Kaine Questions Secretaries Kerry, Moniz & Lew At Foreign Relations Committee Hearing On Iran Nuclear Deal
WASHINGTON, D.C. – During a Senate Foreign Relations Committee hearing today on the Iran nuclear agreement with Secretary of State John Kerry, Energy Secretary Ernest Moniz and Treasury Secretary Jack Lew, U.S. Senator Tim Kaine pressed the witnesses on Iran’s obligations 15-25 years from now after various provisions of the agreement begin to expire, as well as how we can preserve the most credible military threat should Iran break toward producing a nuclear weapon.
“This is a deal that – in my review – produces a dramatically better position for about 15 years than the status quo before negotiations started,” said Kaine, a co-author of the Iran Nuclear Agreement Review Act that established the process for Congressional review of the deal. “What we have to determine if they cheat would be the knowledge we’ve gained through 25 years of enhanced inspections, and the ongoing inspections under the Non-Proliferation Treaty, especially the additional protocol. Is that level of knowledge sufficient – at year 25 and thereafter – to detect if Iran tries to violate this deal and acquire nuclear weapons?
In response, Secretary Moniz said: “I think it certainly puts us in a far stronger position than we would be otherwise and I think the risks on their part would be enormous to try to break their commitments. … We should not forget the tremendous knowledge of the program – what they’re doing , where they’re doing it – over 25 years.”
Kaine went on to describe how other Senators have suggested war with Iran as a better alternative to diplomacy since, according to them, “bombing Iran to end their program would only take a few days.”
Kerry dismissed this idea, as well as the notion that such a path would be supported by our allies. But when Kaine asked if, should Iran cheat and break toward a nuclear weapon, we would be more likely to have the support of international partners, a greater legal basis to take military action, and a lot more knowledge to target military action, increasing the credibility of our military threat, Kerry replied, “absolutely yes.”
Full transcript of Senator Kaine’s questioning is below:
Kaine: Diplomacy with an enemy can be hard. Diplomacy with a friend can be hard. But diplomacy with an enemy – President Truman when he proposed to spend billions of dollars to rebuild the economy of Germany after they had done two wars with the U.S. in 25 years – that was hard. And there were objections and there were no votes. President Kennedy, nuclear test ban treaty with the Soviet Union during the Bay of Pigs, they were negotiating, that was hard. It was controversial and there were no votes. Diplomacy with an adversary is hard. Diplomacy with an adversary is often necessary.
This is a deal that – in my review – produces a dramatically better position for about 15 years than the status quo before negotiations started. When you started the negotiations, right before Iran had a program that had 19,000 centrifuges and growing, you’ve knocked it back to 6,000. 12,000 kilograms of enriched uranium, enough for multiple weapons, you’ve knocked it back to 300. An enrichment level 20% and climbing you’ve knocked it back to 3.67%. A heavy water plutonium facility in Arak, they’re dismantling it. They were on a path where they had a huge program and it was growing, for 15 years this deal with the inspections mechanisms, etcetera, produces a dramatically better status quo for the United States, for regional allies, and for the world. My question is about after year 15, Secretary Moniz.
Various provisions start to come off – certain elements of the program, certain inspections beginning in year 8, year 10, year 15, 300 kilogram cap comes off. When you get to year 25, here’s how I read this deal. The deal basically is: Iran commits in the first paragraph of the agreement, under no circumstances will Iran seek to develop, purchase or acquire nuclear weapons; they’ve agreed to all of the NPT obligations going forward; and they agreed that any nuclear program will be completely civil in nature. They make that commitment. What we have to determine if they cheat would be the intelligence that we have, the knowledge we’ve gained through 25 years of enhanced inspections, and the ongoing inspections under the NPT, especially the additional protocol. Is that level of knowledge sufficient – at year 25 and thereafter – to detect if Iran tries to violate this deal and acquire nuclear weapons?
Moniz: Well, I think it certainly puts us in a far stronger position than we would be otherwise and I think the risks on their part would be enormous to try to break their commitments, and I think you’ve put your finger on a very important thing which I think our intelligence community would support. We should not forget the tremendous knowledge of the program – what they’re doing , where they’re doing it – over 25 years. We will have a lot of indicators to really amplify our national needs.
Kaine: That’s a good segue to the question I want to ask Secretary Kerry which is about alternatives you talked to Senator Murphy about. I think there are those that objected to the negotiations starting in November 2013; they were against that diplomatic beginning. If we could go back to that status quo, it seems to me that the status quo then was we had sanctions that were punishing Iran, hurting their economy. But they were racing ahead on their nuclear program. We were hurting their economy, but their nuclear program—19,000 centrifuges and climbing, 12,000 kilograms and climbing, enrichment percentage climbing, Arak heavy water moving ahead. If we just had lived with that status quo, it seems to me one of two things was going to happen. Either they were going to eventually capitulate because of the sanctions or they were going to get a nuclear weapon. There were two odds. I don’t know and I’m not going to ask you to assign odds to those two things, but there was a significant risk; the program, had you not started diplomacy, they were going to get a nuclear weapon, and you have forestalled that. So that was one alternative—we do nothing—but that status quo was a dangerous one where their program was rocketing ahead.
