It is with great humility that we grapple with the complex issues in the Iranian nuclear agreement. Over the past week since the deal was announced much has been written and said by those who have had an opportunity to review the details of this agreement. As Congress begins their sixty-day review period, it is important to communicate how we at JCRC see these issues.
Our Jewish community is united in our desire that Iran be prevented, ideally through diplomacy, from achieving a nuclear threat capability. We believe that the nations of the world must continue to confront – as this agreement was not intended to – Iran’s role as a destabilizing force in the region and as the world’s leading state sponsor of terrorism.
Serious and reasonable people have articulated why this agreement is in the interests of the United States and our partners. They emphasize that, even if flawed, this deal if properly implemented presents an opportunity to curtail the threat of a nuclear Iran for at least a decade. JCRC of Greater Boston is particularly cognizant of our long relationship with Secretary Kerry, who led the U.S. negotiation team. We know Kerry throughout his career in public service to be both a friend of Israel and an American patriot and he has earned our respect and trust by his handling of many difficult matters over the years.
At the same time, serious and reasonable people, including former advisors and members of President Obama’s administration as well as many who are deeply supportive of the President on a wide range of matters have raised serious questions regarding the vulnerabilities of this agreement. As we currently understand them we consider the following matters in the agreement to be of particular concern:
• Iran is not required to dismantle their enrichment infrastructure, is allowed to continue at least limited research and development on advanced centrifuges and will be permitted to build as large an industrial nuclear program as they want after year 15. In this respect the deal legitimizes Iran as a threshold nuclear state. The gap between threshold status and weapons capability will become small, and will not be difficult for the Iranians to bridge.
• Much of the sanctions relief will occur fairly quickly, in as little as six months after the deal takes effect. Iran, aside from being able to sell its oil, will regain access to as much as $150 billion in frozen accounts in the coming year. Even if only a small percentage of these funds are used to support Iran’s regional aggression, the potential result is a staggering infusion of resources – including cash and weapons – to such actors as the Assad regime in Syria, and the terrorist organizations Hezbollah in Lebanon and Hamas in the Palestinian areas.
• There are significant questions about the quality of the inspection regime in the agreement, including the timeliness of access to suspect sites, talk by Iranians of “managed access,” and questions about the exclusion of U.S. inspectors in these processes. The deal depends heavily on Iranian cooperation in verification efforts and there must be assurances of a nimble system to respond to cheating of any sort without each challenge becoming a new round of negotiation while Iran reduces their breakout window.
In the best-case scenario where this agreement works perfectly, sometime in the next fifteen years this Iranian regime – which continues to speak of genocidal destruction of Israel even in the past week – will reach the end of this period as a stronger power with years of increased financial resources and access to military imports. In this best case, unless there is regime change in Iran, we will find ourselves back where we are today, or in a weaker relative position to Iran.
It weighs heavily on us that while President Obama has rightly said that the risks inherent in this deal are tolerable for the United States, the risks of this agreement will primarily fall upon long standing allies of the United States living in closer proximity to Iran. We take particular note that there is broad unity amongst the people of Israel well beyond the current government and Prime Minister, including the leaders of the two major opposition parties, Zionist Union and Yesh Atid, who have both said that this deal is a bad one. We believe and we reaffirm that a vital U.S. interest must be to consider the concerns and address the strategic threats to our regional partners in setting our own foreign policy course.
We reject the argument made by some that Congress cannot reject this deal because there is not a better option; that the sanctions regime will fall apart and that the only remaining option available to the United States is the use of force to curtail the Iranian nuclear threat. Congress should not be forced to embrace a deeply flawed deal – if they find this agreement is such – in the absence of the administration presenting a viable alternative. It is however also incumbent on members of Congress to use this review period to work with the administration to articulate a viable U.S. strategy to end the threat of an Iranian bomb in the absence of this deal. We urge the President and his administration to remain open to working with Congress to find a path forward on a matter that will inevitably be left to several future Presidents – of both parties – to implement successfully.
As Congress begins its review of the agreement, the JCRC of Greater Boston urges the Massachusetts delegation to fully investigate the flaws noted above and to not endorse the deal absent significant, specific and binding solutions to the concerns that we, and so many in our community, have about this agreement. We will continue to be a resource to the delegation and our community as we seek to understand and advocate regarding the agreement, its complexity, and its implications.
Jeremy Burton, Executive Director
Adam Suttin, President
Stacey Bloom, Vice President and Chair, Israel and Global Jewry Committee