching out to the international community in ways that deliberately bypass the United States. Random acts of violence herald mayhem in the Holy Land.

Daesh has proclaimed the objective of erasing the Sykes-Picot borders and the states within them. It has already expunged the border between Iraq and Syria. It is at work in Lebanon and has set its sights on Jordan, Palestine, and Israel.

Lebanon, under Saudi influence, has turned to France rather than America for support. Hezbollah has intervened militarily in Iraq and Syria, both of whose governments are close to Iran. Egypt and Turkey have distanced themselves from the United States as well as from each other. Russia is back as a regional actor and arms supplier.

The Gulf Arabs, Egypt, and Turkey now separately intervene in Libya, Syria, and Iraq without reference to American policy or views. Iran is the dominant influence in Iraq, Syria, parts of Lebanon, and now Yemen. It has boots on the ground in Iraq.

And now Saudi Arabia seems to be organizing a coalition that will manage its own nuclear deterrence and military balancing of Iran.

To describe this as out of control is hardly adequate. What are we to do about it?

Perhaps we should start by recalling the first law of holes — “when stuck in one, stop digging.” It appears that “don’t just sit there, bomb something” isn’t much of a strategy. When he was asked last summer what our strategy for dealing with Daesh was, President Obama replied, “We don’t yet have one.” He was widely derided for that. He should have been praised for making the novel suggestion that before Washington acts, it should first think through what it hopes to accomplish and how best to do it. Sunzi once observed that “tactics without strategy is the noise before defeat.” America’s noisy but strategy-free approach to the Middle East has proven him right.

Again the starting point must be what we are trying to accomplish. Strategy is “the discipline of achieving desired ends through the most efficient use of available means” [John Lewis Gaddis].Our desired ends with respect to the Middle East are not in doubt. They have been and remain to gain an accepted and therefore secure place for Israel there; to keep the region’s oil and gas coming at reasonable prices; to be able to pass through the area at will; to head off challenges to these interests; to do profitable business in the markets of the Middle East; and to promote stability amidst the expansion of liberty in its countries. Judging by results, we have been doing a lot wrong.

Two related problems in our overall approach need correction. They are “enablement” and the creation of “moral hazard.” Both are fall-out from  relationships of codependency.

Enablement occurs when one party to a relationship indulges or supports and thereby enables another party’s dysfunctional behavior. A familiar example from ordinary life is giving money to a drunk or a drug addict or ignoring, explaining away, or defending their subsequent self-destructive behavior.  Moral hazard is the condition that obtains when one party is emboldened to take risks it would not otherwise take because it knows another party will shoulder the consequences and bear the costs of failure.

The U.S.-Israel relationship has evolved to exemplify codependency. It now embodies both enablement and moral hazard. U.S. support for Israel is unconditional.  Israel has therefore had no need to cultivate relations with others in the Middle East, to declare its borders, or to choose peace over continued expansion into formerly Arab lands. Confidence in U.S. backing enables Israel to do whatever it likes to the Palestinians and its neighbors without having to worry about the consequences.

Israel is now a rich country, but the United States continues to subsidize it with cash transfers and other fiscal privileges. The Jewish state is the most powerful country in the Middle East. It can launch attacks on its neighbors, confident that it will be resupplied by the United States. Its use of U.S. weapons in ways that violate both U.S. and international law goes unrebuked. 41 American vetoes in the United Nations Security Council have exempted Israel from censure and international law. We enable it to defy the expressed will of the international community, including, ironically, our own.

We Americans are facilitating Israel’s indulgence in denial and avoidance of the choices it must make if it is not to jeopardize its long-term existence as a state in the Middle East. The biggest contribution we could now make to Israel’s longevity would be to ration our support for it, so as to cause it to rethink and reform its often self-destructive behavior. Such peace as Israel now enjoys with Egypt, Jordan, and the Palestinians is the direct result of tough love of this kind by earlier American administrations. We Americans cannot save Israel from itself, but we can avoid killing it with uncritical kindness. We should support Israel when it makes sense to do so and it needs our support on specific issues, but not otherwise. Israel is placing itself and American interests in jeopardy. We need to discuss how to reverse this dynamic.

