The Iran Deal

| July 31, 2015 | Leave a Comment


The MAHB addresses the web of interconnected global environmental and social problems that  are destroying the biosphere that supports life. This man-made degradation of our life-support systems threatens humanity and civilization as we know it. Truly, this damage is a potential “weapon of mass destruction” (WMD). However, there are other WMDs, more traditional ones that must not be neglected, and topping the list is the nuclear proliferation.

Following is a letter from former Senator Tim Wirth  on the importance of the “Iran Deal” which is the first major step in non-proliferation in decades, and more significantly addresses one of the greatest nuclear proliferation threats. The Deal may not be perfect, but can we let the search for perfect, destroy the good? Can we really risk another war (the only alternative) when negotiation has brought us to an agreement?  Following his letter is an article by National Security Leaders on the importance of approving the agreement.


From Tim Wirth:

Last week the Obama Administration released the text of the nuclear agreement with Iran. Under a complicated legislative procedure,  Congress now has a sixty day period to review the agreement and decide whether or not to approve the Obama Administration’s work.  Thus this email to you today.

As expected, almost all of the Republicans in the House and Senate have decided to reject the agreement (most announced their opposition even before the negotiation was competed).  Since they control both the House and the Senate, it is expected that a motion disapproving the Iran agreement will be sent to the President’s desk.  The President has announced that he will veto the motion of disagreement, and a nasty battle over the possible override of his veto will then ensue.  This is where you come in.

In the United States Senate, the Republicans hold 54 seats; to override the President’s veto they will need two thirds of the Senate, or 67 votes.  Thus the battle on the override will revolve around extreme pressure on 13 Democrats to side with the Republicans.  This pressure will be especially intense over the next 60 days, at which time Congressional action must be completed.

In ratcheting up the pressure, Obama’s opponents will receive primary assistance from a powerful, well financed campaign mounted by AIPAC (American-Israel Political Action Committee).   AIPAC has a long history of effective political expenditures and campaigning in the U.S. (especially on Capital Hill), and over the last few years has become so close to the Netanyahu government as to become practically indistinguishable from Israeli policy.  AIPAC will be a formidable voice, lobbying hard and spending significant funds to try to defeat the Obama Administration’s position and the Iran Agreement.

On the other side of the debate, a number of efforts have emerged in support of the Iran agreement, none as well funded and established as AIPAC, but at work nonetheless:

  •     over 100 senior retired  foreign service officers have sent out a statement of support
  •     J Street, the relatively new group of more moderate Jewish citizens, has announced their support of the agreement, though their resources will not be able to match the funds that will be committed by Netanyahu and AIPAC
  •     A variety of academic and NGO groups are beginning to weigh in  to support the accord, and while they have few financial resources, they have been writing and advocating for the agreement.
  •     Russia, China, the UK, France, Germany and The United Nations were all engaged in the negotiations and support the agreement.

No doubt surprises and additional resources will be committed to the veto battle. For example Sheldon Adelson, the gambling guru from Las Vegas and Macao, who among other other statements has advocated simply nuking Tehran, has promised to spend whatever it takes in his efforts to upend the agreement.

Much is being said and written about the agreement: what is in it, and what is not. Perhaps the best analysis has been presented by the Iran Project (attached to this email).  Composed of more than three dozen senior foreign policy, arms control, economic and political experts, for the last five years this working group has been meeting quietly with high level political leadership in both the United States and Iran, searching for common ground and possible  opportunities for reaching some sort of accord.  About a year and a half ago, leadership in both countries decided that the time was right for direct negotiation, and the two countries have been working toward some resolution.  The result was the intensive negotiating effort led by Secretary of State John Kerry and Secretary of Energy Ernie Moniz, which the President announced last week.

To put this issue in some historical perspective, in the last few decades a few major achievements mark diplomatic and political work designed to avoid conflict and move toward a more peaceful world; all have been politically difficult.  Included are President Kennedy’s Test Ban Treaty, President Nixon’s Open Door to China, and President Reagan’s agreements with President Gorbachev.   The new agreement between the United States and Iran certainly stands with those earlier agreements as testimony to the leadership of America, and to the enormously important role which the United States plays in working to shape world peace.

I hope that you will read through the attached summary of the agreement, published this week by The Iran Project.  It is a fair and balanced statement of the essential ingredients of the Iran accord, including reflections on the most contentious areas of agreement, and the work that remains to be completed.  Following the summary is a list of the U.S. leaders who make up the Iran Project, and who support the agreement announced by President Obama.

Finally, now is the time for citizens to join the fray. Please share this statement with your friends and colleagues; write to your Representatives in Washington; try to reach press outlets; find other outlets to express your concern. This is an important fight for America’s security interests, and citizen voices and input can prove that broad public concern will carry the day.


Statement by National Security Leaders on the Announcement of a Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action | July 20, 2015

We applaud the announcement that a Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) has been reached with Iran to limit its nuclear program. We congratulate President Obama and all the negotiators for a landmark agreement unprecedented in its importance for preventing the acquisition of nuclear weapons by Iran.

