The American Israel Public Affairs Committee spoke out Monday night about its “many concerns” over the Iran agreement and hailed lawmakers who have thus far voiced similar reservations.
“Now that the P5+1 has inked an initial agreement with Iran, America must not only ensure full Iranian compliance but also insist that any final deal deny Tehran a nuclear weapons capability. Tough sanctions legislation passed by Congress and vigorous diplomacy pursued by the administration have brought Iran to negotiations,” AIPAC said in a lengthy statement.
“However, the initial agreement raises many concerns—including implicit acceptance of Iranian enrichment. Congress has provided the leverage to spur Iran to seek talks; now it must press the administration to negotiate a verifiable agreement that will prevent Iran from ever building nuclear weapons. Congress must also legislate additional sanctions, so that Iran will face immediate consequences should it renege on its commitments or refuse to negotiate an acceptable final agreement.”
AIPAC’s annual policy conference in Washington, scheduled for March, draws the vast majority of Congress and requisite administration representation.
The group’s measured stand against the Iran deal as-is indicates that they’re ready to put their lobbying and campaign might behind lawmakers who do the right thing. AIPAC highlighted lawmakers who have come out against the deal, including Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) and Reps. Eliot Engel (D-N.Y.) and Nita Lowey (D-N.Y.).
Their email to supporters notes what the administration says about the key points of the deal, then highlights its flaws:
- The deal dismantles none of Iran’s existing program, allowing 9,000 centrifuges to continue operating and an additional 10,000 centrifuges to remain in place. After six months, if no agreement is reached, Iran will remain in a position to double the pace of its enrichment.
- Iran will retain all of its nuclear material and will be able to continue the research and development aspects of its program. Thus, Iran will retain 5-7 bombs worth of low-enriched uranium.
- The agreement imposes no restrictions on Iran’s nuclear weaponization efforts, beyond Iran’s commitment in the deal not to seek nuclear weapons. Iran thus far has denied inspectors access to key facilities, such as Parchin, where the IAEA suspects nuclear weapons-related experiments have been conducted.
- The P5+1 pledges not to seek further reductions in Iranian oil exports, and to permit insurance and shipping companies to facilitate permissible oil sales. The agreement also allows Iran to repatriate $3-4 billion dollars in oil proceeds held abroad.
- The P5+1 will suspend sanctions targeting petrochemical exports, gold and precious metal trading, Iran’s auto industry and the provision of spare parts for civilian aircraft.
- The interim agreement does not require that Iran come into compliance with six mandatory U.N. Security Council resolutions, which demand Iran suspend all enrichment, reprocessing, and heavy water activity and comply fully with IAEA demands. The interim agreement merely states that Iran will “address” U.N. Security Council concerns.
- Instead, the interim agreement stipulates that the final agreement will allow Iran to continue mutually agreed upon enrichment activities. American officials deny that they recognized any Iranian “right” to enrich, but appear to have conceded as a practical matter that Iran will be allowed some enrichment capacity.
- Allowing Iran to maintain a domestic enrichment capability and its existing nuclear infrastructure raises serious concerns that Iran will be able to resume nuclear-weapons related activities at will.
- The agreement pledges that the P5+1 and Iran will work on resolving prior concerns of the IAEA with the military character of Iran’s nuclear program, but does not require that Iran satisfactorily resolve IAEA concerns.
- The agreement also includes an option to extend the negotiating window beyond an initial six month period. This creates the possibility that the initial agreement will become a de-facto final agreement—with Iran receiving more sanctions relief simply to maintain the current deal or in response to additional cosmetic measures.
AIPAC called on Congress to pass sanctions legislation, something many senators have promised to do after the Thanksgiving break despite the White House lobbying against it.
“The U.S. must ensure that Iran does not acquire a nuclear weapons capability. Any final agreement must deny Iran both uranium and plutonium paths to develop nuclear weapons,” AIPAC said.