Gary Hart is a PSA Advisory Board member and former senator, Timothy E. Wirth is a former senator. The original article appeared in The Denver Post.
Wirth and Hart: Don’t sabotage Iran nuke deal
“There is agreement on nothing until there is agreement on everything” is a bedrock principle of the pending nuclear negotiations with Iran. “Everything” means everything having to do with controlling Iran’s nuclear program, not everything having to do with the total U.S.-Iran relationship.
Though not yet an agreement, the “framework” has many breakthrough principles, including:
• Uranium enrichment only at the plant in Natanz, Iran, and no enrichment at the Fordow underground facility;
• Prohibition of the Arak heavy water research reactor from producing weapons-grade plutonium or reprocessing to recover plutonium from spent fuel;
• A reduction and then a limit on Iran’s stockpile of enriched uranium to 300 kilograms for 15 years;
•A two-thirds reduction in installed centrifuges for 10 years; and
• A range of limitations and inspections that will be in force over a 10-25 year period and some permanent inspections of the program.
But, for this to be an agreement clearly in the interest of U.S. national security, important issues have yet to be resolved, including inspections, enforcement and the “snapback” provisions, under which Iran would receive relief from sanctions that have crippled its economy.
The next three months are a crucial make-or-break time in this calculus.
Congress’ role in this matter is vital. Most sanctions cannot be lifted without the affirmative action of Congress, and review of any final agreement is appropriate. But premature action while the negotiation is incomplete will be construed as an anticipatory veto of any final agreement before it is even seen.
The world is well aware of the partisan gridlock that has infected Washington. The drums of partisanship have already begun to beat in both the United States and Iran. We urge that Congress rise above these distractions and not prematurely undermine these historic negotiations.
If there is a final agreement, Congress will have plenty of time and the information required to take effective action on the issue.
A unified international effort in implementing an effective sanctions program has made these negotiations possible. Further cooperation from our international allies will be essential. We will need their cooperation to put in place the snapback provisions in any final agreement.
If final negotiations fail, there will certainly be a return to a strengthened sanctions regime.
A thoughtful and thorough congressional and public review of any final agreement is the right way to obtain continued international support for our positions. The worst of all outcomes is to be held accountable by the international community for the failure of these negotiations.