Conservative opposition to the internationally-negotiated deal to limit Iran's ability to obtain a nuclear weapon has been the subject of numerous editorials and op-eds in U.S. newspapers that have pushed false information about the agreement and warned that it compromises U.S. and Israeli security, despite widespread praise from nuclear arms control experts who say the deal is “excellent compared to where we are today.”
Iran Agrees To Historic Deal With U.S And World Powers To Maintain Transparent, Peaceful Nuclear Program
Nuclear Deal Lifts U.S. Economic Sanctions On Iran In Exchange For Guarantee Of Verifiable Peaceful Nuclear Program. President Obama and the leaders of world powers England, France, Russia, China, and Germany reached a landmark nuclear agreement with Iran that “lifts economic sanctions against Iran in exchange for guarantees that its nuclear energy program remains peaceful.” The New York Times reported that the agreement includes a “snapback mechanism to renew United Nations sanctions” in the event that Iran is perceived as violating the deal that “allows the full raft of penalties to resume automatically” :
The agreement lifts economic sanctions against Iran in exchange for guarantees that its nuclear energy program remains peaceful. It is to be endorsed by a Security Council resolution that is expected to pass when it comes up for a vote on Monday. The resolution is to take effect 90 days later, a window of time long enough to let Congress consider the matter and for President Obama to veto a rejection, if necessary.
The so-called snapback mechanism to renew United Nations sanctions is one of the most unusual parts of the deal. In the event that Iran is perceived as violating it, the agreement allows the full raft of penalties to resume automatically, without a vote on the Council that would risk a veto by one of its permanent members -- namely, Russia, Iran's closest ally on the Council.
Instead, the snapback mechanism allows any of the six world powers that negotiated the deal to flag what it considers a violation. They would submit their concerns to a dispute resolution panel. If those concerns remained unresolved, the sanctions would automatically resume after 30 days, or “snap back.” According to the draft Security Council resolution, this means that the previous penalties “shall apply in the same manner as they applied before.”
Preventing a resumption of sanctions would require a vote by the Security Council. That in turn can be vetoed by those who would want the sanctions resumed, presumably the United States and its Western allies.
The snapback provision allows the United States, as one of Iran's toughest critics on the Council, to use the veto power to its advantage. “It's reversing the power of the veto,” one Council diplomat said. “The ones that will likely veto are the ones likely to push for the snapback.” [The New York Times, 7/16/15; Media Matters, 8/7/15]
FALSEHOOD: Iran Has A Secret, Advantageous Side Deal With International Atomic Energy Agency
Writing In The Columbus Dispatch, David Harsanyi Claimed A “Secret” Deal Exists Between IAEA And Iran. David Harsanyi, editor of The Federalist, wrote about a “secret” deal between the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) and Iran concerning the inspections of nuclear facilities:
How many of the voters now familiar with Huckabee's comment understand that there is a secret side deal between the International Atomic Energy Agency and Tehran? How many Americans outraged by Huckabee's comment know that the IAEA will rely on Iran to collect samples at one of its military bases? Do they know that we will give the Iranian regime hundreds of billions of dollars to fund Hamas and Hezbollah -- organizations that aren't squeamish about expressing their views on a second Holocaust? [Columbus Dispatch, 8/1/15]
Chicago Tribune: Bilateral Agreements Between The IAEA And Iran Undermine The Inspection Process. The editorial board of the Chicago Tribune called on the Obama administration to give members of Congress access to the confidential inspection deal between the IAEA and Tehran so lawmakers can learn more details about inspections.
Under the main agreement, Iran is supposed to allow access to its military or civilian sites where IAEA inspectors suspect Iran has done nuclear weapons research and development. High on the list is Parchin, a military complex that the IAEA has tried to inspect for the last three years because experts believe Iran tested nuclear weapons-related equipment there before 2004. But now we learn from Congressional hearings that a separate Iran-IAEA accord could put Iran, not international inspectors, in charge of taking environmental samples at Parchin, under still-to-be-determined IAEA supervision. Sen. James Risch of Idaho of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee aptly compared that arrangement to allowing professional athletes suspected of drug abuse to mail in their own urine samples.
We'd guess the Parchin inspection probably won't turn up much. Since the IAEA demanded to visit Parchin in 2012, Iran has had plenty of time to scrub and reconstruct the base.
But Parchin is just one military facility that the IAEA should visit. What are the ground rules for all the others? Will Iran call the shots? Or will the IAEA? That's unclear. Kerry and other U.S. officials tell Congress they don't have the confidential IAEA-Iran document so they can't turn it over.
