Iran Project Statement on Extension of Negotiations with Iran

A Nuclear Deal With Iran Is Within Reach – Additional Sanctions Risk Undermining The Talks

For Immediate Release: November 26, 2014
Media Contacts:  Iris Bieri, Deputy Director, The Iran Project ([email protected]) or Maggie Mitchell Salem ([email protected], 202-256-2175)

A bipartisan group of former senior officials, US ambassadors and military leaders, as well as other national security experts, has united to support an extension of negotiations with Iran as serving US national interests, and to encourage Congress to refrain from passing new sanctions now:

NEW YORK – We support the decision of the United States, United Kingdom, France, Germany, China and Russia to continue negotiations with Iran to achieve a comprehensive nuclear agreement. Only a negotiated settlement will bring about long term assurances that Iran’s nuclear program will be peaceful. Preventing an Iranian nuclear weapon must remain America’s goal.

These talks with Iran are the most complex and important negotiations since the end of the Cold War. The challenges have been significant: seven nations, each with a different agenda, have engaged around a table for over a year. The US and Iranian governments had not talked for 35 years and must overcome profound distrust toward one another.

The technical, scientific, political and financial issues are unprecedented in their complexity and have required new approaches. Adding to the challenge is Iranian and American domestic opposition to the talks; this opposition has been compounded because some of America’s closest friends in the region, for particular reasons of their own, are actively against any deal with Iran. It is little wonder that the negotiations require time.

The extension of these negotiations will continue to advance US national security interests and those of our allies in the Middle East. Since the Joint Plan of Action (JPOA) was agreed to on November 24, 2013, the world has become a safer place. Iran has stopped the most disturbing elements of its nuclear program: cessation of 20 percent enrichment and elimination of that stockpile; halted work on the still unfinished Arak heavy water reactor; set limits on the stockpiles of Low Enriched Uranium. Each of these actions had been major concerns of the US only a year ago. Moreover, Iran agreed to an inspection regime that provides more frequent access and monitoring to a larger number of facilities. The IAEA has daily access to Iran’s enrichment facilities, and it has assured the world that Iran is in full compliance with its commitments under the JPOA.

Congress will continue to have an important role to play going forward. Members of Congress will want to maintain oversight over the negotiations and receive regular classified briefings. They will also want to see progress. They should also be impressed by the professionalism, determination, and skill with which Secretary Kerry and his team have tenaciously pursued these negotiations. The American negotiators have demonstrated that they know what a good deal would look like.

For all these reasons, Congress should refrain from taking action such as introducing additional sanctions that risk undermining these critical negotiations. Such action could prompt Iran to resume aggressive expansion of its nuclear program, and lead either to a nuclear-armed Iran or to a war. The negotiations may yet fail, but then it would be time to act, not now. These negotiations are the best tool for advancing US national security and that of its allies.

Amb. Morton Abramowitz Sandy Berger
Hamid Biglari Zbigniew Brzezinski
Amb. Nicholas Burns Gen. James E. Cartwright
Brig. Gen. Stephen Cheney Joseph Cirincione
Amb. Ryan Crocker Suzanne DiMaggio
Amb. James Dobbins Robert Einhorn
Robert Einhorn Stu Eizenstat
Rep. Lee Hamilton Stephen B. Heintz
Carla A. Hills Gen. Joseph Hoar
  James Hoge Lt. Gen. Frank Kearney
Amb. Daniel C. Kurtzer Amb. Winston Lord
Amb. William H. Luers Sen. Richard Lugar
Jessica T. Mathews Amb. Richard T. McCormack
Amb. William G. Miller Amb. Richard Murphy
Adm. Eric Olson George Perkovich
Amb. Thomas Pickering Paul Pillar
Amb. Nicholas Platt William A. Reinsch
Amb. J. Stapleton Roy Barnett Rubin
Karim Sadjapour Rear Adm. Joe Sestak
Lt. Gen. Brent Scowcroft Gary Sick
Anne-Marie Slaughter Paul A. Volcker
James Walsh John C. Whitehead
Col. Lawrence Wilkerson Tim Wirth
Amb. Frank Wisner Gen. Anthony Zinni

The Iran Project is a bipartisan organization composed of national security leaders who support official talks with Iran to head off an Iranian nuclear weapon and improve US national security. ###