The Iran Nuclear Agreement: The Need for a Full U.S. Implementation Plan
The U.S. focus on whether the Congress can get 60 votes against the agreement, and then 67 votes to override a veto, presents the potential danger that the U.S. does not prepare properly for what happens if they can’t block the agreement and the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) actually goes into force.
The Need for an Implementation Plan
The implementation process will be extremely complex. It requires a wide range of actions by the IAEA, and the creation of new institutions to support the agreement.
It requires the U.S. to be ready to independently verify and deal with any possible problems in each step in Iran’s compliance with the agreement as Iran moves toward Implementation Day at some point in 2016. It will then require a constant U.S. effort to monitor compliance with the agreement and to put that compliance in a broader security context.
In practice, this means the U.S. must have an implementation plan both to ensure that the IAEA and new institutions required to make the agreement are effective at the proper time, and that the U.S. is ready to support and enforce the agreement.
At a minimum, this requires the following six steps:
- Verification and public disclosure of Iran’s actual compliance with each of the steps necessary to move to Implementation Day.
- Strengthening of the IAEA in terms of both numbers of Inspectors and the technology it uses, as well as new forms of reporting.
- Creating a wide range of new working bodies to deal with disputes, and more detailed technical processes like procurement monitoring.
- Tailoring U.S. intelligence efforts and the analytic activities of the U.S. labs to verify and monitor Iran’s compliance, as well as associate issues like dealing with the lifting of sanctions and using the new resources it obtains.
- Creating suitable bodies within the Executive Branch and Congress to constantly review Iran’s actions after Implementation Day.
- Establishing a major U.S. strategic communications effort to retain international focus on the issue and maintain the credibility of snap back options.
On August 19, President Obama sent a letter to Congress announcing one key step in the U.S. side of such an implementation plan:
“Of course, Congress will be kept fully informed of all aspects of Iranian compliance with the JCPOA throughout the life of the deal. Every 90 days after the current congressional review period, a certification will be made regarding Iran’s compliance with the JCPOA under the Iran Nuclear Agreement Review Act (INARA) and every 180 days, a report will be provided to the appropriate committees and leadership, including information on a range of issues related not only to JCPOA implementation, but also Iranian terrorism, human rights, ballistic missiles, and money laundering activities, among others. I have also instructed the Department of State to establish a JCPOA implementation office, headed by a senior official with Ambassadorial rank, to coordinate our oversight efforts and regularly brief Congress. The INARA reporting and oversight requirements, along with regular briefings by my Administration, will ensure that Congress has tremendous insight into JCPOA implementation – and they provide a built-in mechanism to respond to significant non-compliance.”
The Implementation Calendar Needs an Implementation Plan
A chronology developed by work by Kenneth Katzman and Paul Kerr of the Congressional Research Service shows just how complex the full implementation process really is, and is used throughout the following analysis.
Some key events have already occurred, and it is important to note that regardless of the U.S. debate over Congressional approval or disapproval, the other members of the P5+1 and the UN have already supported the agreement and it has been approved by the UN Security Council.
Finalization Day: July 14, 2015
• Date on which JCPOA announced.
• Joint Commission established comprised of representatives of Iran and the P5+1, with the EU High Representative.
• Coordination led by EU High Representative.
• Meet on quarterly basis or at request of any JCPOA participant.
• Decision and work subject to U.N. rules of confidentiality.
• Among other things, in charge of dispute resolution and establishing procurement channel.
UNSCR Resolution Approving Agreement: July 20, 2015
JCPOA submitted to U.N. Security Council: Resolution 2231 submitted on July 15, and adopted on Monday, July 20, 2015
• P5+1 will “promptly” send JCPOA to U.N. Security Council (UNSC) for review and adoption “without delay.”
The fact the UNSCR has already approved the agreement means the U.S. not only must complete its Congressional review process, but prepare for the possibility the agreement may go into force with or without U.S. Congressional support. At the same time, the U.S. may have to deal with the fact that the Iran has announced a review process of its own.
