BGen Stephen A. Cheney USMC (Ret.) CEO of the American Security Project
ASP would like to once again acknowledge U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry and other foreign ministers for their outstanding work and diligence in negotiations over the past few months in working to successfully resolve the issue of Iran’s nuclear program.
Beginning January 20th, the P5+1 will have made substantial progress in order to halt the development of the program, all while providing the space and time needed over the next six months to negotiate a comprehensive resolution.
However, this is not the end of the process; there will be much harder work to follow. I am encouraged that the P5+1’s Joint Plan of Action gives us assurance that as of January 20th, for the first time in a decade, Iran will have taken steps to halt progress of its nuclear program
A key agreement with Iran that addresses one of the P5+1’s most urgent concerns includes the halting of all enrichment above 5 percent. This will require the elimination of the stockpile of uranium enriched to 20 percent, along with the dismantling of the infrastructure that makes higher enrichment possible.
I look forward to hearing the IAEA’s report that will be released on January 20th, highlighting the overall status of Iran’s nuclear program. The IAEA will receive information that day from Iran needed to access its nuclear facilities. This will allow them to review and verify that Iran is fulfilling its commitments.
It is evident that the current sanctions imposed by Congress were critical in getting Iran to the negotiating table. However, in return for the increased transparency and intrusive monitoring of its nuclear program, the P5+1 will provide limited, temporary, targeted, and reversible relief to Iran. This P5+1 has committed to:
· Not imposing new nuclear-related sanctions for 6 months, as long as Iran abides by its commitments under the deal.
· The suspension of certain sanctions on gold and precious metals, Iran’s auto sector, and petrochemical exports.
· License safety-related repairs and inspections inside Iran for certain Iranian airlines.
· Allowing purchases of Iranian oil to remain at their current reduced levels – levels that are 60% less than two years ago. $4.2 billion of these sales will be allowed to be transferred in installments.
· Allow $400 million in governmental tuition assistance to be transferred from restricted Iranian funds directly to recognized educational institutions in third countries to defray the tuition costs of Iranian students.
· Facilitate humanitarian transactions that are already allowed by U.S. law, related to food, agricultural commodities, medicine, medical devices, along with the facilitation of transactions for medical expenses incurred abroad.
Some of the sanctions relief will be provided on the first day, while the rest will roll out in installments throughout the next 6 months.
If Iran fails to meet its commitments, the limited relief will be revoked and additional sanctions on Iran will be imposed. Also, keep in mind that the relief is structured so that the overwhelming majority of the U.S. and international sanctions regime remains in place, including the key oil, energy, banking, and financial sanctions, as well as sanctions on Iran’s, shipping, and port sector.
All in all, I stand in agreement with Secretary of State John Kerry’s statement released yesterday by the Department of State:
“As the United States has made clear many times, our absolute top priority in these negotiations is preventing Iran from obtaining a nuclear weapon. We have been clear that diplomacy is our preferred path because other options carry much greater costs and risks and are less likely to provide a lasting solution.
We now have an obligation to give our diplomats and experts every chance to succeed in these difficult negotiations. I very much appreciate Congress’ critical role in imposing the sanctions that brought Iran to the table, but I feel just as strongly that now is not the time to impose additional sanctions that could threaten the entire negotiating process. Now is not the time for politics. Now is the time for statesmanship, for the good of our country, the region, and the world.”