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tv   Atlantic Council Hosts Discussion on the Iran Nuclear Deal  CSPAN  January 30, 2017 12:10pm-1:27pm EST

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greetings. greetings to you all, i'm fred kemp, president and ceo of the atlantic council. it's great to see such a full house. we realize after this very quiet and unmomentous weekend that there isn't much to worry about in the world. seriously speaking, we see this as an inflection point in history as important as the end of world war i and world war ii. and what the atlantic council stands for working constructively alongside friends and allies to ensure constructive u.s. engagement in the world remains as relevant as ever. we're delighted to be partnering again with bill lores and the iran project for our third major prevent. bill, on the iran nuclear deal. and we worked a lot even before that in get willing in the first place. we at the atlantic council have
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been doing concentrated work on iran since 2010 when we inaugurated an iran task force. i want to salute barbara slaven who has been at the tipping point of the sphere of getting all of that done. i also want to salute stew eisenstaedt an executive member of the committee of the board with the council and chuck hagel one of the cochairs of the future for iran international advisory council, the future of iran initiatives international advisory council. the effort that we launched then is now that the initiative i just named, the fate of the nuclear agreement will be a key determinant of u.s./iran relations going forward and will have a broader impact on the middle east and on non-proliferation more broadly. it has now been a year since the joint comprehensive plan of action went into full implementation. the consensus is that iran and
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the other parties to the agreement have largely met their obligations. but there is discontent about the impact of the deal on both sides. iranians have not soon the economic benefits they expected. and the united states is concerned that iran has not altered other policies regarding regional intervention and human rights. we have assembled two excellent panels to discuss both the nuclear agreement and the regional implications. we are also honored to welcome after the first panel senator chris murphy of connecticut to discuss the deal from the congressional point of view. so we're very delighted he will take time oust his very crowded schedule to join us. with that, i turn the podium over to bill lores to provide some welcoming remarks. >> thank you. thank you, fred, thanks to the atlantic council, and to my partner barbara slaven and the
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staff here, which is so remarkable. this is a well run organization. and as you all know, it's a good place to come to these things. this is as fred said the third time we've done this together. we like the partnership. it works for us. it gives us an important audience in washington. and we try to provide an important audience for this issue in new york. this is the first time we've had one of these in which the iran nuclear deal isn't front page news. i'm hoping that the wisdom that will come out this meeting will be such that it won't have to be or ever again be front page news. i think i'm being a little optimistic but do what you can. the final thing i'd say is that we have prepared for you a summary of this joint comprehensive plan of action,
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which is a 159-page document. it's probably the most complex international nuclear agreement i've ever seen. and we have taken it down to about three pages. and i hope it helps you understand what it's all about. so, barbara, thank you very much for coming, all of you. >> thanks, everyone, for coming. and as bill said, we are delighted to have this collaboration again with the iran project. before we get to our first panel, though, i wanted to say just a word about the news of the past few days. many of us have been worried about the fate the nuclear deal under the trump administration, but i think we never anticipated that the first blow would come in the form of a ban on ordinary iranians coming to the united states.
