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FOCUS By Daryl G.

Kimball
Executive Director

Why Congress Should Support the Iran Deal


T
his month, Congress faces a pivotal foreign policy choice give international inspectors timely access to any Iranian facility
with far-reaching consequences. Should it approve the July of proliferation concern, including military sites. For 15 years, the
14 nuclear agreement between six world powers and Iran agreement will ensure Iran cannot stall the inspectors’ access for
because the deal promises to verifiably block all of Iran’s potential more than 24 days without risking serious consequences.
pathways to nuclear weapons or reject the agreement because it In addition, the deal provides valuable, long-term insight into
falls short of expectations and in the hope of a “better deal” down Iran’s nuclear plans. It puts in place safeguards that require early
the line? notification of design changes or new nuclear projects by Iran.
The choice should be clear. The deal, formally known as The additional protocol and early-notification requirements will
the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, is a very strong, very remain in place permanently.
thorough nonproliferation agreement that will reverse Iran’s The deal also requires that Iran cooperate with the International
progress and stop it well short of nuclear weapons for a generation Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) to conclude the agency’s long-
or more. Rejection of the agreement would transform a historic running investigation of past Iranian activities that have possible
diplomatic breakthrough into a geostrategic disaster. military dimensions and permanently prohibits certain dual-use
The deal requires a very substantial activities that could contribute to the design and
reconfiguration of Iran’s program so that Tehran Rejection of development of a nuclear explosive device. That
cannot amass enough bomb-grade uranium for IAEA probe may not definitively resolve every
the agreement
one weapon in less than 12 months for a period concern about Tehran’s alleged past weaponization
of 13 years or more. The deal accomplishes would transform work, but without the deal, there will be growing
this vital objective by reducing the number of uncertainty about whether Iran will renew
installed centrifuges from nearly 20,000 to 6,104 a historic research and development on weapons design.
first-generation machines, the IR-1, of which Together, these rigorous limits and transparency
diplomatic
only 5,060 would be allowed to enrich uranium measures will make it very likely that any future
and to no more than 3.67 percent uranium-235. breakthrough effort by Iran to develop nuclear weapons would
The nuclear deal also repurposes the be detected promptly, providing world powers
underground Fordow enrichment site into a into a with the opportunity to stop the effort.
medical isotope production facility where no Implementation of the deal will help head off
geostrategic
uranium can be present for a period of 15 years. nuclear arms competition in the region. A limited,
Under the deal, Iran must also limit its disaster. highly monitored Iranian nuclear program
stockpile of low-enriched uranium to 300 poses far less of a threat to the region than an
kilograms for 15 years and accept very tough limits on its unconstrained program. Without this agreement, Saudi Arabia
advanced centrifuge research and development for 10 years. In would be more likely to hedge its nuclear bets.
years 11 through 13 of the agreement, Iran has agreed to limit the The alternative to the effective deal that has been negotiated
possible deployment of any advanced machines so that the overall is no deal. After more than two years of talks and UN Security
enrichment capacity remains equivalent to 5,060 IR-1s. Thus, until Council approval of the deal, Iranian leaders would certainly spurn
year 15 of the deal and perhaps longer, Iran’s breakout time will any effort designed to extract further concessions from them.
ARMS CONTROL TODAY September 2015

remain lengthy due to the 300-kilogram stockpile limit and the Congressional rejection of the deal would undercut U.S.
restraints on centrifuge capacity. negotiating partners and severely undermine U.S. credibility and
The deal also eliminates Iran’s ability to produce and separate diplomatic leverage. The necessary international support for Iran-
plutonium for a nuclear weapon for at least 15 years by committing related sanctions would melt away. Iran would be free to rapidly
Iran to permanently modify the Arak reactor, refrain from and significantly expand its capacity to produce weapons-grade
reprocessing spent fuel, and ship spent fuel out of the country. material. The international community would be deprived of
The agreement is effectively verifiable. It will put in place a the ability to use enhanced inspections to detect a clandestine
multilayered monitoring regime across Iran’s entire nuclear supply Iranian weapons effort. Ultimately, without a deal, the risk of a
chain, including centrifuge manufacturing sites for 20 years and nuclear-armed Iran and the risk of a war over Iran’s program would
uranium mining and milling sites for 25 years, and continuous increase.
monitoring of a larger number of nuclear and nuclear-related sites. The facts are clear. The Iran nuclear deal is a strong, verifiable
The accord requires Iran to implement and ratify the additional agreement that benefits U.S. security and the security of its allies.
protocol to its comprehensive safeguards agreement. This will ACT
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