Moral hazard has also been a major problem in our relationship with our Arab partners. Why should they play an active role in countering the threat to them they perceive from Iran, if they can get America to do this for them? Similarly, why should any Muslim country rearrange its priorities to deal with Muslim renegades like Daesh when it can count on America to act for it? If America thinks it must lead, why not let it do so? But responsible foreign and defense policies begin with self-help, not outsourcing of military risks.

The United States has the power-projection and war-fighting capabilities to back a Saudi-led coalition effort against Daesh. The Saudis have the religious and political credibility, leadership credentials, and diplomatic connections to organize such an effort. We do not.

Since this century began, America has administered multiple disappointments to its allies and friends in the Middle East, while empowering their and our adversaries. Unlike the Gulf Arabs, Egypt, and Turkey, Washington does not have diplomatic relations with Tehran. Given our non-Muslim identity, solidarity with Israel, and recent history in the Fertile Crescent, the United States cannot hope to unite the region’s Muslims against Daesh.  Daesh is an insurgency that claims to exemplify Islam as well as a governing structure and an armed force. A coalition led by inhibited foreign forces, built on papered-over differences, and embodying hedged commitments will not defeat such an insurgency with or without boots on the ground.

There is an ineluctable requirement for Muslim leadership and strategic vision from within the region. Without it, the existing political geography of the Arab world — not just the map drawn by Sykes-Picot — faces progressive erosion and ultimate collapse. States will be pulled down, to be succeeded by warlords, as is already happening in Iraq and Syria. Degenerate and perverted forms of Islam will threaten prevailing Sunni and Shi`a religious dispensations, as Daesh now does. If indeed Saudi Arabia is finally prepared to organize a regional coalition to enable it to deal directly with these issues, we should welcome this and give it our backing, while seeking to assure that it does not damage Israel’s security, impede our transit through the region, or otherwise harm our interests.

I come at last to our objectives of promoting trade and liberal values.

The need for considered judgment and restraint extends to refraining from expansive rhetoric about our values or attempting to compel others to conform to them. In practice, we have insisted on democratization only in countries we have invaded or that were otherwise falling apart, as Egypt was during the first of the two “non-coups” it suffered. When elections have yielded governments whose policies we oppose, we have not hesitated to conspire with their opponents to overthrow them. But the results of our efforts to coerce political change in the Middle East are not just failures but catastrophic failures. Our policies have nowhere produced democracy. They have instead contrived the destabilization of societies, the kindling of religious warfare, and the installation of dictatorships contemptuous of the rights of religious and ethnic minorities.

Frankly, we have done a lot better at selling things, including armaments, to the region than we have at transplanting the ideals of the Atlantic Enlightenment there. The region’s autocrats cooperate with us to secure our protection, and they get it. When they are nonetheless overthrown, the result is not democracy or the rule of law but socio-political collapse and the emergence of  a Hobbesian state of nature in which religious and ethnic communities, families, and individuals are able to feel safe only when they are armed and have the drop on each other. Where we have engineered or attempted to engineer regime change, violent politics, partition, and ethno-religious cleansing have everywhere succeeded unjust but tranquil order. One result of our bungled interventions in Iraq and Syria is the rise of Daesh. This is yet another illustration that, in our efforts to do good in the Middle East, we have violated the principle that one should first do no harm.

Americans used to believe that we could best lead by example. We and those in the Middle East seeking nonviolent change would all be better off if America returned to that tradition and forswore ideologically motivated hectoring and intervention. No one willingly follows a wagging finger. Despite our unparalleled ability to use force against foreigners, the best way to inspire them to emulate us remains showing them that we have our act together. At the moment, we do not.

In the end, to cure the dysfunction in our policies toward the Middle East, it comes down to this. We must cure the dysfunction and venality of our politics. If we cannot, we have no business trying to use an 8,000-mile-long screwdriver to fix things one-third of the way around the world. That doesn’t work well under the best of circumstances. But when the country wielding the screwdriver has very little idea what it’s doing, it really screws things up.