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the iranian media is already calling this a violation of the jcpoa and this is obviously something we are going to discuss on our panels. i wanted to say as someone who worked on iran at the atlantic council for six years and has been visiting iran for 20 years that i hope the trump administration will reconsider the visa ban or at least not extend it. with that, i'm going to introduce the panelists for our first panel. carolyn, deputy head of the european union to the united states. she is a former swedish diplomat and oversees overall management of the delegation, including chairing a weekly meeting of dcms for coordination of the 28 eu member states. carolyn will be followed by mark. mark is the executive director of the foundation of defense of democracies. he coleads fdd's center on sanctions and elicit finance and
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he has been very influential on capitol hill and designing sanctions on iran. and he has been a prominent critic of iran and of the jcpoa. we welcome his voice. then we'll have jim walsh from m.i.t. he worked on nuclear issues involving the the middle east and east asia and he has testified fleektly on capitol hill on iran and north korea. finally, ellen, distinguished fellow emyrth to us at the stimpson center. spent 25 years in u.s. government service including stints on the national sbrel jens council, nsc and planning staff of the state department. she wrote an excellent paper for the atlantic council last year which is on our website. i recommend it to you. it's called a new strategy for u.s./iran relations. and finally for those of you who are in the twirts business the hashtag is ac iran skpirks hope that you will tweet on this event, and we welcome you and we
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welcome our panelists to the stage. thank you. okay. well, there isn't much to talk about, is there? carolyn, first, thank you so much for agreeing to be with us when i think of the eu role of all of this, i think of cathy ashton and fed rica and held ga sha myth. it's appropriate that we have a woman from the eu i think here given the role that the eu played in organizing and helping the negotiations along. so if you could just tell us from the european perspective, how well has the deal been implemented? what are the problems, the challenges that you see going forward? >> yeah, we -- as was just pointed out by fred kemp, this
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is -- we have just now passed the first anniversary of the implementation of the agreement. and therefore i want to thank you the atlantic council because i think this is very timely because i think it's just after -- i mean, a year is a good time for a first assessment. it's -- we are often eager to want to go and assess things after one week and say well it works, doesn't work. i think a year can give us some -- somewhat of a perspective on how this is working. and for the eu, this has been a huge undertaking in many senses. both the negotiations where the eu as such was very well -- very involved, as you just described. we also have the eu member states who are engaged in this agreement and were part of the negotiations. and it must bein underlined that all the 28 member states have
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sort of agreed too to this and is a part of constructing the eu's views on the implementation of the agreement. we think it has been a successful first year. iran has, by and large, complied with the agreement. there have been a few minor issues. those have been detected and corrected immediately, which we think is very good. i mean, that is an important part. mistakes can always happen, and the important thing is how they are dealt with and that they are dealt with promptly and in agreement. we also are being very engaged in trying to provide the other side of the agreement. because of iran giving up their abilities to get to a nuclear weapon, they have asked for relief of -- lifting of the
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sanctions which was done immediately upon the implementation, but also of course to restart the trade so they get some economic benefit out of it. they are, as you pointed out, there has been complaints, this is not going fast enough, this is not hapning as it shurks, et cetera. well, there are different reasons for that. it's -- there are -- the iranian society and their private seconder is not very easy to deal with. it's not somebody you do quick business with. so there are many contacts that due to the sanctions have been laying down for many many years. those contacts have to be renewed and before you get to deals and before they are sewed up and you can show them numbers. it takes quite a while. there also have been some issues around the banking system and we
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have worked very intensively with our american counter-parts here to try to solve them and to try to provide guidance to european banking system where many are for reason worried that if they do business with iranian banks that that will have repercussions on their u.s. business. anybody can understand if you have to choose between the u.s. and iran, what you choose. so there have been a number of initial sort of obstacles but we are working -- we are working every day to solve. and we are very confident that iran will see the advantages and that iran is also by this getting more people to people contacts which we think is also beneficial for the country as such. >> okay. >> maybe i stop there. >> stop had there and we'll go deeper on the next round.
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ma, aga mark, again, thank you for being here. what is your impression of how well the has been implemented over the last year. what do you anticipate in terms of sanction? because we've heard that many republicans on capitol hill want to impose sanctions on other issues that in some cases replicate the nuclear sanctions or go beyond them? >> barb ration first of all, thank you for inviting me. first time at the atlantic council. i want to congratulate you and fred and others here on a tremendously successful organization. and i'm glad that you have brought together different perspectives and different voices. i think it's going to be critical in this new administration and this new era. both deal critics and ill deal supporters kind of put our heads together and figure out the way forward. from my perspective as a deal critic i think the deal has gone as expected, which is that iranians are testing the deal by incremental levi lating it to
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see what our response will be. but ultimately the iranian regime has no inacceptive to violate the deal, certainly not yet because it gives iran a patient pattleway to nuclear weapons. if iran is smart they won't violate the deal won't even test incrementally. they will just wait for the restrictions to disappear over time and remerge with an industrial sized nuclear program. an cbm program and large economy, perhaps a trillion dollar economy at that point which will be used against our ability to impose sanctions. i think the deal from an iranian standpoint is going well. we have to certainly be on guard as we move forward to deter violations and figure out our way out from under the deal. i'll say more words about that in a moment.
