For Immediate Release: July 19, 2014
(Washington/Vienna)–Tonight in Vienna, EU High Representative Catherine Ashton and Iranian Foreign Minister Javad Zarif announced that the negotiations between the United States, other great powers, and Iran to resolve concerns about that country’s nuclear program will continue for as many as four more months.
To this point, the talks have yielded progress and the two sides say there is a credible path forward, but significant gaps remain on key issues.
It is our assessment that a comprehensive agreement to ensure that Iran’s nuclear program is entirely peaceful is still within reach if both sides remain focused and if both sides engage in creative, innovative, and smart diplomacy.
The State Department announced
In the JPoA, Iran diluted half of its 20 percent enriched uranium hexafluoride gas and converted the rest to oxide. Iran has now committed to make all of this 20 percent into fuel for the Tehran Research Reactor. Twenty-five kilograms of this material will be converted into fuel by the end of the extension. This will make if far more difficult to use this material for further enrichment to weapons-grade.
These ongoing restrictions on Iran’s nuclear program and additional steps are a net-plus for nonproliferation.
Next Steps Toward a Comprehensive Deal
At this critical stage, lawmakers in Washington need to support the administration’s ongoing efforts at reaching a diplomatic solution to the Iranian nuclear puzzle.
Congress should refrain from actions, such as pursuing new sanctions legislation against Iran, that would undermine the chance for an agreement that would reduce Iran’s nuclear capacity and provide the additional transparency to guard against an illicit dash for nuclear weapons.
Based consultations with knowledgeable officials on both sides, negotiators have made substantial progress on several tough issues, including: strengthening International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) inspections and oversight at all of Iran’s nuclear sites and related facilities; re-purposing the underground Fordow enrichment facility into a small-scale research facility; and modifying Iran’s Arak heavy-water reactor to drastically cut its plutonium output.
Negotiators can square the circle on uranium enrichment with a combination of practical but innovative measures that would substantially increase the time Iran would require to produce enough material for nuclear weapons, but would still would address Iran’s right to pursue the peaceful use of nuclear energy.
- There would be no constraints on Iran’s enrichment capacity. Iran could resume enriching uranium to higher levels and increase its stockpiles of enriched uranium. The time required for Iran to produce enough material for nuclear weapons would decrease, not increase.
- Inspections of Iranian facilities would likely continue, but would not be expanded to cover undeclared sites and activities, which would be the most likely pathway to build nuclear weapons if Iran chose to do so.
- Sanctions would remain in effect, and some might be strengthened. Sanctions alone, however, cannot halt Iran’s nuclear progress. Eventually, the willingness of international allies to help implement those sanctions could erode.