Here's a simple two-step process for the administration to resolve these questions. Step one: Get the document from the IAEA. Step two: Turn it over to Congress. [Chicago Tribune, 8/2/15]
FACT: Confidential Inspection Agreements Are Routine In Nuclear Arms Reduction Deals And Unrelated To U.S. Role In Inspections
Center On Arms Control And Non-Proliferation: Confidential Inspections Have Proven Trustworthy And Shield Informants Who Help Ensure Effective Inspections. According to the Center On Arms Control and Non-Proliferation (CACNP), bilateral confidential agreements like the one in the just-concluded Iran nuclear deal have featured in many nuclear arms reduction deals - most recently with Libya. CACNP has warned that revealing information about agreements between the IAEA and Iran could jeopardize potential informants.
Under the deal, Iran must submit a full report to the IAEA regarding its nuclear history before it can receive any sanctions relief. The IAEA will review the report and follow-up with Iran in order to conclude its investigation. The IAEA has said that it expects to complete this report by the end of 2015.
Some critics are calling this a secret side deal between the IAEA and Iran; however, this is standard operating procedure, and every such agreement the IAEA has with other countries is also confidential. This was even true during the IAEA's inspections into Libya. While the general public is not privy to the details of the arrangement, it is safe to assume that the United States government has been fully briefed on the procedures.
The arrangement specifies procedural information regarding how the IAEA will conduct its investigation into Iran's past nuclear history, including mentioning the names of informants who will be interviewed. Releasing this information would place those informants, and the information they hold, at risk. [Center On Arms Control and Non-Proliferation, 8/3/15]
The United States Is a Key Member Of The IAEA And Will Analyze Iranian Inspection Data At Vienna Headquarters. While the IAEA is a non-aligned United Nations organization, its 164 members control inspections protocol. The United States is a charter member of the IAEA - the agency was created in response to U.S. President Dwight Eisenhower's 'Atoms for Peace' speech at the UN in 1953 -- and supplies a large portion of its experts and funding.
Thomas Shea, who spent more than two decades as an IAEA inspector, says Iran does not accept any American inspectors today. He recently told the Atlantic Council that he hopes that will change.
“I do think that there's a need for more Americans on the staff,” he said, pointing out that the U.S. pays a quarter of the IAEA's $380 million annual budget. Shea says this should entitle the U.S. to have one out of four of the inspector jobs.
The IAEA needs to make sure that its reports on Iran are viewed around the world as objective, [Trevor Findlay of Harvard University's Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs] said. He thinks the U.S. could do more in Vienna, where the inspectors' reports are analyzed and where the IAEA's task force on Iran is based.
“The United States often provides cost-free experts to the agency, they provide technology, they provide intelligence information, so the role of the United States is critical,” Findlay said. [NPR,7/18/15; IAEA, accessed 8/7/15]
NPR: Absence Of U.S.-Iranian Diplomatic Relations Excludes Americans From On-The-Ground Inspections. According to NPR, because the U.S. does not maintain normal diplomatic relations with Iran, American inspectors are unable to obtain the necessary visas to enter Iran as part of an IAEA delegation. The public radio station quoted the agreement as saying that Iran “will generally allow the designation of inspectors from nations that have diplomatic relations with Iran.”
Since the U.S. and Iran broke off ties after the 1979 Islamic revolution, it appears unlikely that any American inspectors will be getting a first-hand look at the Iranian nuclear facilities.
Trevor Findlay of Harvard University's Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs says it is not necessary and, perhaps, not helpful, to have American inspectors inside Iran.
“In the Iraq case that was a significant point of controversy,” Findlay told NPR. The presence of US inspectors in UN teams in Iraq “caused political difficulties and in the end was counterproductive.” [NPR, 7/18/15]
FALSEHOOD: Iran Could Deny Inspectors Access To Sites And Hide Incriminating Material During Appeals Process
Abilene Christian University Professor Neal Coates: Iranians Could Scrub Nuclear Sites During Inspection Delay Period. In a sarcasm-laced op-ed for the Abilene Reporter-News headlined, “All for the Iran deal...if you are Iranian,” professor Neal Coats of Texas' Abilene Christian University wrote mockingly about the terms of agreement and said he “had no fear” that Iranians would try to hide evidence of banned activities in the time it takes IAEA inspectors to win access to undeclared nuclear sites:
Instead, there will be a robust and verifiable inspections program. I don't mind the U.S. has given up insistence on “anytime, anywhere” inspections. Under the agreement, Iran can deny inspectors access to any undeclared nuclear site. Shouldn't any country?
