Deputy British Ambassador to the US: Why the Iran Deal Is Our Best Option

By Deputy British Ambassador to the US, Patrick Davies. Originally published on Medium.

Why the Iran Deal Is Our Best Option

In July, after 12 years of international pressure and negotiations, a comprehensive nuclear deal with Iran was reached. This deal has global support, including the unanimous approval of the UN Security Council and the European Union.

In our view, it is unequivocally the best available option we have to stop Iran from developing nuclear weapons. Nuclear experts, military experts, and the international community are all in favour of this agreement, which has been negotiated and agreed by the UK, US and the rest of the P5+1 (France, Germany, Russia and China).

Since the deal was announced, the British Ambassador to the US has joined P5+1 colleagues in meeting with members of Congress. In hallways and hearing rooms, we’ve spoken with over 35 US Representatives and Senators. But in the debate surrounding the agreement, we’ve found that many mistruths and myths persist.

Myth: Even if Congress kills the deal, Iran would return to the table.

It is unrealistic to think that Iran would come back to the table. Unprecedented international sanctions helped bring Iran to the table. But they did not stop Iran’s nuclear programme. In 10 years, Iran has increased its numbers of centrifuges from just over 100 to 19,000. Iran is dangerously close to developing a nuclear weapon. We cannot afford to give Iran more time.

If Congress walks away, the international sanctions regime would unravel, international unity and pressure on Iran would reduce, and we could be left with no ability to monitor Iran’s nuclear programme.

Myth: We can get a better deal.

There is no better alternative. This deal cuts off all potential pathways to Iran gaining a nuclear weapon, increasing the breakout time from 2-3 months to one year. If implemented, this deal would be a major success for global security, such that three dozen top US generals and admirals are supporting the deal, and calling on Congress to do the same.

This deal provides unprecedented access for the IAEA’s team of highly trained experts to ensure that Iran sticks to its commitments. Look no further than the letter recently signed by 29 of the US’s top scientists — many of whom work at the highest levels of security – proclaiming the agreement both “innovative” and “stringent.”

Myth: Europe won’t snapback sanctions.

On sanctions, the UK has been unequivocal. If Iran cheats, we will not hesitate to snapback UN and EU sanctions. The architecture of EU sanctions remains in place so that sanctions can be reinstated at a moment’s notice.

Our track record on sanctions is clear. The EU willingly introduced its own very tough sanctions in order to bring Iran to the negotiating table. We did that, despite the cost to our economies, precisely because we shared the US’s concerns about Iran’s nuclear programme. And we would do so again if required.

Myth: After 15 years, Iran will be able to build a nuclear bomb.

This deal is not just a short-term solution. It’s written with the future in mind. Many measures in the deal will remains in place for 15 to 20 years. Iran will also remain bound by numerous obligations after the deal, including its commitment never to acquire or manufacture nuclear weapons and to adhere to IAEA monitoring regimes in perpetuity.   By committing to the Nuclear Proliferation Treaty’s Additional Protocol, Iran will have to live up to its commitments, as verified by the IAEA, indefinitely.  If Iran implements this deal, we will have a much better understanding of Iran’s nuclear programme.  If it does not, the US and its allies will still have the same range of options available.

This deal secured by the P5+1 is about Iran’s nuclear programme, not about its role in the region. It doesn’t change our very serious concerns about Iran’s behaviour or its human rights record. But it does represent a step forward in global security.  Tackling Iran’s nuclear programme is not only in British and American interests, but in the interest of the entire world.

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