Israel Ambassadors Support Deal With Iran

By Joe Cirincione. Originally published on Huffington Post.

A day after Mike Huckabee said that President Obama was “marching the Israelis to the door of the oven,” former U.S. ambassadors to Israel strongly supported the nuclear deal reached between Iran and world powers. The ambassadors joined with former under secretaries of State in a letter to congressional leaders applauding the agreement to shrink, freeze and monitor Iran’s nuclear program. They urged those against the deal to consider carefully the consequences of such an action.

“Our firm instructions in every administration we served, reflecting American national interests and values were to help assure Israel’s well-being and safety,” the signers wrote. “It is our commitment to this enduring objective of American policy that motivates us now to write in support of the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action.”

These ambassadors join the overwhelming majority of former diplomats and national security officials who have come out in favor of the deal to block all of Iran’s pathways to a bomb. There is fierce opposition to the agreement, but most is from political figures and neoconservative groups, with few former senior officials backing them.

“This landmark agreement removes the threat that a nuclear-armed Iran would pose to the region and to Israel specifically,” the signers wrote. “If the extensive monitoring and verification system in the JCPOA is carried out faithfully, then a greatly restrained Iran will be unable to pose a credible military threat to Israel.”

“No agreement between multiple parties can be perfect or without risks. We believe that without this agreement, however, the risks will be much higher for the United States and Israel,” the signers concluded. “We see no fatal flaws that should call for the rejection of this agreement and have not heard any viable alternatives from those who oppose the implementation of the JCPOA…The rejection of this agreement could lead to the U.S. having to use military force without the support of other allies and without the understanding of the international community.”

The full text of the letter and list of signers is available online here.

The ambassadors said they would be available to talk further to the media, referring all inquiries to Iris Bieri, Deputy Director of The Iran Project, at iris@fcsny.org

The full letter and list of signatures is below.

Letter to Congressional Leadership from Former Under Secretaries of State and former American Ambassadors to Israel on the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action

July 27, 2015

Dear Speaker Boehner and Minority Leader Pelosi:

As former United States ambassadors to Israel and former Under Secretaries of State, we have worked throughout our careers to strengthen and deepen the bonds between the United States and Israel. Our firm instructions in every administration we served, reflecting American national interests and values, were to help assure Israel’s well-being and safety.

It is our commitment to this enduring objective of American policy that motivates us now to write in support of the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) reached by the five permanent United Nations Security Council members plus Germany (P5+1). We are persuaded that this agreement will put in place a set of constraints and monitoring measures that will arrest Iran’s nuclear program for at least fifteen years and assure that this agreement will leave Iran no legitimate avenue to produce a nuclear weapon during the next ten to fifteen years. This landmark agreement removes the threat that a nuclear-armed Iran would pose to the region and to Israel specifically.

We acknowledge that the JCPOA does not achieve all of the goals its current detractors have set for it. But it does meet all of the key goals required for high confidence that, should Iran violate it and move toward building a nuclear weapon, the international intelligence community and the IAEA will discover Iran’s actions early and in sufficient time for strong countermeasures to be taken to stop Iran’s activities. No agreement between multiple parties can be perfect or without risks. We believe that without this agreement, however, the risks will be much higher for the United States and Israel. We see no fatal flaws that should call for the rejection of this agreement and have not heard any viable alternatives from those who oppose the implementation of the JCPOA.

Those who advocate rejection of the JCPOA should assess carefully the value and feasibility of any alternative strategy to meet the goal of better protecting the security of the U.S. and Israel and more effectively prevent Iran from acquiring a nuclear weapon. The consequences of rejection are grave: U.S. responsibility for the collapse of the agreement; the inability to hold the P5+1 together for the essential international sanctions regime and such other action that may be required against Iran; and the real possibility that Iran will decide to build a nuclear weapon under significantly reduced or no inspections. The rejection of this agreement could lead to the U.S. having to use military force without the support of other allies and without the understanding of the international community.

Because there is so little trust that Iran will remain in full compliance with the agreement, the U.S. must remain alert and continue to monitor Iran’s actions carefully. The President and Secretary Kerry have made clear that the U.S. and others will take all steps necessary to assure that Iran does not violate its commitments including to enrich enough highly enriched uranium to build a nuclear weapon. If the extensive monitoring and verification system in the JCPOA is carried out faithfully, then a greatly restrained Iran will be unable to pose a credible military threat to Israel. Additionally, decades of constant American support of Israel’s security requirements now assure that Israel’s well-known and fully understood strategic military capabilities are far superior to those of Iran. This should remain the case in the future.

The Administration must make clear that it will remain the firm policy of the United States during the agreement and beyond, to prevent Iran from acquiring a nuclear weapon by all necessary means.

During the implementation period of the JCPOA, it is essential that Israel remain assured by the Administration of the enduring and unequivocal American commitment to its security and well-being. The prevention of a nuclear-armed Iran must remain a highest priority of U.S. policy in the Middle East.

Sincerely,

R. Nicholas Burns, former Under Secretary of State for Political Affairs and Ambassador to NATO

James Cunningham, former Ambassador to Israel

William Harrop, former Ambassador to Israel

Daniel Kurtzer, former Ambassador to Israel

Thomas R. Pickering, former Under Secretary of State for Political Affairs and former Ambassador to Israel

Edward S. Walker Jr., former Ambassador to Israel

Frank G. Wisner, former Under Secretary of State for International Security Affairs and Under Secretary of Defense for Policy