U.S. Congressional Review
• 60 days: Vote to approve or disapprove agreement. September 17, 2015
• 12 days: President has 12 days to veto. Sept 29, 2015
• 10 Days: Congress has 10 days to override presidential veto. Oct 9, 2015
• Every 90 days after the review period, the Administration is required to certify Iran is fully complying with the agreement. If such certification is not made, Congress has the opportunity to enact a resolution snapping back U.S. statutory U.S. sanctions. January 2016
Iranian Supreme National Security Council (SNSC or Majlis review)
- Iran’s review process is uncertain. SNSC and Supreme Leader are reviewing by some in Majlis claim authority. Iran earlier talked about deadline of 90 days after agreement, or October 17, 2015 but process and timing remains unclear.
At roughly the same time, the U.S. is debating and going through the Congressional review process, several key events will also occur on an international level where the U.S. must be prepared to take a clear position, be working with the IAEA and other members of the P5+ and lay the groundwork for implementation day.
Adoption Day Mid-October 2015
- 90 days (or earlier if agreed by P5+1 and Iran) after endorsement of JCPOA by the UNSC. From this date, participants start making preparations for implementing commitments.
- EU to adopt regulation terminating nuclear-related sanctions with effect from Implementation Day.
- U.S. President to issue sanctions waivers to take effect on Implementation Day.
- Iran to prepare nuclear related commitments and notify IAEA that it will apply Additional Protocol provisionally with effect from Implementation Day.
Iran-IAEA Roadmap Possible Military Dimensions (PMD) Review Process
- Pursuant to Roadmap agreed between Iran and IAEA on 20 July 2015 (confidential document).
- Iran will provide IAEA explanation on outstanding issues.
- There will be technical and political meetings.
- Arrangements in place regarding the issue of Parchin (there has been previous access to this military site).
- All steps in Roadmap must be fulfilled before Implementation date.
-Iran submits written answers by August 15, 2015.
-IAEA has one-month review.
-IAEA to resolve remaining PMD issues/questions by October 15, 2015.
-IAEA presents report on PMD by December 15, 2015.
The way in which the U.S. handles the PMD review process will be particularly critical. It is essential that the U.S. supports the IAEA in making this effort effective, and uses it to establish the need for a continuing effort and to be ready for snap back. At the same time, the U.S goal is to prevent Iran from creating a meaningful nuclear force, and not to attack Iran for its past actions.
Preparing for Implementation Day
The truly critical aspects of a U.S. implementation plan are to ensure that Iran really does comply with all of the measures called for by Implementation Day, that its actions are suitably verified, and that the U.S. again uses every possible effort at strategic communications to lay the groundwork for continuing verification, coordinated international enforcement, and “snap back” if Iran does not comply.
The U.S. must also be ready for the fact that that Implementation Day is not a fixed date. It is rather the point (probably in the spring of in 2016) when Iran declares it has fully complied, the IAEA and Joint Commission endorse this compliance, and the agreement goes into force.
This involves the wide range of Iran’s actions shown below, each of which may occur at very different dates. It requires the IAEA and all other staff support to be ready, and require independent U.S, intelligence validation and review by the Congress and Administration.
It also requires that U.S. prepare for any disputes or controversy over compliance, and be ready to carry out a major effort at strategic communications to focus world attention on Iran’s actions.
Enrichment only at Natanz —preventing “uranium path to weaponization”
- Iran currently has about 19,000 IR-1 and advanced IR-2M centrifuges installed.
- For 10 years: centrifuges reduced to 5,060 IR-1. Excess centrifuges stored under IAEA monitoring.
- For 15 years: level of uranium enrichment capped at 3.67%.
- For 15 years: Natanz is Iran’s only enrichment facility.
Between years 11-15: Iran can replace IR-1 centrifuges at Natanz with more advanced ones. Limits on Enriched Uranium Stockpile — preventing “uranium path to weaponization”
- Iran currently maintains a stockpile of about 10,000 kg of low-enriched UF6
- For 15 years: stockpile kept under 300 kg up to 3.67% enriched uranium hexafluoride (UF6) or the equivalent in other chemical forms (this is a 98% reduction from existing stockpiles).