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from my perspective, i think the trump administration is adopting the right posture early out of the gate which is not the abrogate the development. i have been on record many months now saying that would be a big mistake. the deal should be kept, should be vigorously enforced. the provision has the iranians are interpreting in their favor are provisions i think the united states has disagreed with, we should be very strict in interpreting the mig youths in the deal and then we should do what president obama and secretary kerry said we always should do which is use non-nuclear sanctions to deter iran's malign activities in the region. and i think that's -- if you were to predict where congress and this new administration were to go in the next 12 months, my guess -- it's only a guess -- would be that you will see non-nuclear sanctions being the centerpiece of any new sanctions effort, both from congress and from the new administration. and there's -- there's much to do on that front. as everybody knows, the iranians
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have been testing missiles, including i saw reports -- a report today that they have test fired another missile. hostage taking, supporting bashar assad's slauter in syria. supporting shiite militias, the houthi rebels and human rights violations have gotten worse not better since the jcop. >> jim, your perspective on how well the deal has been implemented and given what mark just said, whether these kinds of sanctions, even if you call them non-nuclear, will have the effect of undermining the deal. and also the visa ban, frankly, because as i said, i think a newspaper this morning already called it a jcpo. in fact, they said that it's the result of the weakness of our
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country's negotiating team and the fruit of trusting the false promises of the united states. so that's not very helpful. >> well, on that note, let me say thank you. it's good to be here with friends w this esteemed panel. mark and i have been on tv together so many times it's nice to be in person. this way we can actually -- >> we can hug. >> hug? i was grabbing your throat. whatever. and to thank the atlantic council and awful you. i must say i am delighted and stunned to see you all here. you know, it's a full house. i thought no one would care anymore. yet you've all come out, which says something about you, i think, and it may be a positive thing or a negative thing. i'm not sure. jcpoa groupies i guess is what it means. but i'm glad you are here because it is an important topic. and i would say briefly a couple of things. yes, i' the one-year anniversary, but we seem to forget we had two years of an interim agreement.
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right? we are three years into a nuclear agreement that the iaea every month, every couple of months has confirmed is being obliged with. that's three years of track record. and that's pretty impressive. and when you put that together with the data, the social science data about the effect that nuclear agreements have on nuclear behavior i think that should give us some confidence going forward. we have had tremendous success in now clear non-proliferation. countries that were interested in weapons started down that path, stopped and turned back. an outstanding record. some 40 countries had shown interest in nuclear weapons, stopped, and reversed course. often that happens as a result of non-proliferation agreements. and here we have what is in my view the strongest non-proliferation agreement every negotiated. stronger than the npt, stronger than the psi, stronger than the libya deal. so we have a track record of success generally. we have a track record of success for three full years verified by the iaea.
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and then we have this agreement which itself i think stands out compared with other agreements. but you know, that doesn't mean we are all going to get along and everything will be rosie. but this is after all a nuclear agreement. and it should be judged first and foremost by the nuclear components of the agreement and whether iran is abiding by them. carolyn mentioned it. i take notice and heart in the fact that there have been disagreements. there have been incidents that have come up just like with the u.s. and the soviets during u.s./soviet arms troll. zbreemtsz or implementedation issues that have come up. in every case we have been able to bring attention concerns about something and those concerns have been resolved. now mark's inclined to call that testing the agreement. i don't see it that way. there wasn't any sort of -- this isn't saddam hussein with prolonged refusals and dodging and all of that.
