Wirth and Hart: Don’t sabotage Iran nuke deal

by PSA Staff | April 20th, 2015 | |Subscribe

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.

The means of coercing Iran

by PSA Staff | April 14th, 2015 | |Subscribe

Robert McFarlane is a PSA Advisory Board member and served as President Reagan’s national security adviser. The original article appeared in The Washington Times.

The means of coercing Iran

How would the prospects for stability in the Middle East be affected if Iran were to succeed in its effort to become a nuclear power? In what ways might we expect Iran to behave differently?

The behavior of the Soviet Union in the late 1970s is instructive on this point. Despite signing the 1972 SALT I Agreement with the United States, which put restraints on strategic nuclear forces, the USSR soon began to violate several of its tenets and to establish an advantage in ICBM warheads. Before long it had established a comfortable margin of superiority over the United States. Then, secure against any plausible threat, it became more willing to take risks to expand its influence in various parts of the world. We recall well those years from ‘75 to ‘80 in which the Kremlin’s support for so-called wars of national liberation enabled them to exert a prevailing influence in country after country — Angola, then Ethiopia, South Yemen, Mozambique, Afghanistan (following an invasion by more than 100,000 troops), and ultimately, Nicaragua. Not until the early ‘80s, as the United States restored its will to oppose Soviet expansion, did the Kremlin change course.

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The Iran Deal and Its Consequences

by PSA Staff | April 8th, 2015 | |Subscribe

George Shultz is a PSA Advisory Board member and former Secretary of State, Henry Kissinger is a former Secretary of State. The original article appeared in The Wall Street Journal.

The Iran Deal and Its Consequences

The announced framework for an agreement on Iran’s nuclear program has the potential to generate a seminal national debate. Advocates exult over the nuclear constraints it would impose on Iran. Critics question the verifiability of these constraints and their longer-term impact on regional and world stability. The historic significance of the agreement and indeed its sustainability depend on whether these emotions, valid by themselves, can be reconciled.

Debate regarding technical details of the deal has thus far inhibited the soul-searching necessary regarding its deeper implications. For 20 years, three presidents of both major parties proclaimed that an Iranian nuclear weapon was contrary to American and global interests—and that they were prepared to use force to prevent it. Yet negotiations that began 12 years ago as an international effort to prevent an Iranian capability to develop a nuclear arsenal are ending with an agreement that concedes this very capability, albeit short of its full capacity in the first 10 years.

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The Fantasy of a Better Iran Deal

by PSA Staff | April 7th, 2015 | |Subscribe

Samuel R. Berger is a PSA Advisory Board member and was national security adviser to President Bill Clinton from 1997-2001; he is also currently chair of Albright Stonebridge Group. The original article appeared in Politico.

The Fantasy of a Better Iran Deal

Some are insisting on a “better deal” than the framework nuclear agreement reached with Iran on April 2. But the idea of a better deal is a chimera, an illusory option, and it should not lull us into thinking there is another agreement to be had if only we were to bear down harder. The present agreement, which depends on important pieces to be resolved by the end of June, can substantially reduce the ability of Iran to develop a nuclear weapon over the next ten years or more and also creates a dynamic that could be a game changer in the combustible Middle East.

Senator Mark Kirk has postponed a vote on the Iran sanctions bill he wrote with Senator Robert Menendez, possibly until June 30. This is a constructive step, avoiding an action that would undercut negotiations toward a final agreement. But we need to keep the sanctions issue in mind because it is inextricably intertwined with the same calls for a better deal emanating from people in Congress, Israel, and other critics. No one can argue that a better agreement wouldn’t be better—3,000 Iranian centrifuges is better than 5,000; a 20-year deal is better than 10. The tough question is: How do you get there? Putting aside what the Iranians might do in response to additional pressure—dig in deeper, speed up their program–and looking just at our side of the equation, the notion of a better deal is unachievable.

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Hamilton: Congress feels left out on foreign policy

by PSA Staff | April 6th, 2015 | |Subscribe

Lee Hamilton is a PSA Advisory Board member, chairman of the Center on Congress at Indiana University, and served as congressman from Indiana’s 9th Congressional District from 1965-1999. The original article appeared in The Detroit News.

Hamilton: Congress feels left out on foreign policy

Congress has developed a fondness for open letters when it comes to Iran. First came the warning shot signed by 47 Republican senators that touched off a storm of criticism. Not to be outdone, the House checked in with its own bipartisan and more diplomatically stated letter to President Barack Obama, warning that its members must be satisfied with any agreement before they’ll vote to reduce sanctions.

What lies behind these moves? I think Congress feels left out of foreign policymaking.

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HAMILTON: Congress and the President need to consult – and not just on Iran

by PSA Staff | April 3rd, 2015 | |Subscribe

Lee Hamilton is director of the Center on Congress at Indiana University and current Advisory Board Co-Chair to the Partnership for a Secure America. He was a member of the U.S. House of Representatives for 34 years. The article originally appeared in Your Houston News.