- Excess sold based on international prices.
- Uranium oxide enriched 5-20% fabricated into fuel for Tehran Research Reactor.
- All other centrifuges and enrichment-related infrastructure will be removed and stored under IAEA continuous monitoring
Limits on Fordow “uranium path to weaponization”
- Iran currently has about 2,700 IR-1 centrifuges installed at Fordow of which about 700 are enriching uranium.
- Converted to research facility.
- No more enrichment or R&D at this facility.
- 1,044 IR-1 centrifuges in six cascades will remain here, but cannot enrich uranium.
Limits on Arak Heavy Water Reactor— preventing “plutonium path to weaponization”
- Iran will redesign and rebuild reactor into lower power research reactor with P5+1 partnership.
- Iran would take out the original core of the reactor; this will become unusable.
- Permanent: Iran will not produce weapons grade plutonium.
- For 15 years: no heavy water reactors in Iran.
- Permanent: Iran ships out all spent fuel from Arak reactor.
Iran and P5+1 agree on joint venture. Transparency— preventing “covert path to weaponization
- By October 15, 2015: Iran has to clear up questions about its alleged past research on nuclear weapons (Possible Military Dimensions, or PMD).
- Iran will provisionally apply the Additional Protocol measures and its parliament will eventually ratify it.
- Iran will permanently agree to: full implementation of modified Code 3.1 of the Subsidiary Arrangements to its Safeguards Agreement.
- Iran must fully implement the “Roadmap for Clarification of Past and Present Outstanding Issues” agreed with the IAEA, containing arrangements to address past and present issues of concern relating to its nuclear program.
- Iran must allow the IAEA to monitor the implementation of the above voluntary measures for their respective durations, as well as to implement transparency measures, as set out by the JCPOA and its Annexes.
- Procurement channel must be created for monitoring and controlling Iran’s purchase of nuclear related equipment and material by Implementation Day. For 20-25 years: IAEA has access to Iran’s supply chain for its nuclear program and has continuous surveillance of centrifuge manufacturing and storage facilities.
- Iran will not engage in activities, including at the R&D level, which could contribute to the development of a nuclear explosive device, including uranium or plutonium metallurgy activities.
- Iran will cooperate and act in accordance with the procurement channel in this JCPOA, as detailed in Annex IV, endorsed by the UN Security Council resolution.
- These measures require a long-term presence to exist in Iran. This includes IAEA monitoring of uranium ore concentrate produced by Iran from all uranium ore concentrate plants over a period of 25 years; containment and surveillance of centrifuge rotors and bellows for a period of 20 years; use of IAEA approved and certified modern technologies including on-line enrichment measure and electronic seals; and a reliable mechanism to ensure speedy resolution of IAEA access concerns for 15 years, as defined in Annex I.
Iran and IAEA Inspections of Suspect Sites
- While effective implementation does require being ready to deal with disputes and non-compliance, this is only part of what the U.S. must be ready support from Implementation Day onwards.
- Requests for access to suspect sites will be made in good faith by IAEA. Not aimed at interfering with Iranian military/national security activities.
- IAEA provides Iran reasons for concerns regarding undeclared nuclear materials or activities and request access to those locations.
- Iran may propose to the IAEA alternative means of resolving the IAEA’s concerns.
- If cannot agree within 14 days of original IAEA request, the Joint Commission will adjudicate and if needed decision made by majority vote.
- Consultation with, and voting by Joint Commission must happen within 7 days.
- Iran would implement decision within 3 days (total of 24 days after original IAEA request). Implementation Day.
Preparing for Post-Implementation Day Disputes
Once Implementation Day is completed, the U.S. must be ready to both push for full enforcement of the controls on Iranian procurement and to use its intelligence assets to ensure the IARA can verify whether Iran is creating any covert facilities and carry out suitable inspection.
