For Immediate Release

Organization Profile: 
Contact: 

Mana Mostatabi, 202.386.6325 x103, mmostatabi@niacouncil.org

Reentry to the Iran Nuclear Deal Emerging as Consensus Position

WASHINGTON - Following the Trump administration’s disastrous decision to reimpose nuclear-related sanctions on Iran, 2020 contenders, former policymakers, and experts have all urged a return to U.S. compliance with the landmark nonproliferation accord. This growing consensus highlights the dangers of the Trump administration’s approach and the need to restore U.S. diplomatic credibility by returning to compliance with the 2015 bargain.

In November, the National Iranian American Council (NIAC) published a key report making the case for reentry, entitled “Restoring U.S. Credibility: Returning to the Iran Nuclear Agreement.”

Below, please see selected support for this important position:

Major 2020 Contenders

Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA): “If Iran maintains itself in compliance, then I believe the President should reverse his reckless decision to withdraw from the nuclear deal and reimpose sanctions because the deal makes America safer and the world safer.”

Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT): “A Sanders aide said that “as president, Sen. Sanders would rejoin the JCPOA and would also be prepared to talk to Iran on a range of other issues, which is what Trump should’ve done instead of simply walking away. Rejoining the JCPOA would mean meeting the United States’ commitments under the agreement, and that includes sanctions relief.””

Sen. Kamala Harris (D-MA). Harris “would rejoin the Iran deal if the US could verify Iran is not cheating and is complying with the strict requirements detailed in the agreement,” said a spokesman for the senator. “She believes we must engage in tough, forceful diplomacy to combat Iran’s destabilizing behavior in the region,” her spokesman said.

Julián Castro: “The Iran Nuclear Agreement was a landmark achievement that prevented a nuclear-armed Iran for more than 3 years. If Iran continues to comply with the terms of the agreement as determined by the intelligence community, I will re-enter the U.S. into the #JCPOA as President.”

 

Democratic National Committee Resolution

DNC: “[r]eturning to the JCPOA will restore America’s commitment to an agreement made with allies and prevent a renewed nuclear crisis in the Middle East.”

 

Current and Former U.S. Officials

Sen. Chris Murphy (D-CT): “We need to get back into the Iran nuclear agreement and we need to do it fast...The fact of the matter is Europe has been trying desperately to keep Iran in the deal by continuing to keep open economic channels between European countries and Iran. But Iran is only going to hold to the deal for so long. At some point, if the United States violated the terms, Iran is going to violate the terms...if we don't get back into that agreement, that at some point Iran will restart their nuclear weapons program.”

Mara Karlin and Tamara Cofman Wittes, former deputy assistant secretary of defense for strategy and force development and former deputy assistant secretary of state for Near Eastern affairs: “The United States should return to the agreement and continue efforts to roll back Iran’s bad behavior both alone and with partners.”

Ned Price, former Special Assistant to President Obama for National Security Affairs: “[T]he new Democratic House now has the oversight tools to spotlight and constrain the administration’s recklessness, just as we begin to clear the path for the next administration’s reentry into the deal. There may be tactical disagreements regarding how to most effectively confront Iran’s destabilizing regional activities, but there must be a strategic recognition that only the JCPOA provides a baseline that allows us to achieve our most important objective: a nuclear weapons-free Iran.”

Lawrence Wilkerson, Col, USA (Ret), former chief of staff to secretary of state Colin Powell: “[W]ithout a resumption of our agreed responsibilities under the JCPOA, alliances will fracture, de-dollarization movements will proceed apace, enemies will gain ground, and Iran will not be substantially prevented from acquiring a nuclear weapon. War could even result. The wonder is that the U.S. withdrew from the agreement in the first place; even more of a marvel–but entirely wise and proper–would be a successful return. Every concerned party should be working toward that end.”

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Over 50 retired generals and ambassadors: “Subsequent to the United States’ withdrawal from the deal, Iran’s continued compliance is not ensured and the benefits from the agreement risk being lost. Reentering the Iran nuclear deal advances the United States’ national interests by ensuring these benefits persist and enables us to work more closely with our European allies… Re-entry into the nuclear deal will contribute to establishing a broader U.S. national strategy for the Middle East… Reaffirming leadership in this area will improve the ability of the U.S. to develop and lead a multilateral effort to contain the Iranian threat.”

 

Organizations

Over 50 pro-diplomacy groups: “Pro-diplomacy groups representing millions of American voters urge lawmakers to publicly articulate and support the following principles with respect to the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) that verifiably blocks each of Iran’s pathways to a nuclear weapon and created a much-needed diplomatic relationship between Iran, the United States, and U.S. allies: Support for the JCPOA and returning the United States to compliance with the agreement...Support for good faith diplomacy toward additional agreements as the preferred basis for addressing further concerns about Iranian activity.”