[Charles Freeman, Jr., served in the United States Foreign Service, the State and Defense Departments in many different capacities over the course of 30 years. Most notably, he worked as the main interpreter for Richard Nixon during his 1972 China visit and served as the U.S. Ambassador to Saudi Arabia from 1989 to 1992, during the Persian Gulf War. In February 2009, unnamed sources leaked that Freeman was Director of National Intelligence Dennis C. Blair’s choice to chair the National Intelligence Council in the Obama Administration. After hostile criticism from prominent supporters of Israeli policy, he withdrew his name from consideration, charging he had been the victim of a concerted campaign by what he called “the Israel lobby”.]




Noam Chomsky: Why Israel’s Netanyahu Is So Desperate to Prevent Peace with Iran

Source: Democracy Now via AlterNet

Author: Amy Goodman

Emphasis Mine

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has arrived in the United States as part of his bid to stop a nuclear deal with Iran during a controversial speech before the U.S. Congress on Tuesday. Dozens of Democrats are threatening to boycott the address, which was arranged by House Speaker John Boehner without consulting the White House.

Netanyahu’s visit comes just as Iran and six world powers, including the United States, are set to resume talks in a bid to meet a March 31 deadline. “For both Prime Minister Netanyahu and the hawks in Congress, mostly Republican, the primary goal is to undermine any potential negotiation that might settle whatever issue there is with Iran,” says Noam Chomsky, institute professor emeritus at Massachusetts Institute of Technology. “They have a common interest in ensuring there is no regional force that can serve as any kind of deterrent to Israeli and U.S. violence, the major violence in the region.” Chomsky also responds to recent revelations that in 2012 the Israeli spy agency, Mossad, contradicted Netanyahu’s own dire warnings about Iran’s ability to produce a nuclear bomb, concluding that Iran was “not performing the activity necessary to produce weapons.”


This is a rush transcript. Copy may not be in its final form. 

AARON MATÉ: Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has arrived in Washington as part of his bid to stop a nuclear deal with Iran. Netanyahu will address the lobby group AIPAC today, followed by a controversial speech before Congress on Tuesday. The visit comes just as Iran and six world powers, including the U.S., are set to resume talks in a bid to meet a March 31st deadline. At the White House, Press Secretary Josh Earnest said Netanyahu’s trip won’t threaten the outcome.

PRESS SECRETARY JOSH EARNEST: I think the short answer to that is: I don’t think so. And the reason is simply that there is a real opportunity for us here. And the president is hopeful that we are going to have an opportunity to do what is clearly in the best interests of the United States and Israel, which is to resolve the international community’s concerns about Iran’s nuclear program at the negotiating table.

AARON MATÉ: The trip has sparked the worst public rift between the U.S. and Israel in over two decades. Dozens of Democrats could boycott Netanyahu’s address to Congress, which was arranged by House Speaker John Boehner without consulting the White House. The Obama administration will send two officials, National Security Adviser Susan Rice and U.N. Ambassador Samantha Power, to address the AIPAC summit today. This comes just days after Rice called Netanyahu’s visit, quote, “destructive.”

AMY GOODMAN: Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is also facing domestic criticism for his unconventional Washington visit, which comes just two weeks before an election in which he seeks a third term in Israel. On Sunday, a group representing nearly 200 of Israel’s top retired military and intelligence officials accused Netanyahu of assaulting the U.S.-Israel alliance.

But despite talk of a U.S. and Israeli dispute, the Obama administration has taken pains to display its staunch support for the Israeli government. Speaking just today in Geneva, Secretary of State John Kerry blasted the U.N. Human Rights Council for what he called an “obsession” and “bias” against Israel. The council is expected to release a report in the coming weeks on potential war crimes in Israel’s U.S.-backed Gaza assault last summer.

For more, we spend the hour today with world-renowned political dissident, linguist, author, Noam Chomsky. He has written over a hundred books, most recently On Western Terrorism: From Hiroshima to Drone Warfare. His forthcoming book, co-authored with Ilan Pappé, is titled On Palestine and will be out next month. Noam Chomsky is institute professor emeritus at Massachusetts Institute of Technology, where he’s taught for more than 50 years.

Noam Chomsky, it’s great to have you back here at Democracy Now!, and particularly in our very snowy outside, but warm inside, New York studio.

NOAM CHOMSKY: Delighted to be here again.

AMY GOODMAN: Well, Noam, let’s start with Netanyahu’s visit. He is set to make this unprecedented joint address to Congress, unprecedented because of the kind of rift it has demonstrated between the Republicans and the Democratic president, President Obama. Can you talk about its significance?

