Two Years Later, Iran Deal Still Successful

After two years, Iran Deal a success - “Friday, July 14, will mark the two-year anniversary of the P5+1 (China, France, Germany, Russia, the United Kingdom and the United States) and Iran finalizing the nuclear agreement known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA.)” writes Kelsey Davenport for the Arms Control Association. “In addition to blocking Iran’s pathways to nuclear weapons, the deal is also paving the way for much-needed cooperative work to enhance the safety and security of Iran’s peaceful nuclear activities, a benefit shared by the entire region.”

--“In the run up to the anniversary, Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif met with German Foreign Minister Sigmar Gabriel June 27 in Berlin. Gabriel said that the deal prevented an ‘unrestricted arms race’ in the region and Germany would ‘oppose any attempt to call [the deal] into question.’ Gabriel’s remarks were likely aimed at the United States, where the Trump administration is reviewing its policy toward Iran, which includes evaluating U.S. participation in the nuclear deal.” Full article here.

See also - “Retired Flag Officers Warn Against Regime Change and ‘Aggressive Posturing’ Toward Iran” by Jim Lobe for LobeLog here.

Tweet - @Diplomacy_Works: Friday marks 2 yrs since the #JCPOA was negotiated; all parties continue to comply -despite ongoing political challenges- & it is a success

Europeans worry Trump will stymie deal - “European diplomats say they are increasingly concerned the Trump administration will stretch out its review of the Iranian nuclear deal, undermining the agreement by curbing the economic benefits designed to ensure Iran’s compliance,” writes Laurence Norman for The Wall Street Journal. “European officials still believe the Trump administration won’t abandon the nuclear deal, but many fear Washington will keep it under a rolling review. That, they say, would crimp economic benefits Iran expected from the agreement by persuading already cautious Western banks and investors to stay away—whereas President Barack Obama’s top officials urged engagement with Tehran.”

--“While the Trump administration has expressed doubts about the accord, European capitals welcomed it as a way to block Iran’s path to nuclear weapons in coming years and to re-engage economically and diplomatically with Tehran. They argue, as the Obama administration did, that only by separating the nuclear issue from other concerns about Iran’s regional behavior could the nuclear issue—the most urgent at the time—be resolved.” Full article here.

See also - “Neocon Comparison of Iran and Soviet Union Profoundly Flawed” by Sina Azodi for Atlantic Council here.

Tweet - @Cirincione: A deal is possible and preferable to war.

Ploughshares Fund in the News - Secretary of State John Kerry spoke in defense of diplomacy at Ploughshares’ Chain Reaction Gala in San Francisco. Sec. Kerry speaks about the difficulty — and the importance — of diplomacy in solving some of the greatest challenges we face as a nation: “I saw how instrumental our leadership was in the course of the P5+1 [JCPOA negotiations]— you don't think negotiating with 7 countries is hard? It's hard. Especially with some of your friends trying to curry favor with some of your other friends, by sawing things down or changing things as you go along. Complicated. But we got it done. That is in the best traditions of everything that we have fought for as a global community, since the end of World War II.” Watch it here.

Stumbling into breach of the JCPOA - The administration’s July 10 statement on Iran may put the U.S. in breach of the JCPOA, writes Mitchell Plitnick for Lobelog: “Deputy Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders was explaining how ‘the president successfully achieved his objectives on behalf of the American people at the G20’ last week. One of those achievements, Sanders said was that ‘In his discussions with more than a dozen foreign leaders, he underscored the need for nations to join together to strip terrorists of their funding, territory and ideological support—and to stop doing business with nations that sponsor terrorism, especially Iran.’”

--“The United States committed to ‘implement this JCPOA in good faith and in a constructive atmosphere, based on mutual respect, and to refrain from any action inconsistent with the letter, spirit and intent of this JCPOA that would undermine its successful implementation.’ Even more directly, Sanders’ account of Trump’s actions would mean that the US is in violation of its commitment to ‘refrain from any policy specifically intended to directly and adversely affect the normalization of trade and economic relations with Iran inconsistent with their commitments not to undermine the successful implementation of this JCPOA.’” For the full article, click here.

Don’t give Trump new nukes - “On Thursday, the House is expected to vote on whether to give President Donald Trump a new, more ‘usable’ nuclear weapon. The clear answer is ‘No.’ Even President Trump’s own secretary of defense, Gen. James Mattis, remains unconvinced that we need this new weapon, which will cost up to $30 billion and could make nuclear war more likely,” writes Tom Collina for The Hill.

