Today, 56 preeminent experts on nuclear weapons programs, arms control, nonproliferation and intelligence sent a letter to President Obama with an extensive analytical attachment urging him to reconsider his intention to veto any Congressional resolution of disapproval of the Iranian nuclear deal, known also as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA).
President Obama has said: “No deal is better than a bad deal.” The letter highlights fatal flaws in the JCPOA that render it a very bad deal. The JCPOA, the letter notes, permits Iran to retain key equipment, facilities and materials for its nuclear program; and, puts in place a completely ineffective verification regime that, according to Associated Press reports, will be permitted to inspect its own facility at Parchin and itself provide samples from Parchin to the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA).
Ambassador Henry F. “Hank” Cooper, Former Chief Defense and Space Talks Negotiator, SDI Director and a signatory to this letter, stated:
“This unverifiable Deal guts the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty, which Iran has been violating—and replaces it with a far less restrictive regime. We’d be far better off if congress rejects the Deal, insists that Iran keep its NPT commitments and strengthens the sanctions to enforce that demand. It’s crunch time, since 34 senators have indicated they will support the Deal. We provided well-founded technical details—some not well known or appreciated—that should help congressional staff to inform themselves of the many faults of this unverifiable deal—and why their bosses should vote against it. This knowledge should be important to those on both sides of considering whether 41 Senators should oppose legislation that could provoke the President’s promised veto. And, of course, to persuade the President and his advisors to change their minds.”
“The President has asserted that the deal is verifiable. The signers of this letter have more direct experience in verification matters regarding all areas of arms control and nonproliferation treaties than any existing anywhere in the world. The JCPOA is not verifiable. As the late Paul H. Nitze said in his 1988 testimony on the INF Treaty: ‘Poorly verified agreements are in reality far worse than having no agreement at all” The President has said: “No deal is better than a bad deal.” Now we are told that a bad deal is better than no deal. The President has said the JCPOA cuts off Iran’s ability to obtain a nuclear weapon. It does not. The JCPOA even provides for assistance to Iran’s ability to test a nuclear device. This is a very bad deal.”
Dear Mr. President:
With respect, we urge you and your administration to reconsider your announced intention to veto any Congressional resolution of disapproval of the Joint Comprehensive Program of Action (JCPOA). As you have said, “No deal is better than a bad deal.”
Guided by our experience with U.S. and foreign nuclear weapons programs—as well as with the history and practice of arms control, nonproliferation, and intelligence matters, we judge the current JCPOA to be a very bad deal indeed, as elaborated in the attachment. We believe its fatal flaws cannot be remedied in its current form, even with the best of Western intentions. Consider a few of our reasons:
The JCPOA permits Iran to retain all key equipment, facilities and materials of its nuclear program and undermines Iran’s obligations under the Nuclear Non Proliferation Treaty (NPT). It permits assistance, including from JCPOA signatories, to advance Iran’s programs to develop nuclear weapons and associated delivery systems. Indeed, Mr. President, this JCPOA fails your promise that it would stop Iran from gaining nuclear weapons—it virtually guarantees Iran a deliverable nuclear weapons capability. How can this be considered to be anything other than a bad deal? A far better alternative is to reject the JCPOA, strengthen the sanctions, fall back to the NPT, and take all possible measures to try to enforce it.
The possible military dimensions (PMD) as reported by the IAEA concerns credible indications of the existence in Iran of undisclosed nuclear-related activities involving military related organizations and Iranian activities for developing a nuclear weapon, including the capability to deliver a nuclear weapon by ballistic missile. Prior to completion of the JCPOA, the IAEA and the UN Security Council believed that the only way for these issues to be resolved was for Iran to cooperate fully to resolve these issues “including by providing access without delay to all sites, equipment, persons and documents requested by the Agency.” The May 29, 2015 report of the IAEA Director General (DG) indicates that far from being resolved, the information the IAEA has obtained over the past four years has further corroborated them. That report reiterates the way for the outstanding issues to be resolved is by “increased cooperation by Iran” and timely provision by Iran of the access required by the IAEA Board of Governors and the UN Security Council. Under the JCPOA, Iran only has to participate in technical expert meetings with the IAEA in Tehran and take technical measures as agreed in a “separate arrangement.” On
December 15th, the DG is to provide his final assessment, and whether or not he is satisfied that the PMD issues are resolved, Iran, the U.S., the UK, Russia, China, France and Germany will submit a resolution to the IAEA Board of Governors to close them. Gone is the requirement that Iran must cooperate with the IAEA and that it must provide IAEA access to sites, equipment, persons and documents. How can this be considered to be anything other than a bad deal?