Let me mention another alternative because it’s been mentioned by members of this body. After the framework was announced on April 2, a member of this body who has been a loud and influential voice on this issue said, “Bombing Iran to end their program would only take a few days.” Mr. Secretary, you’ve been at war. Do you find that to be a realistic statement?
Kerry: Well, it’s a—I find it to be a factual statement in the sense that it would only take a few days, but I don’t find it to be a realistic statement in terms of policy because the implications of that, if you’re not at the end of your rope—in other words, if it’s not last resort—would be extraordinarily complicated to the United States.
Kaine: If we were to do that—that’s an alternative—if we were to do that right now, would we have international support for that?
Kerry: Not on your life. No way.
Kaine: And would we have an international legal basis for going? We were in Israel in January, and a number of us met with Israeli intelligence officials, who said they have concluded that Iran is trying to get to a threshold but Iran has not yet made a decision to pursue and acquire nuclear weapons.
If we were to initiate a war against Iran when they have not yet made that decision, would there be an international basis for a war?
Kerry: No, and furthermore, we would be proceeding without any of our allies, which is not a small consequence.
Kaine: Let me flip it around on you because I want to talk about credible military threat. If this deal is done and if Iran confirms to the entire global community and the UN that, under no circumstances, will Iran seek or develop or acquire any nuclear weapons—they pledge that to the world, and we’re all in agreement—and then they break toward a nuclear weapon, would we be more likely to have the support of international partners if we want to take military action to stop them from doing what they pledged not to do?
Kaine: Would we have a greater legal basis to justify taking military action to stop them from doing what they have pledged not to do?
Kaine: And would we have, because of an inspections regime plus existing intelligence, a lot more knowledge about how to target military action, increasing the credibility of our military threat?
Kaine: I don’t have any other questions, Mr. Chairman.
KAINE CUESTIONA A LOS SECRETARIOS KERRY, MONIZ Y LEW SOBRE ACUERDO NUCLEAR CON IRÁN DURANTE AUDIENCIA DEL COMITÉ DE RELACIONES EXTERIORES
WASHINGTON, D.C. – Durante una audiencia del Comité de Relaciones Exteriores sobre el acuerdo nuclear con Irán, en la cual participaron el Secretario de Estado John Kerry, el Secretario de Energía Ernest Moniz y el Secretario del Tesoro Jack Lew, el Senador Tim Kaine cuestionó a los testigos sobre las obligaciones de Irán en 15 a 25 años, cuando varias medidas del acuerdo comenzarán a expirar, además de cómo preservar la más creíble amenaza militar si es que Irán llegara a producir un arma nuclear.
“Este es un acuerdo que – en mi opinión –nos posiciona en un lugar drásticamente mejor por 15 años que el statu quo previo a las negociaciones,”, dijo Kaine, co-autor del Proyecto de Ley para Revisar el Acuerdo con Irán que estableció el proceso de revisión del acuerdo en el Congreso. “Lo que tendremos para determinar si han violado el acuerdo es el conocimiento que hemos acumulado durante 25 años de inspecciones intensas, así como inspecciones continuas bajo el Tratado de No Proliferación Nuclear, especialmente el protocolo adicional. ¿Es esa cantidad de información suficiente – después de 25 años – para detectar si Irán intenta violar este acuerdo y adquirir armas nucleares?”
El Secretario Moniz respondió: “Creo que nos pone en una posición mucho más fuerte que sin el acuerdo y creo que los riesgos de violar sus compromisos serían enormes. … No debemos olvidar el la información formidable del programa – qué están haciendo, dónde lo están haciendo –a lo largo de 25 años.”
Kaine describió cómo otros senadores han sugerido que una guerra con Irán sería una mejor alternativa que la diplomacia, ya que “bombardear a Irán para acabar con su programa sólo tomaría unos cuantos días.”
Kerry descartó tanto esa idea como la noción de que nuestros aliados apoyarían un camino a la guerra. Pero cuando Kaine preguntó si, en caso de que Irán intente producir un arma nuclear, tendríamos más apoyo de nuestros aliados, mejores fundamentos legales y mayor información para coordinar acción militar, reforzando así la credibilidad de nuestra amenaza militar, Kerry respondió, “sí, absolutamente”.