The JCPOA allows continuous monitoring of Iran’s declared nuclear facilities but this requires a constant physical or technical presence in Iran’s primary nuclear sites, Natanz and Fordow, and regular monitoring of Iran’s uranium mines and mills and its centrifuge production, assembly, and storage facilities. The IAEA must be ready, and the U.S. intelligence community must be ready to support, surveillance of the entire fuel cycle and supply chain for Iran’s nuclear program, and prevent any diversion of materials to clandestine sites/ It must be equally ready to ensure the close monitoring of a dedicated procurement channel for Iran’s nuclear program to minimize the chances of any diversion to a secret program.
The most serious challenge may occur, however, if there is a clear indication that a covert facility is being developed, an existing site is being reconfigured, or some covert facility is operational. The confidence with which the IAEA can make the case for rapid inspection will depend heavily on outside – and U.S. – intelligence, diplomatic support, and strategic communications to valid the IAEA effort.
Under the Additional Protocol, which Iran will legally bind itself to implement as a condition of sanctions relief, IAEA inspectors can request access to any location they have reason to suspect relate to nuclear activities. This is separate and in addition to the continuous access described above at declared nuclear facilities. U.S. exports have stated that standard practice is to gain access with 24 hours’ notice when requesting access to a suspicious location. However, access can be requested in less than 2 hours in certain circumstances.
The IAEA verifies through visual observation and environmental sampling that activities at undeclared locations do not include clandestine nuclear activity, and the Additional Protocol does not exempt military sites. The Agreement relies on established Additional Protocol access procedures that already apply to over 120 countries, but proper implementation means that they must be kept at the the state of the art in effectively deterring and detecting illicit nuclear activities, and that outside intelligence support of the IAEA must be tailored to providing the kind of data the IAEA needs, and that the U.S. must be ready to support IAEA action in its strategic communications with the rest of the P5+1, other states, and in shaping world opinion..
The U.S, must also be ready for a case where Iran denies an IAEA request for access to a suspicious undeclared location. In this case, a special provision in the JCPOA trigger an access dispute resolution mechanism that must be fully ready for quick and timely action, and be immediately supported by the U.S. and as many other members of the P5+1 as possible, as well as by effective strategic communications efforts to support the need for IAEA action.
Follow on timing is critical. If Iran and the IAEA cannot resolve an access dispute within 14 days, the issue must brought to the Joint Commission in as clear and decisive a form as possible, and the U.S. must have prepared its allies and other on the Joint Commission for the need for immediate action.
The U.S. must also be ready for a case where Iran continues to fail to comply, and the length and impact of any delay continues to grow. There will be a critical need for effective U.S. diplomatic action in such cases, supported by both the sharing of sensitive intelligence data and a public effort at persuading our allies and the world of the need for action.
The Joint Commission can take up to 7 days to find a resolution. If Iran does then not provide access, the U.S. must persuade 5 members of the Joint Commission (such as the United States, United Kingdom, France, Germany, and the European Union) that access is necessary. Iran should then provide access within 3 days.
This combination of 14 days, 7 days, and 3 days extends the limit to 24 days, but a focus on the 24-day limit ignores several key aspects of the need for effective implementation. Iran can potentially game the process by saying it will comply, stalling, only partially complying, or attacking the integrity of the IAEA. It can attempt to negotiate the process of compliance, adding to the time involved, or simply reject compliance at any point in the process and complicate it by restricting compliance in other areas.
These are “worst cases” but the U.S. must still be ready to deal with them, throughout the life of the key provisions of the agreement. It also needs to be ready to go far beyond pushing for technical compliance. It must be ready to support the IAEA in any way needed, convince its allies and the members of the Joint Commission of the need for action, use the possibility of “snap back” during any negotiations with Iran, and be ready to actually implement “snap back” and support it a major diplomatic and strategic communications effort.
Preparing for P5+1, UN, EU, and U.S. Action on Sanctions
Finally, an implementation plan must address the issue of removing and easing sanctions, analyzing how they affect Iran’s actions, and enforcing the remaining sanctions that are not lifted.