NOAM CHOMSKY: For both president—Prime Minister Netanyahu and the hawks in Congress, mostly Republican, the primary goal is to undermine any potential negotiation that might settle whatever issue there is with Iran. They have a common interest in ensuring that there is no regional force that can serve as any kind of deterrent to Israeli and U.S. violence, the major violence in the region. And it is—if we believe U.S. intelligence—don’t see any reason not to—their analysis is that if Iran is developing nuclear weapons, which they don’t know, it would be part of their deterrent strategy. Now, their general strategic posture is one of deterrence. They have low military expenditures. According to U.S. intelligence, their strategic doctrine is to try to prevent an attack, up to the point where diplomacy can set in. I don’t think anyone with a grey cell functioning thinks that they would ever conceivably use a nuclear weapon, or even try to. The country would be obliterated in 15 seconds. But they might provide a deterrent of sorts. And the U.S. and Israel certainly don’t want to tolerate that. They are the forces that carry out regular violence and aggression in the region and don’t want any impediment to that.

And for the Republicans in Congress, there’s another interest—namely, to undermine anything that Obama, you know, the Antichrist, might try to do. So that’s a separate issue there. The Republicans stopped being an ordinary parliamentary party some years ago. They were described, I think accurately, by Norman Ornstein, the very respected conservative political analyst, American Enterprise Institute; he said the party has become a radical insurgency which has abandoned any commitment to parliamentary democracy. And their goal for the last years has simply been to undermine anything that Obama might do, in an effort to regain power and serve their primary constituency, which is the very wealthy and the corporate sector. They try to conceal this with all sorts of other means. In doing so, they’ve had to—you can’t get votes that way, so they’ve had to mobilize sectors of the population which have always been there but were never mobilized into an organized political force: evangelical Christians, extreme nationalists, terrified people who have to carry guns into Starbucks because somebody might be after them, and so on and so forth. That’s a big force. And inspiring fear is not very difficult in the United States. It’s a long history, back to colonial times, of—as an extremely frightened society, which is an interesting story in itself. And mobilizing people in fear of them, whoever “them” happens to be, is an effective technique used over and over again. And right now, the Republicans have—their nonpolicy has succeeded in putting them back in a position of at least congressional power. So, the attack on—this is a personal attack on Obama, and intended that way, is simply part of that general effort. But there is a common strategic concern underlying it, I think, and that is pretty much what U.S. intelligence analyzes: preventing any deterrent in the region to U.S. and Israeli actions.

AARON MATÉ: You say that nobody with a grey cell thinks that Iran would launch a strike, were it to have nuclear weapons, but yet Netanyahu repeatedly accuses Iran of planning a new genocide against the Jewish people. He said this most recently on Holocaust Remembrance Day in January, saying that the ayatollahs are planning a new holocaust against us. And that’s an argument that’s taken seriously here.

NOAM CHOMSKY: It’s taken seriously by people who don’t stop to think for a minute. But again, Iran is under extremely close surveillance. U.S. satellite surveillance knows everything that’s going on in Iran. If Iran even began to load a missile—that is, to bring a missile near a weapon—the country would probably be wiped out. And whatever you think about the clerics, the Guardian Council and so on, there’s no indication that they’re suicidal.

AARON MATÉ: The premise of these talks—Iran gets to enrich uranium in return for lifting of U.S. sanctions—do you see that as a fair parameter? Does the U.S. have the right, to begin with, to be imposing sanctions on Iran?

NOAM CHOMSKY: No, it doesn’t. What are the right to impose sanctions? Iran should be imposing sanctions on us. I mean, it’s worth remembering—when you hear the White House spokesman talk about the international community, it wants Iran to do this and that, it’s important to remember that the phrase “international community” in U.S. discourse refers to the United States and anybody who may be happening to go along with it. That’s the international community. If the international community is the world, it’s quite a different story. So, two years ago, the Non-Aligned—former Non-Aligned Movement—it’s a large majority of the population of the world—had their regular conference in Iran in Tehran. And they, once again, vigorously supported Iran’s right to develop nuclear power as a signer of the Non-Proliferation Treaty. That’s the international community. The United States and its allies are outliers, as is usually the case.

