Posts Tagged ‘Iran’

Agreement with Iran: The Future

October 1, 2015

Thomas Graham, Jr. (Special Representative of the President for Arms Control, Nonproliferation and Disarmament, 1994-1997)


After the signing of the Agreement in Geneva between the Permanent Five of the United Nations Security Council, the United States, France, Russia and China plus Germany (P-5+1) and Iran in July there was an outburst of twitter messages in many cities, not least in Teheran. One message from a young Iranian woman to her boyfriend read: “What this Agreement means to me is good-bye falafel and hello McDonald’s.” Perhaps this comment is not entirely frivolous as Thomas Friedman, the New York Times correspondent once said—in 1996—that “No two countries with a McDonald’s will ever go to war.”

This highly complex Agreement designed to prevent Iran from acquiring a nuclear weapon—which Iran easily could do today should it so decide—is almost certain to come into force as planned. It has been approved 15-0 with the United States voting in the affirmative—which was all that was required to bring it into force. But two nations decided to submit their participation in the Agreement to a vote in their national legislatures. The U.S. Congress did not take action to prevent the President from lifting sanctions related to Iran’s program, the U.S. obligation under the Agreement, therefore the U.S. will participate. The Iranian Parliament has yet to vote but this vote is expected soon and it is anticipated to be positive. As a result the Agreement will come into full force in the latter half of October. But what then?



Ambassador Smith on US-Saudi Relations, ISIS, and the Iran Nuclear Deal

September 28, 2015



The guest for this interview is CAA member Ambassador James Smith. Ambassador Smith was U.S. Ambassador to Saudi Arabia from 2009 to 2013 and now is the President of C&M International, an international policy consulting firm. He is a former U.S. Air Force brigadier general and F-15 fighter pilot who served in Operation Desert Storm. Ambassador Smith is a distinguished graduate of the U.S. Air Force Academy, the Naval War College, and the National War College, where he served as a professor of national security strategy.


Ambassador Susman on the Iran Nuclear Deal

September 23, 2015

Louis Susman (Ambassador to the United Kingdom, 2009-2013)


The Iran nuclear agreement is clearly in the best interests of the United States, Israel and the entire region. The agreement will achieve the primary objective of stopping Iran from obtaining a nuclear weapon for at least a decade and possibly longer.

If this agreement had not been reached, the economic sanctions would have been eliminated by our allies; including Russia and China. Iran would receive not only economic relief but would be the recipients of substantial bi-lateral trade agreements with many countries. They would have no restrictions on their nuclear program with no inspection or verification process in place. If Iran chose to go ahead they would probably have a nuclear weapon in six months versus ten years. It is hard for me to believe the world would be safer if this agreement had not been reached.


Ambassador Stephenson on the Iran Nuclear Agreement

September 17, 2015

Thomas Stephenson (Ambassador to Portugal, 2007-2009)


Most of us would concur that diplomacy should always be the preferred route to resolving conflicts, and few doubt that the efforts of the Obama Administration were well-intentioned as they prepared for the nuclear negotiations with Iran.  From an outsider’s perspective, however, the Administration’s negotiating approach to Iran’s nuclear aspirations and capabilities appears to have been poorly conceived and ineptly executed.  What was said up front and along the way in terms of an acceptable outcome bore little resemblance to the final agreement.

I was in Israel with a delegation shortly before the negotiations with Iran commenced, and the Israeli government and intelligence people with whom we met were extremely apprehensive that we would end up “negotiating with ourselves” and “giving away the store”.  Their biggest concern was that we would change the discussion from one of “whether” Iran would be allowed to process and possess enriched uranium to one of “how much” uranium Iran could enrich and retain.  They were also highly skeptical regarding our ability to enforce any agreement with Iran, and finally they were dismayed that at a point in time when we were gaining increasing leverage on Iran with our economic sanctions, we were proposing to prematurely let Rouhani and the mullahs off the hook.  The Israelis were convinced that Rouhani’s mission was twofold only, to dramatically reduce the economic sanctions imposed by the U.S., the U.N., and the E.U. and to preserve Iran’s nuclear enrichment capability.  It’s fair to say he succeeded brilliantly on both fronts.


Iran deal is a win-win

September 3, 2015

Madeleine Albright (Ambassador to the United Nations, 1993-1997)

Cross-posted from Secretary Albright’s September 2, 2015 special to CNN.


I teach my students that foreign policy is persuading other countries to do what you want. The tools available to accomplish this include everything from kind words to cruise missiles. Mixing them properly and with sufficient patience is the art of diplomacy, a task that for the United States has proved challenging even with our closest allies, and altogether necessary with the Islamic Republic of Iran.

The United States and Iran have been locked in an adversarial relationship since the 1979 hostage crisis. Having worked for President Jimmy Carter, I viewed the country through the prism of that experience when I served in the Clinton administration. Nevertheless, as secretary of state I felt it important to explore the possibility of developing a less chilly relationship with Iran.

During my time in office, we offered to engage in dialogue, but the Iranians were not ready. In the end, although we improved the relationship on the margins, we failed to make much of a dent in the thick wall of mistrust separating our two countries.

These experiences lead me to be wary of the Iranian regime and realistic about the prospects for an overnight change in U.S.-Iranian relations. But it is dangerous not to pursue dialogue, and experience convinces me that the nuclear agreement between world powers and Iran is a wise diplomatic initiative.