The denial is then adjudicated by a committee and can go through several bodies, on all of which Iran sits. Even if inspectors prevail, the approval process can take 24 days. I have no fear of scrubbing at suspected sites -- managed access will work. [Abilene Reporter-News, 8/9/15]
Former Congresswoman Shelly Berkley: Iran Will Use 24-Day Delay To 'Conceal Its Activities.' Israel Project board member and former U.S. Rep. Shelly Berkley (D-NV) wrote an op-ed for the Las Vegas Review-Journal that said provisions in the deal that allow Iran to delay some inspections would give it the ability to “conceal its activities.”
Indeed, the question of access to nuclear sites is already buried in red tape. Although President Obama asserts that “the IAEA will have access where necessary, when necessary,” Iran will have up to 24 days to stonewall the IAEA and conceal its activities. And if agreement on access to a site can't be reached, there is no mechanism to resolve it, which means the vital work of preventing Iran from weaponizing what the regime dishonestly insists is a civilian nuclear program cannot be carried out. [Las Vegas Review Journal, 7/18/15]
FACT: Highly Detectable Traces Of Uranium Remain Even After Removal
International Nonproliferation Expert: Uranium's 4 Billion Year Half-Life Makes It Highly Traceable And Difficult To Hide From Inspectors. Jon Wolfsthal, deputy director of the Center for Nonproliferation and senior director for arms control and nonproliferation at the U.S. National Security Council, explained that uranium's elemental makeup makes it difficult to conceal even in places where it is no longer stored (emphasis added):
U.S. officials say they will make sure the IAEA has what it needs. Jon Wolfsthal, a nuclear expert in the White House, told the Atlantic Council that the Obama administration is already offering technology to ensure Iran adheres to strict limits on its uranium enrichment program.
He cited the cameras and online enrichment monitors that will be installed at enrichment facilities.
“It's sort of like a thermostat. You could set it so that when it hits 3.67, you are good,” Wolfsthal explained, referring to the level to which Iran can enrich uranium under the deal. “When it hits 3.68, it sends an alarm out and we know they've gone above the enrichment level.”
IAEA inspectors won't just be monitoring known nuclear sites. They will also try to make sure there are no hidden facilities.
If inspectors want to go a site, Iran has a maximum of 24 days to let inspectors in or satisfy the IAEA's requests in other ways before Iran is found in non-compliance. Wolfsthal disagrees with those who say this deal gives Iran too much leeway.
“Are we worried Iran is going to build an underground enrichment or reprocessing facility? If they are, they can't get rid of it in 24 days,” he said, describing uranium as a “pesky element” with a half-life of about 4 billion years. “That doesn't easily go away.” [NPR, 7/18/15]
Global Nuclear Security Expert: Criticism Of Inspection Regime Is “Particularly Ridiculous To Anyone Who Knows Anything About Inspecting Nuclear Programs.” Joe Cirincione of the Ploughshares Fund, a global security foundation, said experts are in agreement that nothing could be added to the deal to increase the effectiveness of the inspections (emphasis added):
Joe Cirincione, president of the Washington-based Plowshares Fund, added[add space]Iran has very little, if any, room for error to hide a secret attempt at a nuclear program.
“The claims about the inspection regime are particularly ridiculous to anyone who knows anything about inspecting nuclear programs. If Iran were to flush the evidence down the toilet, they'd have a radioactive toilet. And if they were to rip out the toilet, they'd have a radioactive hole in the ground. They simply won't be able to cheat,” he said.
“There is no silver bullet,” to preventing a secret Iranian program, [Carnegie Endowment Nuclear Policy Program co-director James] Acton noted. “There is nothing else that could be included in this agreement that solves the problem. What it does contain is a series of provisions that significantly mitigate the chance.”
In other words, while a black program may be hypothetical, it is logistically very, very difficult. And Iran was never going to allow inspectors 24/7 access to its entire territory, so the system put in place here helps create roadblocks to a secret program being spun up, Reif said.
According to [the senior director for arms control and nonproliferation at the U.S. National Security Council, Jon] Wolfsthal, Washington aims to expand the funding, technological expertise and personnel it contributes to the IAEA to ensure "24/7 monitoring.