P5+1 and UN Sanctions Relief and Snap Back
In the case of the UN sanctions, this involves the following steps:
- U.N. • UNSCR Resolution 2231endorsing JCPOA goes into effect to terminate all previous resolutions targeting Iran’s nuclear program - 1696 (2006), 1737 (2006), 1747 (2007), 1803 (2008), 1835 (2008), 1929 (2010) and 2224 (2015).
- Subject to snap-back under dispute resolution process (Preamble to agreement, paragraphs 36 and 37).
- 15 days for review by: Joint Commission assesses dispute. Time for review can be extended by mutual consent.
- If unresolved, 15 days for review by Ministers of Foreign Affairs.
- Any participant could refer the issue to the Ministers. Time for review can be extended by mutual consent.
- If unresolved, 15 days for review by: Advisory Board (three members, one each appointed by the participants in the dispute and a third independent member). Will provide non-binding decision.
- Joint Commission has 5 days to review decision of Advisory Board. If no resolution and complaining party sees action as “significant non-performance” - unresolved issue can be treated as grounds to cease performing commitments in whole or part. Complaining party will notify UNSC.
- UNSC will then votes on a resolution as to continuing lifting of sanctions. If resolution not adopted by 30 days, old UNSC resolution sanctions snap-back. China and Russia cannot veto. Iran will cease to perform its obligations if sanctions snap back.
- Sanctions snap-back not applicable with retroactive effect to contracts signed between any party and Iran.
- After 5 years: U.N. sanctions on conventional weapons that were linked to Iran’s nuclear activities terminate.
- After 8 years: U.N. sanctions on Iran’s missile program that were linked to Iran’s nuclear activities terminate.
- U.S. and international sanctions on Iran’s conventional weapons and missile capabilities remain.
EU Actions and Sanctions Relief
In the case of the EU, the EU must take the following actions:
- Terminate all provisions of the EU Regulation related to Iran’s nuclear program.
- Includes: financial and banking transactions; transactions in Iranian Rial; provision of U.S. banknotes to Iranian government; access to SWIFT; insurance services; efforts to reduce Iran’s crude oil and petrochemical product sales; investment; transactions with Iran's energy and shipping sector; trade in gold and other precious metals; trade with Iran’s automotive sector.
- Removes individuals and entities designated under sanctions.
- EU refrains from reintroducing sanctions terminated under JCPOA (Iran views any reintroduction as grounds to cease performing its commitments).
- Refrain from policy intended to adversely affect normalization of economic relations with Iran.
- For 8 years after Implementation date: EU’s arms embargo and restrictions on transfer of ballistic missiles remain.
U.S. Actions and Partial Sanctions Relief
The U.S., however, must be ready to both waive some sanctions enforce the remaining ones, and be prepared for the possibility it may alter the mix of U.S. sanctions if it needs to put pressure on Iran to comply for problems that do not justify “snap back” on a broader level.
U.S Sanctions Relief
The sanctions the U.S. will ease waive include the following steps, and effects:
- Cease the application of economic sanctions against Iran’s oil and banking sector allowing Iranian banks and companies to reconnect with international systems.
- Remove designation of certain entities and individuals
- Allow for license non-U.S. persons that are owned or controlled by a U.S. person to engage in activities with Iran permitted under JCPOA.
- Allow for the sale of commercial passenger aircraft to Iran.
- Allow for license for importing Iranian-origin carpets and, foodstuffs into U.S.
- Take appropriate measures to address U.S. laws at state or local level preventing full implementation of JCPOA—U.S. will actively encourage officials to adhere to JCPOA policy.
- Allow Iran access to roughly $100 billion revenues frozen abroad in a special escrow.
Remaining U.S Sanctions
The most critical challenge, however, will be to decide how best to use the sanctions that the U.S. will not lift. If the U.S. moves forward with the agreement, it will only relieve only nuclear-related sanctions. Other U.S. sanctions, authorities, and designations will remain in place after Implementation Day, and the U.S. will retain relevant authorities, including important statutory authorities, the vast majority of Executive orders, and maintaining certain Iranian persons on OFAC’s List of Specially Designated Nationals and Blocked Persons (SDN List).