And as far as sanctions are concerned, it’s worth bearing in mind that it’s now 60 years since—during the past 60 years, not a day has passed without the U.S. torturing the people of Iran. It began with overthrowing the parliamentary regime and installing a tyrant, the shah, supporting the shah through very serious human rights abuses and terror and violence. As soon as he was overthrown, almost instantly the United States turned to supporting Iraq’s attack against Iran, which was a brutal and violent attack. U.S. provided critical support for it, pretty much won the war for Iraq by entering directly at the end. After the war was over, the U.S. instantly supported the sanctions against Iran. And though this is kind of suppressed, it’s important. This is George H.W. Bush now. He was in love with Saddam Hussein. He authorized further aid to Saddam in opposition to the Treasury and others. He sent a presidential delegation—a congressional delegation to Iran. It was April 1990—1989, headed by Bob Dole, the congressional—

AMY GOODMAN: To Iraq? Sent to Iraq?

NOAM CHOMSKY: To Iraq. To Iraq, sorry, yeah—to offer his greetings to Saddam, his friend, to assure him that he should disregard critical comment that he hears in the American media: We have this free press thing here, and we can’t shut them up. But they said they would take off from Voice of America, take off critics of their friend Saddam. That was—he invited Iraqi nuclear engineers to the United States for advanced training in weapons production. This is right after the Iraq-Iran War, along with sanctions against Iran. And then it continues without a break up to the present.

There have been repeated opportunities for a settlement of whatever the issues are. And so, for example, in, I guess it was, 2010, an agreement was reached between Brazil, Turkey and Iran for Iran to ship out its low-enriched uranium for storage elsewhere—Turkey—and in return, the West would provide the isotopes that Iran needs for its medical reactors. When that agreement was reached, it was bitterly condemned in the United States by the president, by Congress, by the media. Brazil was attacked for breaking ranks and so on. The Brazilian foreign minister was sufficiently annoyed so that he released a letter from Obama to Brazil proposing exactly that agreement, presumably on the assumption that Iran wouldn’t accept it. When they did accept it, they had to be attacked for daring to accept it.

And 2012, 2012, you know, there was to be a meeting in Finland, December, to take steps towards establishing a nuclear weapons-free zone in the region. This is an old request, pushed initially by Egypt and the other Arab states back in the early ’90s. There’s so much support for it that the U.S. formally agrees, but not in fact, and has repeatedly tried to undermine it. This is under the U.N. auspices, and the meeting was supposed to take place in December. Israel announced that they would not attend. The question on everyone’s mind is: How will Iran react? They said that they would attend unconditionally. A couple of days later, Obama canceled the meeting, claiming the situation is not right for it and so on. But that would be—even steps in that direction would be an important move towards eliminating whatever issue there might be. Of course, the stumbling block is that there is one major nuclear state: Israel. And if there’s a Middle East nuclear weapons-free zone, there would be inspections, and neither Israel nor the United States will tolerate that.

AMY GOODMAN: I want to ask you about major revelations that have been described as the biggest leak since Edward Snowden. Last week, Al Jazeera started publishing a series of spy cables from the world’s top intelligence agencies. In one cable, the Israeli spy agency Mossad contradicts Prime Minister Netanyahu’s own dire warnings about Iran’s ability to produce a nuclear bomb within a year. In a report to South African counterparts in October 2012, the Israeli Mossad concluded Iran is “not performing the activity necessary to produce weapons.” The assessment was sent just weeks after Netanyahu went before the U.N. General Assembly with a far different message. Netanyahu held up a cartoonish diagram of a bomb with a fuse to illustrate what he called Iran’s alleged progress on a nuclear weapon.

PRIME MINISTER BENJAMIN NETANYAHU: This is a bomb. This is a fuse. In the case of Iran’s nuclear plans to build a bomb, this bomb has to be filled with enough enriched uranium. And Iran has to go through three stages. By next spring, at most by next summer, at current enrichment rates, they will have finished the medium enrichment and move on to the final stage. From there, it’s only a few months, possibly a few weeks, before they get enough enriched uranium for the first bomb. A red line should be drawn right here, before—before Iran completes the second stage of nuclear enrichment necessary to make a bomb.