“We're providing satellite coverage, live camera feeds, radio identification, tamper seals. ... We will know whatever goes on in those facilities,” he said. [Defense News, 7/18/15]
FALSEHOOD: Sanctions Relief Will Greatly Increase Iran's Ability To Fund Terrorism
New Hampshire Union Leader Editorial Suggested Nuclear Deal Was Reckless Because Sanctions Relief Will Allow Iran To Fund Terrorists. The Union Leader seized on President Obama's statements that sanctions relief could “flow to activities that we object to” as a sign the deal would fund terrorism and should be rejected.
President Obama on Wednesday called his Iran deal “the strongest nonproliferation agreement ever negotiated.” Minutes later, he conceded, “Now, this is not to say that sanctions relief will provide no benefit to Iran's military. Let's stipulate that some of that money will flow to activities that we object to.”
Listing those activities, he specifically mentioned Iraq's financiaha hal support for terrorist organizations.
In an interview with The Atlantic, published Wednesday, Secretary of State John Kerry also conceded that lifting Iran's sanctions would increase funding for Syria's oppressive regime and terrorist organization Hezbollah. “Yes, but it's not dispositive,” he said. “It's not money that's going to make a difference ultimately in what is happening.”
Obama and Kerry admit the Iran deal will supply cash for the ongoing war against our friends and allies, and they call opponents of the deal “reckless.” Incredible. [Union Leader, 8/5/15]
FACT: Intelligence Experts Believe Iran Will Use Sanction Relief To Restart Economy And Pay Down Debts; Also, Terrorists Would Benefit More From Rejection Of The Deal
Center On Arms Control And Non-Proliferation: Sanctions Relief Will Mostly Go To Servicing Iran's Outstanding Debts And Repairing Crippled Economy. CACNP citied a CIA report that showed much of the money that enters Iran after the sanctions are lifted would go to propping up the economy and paying down debts.
Furthermore, according to a report recently released by the CIA, Iran will use most of the released funds it receives from sanctions relief to bolster its economy, not to aid militant groups it supports.
Iran needs to invest in domestic development and reinvigorate its economy. Iranian President Rouhani has promised to revive the economy by completing formerly halted development projects and bringing down the rate of inflation--progress the Iranian people have been demanding.
Critics of the Iran deal like to exaggerate the amount of blocked funds Iran will receive, claiming that Iran will receive up to $300 billion in sanctions relief. According to US Treasury Secretary Jack Lew, that figure is more like $50 billion. Iran owes at least $20 billion to China in addition to tens of billions in non-performing (unpaid) loans and has around $500 billion worth of pressing domestic investment requirements and government obligations.
Richard Nephew, Program Director of Economic Statecraft, Sanctions and Energy Markets at the Center on Global Energy Policy at Columbia University, suggested “the issue of Iranian support for terrorism is not whether they have the financial resources to do it but rather whether they have the political will, opportunity, and foreign policy incentive... to do so. A nuclear deal will not change this.” [Center On Arms Control and Non-Proliferation, 8/3/15]
CACNP: If The Deal Is Rejected And Iran Obtains A Bomb, Terrorist Allies Could Benefit From Protection Of Nuclear Deterrence. CACNP warned that “if Iran obtains a nuclear weapon, the nuclear deterrent that Iran would extend to its terrorist allies would pose an even greater threat. This deal eliminates that threat, preventing a dramatically worse security situation.” [Center On Arms Control and Non-Proliferation, 8/3/15]
Brookings: An Iranian Nuclear Weapon Could Be Used To Deter Israeli Retaliation Against Terrorist Groups. A Brookings Institute report on nuclear deterrence highlighted the threat of Iran extending nuclear deterrence to terrorist organizations as more dangerous than a conventional attack from Iranian.
For its part, Israel does not have to worry about a conventional Iranian attack as do Persian Gulf states, but it does worry at least as much about an Iranian nuclear arsenal as the Arab states because of the potential spur to Iranian asymmetric aggression against the Jewish state. Most Israeli strategic thinkers discount the likelihood of an Iranian nuclear strike. What they do expect is that, should Iran believe that its own nuclear capability can deter Israeli military retaliation, Tehran will press Hizballah, Hamas, Palestinian Islamic Jihad and its other Palestinian allies to attack Israel both more frequently and with much greater ferocity. [Brookings Institute, 5/1/2010]
FALSEHOOD: Iran Deal Makes The U.S. And Israel Less Safe
National Review Editor: The Nuclear Deal Allows Iran “To Become A Threshold Nuclear Power.” In an op-ed appearing in Texas' Times Record News, National Review editor Rich Lowery said the nuclear deal would leave Iran on the threshold of a nuclear weapon:
This deal is the result of coercive diplomacy absent coercion. In essence, it allows Iran to become a threshold nuclear power (preserving much of its nuclear infrastructure and continuing to enrich) in exchange for us not having to do anything to try to stop Iran from becoming a threshold nuclear power. [Times Record News,8/10/15 accessed via Nexis]
Columbus Dispatch Op-Ed: Obama Trusts Iran To Uphold Agreement, But Dismisses Its Threat To Destroy Israel. The Federalist's David Harsanyi wrote a guest op-ed for The Columbus Dispatch in which he called President Obama “gullible or incompetent” for signing the Iran deal and suggested the president subscribes to a 'dangerous philosophy" on the Middle East.
