Response by US Secretary of State John Kerry to questions for the record submitted by Representative Joe Wilson, House Foreign Affairs Committee, July 28, 2015, as raised in “16 reasons nuke deal is an Iranian victory and a Western catastrophe,” a July 14 op-ed article by The Times of Israel’s David Horovitz. (Kerry’s written response was provided to the Times of Israel by Wilson’s office.)
Question 1: Was the Iranian regime required, as a condition for this deal, to disclose the previous military dimensions of its nuclear program… in order both to ensure effective inspections of all relevant facilities?
Answer: As part of the JCPOA, the IAEA and Iran have agreed to a Road-Map Agreement in order to address the agency’s concerns about the possible military dimensions (PMD) of Iran’s nuclear program. Iran has committed to implement, by October 15, its obligations under this Road-Map Agreement. Sanctions relief will only be provided after Iran gives the IAEA the information and access it needs by completing the steps it has agreed to take in the Road-Map Agreement with the IAEA – in addition to the other major nuclear steps it must take by Implementation Day. If it does not, we will not implement our commitments to provide sanctions relief. We will be in continuous contact with the IAEA to make sure Iran fully implements its commitments under the Road-Map so that the IAEA can complete its investigation of possible military dimensions (PMD). Iran will no longer be able to stonewall the IAEA and string out the process. Iran must address the questions the IAEA poses and the IAEA must have what it needs to prepare its final assessment.
Question 2: Has the Iranian regime been required to submit to “anywhere, anytime” inspections of any and all facilities suspected of engaging in rogue nuclear-related activity?
Answer: Under this agreement, Iran will be subject to the most rigorous and demanding verification and monitoring regime ever negotiated for a nuclear program. The IAEA will be able to get timely access to the places it needs to go for inspections, or Iran will be in violation of the JCPOA and risk the re-imposition of sanctions. For example, the IAEA will be allowed daily access to Natanz, and Fordow for 15 years. Further, the JCPOA includes a host of transparency measures that go beyond those provided by the Additional Protocol (AP), including monitoring key centrifuge components for 20 years and monitoring uranium from the time it is mined for 25 years. In the context of the JCPOA, if the IAEA has concerns regarding possible undeclared nuclear material or activities inconsistent with the JCPOA at locations that have not been declared under Iran’s Comprehensive Safeguards Agreement or AP, the IAEA may request access in a time-bound process. If Iran and the IAEA are unable to reach satisfactory arrangements within 14 days, the issue would be considered by the Joint Commission, where a majority vote – which Russia, China, and Iran could not block – would compel Iranian access. Any Iranian
failure to allow access at the end of a time-bound 24 day period would be a violation of the JCPOA and would be grounds for snapping sanctions back.
Even if Iran were to attempt to sanitize a location before granting access, radioactive evidence is not easily removed. We are confident that IAEA testing would detect the presence of nuclear material if suspected in an unauthorized location.
Question 3: Has the international community established procedures setting out how it will respond to different classes of Iranian violations, to ensure that the international community can act with sufficient speed and efficiency to thwart a breakout to the bomb?
Answer: Under the JCPOA, we have a wide range of options to respond to any Iranian non-compliance, whether it be significant non-performance or more minor instances of non-compliance by Iran. Specifically, the United States has the ability to re-impose both unilateral and multilateral nuclear-related sanctions in the event of non-performance by Iran. And, in the case of UN sanctions, under UN Security Council Resolution 2231, we could do so even over the objections of any member of the Security Council, including China or Russia. This unilateral ability to snap back all of the UNSC sanctions gives us extraordinary leverage to get cooperation from other countries if we seek to take lesser steps instead. In addition, we have a range of other options for addressing minor non-compliance. These range from designating specific entities that are involved in activities inconsistent with the JCPOA, snapping back certain domestic sanctions to respond to minor but persistent violations of the JCPOA, or using our leverage in the Joint Commission on procurement requests. This means that snapback is not an “all or nothing” option.
Question 4: Has the Iranian regime been required to halt its arming, financing and training of the Hezbollah terrorist army in south Lebanon?
Answer: We remain deeply concerned about Iran’s support for terror and destabilizing behavior. That is why, irrespective of the deal reached on Iran’s nuclear program, we will continue to enforce our sanctions aggressively against Iran’s support for terrorism, human rights abuses, and destabilizing activities in the region. These include sanctions on the Iranian Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC), the IRGC-Qods Force, its leadership, and its entire network of front companies. Moreover, even after the JCPOA sanctions relief is implemented, US secondary sanctions will continue to target foreign parties doing business with sanctioned Iranian persons. Generally, this means that anyone worldwide who transacts with or supports individuals or entities sanctioned in connection with Iran’s support for terrorism – as well as any Iranian person who remains on our SDN List – may risk being cut off from the US financial system.
Similarly, any individual or entity that provides material support to designated groups like Hezbollah, or others sanctioned under our terrorism authorities, can themselves be targeted for
sanctions. This means they would have their property blocked and would lose the ability to do business with US persons. Recent examples of such targeting actions include a Hezbollah fundraising and recruitment network in Africa, and a group of Hezbollah front companies and facilitators in Lebanon and Iraq.
These sanctions are in no way affected by the JCPOA, will remain in place, and will continue to be enforced actively. Furthermore, we are intensifying our collaboration with Israel and the Persian Gulf states to better track these networks and to put them out of business.
