America Is Safer with Iran Nuclear Agreement

Iran nuclear deal is an asset for new administration - “Our new president will face many tough challenges in devising a strategy to assure America's security. He will be the first since 1979 who will not have to immediately devise a strategy to prevent Iran from building a nuclear weapon. The nuclear agreement with Iran provides strong assurance that Iran will not get a nuclear weapon for at least 15 years,” writes Thomas Pickering for The Dallas Morning News. “Whether America's relations with Iran will be confrontational or cooperative depends on how we both choose to deal with the issues between us.”

--“The Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action with Iran is one of the most important non-proliferation agreements in decades… During this uncertain period, a new U.S. president will have to collaborate closely with the P5+1 countries, Israel and the Gulf states to design strategies to reinforce the chances of Iran becoming a country we can work with. Iran is a major regional power; no conflict there can be resolved by isolating Iran. These diplomatic efforts will always have to be balanced by establishing clear limits on what the U.S. and its partners find tolerable for Iran's actions in the region. Sailing these seas will be rough and challenging but bring us to a safer port.” Full story here.

Opponents still have no alternative to Iran deal - “The accord reached last year in Vienna had an important but narrow aim: to delay Iran’s pursuit of nuclear weapons. It offered it tens of billions of dollars in relief from sanctions in return for dismantling key nuclear facilities and allowing intrusive inspections to ensure it is in compliance. So far it has been,” writes the Financial Times. “Mr Trump and some of his appointees have bragged that they can improve on the agreement or do away with it. But they have not articulated an alternative. That is because, short of going to war, there isn’t one.”

--“Should Mr Trump choose to undermine the accord, Washington would in all likelihood be going it alone. Iran and America have managed to avoid direct military confrontation despite more than 30 years of hostility. It would be foolish to pick a fight at a moment that offers the best chance of detente.” Full article here.

Tweet - @plough_shares: VIDEO: 10 Big Nuclear Ideas Launch Event panel with @EllenOTauscher @KennetteBene @suzannedimaggio & @ValeriePlame

Iran complying with deal - “Iran has shipped 11 tonnes of heavy water abroad to bring its stock back under a limit set by its landmark nuclear deal with major powers, according to a diplomat citing a confidential U.N. nuclear watchdog report,” write Francois Murphy and Mark Heinrich for Reuters. “The shipment is a step toward resolving a dispute with Western powers including the United States that are keen to prevent Iran from testing the deal's terms.”

--“‘On 6 December the agency verified the quantity of 11 metric tonnes of the nuclear-grade heavy water at its destination outside Iran,’ the diplomat quoted the five-paragraph report by the IAEA to member states as saying. ‘This transfer of heavy water out of Iran brings Iran's stock of heavy water to below 130 tonnes,’ it said, adding that Iran had told the agency that the shipment left the country on Nov. 19.” Full story here.

For Russia & North Korea, Trump needs Iran - “President-elect Donald Trump has vowed to talk to North Korea and improve relations with Russia—the two countries which currently present the greatest challenges on nuclear security,” writes Tytti Erästö for The National Interest. If Trump is serious about pursuing these worthy goals, he must keep the Iran nuclear agreement. Apart from being disastrous in itself, scrapping the deal would doom any attempt by the Trump administration to engage Moscow and Pyongyang.”

--“The Trump administration’s Iran policy will be key for North Korea, as it will constitute an important lesson for the latter about the benefits of diplomacy with the United States... As for Russia... there is more at stake here than diplomatic courtesy: the agreement with Iran provides a unique opportunity for Trump to improve U.S.-Russian relations by addressing Putin’s long-standing concerns over U.S. missile defenses in Europe... The choice is clear: trash the Iran deal and let other global crises fester. Or protect the Iran deal, and help solve three.” Full article here.

Where’s Trump on European missile defense? - “It could be many months before the incoming Trump administration decides on its nuclear and missile defense posture toward Europe,” writes Rachel Oswald for Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists. “While missile defense issues received only glancing attention during the presidential campaign, Moscow’s focus on US interceptors in Europe invariably means they will play a key role in relations between the two countries... Therefore, the Trump administration should give careful consideration to just what is at stake in the broader strategic relationship before it makes decisions on the future of European missile defense.” Full analysis here.