As many other anti-Semites do, the Iranian government has denied that 6 million Jews were exterminated in Europe, in an attempt to weaken the case for Zionism and the need for a Jewish homeland. The idea that Jews have a duty to pre-emptively defend themselves when threatened is predicated on this recent history, and Iranian mullahs know it.
Nowadays, the mullahs threaten in various ways to bring about a second Holocaust. And the same administration that trusts Iran to uphold its end of an agreement doesn't believe that Iran is earnest about its project to destroy the Jewish state.
Huckabee's remark was unhelpful in the way that conjuring up the Holocaust to make political points always is predictably unhelpful -- even if, believe it or not, there are events that are historically analogous. Accusing the president of marching Jews “to the door of the oven” suggests that the president is interested in starting genocide on purpose, as opposed to suggesting that he is gullible or incompetent or subscribing to a dangerous philosophy when it comes to the Middle East. [Columbus Dispatch, 8/1/15]
Former Rep. Shelly Berkley: Iran Deal Makes U.S. “Less Secure.” Former member of Congress and current Israel Project board member Shelly Berkley (D-NV) said the deal to reduce Iran's stockpile of enriched uranium would make the United States less secure in an op-ed for the Las Vegas Review Journal.
“It's not enough for us to trust when you (Iran) say that you are only creating a peaceful nuclear program. You have to prove it to us,” the president told Thomas Friedman of The New York Times. “And so this whole system that we built is not based on trust; it's based on a verifiable mechanism, whereby every pathway (to a nuclear weapon) that they have is shut off.”
The president's claim doesn't stand up to scrutiny. Therefore, the task before us now is to persuade federal legislators that the right deal with Iran is a deal that leaves America and its allies more, and not less, secure. That means challenging the Iranians not just on their nuclear ambitions, but on their broader drive for regional domination. [Las Vegas Review Journal, 7/18/15]
FACT: The Deal Deprives Iran Of Ability To Produce Weapons-Grade Uranium, And Closes Other Pathways To Bomb
Washington Post: The Deal Will Reduce Iran's Ability To Enrich Uranium Far Below Weapons Grade. The Washington Post reported that the nuclear deal limits Iran to uranium enrichment levels far below what's needed to make a nuclear weapon.
[Washington Post, 715/15]
Global Nuclear Security Expert: The Deal Cuts Iran's Ability To Obtain A Bomb Using Enriched Uranium, Plutonium, Or By Covert Methods. Joe Cirincione of the Ploughshares Fund, a global security foundation, detailed in an article for Slate how the deal will block Iran's path to a bomb via enriched uranium or plutonium or by covert methods.
This deal blocks [the uranium] path. Iran has agreed to rip out over two-thirds of the 19,000 centrifuges it has installed. Just over 5,000 centrifuges will be allowed to continue enriching uranium. All will be located at one facility at Natanz. The deep underground facility at Fordow that so worried Israeli planners (since it could not be destroyed with their weapons) will be shrunk to a couple of hundred operating centrifuges--and these are prohibited from doing any uranium enrichment. They will be used to purify other elements and be closely monitored.
Furthermore, Iran must shrink its stored stockpile of uranium gas from some 10,000 kilograms to just 300 kilograms--and cannot enrich any uranium above 3.67 percent. This limit lasts for 15 years.
Together, these cuts mean that even if Iran tried to renege on the agreement, it would take it at least a year to make enough uranium for one bomb--more than enough time to detect the effort and take economic, diplomatic, or military steps to stop it.
Uranium path, blocked.
Without the deal there is a second way Iran could make a bomb--with plutonium. The bomb at Hiroshima was made of uranium; the bomb at Nagasaki was made of plutonium. Unlike uranium, plutonium does not exist in nature. It is made inside nuclear reactors, as part of the fission process, and then extracted from the spent fuel rods. Iran is constructing a research reactor at Arak that would have produced about 8 kilograms of plutonium each year, or enough theoretically for about two bombs.