AMY GOODMAN: That was Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in September 2012. The Mossad assessment contradicting Netanyahu was sent just weeks after, but it was likely written earlier. It said Iran, quote, “does not appear to be ready,” unquote, to enrich uranium to the highest levels needed for a nuclear weapon. A bomb would require 90 percent enrichment, but Mossad found Iran had only enriched to 20 percent. That number was later reduced under an interim nuclear deal the following year. The significance of this, Noam Chomsky, as Prime Minister Netanyahu prepares for this joint address before Congress to undermine a U.S.-Iranian nuclear deal?

NOAM CHOMSKY: Well, the striking aspect of this is the chutzpah involved. I mean, Israel has had nuclear weapons for probably 50 years or 40 years. They have, estimates are, maybe 100, 200 nuclear weapons. And they are an aggressive state. Israel has invaded Lebanon five times. It’s carrying out an illegal occupation that carries out brutal attacks like Gaza last summer. And they have nuclear weapons. But the main story is that if—incidentally, the Mossad analysis corresponds to U.S. intelligence analysis. They don’t know if Iran is developing nuclear weapons. But I think the crucial fact is that even if they were, what would it mean? It would be just as U.S. intelligence analyzes it: It would be part of a deterrent strategy. They couldn’t use a nuclear weapon. They couldn’t even threaten to use it. Israel, on the other hand, can; has, in fact, threatened the use of nuclear weapons a number of times.

AMY GOODMAN: So why is Netanyahu doing this?

NOAM CHOMSKY: Because he doesn’t want to have a deterrent in the region. That’s simple enough. If you’re an aggressive, violent state, you want to be able to use force freely. You don’t want anything that might impede it.

AMY GOODMAN: Do you think this in any way has undercut the U.S. relationship with Israel, the Netanyahu-Obama conflict that, what, Susan Rice has called destructive?

NOAM CHOMSKY: There is undoubtedly a personal relationship which is hostile, but that’s happened before. Back in around 1990 under first President Bush, James Baker went as far as—the secretary of state—telling Israel, “We’re not going to talk to you anymore. If you want to contact me, here’s my phone number.” And, in fact, the U.S. imposed mild sanctions on Israel, enough to compel the prime minister to resign and be replaced by someone else. But that didn’t change the relationship, which is based on deeper issues than personal antagonisms.



See: http://www.alternet.org/world/noam-chomsky-why-israels-netanyahu-so-desperate-prevent-peace-iran?akid=12841.123424.cMyi55&rd=1&src=newsletter1032656&t=3

10 Myths about Iran Driving the Insane Push for War — And Why They’re Dead Wrong

Israeli officials and GOP candidates spout nonsense about Iran. Here’s the truth.

From: AlterNet

By: Jasmin Ramsey

“As the push for war with Iran rolls on, rhetoric demonizing the Iranian government is rampant, particularly among Israeli leaders and most Republican presidential candidates—so much so that former Israeli Mossad director Efraim Halevy recently complained that Mitt Romney is “making the [Iran] situation worse” with his statements.

2. Iran is not rushing to build a nuclear weapon.

The most prevalent suspicion about Iran is that it is trying to obtain breakout capability, or the ability to produce a nuclear weapon in a short period of time if it made the decision to do so. But that idea often results in unfounded alarmism about Iran’s nuclear program. Former Mideast-focused Pentagon official Colin Kahl told attendees during a packed Capitol Hill briefing in February that there’s a lot of “hyperbole and hyperventilation about Iran’s program” based on estimated timeframes about its alleged nuclear ambitions.

But Kahl emphasized that “timelines” estimating how quickly Iran could obtain a nuclear weapon depend on Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei making a “final decision” that “we have no evidence that he’s made, and we have every reason to believe we would detect if he did.” The Georgetown associate professor went on to point out that because of the very real existential threats the Iranians would face if they decided to start building a weapon, “we’re probably a number of years away” from the point at which Khamenei would “feel comfortable enough” in making that decision. According to nuclear nonproliferation expert Daryl Kimball, the main aim with Iran should accordingly be to affect Iranian “political will.”

