More than 80 non-proliferation experts urge Trump to stick with Iran nuclear agreement
In a statement this week, some fourscore nuclear nonproliferation experts urged Pr*sident Donald Trump and Congress not to abandon the 2015 multilateral agreement hammered out in negotiations among Iran, Germany, the United States, and the other four permanent members of the U.N. Security Council.
Since the nuclear deal was implemented in January 2016, the JCPOA has dramatically reduced the risk posed by Iran’s nuclear program and mandated unprecedented monitoring and transparency measures that make it very likely that any possible future effort by Iran to pursue nuclear weapons, even a clandestine program, would be detected promptly. By blocking Iran’s potential pathways to nuclear weapons, the JCPOA has also decreased the likelihood of destabilizing nuclear competition in the region.
To meet its JCPOA obligations, Iran dismantled more than 13,000 centrifuges, placed them in monitored storage, and shipped out more than 11 tons of low-enriched uranium. Since implementation day, Iran has met its commitments to enrich uranium only up to 3.67 percent uranium-235, retain no more than the equivalent of 300 kilograms of uranium enriched to 3.67 percent in its stockpile, and enrich using only 5,060 first generation, IR-1 centrifuges.
Taken together these restrictions ensure that Iran’s capability to produce enough bomb-grade uranium sufficient for one weapon would be approximately 12 months for a decade or more. This conclusion was underscored by Daniel Coats, Donald Trump’s Director of National Intelligence, who stated in the May 2017 Worldwide Threat Assessment, that the JCPOA has “enhanced the transparency of Iran’s nuclear activities” and “extended the amount of time Iran would need to produce enough fissile material for a nuclear weapon from a few months to about a year.” Prior to commencing negotiations with Iran in 2013, that timeline would have been 2-3 months. […]
“We firmly support vigorous efforts to monitor and enforce compliance with the JCPOA, but we are concerned by statements from the Trump administration that it may be seeking to create a false pretext for accusing Iran of noncooperation or noncompliance with the agreement in order to trigger the reimposition of nuclear-related sanctions against Iran.”
Abandoning the agreement, the statement points out, could mean that Iran could move quickly to build a nuclear weapon if its leaders chose to do so.
Trump has called provisions of the agreement “terrible” and informed members of his regime, including Ambassador to the U.N. Nikki Haley, that he wants them to find Iran out of compliance with it when they present their 90-day report next month.
Since he began squatting in the White House in January, the U.S. has filed two reports saying Iran is in compliance. In addition to Trump, the majority of U.S. senators, including a few Democrats, are not happy with the agreement, known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA). As I noted in this commentary, Haley lied repeatedly last week about Iran’s compliance in a speech at the American Enterprise Institute, a “neo-con” center.
The statement was endorsed by former U.S. nuclear negotiators, former senior U.S. nonproliferation and intelligence officials, a former member of the UN Panel of Experts on Iran, and leading nuclear specialists from the United States and elsewhere.
They include: Ambassador Brooke D. Anderson, former Chief of Staff and Counselor for the National Security Council; Hans Blix, former Director General of the International Atomic Energy Agency; Des Browne, Lord Browne of Ladyton, former Secretary of State for Defense of the UK, chair of the European Leadership Network (ELN) and vice chair of the Nuclear Threat Initiative (NTI), Joseph Cirincione, president, Ploughshares Fund; Morton H. Halperin, former Director of Policy Planning Staff, U.S Department of State; and Valerie Plame, former CIA covert operations officer.
(Originally appeared at DailyKos.)