The Republicans find themselves increasingly alone in opposing the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), commonly known as the Iran nuclear deal. Back on July 20, not only did the United Nations Security Council unanimously endorse the JCPOA, but we saw a “Statement by National Security Leaders on the Announcement of a Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action” signed by 60 national security leaders, from cabinet members to senators.
Yesterday, more Than 70 nuclear nonproliferation experts announced support for the joint comprehensive plan of action. The statement, The Comprehensive P5+1 Nuclear Agreement With Iran: A Net-Plus for Nonproliferation, dated August 17, states that,
The Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) is a strong, long-term, and verifiable agreement that will be a net-plus for international nuclear nonproliferation efforts.
It advances the security interests of the P5+1 nations (China, France, Germany, Russia, the United Kingdom, and the United States), the European Union, their allies and partners in the Middle East, and the international community.
Contrary to repeated Republican claims, these nuclear experts state that “When implemented, the JCPOA will establish long-term, verifiable restrictions on Iran’s enrichment facilities and research and development, including advanced centrifuge research and deployment.”
Taken in combination with stringent limitations on Iran’s low-enriched uranium stockpile, these restrictions ensure that Iran’s capability to produce enough bombgrade uranium sufficient for one weapon would be extended to approximately 12 months for a decade or more.
Moreover, the JCPOA will effectively eliminate Iran’s ability to produce and separate plutonium for a nuclear weapon for at least 15 years, including by permanently modifying the Arak reactor, Iran’s major potential source for weapons grade plutonium, committing Iran not to reprocess spent fuel, and shipping spent fuel out of the country.
The JCPOA is effectively verifiable. The agreement will put in place a multi-layered monitoring regime across Iran’s entire nuclear supply chain, including centrifuge manufacturing sites (for 20 years), uranium mining and milling (for 25 years), and continuous monitoring of a larger number of nuclear and nuclear-related sites.
The statement is signed by James Acton, Co-Director, Nuclear Policy Program, Carnegie Endowment for International Peace;
John Ahearne, former Chairman of the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission; Steve Andreasen, former Director for Defense Policy and Arms Control on the National Security Council staff (1993-2001), consultant to the Nuclear Threat Initiative; Avis Bohlen, former Assistant Secretary of State for Arms Control, U.S. Department of State; Amb. (ret.) Kenneth C. Brill, Ambassador to the IAEA (2001-2004) and Founding Director of the U.S. National Counterproliferation Center (2005-2009); Matthew Bunn, Professor of Practice, Harvard Kennedy School, and former adviser to the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy; Richard L. Garwin, former Chair of the Arms Control and Nonproliferation Advisory Board of the U.S Department of State; Ilan Goldenberg, former Iran Team Chief, Office of the Secretary of Defense, U.S. Department of Defense; Dr. Lisbeth Gronlund, Co-Director and Senior Scientist, Global Security Program, Union of Concerned Scientists, and others.
As anyone can plainly see, they are all experts in their field. These are not people who, like Ted Cruz, don’t even know the rules of their own Senate, let alone about Iran and nuclear science.
These experts contend, in conclusion, that “Taken together, these rigorous limits and transparency measures will make it very likely that any future effort by Iran to pursue nuclear weapons, even a clandestine program, would be detected promptly, providing the opportunity to intervene decisively to prevent Iran from acquiring a nuclear weapon.”
Though all of us could find ways to improve the text, we believe the JCPOA meets key nonproliferation and security objectives and see no realistic prospect for a better nuclear agreement.
We urge the leaders of the P5+1 states, the European Union, and Iran to take the steps necessary to ensure timely implementation and rigorous compliance with the JCPOA.
The July 20 statement by national security leaders agreed with this assessment, stating that,
We acknowledge that the JCPOA does not achieve all of the goals its current detractors have set for it. But it does meet all of the key objectives. Most importantly, should Iran violate the agreement and move toward building nuclear weapons, it will be discovered early and in sufficient time for strong countermeasures to be taken to stop Iran. No agreement between multiple parties can be a perfect agreement without risks. We believe without this agreement, the risks to the security of the U.S. and its friends would be far greater.
And they offered objectors the potent reminder that, “We have also not heard any viable alternatives from those who oppose the implementation of the JCPOA.”
And this is no small issue, this lack of viable alternatives. War, it scarce needs be said, is not a viable alternative. Nobody wants war save the Republican chickenhawks who won’t have to fight it. The big motivator here seems to be that these men and women stand to make a tidy profit from war, as did the Bush era’s chickenhawks who got, as Jeb put it, “a pretty good deal” when we eschewed diplomacy for war in Iraq.
If you think war was a viable alternative, look at Iraq now and make a case. Jeb! just made himself look stupid when he tried. Mindless saber-rattling hardly constitutes a cogent objection to diplomacy.
The July 20 statement was also signed by experts, including U.S. Secretary of State Madeleine Albright; U.S. Secretary of Defense William Perry; Secretary of the Treasury Paul O’Neill; National Security Advisors Zbigniew Brzezinski and Brent Scowcroft; as well as U.S. Senators Tom Daschle, Carl Levin, George Mitchell, Nancy Landon Kassebaum; and others, including Admiral Eric Olson; Under Secretary of Defense for Policy Michele Flournoy; and Assistant Secretary for Nonproliferation Robert Einhorn.
From among non-experts, but a very concerned group, the Religion News Service revealed on August 17 that 340 rabbis urge Congress to approve Iran nuclear deal. In their letter to Congress, these rabbis objected to the notion that all Jews oppose the agreement, stating,
“Most especially, we are deeply concerned with the impression that the leadership of the American Jewish community is united in opposition to the agreement. We, along with many other Jewish leaders, fully support this historic nuclear accord.”
And like the experts above, the rabbis raised a very valid point:
“We understand that while this agreement blocks Iran’s path to a nuclear bomb, we recognize it does not deal with Iran’s support for terror, but that was never the purpose of these talks.”
All The National Review can muster in objection to these rabbis besides the endless repetition of discredited Republican talking points, is that their support is “absurd” because the Iran deal doesn’t do what the rabbis just pointed out, it isn’t designed to do!
In opposition, we find a bunch of surly Republicans who have for seven years opposed everything President Barack Obama has done or tried to do, and who, as in every other case from immigration to healthcare, have no viable alternative to offer.
At the very least, it is not expecting too much that to say that if you want a seat at the table, you bring more with you than your objections. “No,” as we tell our children, doesn’t contribute to discussions; it ends them. Let the Republicans in Congress have their celebration of “No.” The adults, as they have done for seven years, and are doing here, will carry on with the real work of government without them.
Hrafnkell Haraldsson, a social liberal with leanings toward centrist politics has degrees in history and philosophy. His interests include, besides history and philosophy, human rights issues, freedom of choice, religion, and the precarious dichotomy of freedom of speech and intolerance. He brings a slightly different perspective to his writing, being that he is neither a follower of an Abrahamic faith nor an atheist but a polytheist, a modern-day Heathen who follows the customs and traditions of his Norse ancestors. He maintains his own blog, A Heathen’s Day, which deals with Heathen and Pagan matters, and Mos Maiorum Foundation www.mosmaiorum.org, dedicated to ethnic religion. He has also contributed to NewsJunkiePost, GodsOwnParty and Pagan+Politics.