Arms Control Association
For Immediate Release: June 26, 2014
Media Contacts: Daryl G. Kimball, executive director, 202-463-8270 x107; Kelsey Davenport, nonproliferation analyst, x102; Greg Thielmann, senior fellow, x103.
(Washington, D.C.)–In less than one month, negotiators from the United States and its P5+1 partners (China, France, Germany, Russia and the United Kingdom) and their Iranian counterparts aim to conclude a historic, multi-year agreement to ensure that Iran’s nuclear program is exclusively peaceful.
A new report from the research staff of the nonpartisan, independent Arms Control Association (ACA) reviews the key issues and outlines realistic and effective options that are available to the negotiators that could help secure a “win-win” outcome that guards against a nuclear-armed Iran. The report, “Solving the Iranian Nuclear Puzzle,” is available online in PDF and HTML versions.
“As our report makes clear, these negotiations are one of the most complex — and one of the most important — nuclear negotiations in recent decades. Progress has been achieved in some areas, but gaps remain in others. The most difficult issues will not likely be settled until the 11th hour, but the two sides have a number of realistic, effective, and verifiable options available that would address the core concerns of both sides,” said Daryl G. Kimball, ACA executive director and one of the co-authors of the report.
“Our analysis shows that the agreement can and should: 1) establish verifiable limits on Iran’s uranium-enrichment and plutonium-production capacity that substantially increase the time it would take for Iran to break out of the nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty and try to build nuclear weapons; 2) increase the international community’s ability to promptly detect and effectively disrupt any future effort by Iran to build nuclear weapons, including at potential undeclared sites, and decrease Iran’s incentives to build up its nuclear capacity through nuclear fuel supply guarantees and phased sanctions relief,” said ACA nonproliferation analyst and lead author, Kelsey Davenport.
“Such agreement, if concluded this year would on balance significantly improve U.S. and international security,” she added.
“One critical goal for the P5+1 is to increase the time it would take to produce enough fissile material for an arsenal and enhance inspections and monitoring to ensure that any such effort could be detected and disrupted,” Davenport said.
“Our report outlines options for limiting, ideally at lower levels, Iran’s present-day enrichment capacity and its stockpile of low enriched uranium in gaseous form, which would prevent Iran from making a quick dash to try to build nuclear weapons but would still provide Iran with more than sufficient capacity for its nuclear fuel needs,” she said.
Co-author and ACA senior fellow Greg Thielmann notes that “it is extremely unlikely that Iran would invite further sanctions and/or a military attack in order to produce enough fissile material for just one nuclear weapon, which is not an effective deterrent. If Iran tried to build a militarily significant nuclear arsenal, it would take considerably more than a year to amass enough material for additional weapons, convert the weapons-grade enriched uranium from gaseous to metal form, assemble and perhaps test a nuclear device, and mate the bombs with an effective means of delivery.”
Thielmann is a former State Department intelligence analyst and former professional staff member of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence.
“Neither side can expect that they will achieve everything they seek to achieve in the negotiation,” noted Kimball. “In the final analysis, serious policy makers in the United States, Iran and in other capitals who have responsibility for approving actions necessary to implement the agreement must consider whether their country is better served by a good, effective comprehensive nuclear agreement than without such an agreement. Our conclusion is that such a deal is within reach and is far more preferrable — for both sides — than the alternatives,” he said.
The Arms Control Association (ACA) is an independent, membership-based organization dedicated to providing authoritative information and practical policy solutions to address the dangers posed by the world’s most dangerous weapons.