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the things have been resolved quite quickly and i think that's a healthy sign. now, i will take a moment and talk about what we might expect in the future. mark has said that he expects -- i must say that critics have predicted everything except that the agreement will succeed. they predicted that there would be break out. they predicted there would be undeclared facilities. they predicted salami tactics. they predicted, no, the agreement is going to work well. if you make a prediction about every outcome eventually you will probably get one right. my view is that when it comes to iran's nuclear intentions i follow the lead of the dni, the director of national intelligence. what does the dni say? the dni does not say iran is chomping a the bit and waiting to build a nuclear weapon after 15 years. the dni has said since 2007 that
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iran had a nuclear weapons program that it halted in 2003 that it has not made a decision to build nuclear weapons. repeatedly has said that and said that that decision is a political one not a technical one. because if you can enrich, if you know how to build a centrifuge, right, you have a nuclear weapons capabilities already of the but they had not made a decision about what to do with that. i'm going to go with the dni on this, about this judgment. the question is how do we maintain that going forward? how do we strengthen that so that the path iran ends up five, ten, 15 years down the road is one where it's not even a consideration? it goes from not a decision to not a consideration. and it seems to me, having success with the agreement in which all parties benefit is the way to achieve that. now. mark has said that the agreement is going well from an iranian perspective. that's not what a lot of
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iranians say. but you know, they didn't like an extension of the sanctions that were extended by congress. they have had complaints about the implementation and whether they were getting sufficient banking sanction relief. all the rest. so we hear a lot of complaining. but at the end of the day, i think both sides -- all sides i should say because it's not a u.s. agreement. it is an international agreement. all sides have come to the conclusion that this is in everyone's interest to pursue. and as long as we focus on that, as long as the agreement serves the interests of its parties, then it can be sustained and we will proechbt iran from obtaining a nuclear weapon. the moment though we start to play at the edges and start to try to deny benefits promised under the agreement so that parties do not receive the benefits they expect, then it will not be in the self interest of those parties to stay in the agreement. so we may not like iran. we didn't like the soviet union.
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but in the real world of international diplomacy what you have to have is a win/win. both sides have to see it in their own self interests in order to sustain it. i vote that we don't take actions, well intentioned or ill intentioned that congress might take. if you have a set of sanction, and you cross out the word nuclear and put in human rights or something else and you pass those that's a shell game. and it's not consistent with the agreement. if iran is doing specific things violating specific agreements with the u.s. we are under the agreement available to make all the tools at our disposal. i hope as we make choices about that it will be a more reasoned set of decisions i've seen discussed in the press and the public so far. let me pause there. i've gone on for confuse long as usual but we've got a better person batting clean up heempl
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she will save me from myself, i hope. >> ellen, put it in a broader strategic perspective. suggestion -- i'm hearing the suggestion we need at some point to negotiate a follow on agreement even though the preamble to the agreement says that iran will never build nuclear weapons obviously given what mark has said and what we hear there is a lot of suspicion that iran to could just abide by the deal and after ten or 15 years covertly start to work on a nuclear weapon again. how do you see this as a way to shore it up or improve it? is that even something we should be talking about right now? >> thank barbara. i do think that part of the conceptual confusion -- but the conceptual differences that we hear continuously in the debate over the iran nuclear agreement is different assumptions about what were iran's intentions even during the negotiating period. whether in fact you accept the dni's decision that a decision
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had not yet been made. or whether you believe that this is a country had already made the decision that nuclear weapons would be a strategic asset to a vulnerable country and that it was a legitimate national security choice that they could make. going back to what were the iran's intentions at the beginning. also, what did the final diplomatic achievement -- what were the parameters of that achievement? what was it intended to do? and what was it not intended to do? we seem to circle back to diversent expectati enn ennt -- expectations. in the report i did last year that you kindly mentioned i said let's think of it as a new baseline in u.s./iran relations. it doesn't mean it's sufficient to solve any of the other ps problems but it does set a new reality and it creates a new context with american and iranian officials can actually talk to each other. i think one of the great worries of the handover to a new