Verification, far from being strengthened to address Iran’s 30-year history of noncompliance, is rendered completely ineffective by significant ambiguities in the agreement, the lack of an oft- promised “anytime, anywhere” inspection regime and the addition of cumbersome bureaucratic procedures that ensure delay or denial of suspect site inspections. Moreover, administration statements that the JCPOA requires Iran to ratify the Additional Protocol are wrong.
These fatal verification flaws are exacerbated by recently revealed “separate arrangements” between the IAEA and Iran. These arrangements are publicly referred to by the IAEA, but are not available to the Congress, the American people, nor, according to your administration, to you. We know that one concerns the Parchin military facility, relevant to the PMD issues. The IAEA has reported that activities that have taken place there since February 2012 are likely to have undermined the Agency’s ability to conduct effective verification. We are especially concerned at a recent Associated Press report – which your administration has not disputed – that Iranians will inspect Parchin and provide photographs and samples to the IAEA. How can this be considered to be anything other than a bad deal? As the late Paul H. Nitze said in his 1988 testimony on the INF Treaty: “Poorly verified agreements are in reality far worse than having no agreement at all”.
Despite the formal request of the Chairman and Ranking Member of the U.S. Senate Foreign Relations Committee that you not seek U.N. approval of the JCPOA before Congress conducted its 60-day review, your administration obtained the elimination of UN Security Council resolutions without any obligation by Iran to fulfill its existing obligations. Especially in light of this ineffective verification regime, the elimination of Iran’s obligations to come back into compliance with the NPT as previously expressed in the UN Security Council resolutions, the JCPOA and its new dispute resolution process lacks credible enforcement mechanisms. We are confident there will never be a “snap back” of sanctions. How can this be considered to be anything other than a bad deal?
The JCPOA legitimizes, rather than eliminates, Iran’s well-known and long-standing nuclear program conducted in violation of Iran’s existing international legal obligations. The precedent for enforcement of all arms control and nonproliferation agreements is extremely damaging.
How can this be considered to be anything other than a bad deal?
The only truly unambiguous terms in the JCPOA are those requiring the United States, the European Union, and the United Nations to lift sanctions on Iran. Doing so will, and has already begun to, provide Iran with hundreds of billions of dollars from the United States and access to trade. We wish the newly available funds would be used to better the lives of the Iranian people—but, as your National Security Advisor has acknowledged, the money can be expected to further fuel Iran’s aggressive support for terrorism, conventional and unconventional military programs, and intimidation of its neighbors. At a minimum U.S. defense programs and policies will be complicated by the JCPOA’s unleashing of the aggressive and hostile Iran. Again, Mr.
President, how can this be considered to be anything other than a bad deal?
Finally, we are very disturbed by your administration’s unprecedented lack of disclosure to Congress and the American people, in particular, its failure to disclose side deals and the unclassified verification assessment prepared by Secretary of State Kerry.
For these reasons—and others elaborated in the attachment, Mr. President, we urge in the strongest possible terms that you leave U.S. sanctions against Iran intact and that you do not follow through with your promised veto of any congressional resolution of disapproval of the JCPOA.
