As President Barack Obama and his aides attempt to sell the framework deal on Iran's nuclear program to members of Congress, and negotiators prepare for talks aimed at securing a more comprehensive deal with Tehran by June 30, foreign policy experts and nuclear scientists continue to herald the agreement as a "vitally important step forward" for non-proliferation and international security.
The Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPA) between Iran and the P5+1 nations, announced in Switzerland last week, "comprehensively addresses the key routes by which Iran could acquire material for nuclear weapons" and "reduces the likelihood of destabilizing nuclear weapons competition in the Middle East," according to a joint statement released Monday by a group of 30 leading nuclear non-proliferation specialists, primarily from the United States.
"The framework agreement announced by the P5+1 and Iran is—from a nuclear nonproliferation and security standpoint—a vitally important step forward," the statement reads. "When implemented, it will put in place an effective, verifiable, enforceable, long-term plan to guard against the possibility of a new nuclear-armed state in the Middle East."
Its signatories, who include former United Nations Ambassador Thomas R. Pickering and executive director of the Arms Control Association Daryl Kimball, urged negotiators and policymakers to "promptly finalize the remaining technical details."
Members of the Iran Project, a non-governmental entity dedicated to improving the relationship between the U.S. and Iranian governments, echoed that call in a separate statement also issued Monday.
Acknowledging that "important, difficult, and ambiguous issues still remain," the Iran Project said the JCPA achieved key U.S. objectives including a reduction and then a limit on Iran’s stockpile of enriched uranium and "broad and sweeping inspections."
"In view of this hopeful progress, we call on the U.S. Congress to take no action that would impede further progress or undermine the American negotiators' efforts to complete the final comprehensive agreement on time," the statement reads. "The Congress should examine the announced framework, asking itself whether the potential for a comprehensive, verifiable accord is preferable to the current standoff with Iran or other alternatives as a means to ensure that Iran will not acquire a nuclear weapon."
A coalition of groups representing Arab Americans, Jewish Americans, and Iranian Americans added their voice to the mix as well.
"[W]e are especially cognizant of what this agreement may mean for the Middle East," reads a joint statement released Monday by the Arab American Institute, J Street, and the National Iranian American Council. "This deal may provide an important first step towards de-escalating regional tensions and pave the way for resolving the many conflicts that still persist. The lesson that we all must learn from these successful negotiations is that diplomacy works. This deal demonstrates that no disagreement should be so deeply entrenched that it cannot be resolved through the give and take of serious diplomacy."
Meanwhile, Win Without War's "No War With Iran" coalition compiled close to 20 newspaper editorials in support of the framework agreement.
Despite this outpouring of support, the deal still faces significant opposition from domestic and international players—as evidenced by Monday's news that a senior Israeli government minister had warned that taking military action against Iran's nuclear program was still an option.