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administration that has very strong views on iran is that there wasn't enough value given to the continuity of those contexts. so i worry that now we are in a post nuclear agreement political environment that has some new dynamics to it. so i think it's not necessarily realistic to think that anybody has the stomach to go back to the negotiating table and say a formal new diplomatic process. i think that it's more likely to happen ad hoc when the iranians test certain provisions or when the iaea or any one of the signatories believes that iran is up to the line of compliance or non-compliance. i think in the end what we're going to have is add hoc, you know, problem solving. and nobody has mentioned yet the joint commission. i mean you alluded to it indirectly. but there is a very interesting and important mechanism that i believe has met six times -- i don't know how often --
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>> four times. >> fur times? >> four times. >> where any part to the agreement can bring issues. and again, this is not -- the parties to the agreement are not peers in the sense that it's iran that was in the penalty box. so it's not that each party has to demonstrate its own compliance of peers of iran. it's really that iran has to demonstrate first and foremost compliance. then there is an adjudication process if there was a misunderstanding about how long they could hold a quantity of heavywater before they had to export it, et cetera. so there is some -- but that mechanism seems to be working at a tier below you know, the cabinet level officials. and one would hope that could keep going. you know, in one of the year-end assessments of the nuclear agreement, one very fine analysis suggested that the narrowness and the specificity of the nuclear agreement was
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also a vulnerability because it didn't -- it wasn't sufficient to solve all the other problems. i would say the narrowness and the specificity was a virtue and a strength of the agreement. because it for the first time after decades of non-transactional interaction with iran it gave us something concrete and measurable. we can say on the basis of objective analysis, are they complying or are they not cochran complying? and that to me is a strength more than a weakness because all other aspects of u.s./iran relations are in a much more subjective domain where it is in the eye of the beholder, how aggressive is iran being in the region? you know, are the human rights violations which unopportunitily seem to be getting worse, not better -- are those -- does -- is iran such an aye outlier in the region or in the world by human rights standards? what would make them more susceptible to changing their
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behavior on human rights, et cetera. again, i think of the agreement as a concrete achievement that sets a new baseline or a new reality to think about all these other problems. it does not solve the big iran problem. there is still, you know, a multifaceted challenge because iran is, after all, you know, a revisionist power in the region. they like to say oh, no we are now a status quo power. we are for stability in the region, we are not for regime change in the region. but in fact from the perspective of most other countries iran is challenging the order, for what it's worth -- as disorderly as the order may be. and so it's -- but it, in theory, to me again, just last point, it is that ability to engage government to government that in theory creates a different and better opportunity to talk to iran about all these other issues. i doesn't -- it has no automaticity that any of those
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other problems can be solved by this agreement. maybe later in the discussion we will talk about these gray areas of when iran says this is a violation. it is a violation of the spirit of the agreement, not necessarily the letter of the agreement, and how do we cope with that. >> caroline, given how long it took to get this deal, the many, many meetings, the hours and hours and hours, the numbers of diplomats who were involved -- is there any appetite in europe with all the other problems europe is dealing with now such as brexit and so on for any type of renegotiations and is there any thought given to how this deal would be extended perhaps? >> i think i can say with confidence that there is no appetite to renegotiate it. and that has nothing to do with brexit or anything else. it has to do that we believe that this is a good development. it is the best deal we could get. i do completely agree with ellen
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that the future of the deal is probably its narrowness that it's possible to sort of control it and contain it. we had maybe hoped that this would sort of -- this deal would set off a spiral of better relations in the region. unfortunately that has not happened. but there are also many other things going on in the region at this time so it's not a very propens time for better relations. we think both iran and others could have used it better in that sense. but what is important to us is that iran is now for a number of years deprived of the possibility to develop a nuclear weapon. and as we can see, history can change very quickly. overnight kind of. so we don't know where we are going to be when we come to the sort of further end of this. i think we have just passed one
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year or three years depending on how you see it and we need to give it some more time. what is important is that the eu and also i must say china and russia engage in filling sort of the other balance to make iran keep up its promises. and i just want to say something. i spoke with a person who was deeply engaged in the negotiations on a very practical grand field level. and he said -- and i will always remember that -- you have to understand what the pride this was for iran. we cannot really understand what a nationalistic pridest it was for iran to be able to develop a nuclear weapon. and now we are taking that away from them. or they are giving that away. and we have a group of people who were sort of heros of the country who all of a sudden are without a job practically. and it's up to the eu now to
