The Iran Task Force applauds the herculean efforts of the United States, the other four permanent members of the UN Security Council plus Germany (P5+1) and Iran in achieving a framework for a Comprehensive Joint Plan of Action (CJPOA) limiting Iran’s nuclear program and shutting off its principal pathways to developing nuclear weapons, in return for phased sanctions relief.
While the agreement needs to be finalized by a June 30 deadline, the details announced by President Barack Obama April 2 should provide confidence that Iran cannot develop a nuclear weapon for at least fifteen years. Iran has agreed to maintain strict limitations on its stockpile of low-enriched uranium for that period, cut installed centrifuges by two-thirds and reconfigure a heavy water reactor so that it will produce only a small amount of plutonium. Iran has also agreed to send out spent fuel. In addition, Iran is accepting an unprecedentedly rigorous inspection regime for at least two decades that should make it extremely difficult for it to build a nuclear weapon covertly. 

The framework must be put into the context of what other alternatives exist to inhibit Iran’s ability to build a nuclear weapon. These measures seem to us better than the alternatives. It is also difficult to see how additional sanctions beyond the very broad and comprehensive measures already achieved would bring a better result. There is a very real risk if this agreement is rejected or blocked that it would split the United States from the P5+1 and European Union whose cooperation on sanctions has been of paramount importance. At the same time, it is important that even after the expiration of these deadlines, Iran’s acquisition of a nuclear weapon is unacceptable. 

This agreement, as the President said, will not resolve all our differences with the Islamic Republic, but it will remove the most worrisome element. The long hours of negotiations between top officials of our two countries also opens the prospect of further diplomacy on remaining issues, including Iran’s support for anti-Israel militant groups and interference in Arab conflicts. Even without progress on those fronts, the world today is safer because of the use of principled, hard-nosed diplomacy.  

Signed: Stuart Eizenstat, Chair 

Cornelius Adebahr,  Odeh Aburdene,  Ramin Asgard,  Gen. James Cartwright,  Joseph  Cirincione,  Ilan Goldenberg,  Amir Handjani, John Limbert, Jim Moody,  Trita Parsi,  Thomas R. Pickering,  William Reinsch,  Richard Sawaya,  Greg Thielmann,  and Harlan Ullman.