HAMILTON: Congress and the President need to consult – and not just on Iran

Congress has developed a fondness for open letters when it comes to Iran. First came the warning shot signed by 47 Republican senators that touched off a storm of criticism. Not to be outdone, the House checked in with its own bipartisan and more diplomatically stated letter to the President, warning that its members must be satisfied with any agreement before they’ll vote to reduce sanctions.

What lies behind these moves? I think Congress feels left out of foreign policy-making.

I have considerable sympathy for this impulse. Over the decades, too much power has drifted to the President when it comes to foreign affairs. The Congress has been deferential, even timid, in allowing this to happen. (more…)

Let’s Make the Deal with Iran

by PSA Staff | February 26th, 2015 | |Subscribe

William J. Perry is a former secretary of defense and PSA Advisory Board member. Sean O’Keefe is a former secretary of the Navy and deputy director of the Office of Management and Budget. Adm. James Stavridis (ret.) served as NATO’s supreme commander. Joe R. Reeder is a former undersecretary of the Army. The article originally appeared in the Politico Magazine.

Let’s Make the Deal with Iran

We can’t let partisan infighting destroy what could be a historic nuclear pact.

America is the safest when its leaders work together to effectively meet national security and foreign policy challenges. Yet partisan infighting threatens to upend our nation’s best chance to stem the very real Iranian nuclear threat.

The latest round of negotiations has the United States and Iran mulling a nuclear agreement that would prevent Tehran from amassing enough material to make a bomb for at least 10 years. President Obama says he doesn’t need congressional approval, while lawmakers say they will pore over the terms or even force a vote. Congress also could effectively kill the agreement by refusing to lift or adding to existing sanctions against Iran. The equation gets even more complicated with the addition of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s speech next week before a joint session of Congress, when he is expected to make the case against any pact with Iran.

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The Confusing State of the World

by PSA Staff | January 27th, 2014 | |Subscribe

Tara Sonenshine is former undersecretary of state for public diplomacy and public affairs, a former PSA Board of Directors member, and currently a distinguished fellow at George Washington University’s School of Media and Public Affairs. This article was originally published in the Washington Times

Pseudo-states and Strange Bedfellows Blur Borderlines

Were it not so deadly serious, it would be satirical. The United States is losing its sense of geospatial positioning. We may be one of the few “countries” left in the world — replaced by a series of pseudo-states, groups and strange bedfellows.

Imagine having to teach geography in 2014, let alone understand it. That spinning globe we used to use, with color-coded countries and bright borders, national flags and easy-to-pronounce places hardly seems useful. We may need a 2014 Guide to Groups within Countries.

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What are the Benefits of a CTBT?

by PSA Staff | January 22nd, 2014 | |Subscribe

Jenifer Mackby is a Senior Adviser at Partnership for a Secure America. She worked on the negotiations and implementation of the CTBT and has served in senior positions at a number of international organizations focusing on nuclear, biological, and conventional weapons issues. Mackby is the co-author of several books on these subjects and has appeared in The New York Times, the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists, and National Defense University publications.

What are the Benefits of a CTBT?

While waves of generations in many countries have fought for a treaty to ban nuclear weapon test explosions, the U.S. Congress has been divided on the issue in recent decades. The Senate rejected the Comprehensive Nuclear Test Ban Treaty (CTBT) in 1999 by a vote of 51-48, putting it on the same side of the street as those it finds most unsavory– North Korea, Iran, Pakistan. In a 2009 bipartisan Congressional Commission on the Strategic Posture of the U.S., the CTBT was the only issue on which they could not agree. However, given new political realities and new scientific findings about verification capabilities, many in the national security community now support the treaty and believe it should be re-visited.

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Diplomatic success always trumps a military victory

by PSA Staff | January 13th, 2014 | |Subscribe

Thomas Pickering is former US ambassador to Venezuela and Czechoslovakia; and former US Under Secretary of State and ambassador to Israel, Russia, India, the UN and Jordan. Mr. Pickering is a member of PSA’s Advisory Board. William Luers, director of the Iran Project, co-authored the article. The article was originally published in the Financial Times.

Diplomatic Success Always Trumps a Military Victory

Diplomatic negotiations with Iran strike many Americans as an oxymoron. How could serious negotiations be conducted with a nation we have distrusted for decades, that has persisted in developing a nuclear programme, has threatened Israel and is involved in terrorist activities?

Yet the same Americans are quick to oppose a military solution. So the conclusion is that diplomacy must be tried. To help Americans understand that diplomacy can be used to manage some of the toughest problems, former secretaries of state Henry Kissinger and George Shultz have written an article endorsing diplomacy. It is hard to disagree.

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All blog posts are independently produced by their authors and do not necessarily reflect the policies or positions of PSA. Across the Aisle serves as a bipartisan forum for productive discussion of national security and foreign affairs topics.