Dr. Kathleen C. Bailey
Former Assistant Director for Nonproliferation, U.S. Arms Control & Disarmament Agency
Brigadier General Scott Bethel, U.S. Air Force, Retired
Former Vice Commander of the Air Force Intelligence Surveillance and Reconnaissance Agency
Ambassador John R. Bolton
Scholar at the American Enterprise Institute; former U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations and former Under Secretary of State for Arms Control and International Security
Senator Rudy Boschwitz
Former U.S. Senator (R-MN); U.S. Ambassador to the U.N. Human Rights Commission and U.S. Emissary to Ethiopia
Lieutenant General William G. “Jerry” Boykin, U.S. Army, Retired
Former Delta Force and Deputy Undersecretary of Defense for Intelligence
Director, Douglas and Sarah Allison Center for Foreign and National Security Policy Davis Institute for National Security and Foreign Policy, The Heritage Foundation*
Major General John P. Casciano, U.S. Air Force, Retired
Former USAF Director of Intelligence, Reconnaissance and Intelligence
Ambassador Henry F. Cooper
Former Director of the Strategic Defense Initiative; Chief U.S. Negotiator at the Geneva Defense and Space Talks; Assistant Director of the Arms Control and Disarmament Agency; and Deputy Assistant Secretary of the U.S. Air Force for Strategic and Space Systems
Hudson Institute Senior Fellow and former Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for Combating Weapons of Mass Destruction and Negotiations Policy
Paula A. DeSutter
Former Assistant Secretary of State for Verification and Compliance
Senior Policy Analyst, Defense and Strategic Policy, Davis Institute for National Security and Foreign Policy, The Heritage Foundation*
Former Director, Defense Policy and Strategy National Security Council staff
Dr. Manfred Eimer
Former Assistant Director for Verification and Intelligence, U.S. Arms Control and Disarmament Agency
Stephen A. Elliott
Former Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for Compliance
Fritz W. Ermarth
Former Chairman of the National Intelligence Council; Former Special Assistant to the President and Senior Director of Soviet and European Affairs, National Security Council
Senior Fellow, Hudson Institute; former Under Secretary of Defense for Policy
Former CIA Officer and Professional Staff Member, House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence
Frank J. Gaffney, Jr.
Former Assistant Secretary of Defense for International Security Policy (Acting)
Daniel J. Gallington
Former bi-partisan General Counsel, U.S. Senate Select Committee on Intelligence and Member, U.S. Delegation to the Nuclear & Space Talks
Brigadier General D. Scott George, U.S. Air Force, Retired
Former Deputy Chief, National Security Agency/Central Security Service
Brigadier General Dan R. Goodrich, USAF (Retired)
Former Director of USAF Command, Control, Communications, Computers, Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance (C4ISR) Integration
Dr. William R. Graham
Former Director of the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy and Science Advisor to the President; NASA Administrator and Chairman of the General Advisory Committee (GAC) on Arms Control and Disarmament
Brigadier General Larry K. Grundhauser, U.S. Air Force, Retired
Former Director of Intelligence, HQ Air Combat Command. Former Vice Director for Intelligence, Joint Chiefs of Staff, and Former Arms Control Policy Advisor US Arms Control and Disarmament Agency
Ambassador Stephen Read Hanmer, Jr.
Former Deputy Director of the Arms Control and Disarmament Agency; Chief U.S. Negotiator at the Strategic Arms Reduction Talks; Chairman of the ABM Treaty Standing Consultative Commission and Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for International Security Policy
Rebeccah L. Heinrichs
Fellow at Hudson Institute and Former Manager of the House Missile Defense Caucus
Dr. Kim Holmes
Former Assistant Secretary of State for International Organization Affairs; Member of the Defense Policy Board and Member of the Board of Directors of the Center for International Private Enterprise; and public member of the U.S. delegation to the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe
President, GeoStrategic Analysis, Former Special Assistant to the Secretary of the Interior for International Energy Security
Ambassador Eric M. Javits
Former US Permanent Representative and Ambassador to the Conference on Disarmament and to the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons
Ambassador Robert G. Joseph
Former Under Secretary of State for Arms Control and International Security; Assistant to the President on Arms Control and Nonproliferation; and Chairman of the ABM Treaty Standing Consultative Commission
