For the past seven years, Jewish Federation of Greater MetroWest NJ has been advocating for strong sanctions against Iran to stop it from enriching uranium and pursuing nuclear weapons. These sanctions were successfully passed in 2010 with great leadership from New Jersey’s own Sen. Robert Menendez. Since that time, additional sanctions to close loopholes were put in place in the United States and by the international community.
These sanctions are making a difference. Iran is starting to feel the heat. Why then, does Secretary of State Kerry want to lessen the sanctions and use them as a bargaining chip prior to the Iranians making any changes to its nuclear enrichment program?
Don’t get me wrong, the Jewish community strongly supports a diplomatic resolution to this situation. However, with more negotiations on the horizon between Iran and the P5+1 (a group of six world powers), the CRC is greatly concerned about the delay in moving the Iran Nuclear Prevention Act forward. We have maintained that it is imperative to strengthen sanctions prior to the current round of negotiations. This bill was passed in the House in the spring and is currently stuck in the Banking Committee. In preparation for this week’s round of negotiations, Senate supporters sparred with Secretary of State Kerry over increasing sanctions.
For the past couple of years, P5+1 negotiations with the Iranians have resulted in no deal. When Iran comes to the negotiating table, it succeeds in continuing to divert the attention of the international community from the dangers its nuclear program presents to the world. Yet we should not be blind to the fact that they still have not made any commitments and continue to accelerate their uranium enrichment with more sophisticated centrifuges, and move their facilities deeper underground.
We believe that now is the moment for increased economic pressure to be combined with diplomatic engagement as the successful ingredient for truly impactful negotiations. We also believe that a carrot and stick approach to negotiations is necessary — the power represented by the stick is the sole leverage in those negotiations and the diminution of which would be a sign of weakness to be exploited. Iran should have no doubt that they have one choice — nuclear power or economic chaos.
There is also something else we can do. According to our partners at United Against Nuclear Iran, we must work with legislators to coordinate with the White House to provide details on what are the acceptable parameters of a deal. While the negotiations are going on, we urge that the U.S. use the following guidelines put forth by UANI:
1. The objective of a nuclear agreement is to prevent Iran from producing nuclear weapons by limiting Iran’s ability to produce fissile material under strong international inspections. A comprehensive agreement should require Iran to comply with UN Security Council Resolutions 1696 and 1737, requiring Iran to suspend enrichment and reprocessing-related activities until “confidence is restored in the exclusively peaceful nature of Iran’s nuclear program…” The period of confidence building is one that we believe must last several years. Iran must also fully cooperate with the International Atomic Energy Agency to resolve questions about its nuclear activities.
2. The sanctions framework has been carefully assembled over many years, and no sanctions rollback should take place until Iran agrees to a comprehensive nuclear agreement with measurable milestones.
3. A comprehensive nuclear agreement is by far the preferred outcome. If prior to a final agreement on a comprehensive nuclear accord the United States, its allies, and Iran agree to an interim agreement that substantially limits Iran’s current nuclear program, the United States and its allies may consider specific and individual transactional waivers of sanctioned/prohibited activity. Any such interim agreement should include a time limit on the final negotiation of a comprehensive agreement and automatic reimposition of sanctions on such transactions if one is not reached within that time.
4. Iran’s new president should have 100 days from his election to take substantial and concrete actions to resolve concerns about Iran’s nuclear program. In the absence of such action, the United States and its allies should move to impose new sanctions to be implemented after Jan. 1, 2014. Subsequently, Iran should face ever increasing and new sanctions as diplomacy continues.
5. If Iran complies with its international obligations and restores confidence in the exclusively peaceful nature of its nuclear program, including the suspension of its enrichment and reprocessing-related activities for a substantial period (i.e. several years), the United States and its allies can consider the scale and scope of its nuclear program, including whether Iran is allowed to resume limited enrichment for peaceful purposes.
We believe that sanctions are making a difference, but they must continue to be enhanced if they are to have the desired impact on the regime. Given the historic practice of Iran extending negotiations to buy time and allow further nuclear development, Iran should have a “time-limited” opportunity to reach a nuclear accord without facing additional sanctions, even as diplomatic efforts continue.