The Iran nuclear deal is one of the most significant diplomatic victories in recent history. More formally known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, the Iran deal blocks all pathways to an Iranian nuclear weapon and provides the international community with unparalleled access to guard against a covert program. Let’s look at the facts.
Under the deal, Iran must:
- Reduce the number of centrifuges, which are used to enrich uranium, by two-thirds;
- Cap uranium enrichment at 3.67% for 15 years (For a nuclear weapon, uranium needs to be 90% enriched; anything lower than 20% is considered low-enriched uranium);
- Give up 97 percent of its low-enriched uranium stockpile;
- Halt all uranium enrichment at its underground Fordow facility for at least 15 years;
- Redesign its Arak heavy water reactor so that it will not produce weapons-grade plutonium, ever; and
- Agree not to build any additional heavy water reactors for 15 years.
These commitments wouldn’t rely on the honor system. The agreement grants the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) unprecedented access to ensure Iran is holding up its end of the bargain, including:
- 24/7 monitoring of all declared nuclear facilities;
- Permanent implementation of the Additional Protocol, a legal document expanding the IAEA’s access to information and Iran’s nuclear and suspected nuclear facilities;
- Continuous monitoring of Iran’s uranium mines and mills for 25 years; and
- Access to any site, including military facilities, suspected of housing covert nuclear activities with a 24-hour notice, or a maximum delay of 24 days if access issues arise (it is virtually impossible to hide nuclear work in that time).
In return for these significant concessions, nuclear-related sanctions on Iran will be lifted — but only after the IAEA has verified that Iran is in compliance with the deal. If Iran is seen to be in violation, UN sanctions will be reimposed (so-called “sanctions snapback”).
This is a good deal that verifiably prevents Iran from developing a nuclear weapon. It has the support of the majority of credible U.S. nuclear experts and officials, including 75 top nuclear nonproliferation experts, over 100 former ambassadors, 60 national security leaders, 36 retired military leaders, and 32 top scientists. The deal also has support from 67 former Israeli intelligence and military officials.
Without the deal, Iran’s nuclear program would be left fully intact. There would be no international inspections to monitor its activities. Iran would keep its current stockpile of nuclear material and all of its infrastructure, and would be free to pursue research and development without restriction. Critically, it would retain the capability to develop enough fissile material (highly-enriched uranium or plutonium) needed to build one nuclear weapon in roughly 2-3 months.
When you look at the facts, supporting the Iran deal is a no-brainer.