U.S. experts indicate that these will include:
Primary U.S. Sanctions
- The Government of Iran (GOI) and Iranian financial institutions – including any property in which they have an interest – will remain blocked by the United States. U.S. persons will continue to be broadly prohibited from engaging in transactions or dealings with the GOI and Iranian financial institutions.
- U.S. persons, including U.S. companies, will continue to be broadly prohibited from engaging in transactions with Iran, as well as with Iranian individuals and entities. General prohibitions include: investment in Iran; importing Iranian-origin goods or services; and exporting goods or services to Iran, including clearing U.S. dollars.
- U.S. export controls will also continue to apply to controlled U.S.-origin goods and technology anywhere in the world.
Nonproliferation Sanctions : Statutory sanctions will continue to apply to transfers of WMD and missile technologies and conventional weapons. These sanctions cover items going to Iran’s missile program as well as any items that would contribute to an Iranian effort to develop nuclear, chemical, or biological weapons.
Statutory sanctions also cover transfers of certain technologies that would contribute to enrichment or reprocessing capabilities or the acquisition of unsafeguarded special nuclear material. In addition, U.S. law will continue to provide for sanctions against the transfer of lethal military equipment or advanced conventional weapons to Iran.
Terrorist List Sanctions : Iran will continue to be listed as a state that has repeatedly provided support for acts of international terrorism. A number of different sanctions laws are keyed to this list, including restrictions on foreign assistance, arms sales, export of certain sensitive technology and dual-use items, nuclear cooperation, and various financial restrictions.
Secondary Sanctions : The United States will retain secondary sanctions authorities targeting third parties for dealings with Iranian persons on our SDN List, including those designated under our terrorism, counter-proliferation, missile, and human rights authorities.
Secondary sanctions target conduct by non-U.S. persons related to sanctioned persons or activities. Anyone worldwide who transacts with or supports individuals or entities sanctioned in connection with Iran’s support for terrorism or development of WMD and missiles—as well as any Iranian individual or entity who remains on our SDN List—puts themselves at risk of being cut off from the U.S. financial system.
This includes foreign financial institutions, who would risk losing their correspondent accounts with U.S. banks. Sanctions will also continue to apply to persons who provide Iran with specified weapons, dual use goods and related technologies.
Missiles : Authorities will remain in place to allow the USG to target Iran’s development of missiles and other means to deliver weapons of mass destruction (WMD). For example, Executive Order 13382 and Executive Order 12938, broad counter-proliferation authorities that have been used to designate numerous Iranian-linked targets, would be retained under the JCPOA. More than 130 persons designated pursuant to these authorities for their involvement in Iran’s missile program and proliferation activities will remain designated.
Terrorism : Authorities will remain in place to allow the USG to target Iran’s support for terrorism. For example, Executive Order 13224, a broad terrorism authority that has been used to designate approximately 50 Iranian-linked targets, would be retained under the JCPOA. Targets that will remain designated include Iran’s Mahan Air, Bank Saderat, and the IRGC-Qods Force. We will also continue aggressively employing this authority against Iran-sponsored terrorist groups such as Hizballah.
Human Rights : Authorities will remain in place to allow the USG to target Iran’s human rights abuses and censorship activities. For example, we will retain the GHRAVITY Executive Order (E.O. 13606, April 2012), which targets persons providing information technology to Iran or Syria that could be used by those governments to commit serious human rights abuses. Also remaining in place will be provisions of E.O. 13553 (September 2010), E.O. 13628 (October 2012), the Comprehensive Iran Sanctions, Accountability, and Divestment Act of 2010 (CISADA), and the Iran Threat Reduction and Syria Human Rights Act of 2012 (TRA) targeting human rights abuses.