Tweet - @TheEconomist: This week in history: America and the Soviet Union agree to ban an entire class of nuclear weapons

Iran-Shell oil deal - “On Wednesday, Royal Dutch Shell PLC, more commonly known as Shell, announced that it was agreeing to develop major oil and gas fields in Iran for the first time since sanctions related to the country’s nuclear deal were lifted at the beginning of the year,” writes Zeeshan Aleem for Vox. “The two oil fields involved in the deal are estimated to have about 8.2 billion barrels’ worth of recoverable oil, which is equivalent to about 15 percent of the proven crude reserves in the US. The French energy firm Total, which signed a multibillion-dollar contract with Iran for its huge South Pars gas field in November, is also now in talks about developing Iranian oil fields.”

--“If foreign investment picks up steam in Iran, it will pose a challenge for Trump. His goal to revisit or rip up the Iran deal — which he’s called ‘the stupidest deal of all time’ — becomes harder the more deeply major Western companies get involved there. That’s because the more Iran is reintegrated into the global economy, the more reluctant the world’s major powers will be to reverse course and sever ties with Iran again.” Full story here.

Tweet - @nukes_of_hazard: Defense minister of Japan optimistic about US-Japan relations, retains “vision of a world free of nuclear weapons."

Russia’s scary policy shift - “The newly-released ‘Foreign Policy Concept’ of the Russian Federation contains some interesting changes and updates. Given that this document reflects the Kremlin's strategic mindset and how it views international relations, it is important to take what is says seriously,” writes Nicolas Gvosdev for The National Interest. The strategy includes a “slight but significant shift in assessing the possibility of the use of nuclear weapons from ‘unthinkable’ to ‘unlikely.’” Full breakdown here.

Costs at Pentagon ballooning (as usual) - President-elect Trump recently tweeted that “costs are out of control, more than $4 billion” for two new Air Force One planes. In Medium, John Isaacs analyzes the cost trend further: “President-elect Trump’s tweet... highlight[s] the tip of a more widespread problem: a consistent pattern of defense contractors low-balling estimates of a program, the Pentagon obfuscating the costs, and the program total mushrooming far beyond earlier estimates.”

--“[L]ook to the Air Force’s plan to build new nuclear-tipped intercontinental ballistic missiles (ICBMs). Estimates for the program have steadily increased from the $62.3 billion claimed by the Air Force in 2015 to $85 billion set by the Pentagon’s chief acquisition official. The Pentagon’s Office of Cost Assessment and Program Evaluation (CAPE) is reported to have produced an independent study estimating the cost of the project between $85- $100+ billion. History shows us that the higher estimate is usually the safest one when it comes to large Pentagon acquisition programs.” Isaacs’s full Pentagon breakdown here.

Quick Hits:

--“Vatican: Nuclear deterrence ‘must be replaced’ by new global ethic,” by The Holy See for Vatican Radio.

--“North Korea a top security concern in Asia-Pacific, Ash Carter says,” by Elizabeth Shim for UPI.

--“Iranian top brass meet to discuss response to US sanctions,” by Changiz Varzi for Al Monitor.

--“Japan to offer $2.2 million to Iran for nuclear safety cooperation,” by The Japan Times.

--“U.K. Leader Calls Iran Nuclear Deal Critical for Regional Security,” by Nicolas Winning for The Wall Street Journal.


--“Advising the Next U.S. President on Korea,” with Victor Cha and Robert Galluci, hosted by the Korea Society. December 12, 2016 at 10:00am with reception beginning at 9:30am. The Korea Society, Eighth Floor, E. 57 St., & Third Ave., New York. RSVP here.

--“Nuclear Security: Opportunities for the Next Administration,” on-the-record discussion on nuclear challenges and opportunities the Trump administration faces to reduce nuclear dangers hosted by The Stimson Center, featuring: Anne Harrington, Daniel Lipman, Edward McGinnins, Samantha Pitts-Kiefer, and moderated by Debra Decker. December 15 4:00-5:30PM at The Stimson Center, 1211 Connecticut Ave. NW, 8th Floor, Washington, D.C. 20036. RSVP and details here.

--“Command and Control: An American Experience Documentary,” broadcasted by PBS affiliated networks nationwide. January 10, 2017 on PBS. Check your local listings for times.

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