Historian and Middle East expert Juan Cole also explained this week that Iran’s main decision-maker, Ali Khamenei, has consistently forbidden, on the basis of Islam, the acquisition of nuclear weapons. Cole says that if people believe Khamenei is being “dishonest,” they should prove it. Finally, as veteran Iran-focused journalist Scott Peterson recently illustrated, “breathless” assertions that Iran is speeding head-on toward nuclear capability “or worse” have been heard for decades while related predictions about imminent Iranian threats have “come and gone” unrealized.

3. Iran is not ruled by “irrational” leaders.

This is particularly true when it comes to Iranian foreign policy–and that’s according to America’s top-ranking military officer Gen. Martin Dempsey, who told CNN last month that the United States is “of the opinion that the Iranian regime is a rational actor.” Former head of the Israeli Mossad Meir Dagan recently echoed that view, telling CBS that, “The regime in Iran is a very rational one.”

In January, director of National Intelligence James Clapper informed a Senate Intelligence Committee that Iran was using a “cost-benefit analysis” with its nuclear program decision-making process: “[I]f the decision has been made to press on with a nuclear weapon — and there are certain things they have not done yet to eventuate that — that this would be based on a cost-benefit analysis.” He added that the U.S. does not believe that the decision to build a nuclear weapon has been made by Iran’s leadership yet. And in February, the chief of the Defense Intelligence Agency, Lieutenant General Ronald Burgess, also told the Senate Armed Services Committee that “The [DIA] assesses Iran is unlikely to initiate or intentionally provoke a conflict”–another indication that Iran’s decision-making process is a calculated one.

4. Iran’s leadership wants to preserve their regime.

The Republican presidential candidates, along with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, frequently suggest that the Iranian government is committed to Israel’s “annihilation” even if that means their own end. But according to Mideast analyst Matt Duss of the Center for American Progress, the idea that Iran is a “martyr state” is a “myth” that “actually detracts from our ability to develop policies to effectively meet [the] challenge” of Iran’s alleged nuclear weapon ambitions. After being chided by Israeli leaders and American hawks for admitting that Iran is “rational,” Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. Martin Dempsey also said that it’s counterproductive to label Iran’s leadership with sweeping generalizations: “The key is to understand how they act and not trivialize their actions by attributing to them some irrationality.” Dempsey said framing the discussion about Iran in that way is a “dangerous thing for us to do” even if he doesn’t “agree” with Iranian decisions.

5. Iran’s leadership is not monolithic.

Rand Corporation senior analyst Alireza Nader said during a March 7 New America briefing that it’s “simply not true” that Iran is a “monolithic actor with a unified political system.” Rather, Nader noted that Iran’s leadership is actually fracturing, and that this was most recently exhibited by the sidelining of President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad by the Supreme Leader and his allies after Ahmadinejad challenged him. This fact should also lay to rest any illusions that Ahmadinejad’s presidential power and authority exists independently of Iran’s main decision-maker, the Supreme Leader. According to Nader, Iran is “not a democratic country” and is becoming an “increasingly authoritarian system,” but there is “still a political process in Iran.”

6. Iranians don’t hate Americans.

Contrary to popular belief, many Iranians hungrily consume American culture whenever they can in various ways. According to Iranian-American writer Hooman Majd, the author of two acclaimed books exploring the intricate complexities of Iranian politics and society, “…Iranians are indeed the most pro-American peoples of the Middle East–perhaps not pro-American foreign policy–but pro-American in the sense that we would like the people of the world to be.”

Majd notes that “even the mullahs ‘buy American,’ if and when they can.” While American Iran hawks often remind us that Iranians continue to shout anti-American rhetoric, they forget to include that these displays of bluster are usually exhibited in public where there’s state-run media coverage and official pressure to talk and act a certain way. Certainly, the majority of the Iranian population do not wish Americans any harm. Says Majd, “Chants of ‘Death to America’ are meaningless–the phrase refers to US foreign policy, hegemony, and imperialism; not the American dream or the people.”

7. The Mujahideen-e Khalq (aka MEK, MKO, PMOI and NCRI) is not “Iran’s main opposition.”

The short story is that at one time the MEK was a popular revolutionary force in Iran that was brutally repressed. But for decades, it has been detested or considered irrelevant by the majority of the population. It worked for Saddam Hussein’s regime during the bloody and long Iran-Iraq war. It has also committed terrorism inside Iran that led to the death of U.S. citizens.