Though primarily a nonproliferation agreement, the JCPOA has significant implications for some of America’s most important national objectives: regional stability in the Middle East, Israel’s security, dealing with an untrustworthy and hostile nation, and U.S. leadership on major global challenges.

This JCPOA will put in place a set of constraints and monitoring measures that will help to assure that Iran’s nuclear program will be for peaceful purposes only. Major U.S. objectives have been achieved: uranium enrichment limited to 3.67 percent and only at the Natanz plant; the Arak reactor will be re-designed to minimize the amount of plutonium produced and Iran is barred from separating plutonium and all spent fuel will be removed from Iran; a 98 percent reduction in Iran’s stockpile of low enriched uranium for 15 years; unprecedented surveillance of nuclear activities and control of nuclear related imports; a two-thirds reduction in the installed centrifuges for ten years; constraints on research and development of advanced centrifuges. The agreement will set up a highly effective multilayered program to monitor and inspect every aspect of Iran’s nuclear supply chain and fuel cycle, including continuous monitoring at some sites for 20-25 years, and permit inspections on short notice. We have followed carefully the negotiations as they have progressed and conclude that the JCPOA represents the achievement of greater security for us and our partners in the region.

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. We have also not heard any viable alternatives from those who oppose the implementation of the JCPOA.

We, the undersigned, have devoted our careers to the peace and security of the United States in both Republican and Democratic Administrations. U.S. presidents and Congresses over the past 20 years have joined in a bipartisan policy of sanctioning and isolating Iran to prevent a nuclear weapon. There was bipartisan understanding that when the Iranians indicated a readiness to talk the U.S. would lead the negotiations to test Iran’s seriousness. Indeed the Corker-Cardin legislation, which was approved this past spring by an overwhelming bipartisan vote in both the House and Senate was signed into law by the President, defines the review process that the Congress will use over the coming months. Members of both political parties can deservedly take credit for bringing us to this moment.

We welcome the discussion that will unfold over the merits of this agreement. We urge members of Congress to be closely involved in the oversight, monitoring and enforcement of this agreement. As Congress was so diligent and constructive in pressing forward the highly effective sanctions regime that helped get Iran to the table, it must now play a key role in the implementation of the agreement which they helped bring about. Congressional approval will eventually be required to lift sanctions under the agreement. Arrangements now need to be made to assure that Congress is a full partner in its implementation.

Those who advocate rejection of the JCPOA should evaluate whether there is a feasible alternative for better protecting U.S. security and more effectively preventing Iran from acquiring a nuclear weap- on. The consequences of rejection are grave: the unraveling of international sanctions; U.S. responsibil- ity for the collapse of the agreement; and the possible development of an Iranian nuclear weapon under significantly reduced or no inspections. A rejection of the agreement could leave the U.S. with the only alternative of having to use military force unilaterally in the future.

We call on the Administration to place the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action in a strategic context: assuring our partners in the region that the United States remains fully committed to their defense and to countering any destabilizing Iranian actions in the region. We also call on the Administration, with the express support of the Congress, to make clear that it will remain the firm policy of the United States, during the agreement’s initial 10 to 15 years as well as after key restrictions expire, to prevent Iran from acquiring a nuclear weapon by all available means.

We will join in a bipartisan effort to formulate a balanced and objective assessment and implementation of this agreement. We are committed to building an effective strategy for its full implementation. This effort will be critical in view of the agreement’s significance for the protection of the security of the U.S. and its friends and for preventing the proliferation of nuclear weapons.

Amb. (ret.) Morton Abramowitz, Assistant Secretary of State for Intelligence and Research and Ambassador to Thailand and Turkey

Madeleine Albright, U.S. Secretary of State

Samuel Berger, U.S. National Security Advisor

Zbigniew Brzezinski, U.S. National Security Advisor

Amb. (ret.) Nicholas Burns, Under Secretary of State for Political Affairs and Ambassador to Greece

BGen. (ret.) Stephen A. Cheney, U.S. Marine Corps

Joseph Cirincione, President of the Ploughshares Fund

Amb. (ret.) Chester A Crocker, Assistant Secretary of State for African Affairs

Amb. (ret.) Ryan Crocker, Ambassador to Afghanistan, Iraq, Pakistan, Syria, Kuwait, and Lebanon

Tom Daschle, U.S. Senator and Senate Majority Leader

Suzanne DiMaggio, Director of the 21st Century Diplomacy Project at New America

Amb. (ret.) James Dobbins, Special Representative for Afghanistan and Pakistan

Robert Einhorn, Assistant Secretary for Nonproliferation and Secretary of State’s Special Advisor for Nonproliferation and Arms Control

Amb. (ret.) Stuart E. Eizenstat, Deputy Treasury Secretary and Department of State’s Special Envoy for Holocaust Issues in the Bureau of European and Eurasian Affairs

