Evaluating Key Components of a Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action with Iran

June 25, 2015

Testimony
Testimony by CFR fellows and experts before Congress.

In his testimony before the Senate Committee on Foreign Affairs, Ray Takeyh argues that before the impending nuclear agreement with Iran places Tehran inches away from the bomb, the United States should insist on additional parameters to assure that the deal will be an advantageous one for the international community.

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Nonproliferation, Arms Control, and Disarmament

 Top takeaways are:

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  • The parameters of the accord that have already been publicized should give all cause for concern. The agreement is permissive in terms of the technologies that it allows, and the sunset clause ensures that after a passage of time Iran can build an industrial-sized nuclear infrastructure.

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  • During the process of negotiations, Iran has cleverly sustained its essential redlines, and Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei has carefully advanced his objectives and sustained his mandates. Conversely, the United States has systematically abandoned the sensible prohibitions that have long guided its policy toward this important security challenge and made a series of concessions that make the possibility of reaching a good deal difficult to envision.

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  • Iran could become like Japan, a nation whose massive nuclear program puts it inches away from a bomb. As a peaceful, democratic state, Japan can be trusted with such a capability. As a dangerous, revisionist regime, the Islamic Republic cannot be offered such forbearance. Thus, the most likely outcome of the deal as it stands is not just a more hawkish theocracy but one in command of an industrial-size nuclear infrastructure.

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  • Moderates such as President Hassan Rouhani and his aides serve Khamenei's purpose. They are the attractive face of the Islamic Republic, seemingly pragmatic and always reasonable. They are in power to transact an arms control agreement. After an accord is reached, however, Khamenei will need the help of the hardliners to protect his republic. Far from ushering the age of moderation, an agreement is likely to presage a sharp right-wing shift in Iran's domestic politics.

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  • The impending agreement, whose duration is time-limited and sets the stage for the industrialization of Iran's enrichment capacity, places Tehran inches away from the bomb. Even if Iran is limited to becoming a threshold nuclear state, the great powers are as likely to be concerned about its longevity and the disposition of its nuclear network as they are about North Korea’s. Any democratic opposition will likely be greeted with caution if not indifference. The Islamic Republic will become too dangerous to fail.

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  • As the negotiations unfold, and to ensure an acceptable agreement, the United States and the international community must restore the original principles that have long guided U.S. policy:  Determining the scope of Iran’s nuclear program based on national needs and instituting high barriers before Iran can rejoin the Nonproliferation Treaty community. Moreover, the possible military dimensions of the program must be categorically resolved as a prelude to a final agreement, “anytime, anywhere” inspections by the IAEA must be implemented, and Iran’s ballistic missiles must be part of the agreement.

 

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