International Crisis Group: “As the 2020 election season gets underway, Democratic candidates could affirm their intent to rejoin the JCPOA as long as Iran abides by its own obligations. Doing so would send a message to the Iranian leadership that sticking to their nuclear commitments is indeed the wiser approach.”

 

Experts

Robert Malley, President of the International Crisis Group: “I think the better way forward is to rejoin the nuclear deal, that’s a subject for maybe the next administration, and to use that model – without any illusions, without any naivete about how quickly relations are going to change – but understanding that Iran does have a place in the region that people are going to have to take into account....Once we have the nuclear deal reestablished, the next topic is to try to understand how you could have a security architecture in which Saudi Arabia, the Gulf’s, Iran’s, other interests can be accommodated."

Ellie Geranmayeh, Deputy Head MENA program at The European Council on Foreign Relations: “President Trump’s decision to withdraw the US from the JCPOA, after months of negotiations with European allies earlier this year on pathways to sustain the agreement, was significantly damaging for transatlantic ties. This wound has been deepened by the manner in which the White House has sidelined European security interests and tried to impede their efforts to preserve the JCPOA, as enshrined by a UN Security Council. This report highlights the urgent need for the US executive and legislative branch to reassure European allies that in matters of foreign policy, the United States is a credible and consistent partner. Moreover, the US should reassure European capitals and companies that US sanctions policy will not seek to illegitimately target allies in pursuit of a maximalist policy that is unlikely to trigger fundamental changes in Iranian behaviour.”

Hooman Majd, Iranian-American writer: “It almost goes without saying that the best option for de-escalating tensions in the Middle East, and preventing nuclear proliferation, is for the U.S. to return to the JCPOA nuclear accord. It is unimaginable that Iran would agree to a new deal—or indeed any other deal on other issues of contention—without the U.S. first abiding by the commitments that it made when it signed on, along with five other powers, to the nuclear deal with Iran.”

Barbara Slavin, Director of the Future of Iran Initiative at The Atlantic Council: “An obvious first step is to return the US to compliance with the JCPOA in a package of executive orders that also reverses other counterproductive decisions, such as the “Muslim” ban, which disproportionately hurts Iranians and Iranian-Americans. For the longer term, however, the US should seek early negotiations with Iran and P5+1 partners on a JCPOA 2.0 that establishes a firmer foundation for non-proliferation and conflict resolution in the Middle East.”

Narges Bajoghli, Assistant Professor at Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies: “It is crucial for America’s standing in the world that we work to re-enter the JCPOA in the near future. This report provides concrete steps that Congress can take now to ensure that we return to the promises we made to the international community. Without doing so, America will continue to act as a force of instability in the Middle East.”

Farideh Farhi, Independent Scholar and Affiliate Graduate Faculty at the University of Hawai’i at Manoa: “The Trump Administration’s ill-conceived rejection of the JCPOA and policy of ‘maximum pressure’ can no doubt inflict pain on the Iranian people. It can also court disaster in risking Iran’s resumption of its nuclear activities, further destabilization of the Middle East, and possibly even another costly US war in the region. Remaining quiet in the face of these predictable harms is not an option. This report offers timely and reasonable recommendations for keeping the JCPOA alive as a pathway for the re-emergence of a saner approach to Iran.”

Bijan Khajehpour, economist and a managing partner at Eurasian Nexus Partners: “The US rejoining the JCPOA and helping to sustain a multilateral agreement will not only reduce the likelihood of an unnecessary nuclear arms race in the Middle East, but also prevent a radicalisation of Iranian politics. A moderate Iran is important for regional stability, the containment of jihadist movements and the future energy security for US allies globally.”

Nicholas Miller, Assistant Professor of Government at Dartmouth College: “The JCPOA has successfully curtailed Iran’s nuclear program and remains the surest tool for preventing an Iranian bomb. The new Congress should do what it can to limit the serious damage done by the Trump administration’s withdrawal from the deal. If the administration’s ‘maximum pressure’ campaign continues to escalate, the odds increase that Iran will exit the agreement and move closer to a nuclear weapon, which could in turn spark a costly war.”

Paul Pillar, Nonresident Senior Fellow at the Center for Security Studies at Georgetown University: “Candidates and legislators of all political persuasions would do well to read and heed this report. The Trump administration’s abandonment of arms control and diplomacy in favor of conflict and confrontation has brought the United States only isolation and infamy as well as heightened risk of war. It is not too late to return to compliance with the JCPOA and to a course that demonstrably serves U.S. interests better than the current policy does.”

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NIAC Action is the grassroots, civic action organization committed to advancing peace and championing the priorities of the Iranian-American community. We are a nonpartisan nonprofit and the 501(c)4 sister organization of the National Iranian American Council, which works to strengthen the Iranian-American community and promote greater understanding between the American and Iranian people.

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