Michele Flournoy, Under Secretary of Defense for Policy

Leslie Gelb, Assistant Secretary of State for Political-Miliary Affairs and Director of Policy Planning and Arms Control at the Department of Defense

Morton H. Halperin, Director of Policy Planning, Department of State

Lee H. Hamilton, U.S. House of Representatives and Chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee

Amb. (ret.) William C. Harrop, Ambassador to Israel and Inspector General of the State Department

Gary Hart, U.S. Senator and Special Envoy to Northern Ireland

Stephen B. Heintz, President, Rockefeller Brothers Fund

Amb. (ret.) Christopher Hill, Assistant Secretary of State for East Asian and Pacific Affairs and Ambassador to Iraq, Korea, Poland, and Macedonia

Amb. (ret.) Carla A. Hills, U.S. Trade Representative

James Hoge, former Editor, Foreign Affairs Magazine

J. Bennett Johnston, U.S. Senator

Nancy Landon Kassebaum, U.S. Senator

LTG (ret.) Frank Kearney, U.S. Army

Amb. (ret.) Daniel Kurtzer, Ambassador to Israel and Egypt

Carl Levin, U.S. Senator and Chairman of the Senate Committee on Armed Services

Amb. (ret) John Limbert, Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for Iran

Amb. (ret.) Winston Lord, Assistant Secretary of State for East Asia and the Pacific, Ambassador to China and Director of State Department Policy Planning

Amb. (ret.) William H. Luers, Ambassador to Czechoslovakia and Venezuela

Richard G. Lugar, U.S. Senator and Chairman of the Senate Committee on Foreign Relations

Jessica T. Mathews, Director of the Office of Global Issues of the National Security Council

George J. Mitchell, U.S. Senator and Senate Majority Leader

Amb. (ret.) William G. Miller, Ambassador to Ukraine

Amb. (ret.) Richard W. Murphy, Ambassador to Saudi Arabia and Assistant Secretary of State for Near Eastern and South Asian Affairs

Vali Nasr, Special Representative for Afghanistan and Pakistan and Dean of Johns Hopkins University SAIS

Richard Nephew, Director for Iran, National Security Council and Deputy Coordinator for Sanctions Policy at the Department of State

Joseph Nye, Assistant Secretary of Defense, Chair, and Chairman National Intelligence Council


Paul O’Neill, U.S. Secretary of the Treasury

Admiral (ret.) Eric Olson, U.S. Navy and Commander of U.S. Special Operations Command

William Perry, U.S. Secretary of Defense

Amb. (ret.) Thomas Pickering, Permanent Representative to the United Nations, Under Secretary of State for Political Affairs, and Ambassador to Israel,Russia, India, United Nations, El Salvador, Nigeria, and Jordan

Paul R. Pillar, National Intelligence Officer for the Near East and South Asia

Amb. (ret.) Nicholas Platt, Ambassador to Pakistan, Philipines, and Zambia

Joe R. Reeder, Deputy Secretary of the Army and Chairman of the Panama Canal Commission

Donald W. Riegle, U.S. Senator

William Reinsch, Under Secretary of Commerce for Export Administration and President National Foreign Trade Council

Amb. (ret.) J. Stapleton Roy, Assistant Secretary for Intelligence and Research and Ambassador to China, Indonesia, and Singapore

Barnett R. Rubin, Senior Adviser to the Special Representative for Afghanistan and Pakistan

Karim Sadjadpour, Senior Associate at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace

Gen. (ret.) Brent Scowcroft, U.S. National Security Advisor

RADM (ret.) Joe Sestak, U.S. Navy, Deputy Chief of Naval Operations for Warfare Requirements and Programs

Gary Sick, National Security Council Member for Iran and the Persian Gulf

Jim Slattery, U.S. House of Representatives

James R. Sasser, U.S. Senator and Ambassador to China

Anne-Marie Slaughter, Director of Policy Planning, the Department of State

Mark Udall, U.S. Senator

Amb. (ret.) Nicholas A. Veliotes, Assistant Secretary of State for the Near East and South Asia and Ambassador to Egypt and Jordan

Amb. (ret.) Edward S. Walker, Jr., Ambassador to Israel, Egypt, and United Arab Emirates

James Walsh, Research Associate at MIT’s Security Studies Program

Col. (ret.) Lawrence Wilkerson, U.S. Army, Chief of Staff to the Secretary of State

Timothy E. Wirth, U.S. Senator

Amb. (ret.) Frank Wisner, Under Secretary of State for International Security Affairs and Ambassador to India, Egypt, the Philippines and Zambia


For Press Inquiries Contact: Iris Bieri (212) 812- 4372, The Iran Project 475 Riverside Drive Suite 900, New York, NY 10115  email:

* The signers of this statement were either former senior officials of the U.S. government or prominent national security leaders who have not held senior government positions. The positions listed after the names of the former government officials are senior posts held while in office. The positions listed after the names of those whowere not from the government are listed with their current position.

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