Now, the MEK is lobbying the United States to remove it from its foreign terrorist organizations list through a well-funded campaign. It’s akin to Al Qaeda advertising in the New York Times, the Washington Post or on cable TV. Its advocates include former George W. Bush administration members Frances Townsend and Michael Mukasey, who has described MEK members as “courageous freedom fighters,” as well as the likes of Howard Dean.

Analysts and journalists who have no affection for the Iranian government have reported the facts about MEK, despite well-organized campaigning by its members to silence criticism or deflect attention by bringing up the real human rights issues its members face in Iraq. MEK supporters have reacted furiously to the Rand Corporation’s description of them as a “cult” and deny the disturbing abuses attributed to their leadership by Human Rights Watch. According to their lobbyists, negative depictions of MEK are funded by the Iranian government, thereby implying that the U.S. State Department and the FBI were also controlled by Iran!

If that isn’t enough to make those who still buy into MEK’s propaganda think twice, consider that when millions of Iranians took to the streets in 2009 after the hotly contested presidential election, the people were focused on democracy in Iran and the “Green Movement,” not MEK. But regardless of what MEK and its former high-ranking U.S. official advocates do to change the reality surrounding them, the fact remains that this group inspires no hope among the vast majority of more than 70 million Iranian citizens.

8. Iranians speak a different language than Iraqis.

It’s common for Iranians to be mistaken for Arabs, but people in Arab nations speak a different language (Arabic varies by region just as Farsi is not the only spoken language in Iran) and have different cultures. Persian food and Arabic food also differ significantly, regardless of which Arabic country you are talking about. As stated in an “explainer” article in Slate: “Alone among the Middle Eastern peoples conquered by the Arabs, the Iranians did not lose their language or their identity.”

9. Iranians don’t want another revolution.

There is indeed widespread discontent about the Iranian leadership and life inside Iran among its citizens at home, who have been negatively impacted by years of increasingly harsh U.S.-led sanctions. The widely attended protests of 2009 and 2010 forced the world to recognize this even if the Iranian government refuses to acknowledge the facts. But unlike the protest movements in Arab countries that began in 2011 and resulted in the fall of multiple governments, the Green Movement has since been mostly dormant while the Iranian leadership is alive and more focused on crushing internal dissent amongst establishment figures than democracy activists.

When I was in Iran this time last year, there were weekly protests for imprisoned Green movement leaders Mir Hossein Mousavi and Mehdi Karroubi and widespread arrests and other forms of government-sponsored intimidation. But the protests were nowhere near the scale of what we saw in 2009, and by the Iranian holiday period in March, Tehran cleared out like it always does. This was just a month after Mousavi and Karroubi’s house arrest began.

The argument can certainly be made that Iranians face a brutally repressive government and fear for their lives if they continue to oppose the regime, but as Iran expert and scholar Farideh Farhi told me during an interview last year, many Iranians want change, but not another painful revolution at this point. Like the characters in Asghar Farhadi’s Oscar-winning film, A Separation, average Iranians are occupied with pressing daily living concerns regardless of sex or social class even if the political remains deeply personal. As Farhi noted, “When have two revolutions ever happened so closely together?”

10. Your Iranian friend’s account of the situation in Iran isn’t necessarily authoritative.

It doesn’t matter how convincing your Iranian friend sounds when he recounts his version of Iranian history or current affairs, whether he’s a dentist, a personal relation or a cab driver. Remember that much of the Iranian expatriate population, millions of whom live abroad, left Iran in search of economic opportunities or for political reasons and don’t feel they can return for good even if they wanted to. Their feelings about Iran are therefore extremely complex and that will certainly play into how they describe it to others. What Iranians think about the situation inside Iran is deeply influenced by their sex, class and religious beliefs. This doesn’t mean that what they’re telling you is necessarily untrue or unimportant. But seeking verifiable facts is as important as personal testimony when trying to get a clear picture about Iran–especially now.”

Jasmin Ramsey, an Iranian-born journalist, is the editor of Lobe Log , a US foreign policy blog. You can find her on Twitter @JasminRamsey.

Emphasis mine