After careful review of its provisions, I have given the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action my strong endorsement.


Ambassador Gregg on the Iran Nuclear Deal

September 1, 2015

Donald P. Gregg (Ambassador to South Korea, 1989-1993)


In assessing the current nuclear deal with Iran, it may be useful to remind ourselves of some highly pertinent facts from the past that are seldom mentioned.

First, in 1953, the democratically elected premier of Iran, Mohammad Mossadegh, was overthrown by those avatars of American exceptionalism, the Dulles brothers, John Foster as secretary of state and Allen Welsh as director of central intelligence. We may find it convenient to forget this, but the Iranians never will. Mossadegh’s major sin, in our eyes, was his nationalization of Iran’s oil fields. The British were particularly outraged by this, and the American coup was undertaken with London’s full support.

Second, in 1979, Iran’s Islamic Revolution took place, spearheaded by the seizure of the American Embassy in Tehran, and bringing Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini to power.

Third, in 1980, Iraq invaded Iran over a border dispute, and in the ensuing bloody conflict, that lasted for eight years, America strongly supported Iraq against Iran.

Fourth, in early 2002, President George W. Bush gave his “axis of evil” speech, which led to the invasion of Iraq in 2003, created a deeply hostile relationship between Iran and the U.S. and ended a hopeful period of rapprochement between Washington and North Korea.

Fifth, from 2005 to 2013, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, rabidly anti-Israel and anti-American, was president of Iran. Any sort of intensive diplomatic activity with the Iranians during that period would have been impossible.


Ambassador Eacho on the Iran Nuclear Deal

August 31, 2015

William Eacho (Ambassador to Austria, 2009-2013)


The Iran deal deserves our support. It is clearly in the best interests of the United States, as well as countries in the region, to see Iran move in a direction which reduces their stockpile of enriched uranium and the reduces the risk that they might choose to develop a bomb. This deal does just that. It is not perfect, nor foolproof, but it offers the best chance we have to avoid a regional nuclear arms race.

The deal is quite strong, and quite specific. For example, Iran is required to accept inspectors from any country with whom they share diplomatic relations—countries like Switzerland and Austria, and now the United Kingdom. It also obligates Iran to observe the Additional Protocol of the Non-Proliferation Treaty, a much stronger inspections regime.


Memo to 2016 Presidential Candidates: How to Fix the Iran Nuclear Agreement

August 28, 2015

Marc Ginsberg (Ambassador to Morocco, 1994-1998)

Cross-posted from Ambassador Ginsberg’s August 21, 2015 special to the Huffington Post.


Congress will shortly vote on a resolution of disapproval on the Iran nuclear agreement (formally the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, or “JCPOA”). Whether you are for or against the agreement, whether you have promised to rip it to shreds on your first day in office, or not, its aftershocks are going to reverberate throughout your presidency.

It is obvious to those of us who have spent weeks carefully studying the JCPOA’s fine print and the expert analysis written by the deal’s opponents and proponents that on the two most important tests to our national security the JCPOA does not: 1) prevent Iran from ever building a bomb; and 2) provide adequate deterrents if Iran commences a grinding, grueling effort to cheat & retreat. Consequently, the agreement falls quite short of its Broadway billing.

While the agreement is what it is and is likely to survive a Congressional vote of disapproval there is much you can encourage President Obama and Congress to do before you are elected to improve the agreement’s chances of fulfilling America’s national security objectives.

As I note below, there is a hidden minefield of national security challenges in the JCPOA. President Obama has worked hard to secure this deal, so he should be more open-minded about what negotiations did not achieve and commence his own repair job in order to reduce those national security threats. But the President seems quite content with his handiwork and has not evidenced an intent to take a presidential glue gun to fill in the agreement’s gaps.


Ambassador Roosevelt on the Iran Nuclear Deal

August 28, 2015

Selwa S. Roosevelt (Ambassador and Chief of Protocol, 1982-1989)


I believe the Iran nuclear is in the best interest of the USA, and certainly think we and our allies will be better off with the deal than if we walk away from it.

I would urge the Congress to vote in support of the deal–regardless of how they might feel about Iran’s compliance. I believe Iran will comply and I also believe that in 15 years so many factors will come into play–the possibility of a new regime in Tehran, the hope for a new government in Israel that will be more willing to accept this new look.


5 Steps for Engaging With North Korea

August 3, 2015

Governor Bill Richardson (Ambassador to the United Nations, 1997-1998)

Cross-posted from Governor Richardson’s July 22, 2015 special to Time.


Reports that North Korea has ruled out denuclearization talks following the signing of the Iran nuclear agreement should come as no surprise. Nor should these reports discourage the U.S. and other world powers from engaging Pyongyang. The initial objective of this engagement should be to halt testing of nuclear devices, stop the launching of ballistic missiles, and prevent proliferation.

In order to successfully engage with North Korea, one has to keep in mind several perspectives. First, saying they are not interested in talks does not necessarily mean the North Koreans are not interested in engaging. In fact, I believe North Korea is interested, but wants the engagement to be on its terms and acknowledging its status.

The North Koreans are following recent U.S. engagement strategy very closely: in Myanmar, Cuba and now Iran. The engagement momentum itself should be used to spark conversations.