ASP believes that a nuclear-armed Iran would pose a destabilizing threat to U.S. national interests in the Middle East and beyond, and that the current diplomatic effort to ensure that Iran does not acquire nuclear weapons is the only feasible path forward.
This approach fundamentally strengthens our and our allies’ national security.
We support the current parameters for a Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) and hope that the P5+1, the EU, and Iran can sign a final agreement by June 30th, 2015.
While there is still considerable hard work to do, we support the framework for a JCPOA for the following reasons:
- The sanctions regime has worked. The IMF estimates that Iran needs global oil prices of over $130 per barrel in order to balance its 2015 budget, prompting Iran to leverage its hawkish influence at OPEC for higher prices. The effect of sanctions on Iran’s economy are vast and wide ranging, contributing to runaway inflation of over 40%, an unemployment rate spiking over 14%, and a persistent budget deficit. These compounded problems mean Iran has more of a need for a negotiated deal than the P5+1. But the price of oil will not remain low forever.
- Second, there is a myth that a so-called “better deal” could be had if only the United States increases sanctions. Proposals of what a “better deal” would look like risk fundamentally isolating the United States, and cause our partners to relax their sanctions against Iran.
- Third, resorting to the military option would mean undertaking an invasion far more challenging than both wars against Iraq. Iran, at 637,000 square miles, is roughly twice the size of Texas. At 80 million people, it has a population more than double that of Iraq. Its diverse geography and long coastline includes the Strait of Hormuz—a major shipping chokepoint. Stating that we can unilaterally eliminate Iran’s nuclear weapon program with an air campaign is incredibly naïve. Logistically, a mobilization to both defend our regional allies and invade Iran would entail the deployment of at least 500,000 currently standing American military personnel, and maybe twice as many additional National Guard, reserve, and new trainees. Added to this would be the cost of transportation, support, and basing—probably costing as much as $1 trillion. This level of mobilization would require Congress to potentially double the defense budget, completely obliterating the mandated savings of sequestration.
- Finally, once a negotiated agreement to halt Iran’s nuclear program has been established, the intrusive inspections that will be implemented will provide ample warning time should the Iranians try to cheat the agreement. The agreement will also provide a precedent by which the U.S. can engage the Iranian regime on issues such as human rights violations, support for terrorism, and greater region wide destabilization. Only when the immediate crisis of the Iranian nuclear program is resolved can our full attention, and that of the international community, turn to these efforts.
We agree with Secretary Moniz, a scientist and nuclear expert that “America’s leading nuclear experts at the Department of Energy and its national labs and sites were involved throughout these negotiations, evaluating and developing technical proposals to help define negotiating positions in support of the US delegation. As a result, I’m pleased to say that we are very confident in the technical underpinnings of this arrangement.”
As such the planned agreement to curtail Iran’s nuclear program will be both effective and verifiable, and will strengthen both U.S. national interests and the defense of our allies. While the success of the JCPOA does not depend on a change in Iran’s intentions or ideological outlook, we cannot discount the possibility that it will make Iran less bellicose, and open up a new chapter in U.S.-Iran relations.
Read ASP’s top ten facts regarding the parameters for the Iran Nuclear Agreement here.
White House Fact Sheet on Parameters for a Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) regarding the Islamic Republic of Iran’s Nuclear Program
Statement by the President on the Framework to Prevent Iran from Obtaining a Nuclear Weapon (Watch Here)
The President’s Weekly Address: Reaching a Comprehensive and Long-Term Deal on Iran’s Nuclear Program
Press Conference with Secretary Kerry in Lausanne, Switzerland on April 2, 2015
Statement by Secretary Moniz on P5+1 Nuclear Negotiations