--“The Pentagon wants to dramatically ramp up funding for the LRSO now, before the review is done. This makes no sense. It’s like doubling your bid on a new house before you decide to buy it. The 2017 budget for the LRSO and its nuclear warhead is $316 million. For 2018, the Trump administration is seeking $888 million, an increase of $572 million or 181 percent. Huge. Congress simply should not approve a funding increase of 181 percent for any weapon that the secretary of defense is still questioning.” For the full article, click here.

Tweet - @enfein: Mattis not making commitment on LRSO ... waiting to complete NPR. That said, LRSO gets $888 million in FY18 budget

Ploughshares Fund in the News - Creator of CBS hit show Madam Secretary, Barbara Hall, spoke at Ploughshares Fund’s annual Gala in June. She spoke about the show's relationship to real world events. Barbara told the audience, "Wouldn't it be interesting I thought, fun even, to have a place where everyone could come to a discussion about politics and remain grounded and rational — a tall order, but I wanted to give it a try." Watch it here.

Five-party talks for North Korea - “An aide to South Korean President Moon Jae-in has proposed that five-way talks be held among Japan, the United States, China, Russia and South Korea in dealing with North Korea’s nuclear program,” reports The Japan Times. Given that North Korea is refusing to take part in the existing six-way format among Tokyo, Washington, Beijing, Moscow, Seoul and Pyongyang, the other five nations in the dialogue framework should hold a meeting to fill the gaps in their positions and draw up a common strategy, Moon Chung-in, special presidential adviser said.” Full article here.

See also - “Take It from 3 Former Ambassadors: Neglecting Diplomacy Will Hurt America” by Frank G. Wisner, William Luers and Thomas Pickering for The National Interest here.

Dealing with a nuclear North Korea - The Trump administration “understood that Kim Jong Un’s programs were progressing despite the United States doing every responsible thing it could to impede their advance,” writes Jon Wolfsthal for Foreign Policy. “While the United States has taken steps that have slowed this program down and made it more expensive and less reliable, nothing can prevent North Korea from further developing its missile and nuclear programs unless the North wants to stop. The American security community has been focused for so long on negotiating an end to North Korea’s program that we have not done the hard work of figuring out how to successfully manage the much more complex deterrent relationship now emerging.”

--“First, we must decide what we want to deter North Korea from doing with its newly acquired capabilities. In addition, U.S. policy should be to consider any attempt by North Korea to sell nuclear weapons or nuclear weapon-usable materials an act of aggression against the United States that would require a direct response. Lastly, we must make clear that North Korea’s nuclear capabilities are not a license to take military action or conduct cyber operations against the United States or its allies. Unlike Trump’s tweets, our conclusions need to be specific and we need to back them up, lest confidence in U.S. commitments — to deter our enemies and protect our allies — gets even weaker.” For the full article, click here.

Tweet - @VCDNP: Don't miss @ArmsControlWonk on @NPR's This American Life discussing #NorthKorea scheduled to air tomorrow, 14 July

See also - “Chinese imports from North Korea fall sharply, a sign that Beijing is cracking down?” by Anna Fifield for The Washington Post here.

Time to disrupt status quo with China - “The bleak reality grows ever more apparent as North Korea fires off increasingly sophisticated missiles that could one day carry a nuclear weapon,” writes Gerald F. Seib for the Wall Street Journal. “So the pressing question is: Among all the imperfect options for dealing with North Korea, what strategy holds the best hope? Few are more qualified to offer an answer than Robert Gates, the most seasoned senior U.S. national-security official of the last half-century.”

--“The Gates proposal proceeds from several basic principles. First: There simply is no good pure military option for attacking North Korea. Second: ‘China is still the key no matter how you slice it,’ Mr. Gates says. ‘It seems to me the need is for a comprehensive strategy you would lay out to the Chinese at a very high level, which would basically have both a diplomatic and a military component.’ In other words, make a deal with China before you deal with North Korea and its leader, Kim Jong Un, directly.” For the full article, click here.

Tweet - @DarylGKimball: "Is There Still Time for Diplomacy With North Korea?" by Joel Wit and William McKinney

Quick Hits

--“Alaska Looks at a Nuclear Threat, and Shrugs It Off” by Kirk Johnson for The New York Times here.

--“Safeguards Challenges In The Nuclear Weapons Ban” by Jeffrey Lewis for Arms Control Wonk here.

--“President Moon's North Korea Strategy” by Rudiger Frank and 38 North for The Diplomat here.

--“Hackers Have Been Targeting U.S. Nukes” by Jamie Condliffe for MIT Technology Review here.

--“Nuclear Weapons: The Burden and the Dream for Peace” by Rabbi Dr. Shmuly Yanklowitz for HuffPost here.

--“Dr. Strangelove and the Los Alamos Nuclear Fiasco” by Kelley Beaucar Vlahos for The American Conservative here.

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