Under the new deal, Iran has agreed to completely reconfigure the Arak reactor so that it will produce less than 1 kilogram a year. The old core will be shipped out of the country. Further, Iran has agreed to never build facilities that could reprocess fuel rods and all spent fuel will be shipped out the country.
Plutonium path, blocked.
Finally, without the deal Iran could try to build a covert facility where it could secretly enrich uranium. The verification and monitoring system required by this deal makes that all but impossible.
Inspectors will now track Iran's uranium from the time it comes out of the ground to the time it ends up as gas stored in cylinders. There will be state-of-the-art fiber-optic seals, sensors, and cameras at every facility, inventories of all equipment, tracking of scientists and nuclear workers, and 24/7 inspections. Inspectors will also monitor the manufacture of all centrifuges and related machinery. A special “procurement channel” will be set up through which all of Iran's imported nuclear-related equipment must go.
This makes it extraordinarily difficult for Iran to cheat. Iran might want to set up a covert enrichment plant, but where would it get the uranium? Or the centrifuges? Or the scientists? If a 100 scientists suddenly don't show up for work at Natanz, it will be noticed. If the uranium in the gas doesn't equal the uranium mined, it will be noticed. If the parts made for centrifuges don't end up in new centrifuges, it will be noticed. Iran might be able to evade one level of monitoring but the chance that it could evade all the overlapping levels will be remote.
Covert path, blocked. [Slate, 7/14/15]
Independent Arms Control Experts: “The Deal Is Excellent Compared To Where We Are Today.” Experts from several leading nuclear arms control organizations agree that the nuclear deal with Iran leaves the world safer than the status quo.
Jeffrey Lewis, director of the East Asia Nonproliferation Program at the James Martin Center for Nonproliferation Studies, believes “the deal is excellent compared to where we are today.”
“It puts a gap between [Iran's] ability to build a bomb and actually doing it, and the gap is big enough for us to do something about it if we detect them moving toward a bomb,” Lewis said. “At the highest macro level, I think that's fantastic.”
As to critics who say a better deal should have been reached, Kingston Reif, director for disarmament and threat reduction policy at the Arms Control Association, puts it in simple terms: "A perfect deal was not attainable.
“Overall, it's a very strong and good deal, but it wasn't negotiations that resulted in a score of 100-0 for the US,” Reif said. “That's not how international negotiations go.”
Added James Acton, co-director of the Nuclear Policy Program and senior associate at the Carnegie Endowment: “You can't compare this to a perfect deal, which was never attainable.” [Defense News, 7/18/15]
New York Times: “29 U.S. Scientists Praise Iran Nuclear Deal.” The New York Times reported that 29 of the nation's top scientists with an expertise in nuclear weapons issues wrote a letter to President Obama praising the merits of the nuclear deal and calling it “innovative” and “stringent.”
Twenty-nine of the nation's top scientists -- including Nobel laureates, veteran makers of nuclear arms and former White House science advisers -- wrote to President Obama on Saturday to praise the Iran deal, calling it innovative and stringent.
The letter, from some of the world's most knowledgeable experts in the fields of nuclear weapons and arms control, arrives as Mr. Obama is lobbying Congress, the American public and the nation's allies to support the agreement.
The first signature on the letter is from Richard L. Garwin, a physicist who helped design the world's first hydrogen bomb and has long advised Washington on nuclear weapons and arms control. He is among the last living physicists who helped usher in the nuclear age.
Also signing is Siegfried S. Hecker, a Stanford professor who, from 1986 to 1997, directed the Los Alamos weapons laboratory in New Mexico, the birthplace of the bomb. The facility produced designs for most of the arms now in the nation's nuclear arsenal.
Other prominent signatories include Freeman Dyson of Princeton, Sidney Drell of Stanford and Rush D. Holt, a physicist and former member of Congress who now leads the American Association for the Advancement of Science, the world's largest general scientific society.
Most of the 29 who signed the letter are physicists, and many of them have held what the government calls Q clearances -- granting access to a special category of secret information that bears on the design of nuclear arms and is considered equivalent to the military's top secret security clearance.
The letter uses the words “innovative” and “stringent” more than a half-dozen times, saying, for instance, that the Iran accord has “more stringent constraints than any previously negotiated nonproliferation framework.” [New York Times, 8/8/15]