November 23, 2013 – New York – In response to the announcement that the P5+1 nations reached an interim accord with Iran on its nuclear program, AJC Executive Director David Harris issued the following statement:
We appreciate the efforts of Britain, China, France, Germany, Russia and the United States – the P5+1 group – to reach an interim deal with Iran, which was announced today. This is a potentially important development.
We need, however, to understand more fully the elements of the accord, and whether it will indeed lead to the ultimate goal of preventing Iran from achieving the capability to build nuclear weapons.
A diplomatic solution is unquestionably the preferred approach to resolving the Iranian nuclear issue. But for years Iran has maintained an indisputable posture of deceit and defiance towards the United Nations, the International Atomic Energy Agency, and nations around the world, including, centrally, the P5+1.
Given this history, and the concomitant lack of trust, the P5+1 will need to be ever vigilant in determining whether Iranian leaders are, in fact, sincere and will fulfill their part of the deal, or will rather play for time while trying to advance their nuclear program.
Serious questions for us to consider in evaluating the merits of this agreement with Iran include:
-- How do America’s closest allies in the Middle East view the deal, since, after all, they are the nations most immediately threatened by the prospect of Iran's belligerence, nuclear weapons capability and delivery systems?
-- Does the agreement preserve, explicitly or implicitly, an Iranian “right” to enrich uranium? And, specifically, what are the implications for permitting Iran to continue to enrich uranium to 3.5% during the six-month interim deal?
-- Are there precise, satisfactory monitoring arrangements for halting all construction, inside and outside, at the plutonium facility in Arak?
-- Is Iran permitted to continue building centrifuges, for potential installation later -- say, at the end of the six-month interim deal -- to enhance still further its enrichment capability?
-- Is Iran required to provide full access to all of its enrichment facilities, centrifuges and nuclear material holdings, including yellow cake?
-- Does Iran have to declare and allow inspections of all work related to nuclear-weapons development, as the IAEA has identified, including triggers, computer simulations of nuclear explosions, ballistic missiles and nuclear warheads?
-- Have the six world powers received any concrete commitment on Tehran’s involvement in the brutal war in Syria, support for Hezbollah, and efforts to develop intercontinental ballistic missiles?
Ultimately, the true test of this agreement will be the ability of the world powers and UN agencies to verify Iranian compliance, including openness to, and full cooperation with, regular, intrusive inspections of all of its nuclear facilities.
Meanwhile, we believe that existing sanctions should remain in place and new sanctions, whose trigger date would not necessarily be immediate, should be pursued to underscore the seriousness of America’s determination -- and the consequences of an Iranian failure to act in good faith.
Tangible deeds, not poetic words, will ultimately determine whether Iran has embarked on a new path of cooperation and compliance, or is pursuing the same aggressive and destabilizing policies, which pose such a threat to regional and global security, simply wrapped in new packaging.