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Eshoo Statement on Iran Nuclear Agreement

August 3rd, 2015

WASHINGTON, D.C.—Congresswoman Anna G. Eshoo (D-Calif.) released the following statement on the Iran nuclear agreement:

“Consideration of the Iran nuclear agreement, formally known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), represents one of the most consequential foreign policy votes I will cast during my tenure in Congress.

“In the face of a legitimate threat of immense magnitude from a nuclear-capable Iran, I believe this agreement is the right path forward. My decision is not based on trusting Iran. To the contrary, the regime has a long list of offenses that I deeply object to, but there must be a mechanism in place to keep them from becoming a nuclear power. Nor would I suggest the agreement is perfect. But, in my view, to reject it would be a grave mistake for the United States, a repudiation of our allies in the effort, a danger to Israel, and further deterioration in the Middle East.

“After years of crippling sanctions, ground work, and months of direct negotiations, the U.S., together with its diplomatic partners, produced extraordinary concessions and brought together support from the entire United Nations, including the European Union, Russia and China.

“The prevailing goal of our country and the other P5+1 members throughout negotiations with Iran has been to prevent the regime from obtaining a nuclear weapon. This agreement achieves that goal by making significant inroads toward reducing Iran’s overall nuclear capabilities.”

Background

Throughout her 22 years of service, Congresswoman Eshoo has supported concrete and unambiguous diplomatic actions to deter destabilizing and confrontational regimes from pursuing nuclear weapons. This includes the crippling and effective sanctions that helped bring Iran to the negotiating table.

Under the JCPOA, Iran is to reduce the number of its centrifuges by two-thirds; cease production of weapons-grade plutonium; and halt construction of a heavy-water reactor being built in Arak, which could produce weapons-grade plutonium. Iran will also be required to get rid of 98 percent of its stockpile of enriched uranium, and halt enrichment of uranium above 3.67 percent purity. Iran currently possesses enough enriched uranium to produce 10 nuclear weapons. With the agreement, Iran would be reduced to having a fraction of what is needed for a single nuclear weapon. Iran will be allowed to have nuclear power plants for peaceful purposes, but it cannot pursue development of nuclear weapons under the agreement.

This is an agreement based on verification and enforcement, not trust. Sanctions against Iran are lifted only after its compliance is verified. The U.S. has imposed the most rigorous inspections, verifications and restrictions ever written on every aspect of Iran’s nuclear program, including its supply chain, research and development programs, and nuclear facilities. Iran must provide the IAEA with regular and unrestricted access to its uranium processing facilities, the Arak reactor site, centrifuge plants, and other operational facilities. Should Iran fail to comply at any point, the sanctions will automatically be reactivated.

The impetus for this agreement is not rooted in theoretical risk. While Iran has indicated that it wishes to be a civil nuclear power, the country’s breakout time in which it can produce enough fissile material needed for a nuclear weapon is currently two to three months. Simply walking away for a better deal as some critics have suggested would be, in Eshoo’s view, a grave mistake and put our ally Israel and the region at undue risk. There is absolutely no guarantee that the P5+1 would remain with the U.S. in the aftermath of a rejected agreement and be willing to return to the negotiating table. Additionally, in the absence of the agreement, Iran will continue to produce enough weapons-grade plutonium for one to two nuclear weapons every year, and the consequences would be immediate and dire.

Congresswoman Eshoo’s open letter to constituents regarding her position on the JCPOA can be viewed here.

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