Dr. Charles M. Kupperman
Former Special Assistant to President Ronald Reagan; former Executive Director, General Advisory Committee to the President on Arms Control and Disarmament
Senator Jon Kyl (R-AZ)
Former U.S. Senator 1995-2013; Senate Majority Whip; Member, House of Representatives 1987-1995
Sven F. Kraemer
Former Director for Arms Control, National Security Staff
Dr. Christopher M. Lehman
Former Special Assistant to the President for National Security Affairs; Senior Director for Legislative and Legal Affairs at the National Security Council; Director of the Office of Strategic Nuclear Policy at the Department of State; Associate staff, Senate Armed Services Committee
Dr. Herbert I. London
President of the London Center for Policy Research, New York
Robert L. Luaces
Foreign Service Officer, Retired. Former Director Office of Multilateral Nuclear and Security Affairs; Head of Delegation UN General Assembly First Committee (Disarmament); Head of US Delegation to Working Group on Nuclear Disarmament and Security Assurances, NPT Review Conference
Admiral James A. “Ace” Lyons, U.S. Navy, Retired
Former Commander in Chief of the U.S. Pacific Fleet, Senior Military Representative to the United Nations and Deputy Chief of Naval Operations
Director of Nuclear Technology, (Retired), United States Atomic Energy Detection System, (USAEDS), U. S. Air Force Technical Applications Center, (AFTAC)
Robert C. McFarlane
Retired Lt. Colonel (U.S. Marine Corps); Former National Security Council staff; Senate Armed Services Committee staff and National Security Advisor to the President
Dr. James H. McNally
Former Senior Adviser for Libyan, Iranian and North Korean Nuclear Verification to the Assistant Secretary of State for Verification and Compliance; Deputy Assistant Director, ACDA Bureau of Verification and Intelligence; Los Alamos National Laboratories Design and Testing; Member, Negotiation Team for Threshold Test Ban Treaty
Vice Admiral Robert R. Monroe, U.S. Navy, Retired
Former Director, Defense Nuclear Agency
Brigadier General James M. Mungenast, U.S. Air Force, Retired
Former Mobilization Assistant to Director, Defense Intelligence Agency
Dr. Robert L. Pfaltzgraff, Jr.
Shelby Cullom Davis Professor of International Security Studies at the Fletcher School, Tufts University
Senior Research Fellow for Middle Eastern Affairs, Davis Institute for National Security and Foreign Policy, The Heritage Foundation*
Dr. Yleem D.S. Poblete
Former Chief of Staff and Staff Director of the House Committee on Foreign Affairs; staff lead on multiple Iran laws, including 2012 Iran Threat Reduction and Syria Human Rights Act. Fellow, Institute for Policy Research and Catholic Studies
Dr. Peter Vincent Pry
Executive Director, Task Force on National and Homeland Security; Senior Staff on the Congressional EMP Commission, Congressional Strategic Posture Commission, the House Armed Services Committee, and the CIA
Former NATO Deputy Assistant Secretary General for Weapons of Mass Destruction Policy; Acting Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for Negotiations Policy (Arms Control and Non- Proliferation Issues)
Ambassador C. Paul Robinson
Former President and Director of Sandia National Laboratories; Head of the Nuclear Weapons and National Security programs at Los Alamos National Laboratory and Chief Negotiator and Head of the U.S. Delegation to the U.S./ Soviet Union Nuclear Testing Talks
David R. Shedd
Former Acting Director of the Defense Intelligence Agency
David S. Sullivan
Former Senior Professional Staff Member of the U.S. Senate Foreign Relations Committee and former CIA strategic arms analyst
David J. Trachtenberg
President, Shortwaver Consulting, LLC; Former Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for International Security Policy
Troy E. Wade
Former Assistant Secretary of Energy for Defense Programs and Head of DOE Programs in Nevada and Idaho
Ambassador Mark D. Wallace
CEO United Against Nuclear Iran; Former United States Ambassador to the United Nations, Representative for U.N. Management and Reform
Scholar at American Enterprise Institute; Former Deputy Secretary of Defense; Special Assistant to the Director U.S. Arms Control and Disarmament Agency for Strategic Arms Limitation Talks
Ambassador R. James Woolsey
Former Director of Central Intelligence; Chief U.S. Negotiator on Conventional Arm Forces in Europe (CFE); Special Advisor to the Nuclear and Space Talks with the Soviet Union
Former Senior Advisor to the Vice President
Dr. Christopher Yeaw
Director of The Center for Assurance, Deterrence, Escalation, and Nonproliferation Science & Education (CADENSE); Former Chief Scientist of Air Force Global Strike Command