Question 5: Has the Iranian regime been required to surrender for trial the members of its leadership placed on an Interpol watch list for their alleged involvement in the bombing, by a Hezbollah suicide bomber, of the AMIA Jewish community center offices in Buenos Aires in 1994 that resulted in the deaths of 85 people? Has the Iranian regime undertaken to close its 80 estimated “cultural centers” in South America from which it allegedly fosters terrorist networks?
Answer: Since 2007, Argentina has sought the arrest of Iranians suspected of involvement in the 1994 bombing of the AMIA Jewish community center in Buenos Aires. Iran has refused to surrender these suspects. The US government has consistently underscored the importance of efforts to ensure justice for the victims of the AMIA bombing and urged the perpetrators be held accountable.
We remain vigilant in monitoring Iranian activity in the Western Hemisphere. We assess that Iran’s influence in the region is on the decline following the death of Iran’s most prominent ally in the Western Hemisphere, former Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez in 2013. We continue to work with our partners to counter Iranian influence around the world.
Question 6: Has the Iranian leadership agreed to stop inciting hatred among its people against Israel and the United States and to stop its relentless calls for the annihilation of Israel?
Answer: We take issue with a great deal of Iran’s behavior and continue our work on a number of bilateral and multilateral fronts to address each of these issues. We will continue to speak out and act against anti-Semitism and all forms of hatred and bigotry wherever they occur. We have condemned prior anti-Semitic rhetoric by certain Iranian officials publicly and strongly, and we track this rhetoric closely. It is for all of these reasons that this deal is so important, because an Iran with a nuclear weapon would be far more capable of fomenting instability in the region. The JCPOA eliminates the nuclear threat and allows us to continue to address these other troubling issues.
Question 7: Has the Iranian regime agreed to halt executions, currently running at an average of some three a day, the highest rate for 20 years?
Answer: We remain deeply concerned about Iran’s human rights violations and will enforce our sanctions strictly against Iran for its human rights violations. We have made this clear to the Iranian government. US statutory sanctions focused on Iran’s human rights violations will not be affected by the final deal on Iran’s nuclear program and we will continue to vigorously enforce them. The JCPOA envisions the suspension and eventual lifting only of nuclear-related sanctions on Iran.
Question 8: Does the nuclear deal shatter the painstakingly constructed sanctions regime that forced Iran to the negotiating table?
Answer: No, it does not. Iran will only receive substantial sanctions relief after it verifiably completes all of its key nuclear-related steps. We have the ability to snap back multilateral and unilateral sanctions into place if Iran violates the deal.
US statutory sanctions focused on Iran’s support for terrorism, human rights abuses, and destabilizing activities will not be affected by the final deal on Iran’s nuclear program, and we will continue to vigorously enforce them. This also includes US sanctions that target WMD and missile proliferation around the world. Furthermore, the Security Council will terminate previous sanctions measures after Iran takes all of its key nuclear steps, but it will also re-establish for a considerable number of years binding UN restrictions governing permissible nuclear activities, as well as prohibitions on conventional arms and ballistic missile related activities.
On the multilateral sanctions regime, however, if we walk away from the deal that our partners and over 90 additional countries around the world publicly support, our partners will not walk away with us. Instead, they’ll walk away from the tough multilateral sanctions regime they helped us to put in place. We will be left to go it alone, and whatever limited economic pressure we could apply would be unlikely to compel Tehran to negotiate or to make any deeper concessions.
Question 9: Will the deal usher in a new era of global commercial interaction with Iran, reviving the Iranian economy and releasing financial resources that Iran will use to bolster its military forces and terrorist networks?
Answer: As envisioned in the JCPOA, Iran will not receive any sanctions relief until after the IAEA has verified that it has completed major nuclear steps – steps that result in increasing the breakout timeline four-fold, eliminating 98 percent of its enriched uranium stockpile, cutting two-thirds of its centrifuges, and implementing the unprecedented transparency measures that will allow us to detect any attempts to cheat. If they do attempt to cheat, we retain the leverage to snap sanctions back.
While we are under no illusions that this deal will prevent Iran from engaging in any of its other troubling behaviors, it prevents Iran from obtaining a nuclear weapon, which would make it far more capable of fomenting instability in the region. Just as we struck agreements with the Soviet Union at a time when they were threatening our allies, arming proxies against us, proclaiming their commitment to destroy our way of life, and had nuclear weapons pointed at all of our major cities, this deal allows us to take off the table the most immediate threat.
We know from experience that even crippling sanctions are not enough to prevent Iranian support for militancy or terrorism, so abandoning diplomacy and attempting to ramp up pressure would not resolve this concern. In the absence of a deal, Iran will resume the nuclear activities it must abandon under the JCPOA, making it far more dangerous and difficult to deal with.
Question 10: Does the nuclear deal further cement Iran’s repressive and ideologically rapacious regime in power?
Answer: No. In fact, this deal eliminates the greatest threat, which would be an Iran armed with a nuclear weapon. We have been clear from the beginning of this process that the JCPOA was intended prevent Iran from obtaining a nuclear weapon and ensure that Iran’s nuclear program is and will remain peaceful going forward. This deal is about stopping Iran’s pathways to a nuclear weapon, not changing all of the regime’s behavior.
We will continue to counter Iran’s destabilizing and threatening actions in the region aggressively. The President is committed to working closely with Israel, the Gulf countries and our other regional partners to do just that. Our sanctions targeting Iran’s support for terrorism, its human rights abuses and its destabilizing activities in the region will remain in place and we will continue to vigorously enforce them.