Regional Destabilization : Authorities will remain in place that allow the USG to target Iran’s efforts to destabilize its neighbors and pursue its desire for regional hegemony. Authorities that will remain include those that target:
- Syria: human rights abuses in Syria (E.O. 13572, April 2011) and providing material support to the Government of Syria (E.O. 13582, August 2011). We have used these authorities to target numerous companies and persons involved in such conduct.
- Yemen: threatening the peace, security, or stability of Yemen (E.O. 13611). This authority has been used to target, for example, Iran-backed Houthi militant leaders.
- Iraq: threatening the peace, security, or stability of Iraq. We have employed this authority to target IRGC officials and Iraqis with ties to Iran.
Opposition to Development Assistance: Iran’s continued status as a state sponsor of terrorism, moreover, will continue to mean that the U.S. will use its voice and vote in international financial institutions to oppose assistance to Iran.
Approximately 32% of all Iran-related designations (over 200 persons) will remain on OFAC’s SDN List after implementation of the JCPOA; these persons will be subject to all applicable primary and secondary sanctions. This group was sanctioned in connection with activities outside the scope of the JCPOA negotiations and associated sanctions relief. The group consists of persons designated in connection with terrorism, human rights abuses and activities in Syria, and more than 130 persons designated in connection to Iran’s defense industry and ballistic missile program, which includes the IRGC and its network.
Enforcing Other UN Sanctions
The U.S. will also need to be ready to ensure that the UNSC restrictions on Iran’s purchases and sales of conventional arms and related materiel and ballistic missile-related items and technology that will remain in place for five and eight years, respectively, or until the International Atomic Energy Agency confirms the Broader Conclusion, whichever is earlier are fully enforced..
There are also current UN arms embargoes on the Houthis in Yemen, non-state actors in Lebanon (including Hizbullah), Afghanistan (the Taliban), Iraq (including Shi’a militias), North Korea and Libya, as well as on several states in Africa.
Enforcing Existing sanctions or Restructuring Them
The U.S. needs to carefully evaluate its options for enforcing existing sanctions or for adjusting or consolidating them to support both US pressure in the event of limited or uncertain Iranian violations, and supporting a broader international and P5+1 effort at snap back. Reporting on the U.S. reasons for enforcing continuing sanctions is also a powerful potential tool in strategic communications with other nations and media.
Effective Implementation vs. Ineffective Partisanship
No agreement is ever better than the way it is put into practice, and this is clearly a case where the U.S. must verify and enforce, rather than trust. It is also a case where U.S. public credibility will be critical, and U.S. ability to persuade other states – including key allies – that the U.S. is providing an objective assessment, can be trusted if it says it encounters problems and violations, and will only move towards snap back under these conditions is critical. The U.S. has a mixed record in strategic communications at best, and it needs to do far better if JCPOA ever has to be enforced.
It is a remarkably complex agreement and one that present many challenges – and the near certain prospect of years of debate over its precise meaning. Both the Administration and its opponents in Congress might wish to consider the extent to which the present partisan debate is locking them into a focus on fighting over the agreement rather than making the strongest possible effort to make it work.
Other Burke Chair reports on the Iran nuclear agreement:
The Iran Nuclear Agreement: Beyond Partisan Infighting: Mark II : http://csis.org/files/publication/150819_Iran_Nuclear_Agreement_Beyond_Partisan_Infighting.pdf
The Iran Nuclear Agreement and Iranian Energy Exports, the Iranian Economy, and World Energy Markets :
The Nuclear Agreement with Iran and the Growing U.S. Strategic Partnership with the Arab Gulf States:
The Iran Nuclear Agreement and Iranian Missile Developments : http://csis.org/publication/iran-nuclear-agreement-and-iranian-missile-developments
Anthony H. Cordesman holds the Arleigh A. Burke Chair in Strategy at the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS) in Washington, D.C.
Commentary is produced by the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS), a private, tax-exempt institution focusing on international public policy issues. Its research is nonpartisan and nonproprietary. CSIS does not take specific policy positions. Accordingly, all views, positions, and conclusions expressed in this publication should be understood to be solely those of the author(s).
© 2015 by the Center for Strategic and International Studies. All rights reserved.