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keep these people busy with good things and to put them on the peaceful use of nuclear power, nuclear safety, medical use of nuclear and other, to engage them in something that can sort of bring back their pride and national pride in this project. and i think that is a thought we seldom make. and i think we are very engaged on that track to provide alternatives. and that is something we remember from the soviet union when the soviet union -- we were all worried what was going to happen with the skype tests, what were going to happen with the different nuclear sources that were spread in a pretty uncontrolled way. and u.s. was very active in that work together with many of us europeans. >> mark i've been having some chats with people on capitol hill in the last few weeks, and
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i have been hearing that on the republican side the intention is to put so much pressure on iran that it walks away from the deal. i've heard this expressed to me several times now. is that indeed what you see as a strategy in congress on the republican side? and if so, why is the logic behind it? because we -- i mean hear a lot about repealing and replacing things these days. given how long it took to negotiate this deal, given that there is no real appetite for renegotiation, what would be the benefit to the united states of trying to push the iranians out of the deal? >> so barb ration i know who you talked to on the hill. i think the overwhelming number of members that i speak to and staffers -- i think the strategy is twofold. strategy is first of all to pass a whole series of non-nuclear
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sanctions that are fully consistent with the jcpoa. again as the obama administration repeatedly assured us and i would also give some credit to the folks who are designing these sanctions both in congress and in the new treasury department that they have a pretty good idea of what is technically and legally possible. >> can you give a couple of examples perhaps the sorts of things that they are contemplating? >> sure. you should invite them to talk about what they are contemplating. i can tell you what i recommended publicly. >> okay. >> and that is that for example -- i mean we all agree whether you any that there is rouhani is a moderate or not a moderate -- everybody can agree that the revolutionary guards are a maligned force not only in iran but in the region. it may surprise you,er not, there have onlian 52 iogc entities identified. 25 individuals, 25 companies, and two academic institutions
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that were being used by the irgc for nefarious purposes. so what i recommended is that there be a massive expansion of irgc sanctions, including the number of designate -- designations. there are literally thousands of front companies. my organization we are up to 850 irgc front companies that we identified and meet the 50% threshold test for designations and there are thousands more. if you see in the bills introduced in the last congress you see there are ideas along these lines, increasing the number of designations, designated the irgc has a terrorist organization. certainly, they would qualify under 13224 of the executive order for material support to terrorism or as a foreign terrorist organization. again, recognizing the irgc as a terrorist organization,
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designating it as such and massively accelerating the number of irgc designations want a place to support. >> the reason for those designations would be what, support for terrorism, missile tests? >> human rights violations, you name it. the irgc is not disappointed to those who predicted they would continue their malign activities infact exploited them. as the "new york times" and reuter's were reported the irgc to date has been the primary ben father of some of the deals they have gotten inside. i also want to make the point, i think we need to put this to rest. the regime is claiming they are not getting the economic relief therm promise. they were never promised economic relief. the united states i think responsibly said we are not going to be responsible for economic outcomes. we are going to dedesignate economic opportunities, success send or lift sanction on sectors and oil economy and financial
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seconder but we are not going to guarantee you outcomes. in fact, if you look at the outcomes, the iranians are in a much better position than they were in 2013 when they were about four to six months away from a severe balance of payments crisis when inflation unofficially was at 80%, lost over 6.5% in gdp. where oil export revenues declined at the time significantly. their economy in terms of their macro economic fundamentals were in very, very bad shape. if you fast forward to today, things aren't great by any measure. things are a lot better by every measure. the economy is growing 5 to 6%. inflation is down into single digits. they have gotten access to over over $100 million in foreign exchange reserve. they no longer face the prospect of a severe balance crisis. i think it's important whether you are a supporter or critic to play into this iranian claim
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they never got what they were promised. they never were promised economic outcomes and their economic outcomes have been by any measure not bad. they have avoided severe economic crisis and they are on a path to modest recovery. i think it's important to underscore that regardless of how we -- regardless of our position on this deal and regardless of your support or lack of support for new sanctions. >> of course perception is everything. we had an event here last week where we had new poll data that was released that showed most iranians naught they had not gotten what they were promised and they tended to blame the united states for discouraging european companies from returning to iran and setting up newber new barriers that were as bad as the old. what you said is technically collect. >> any politician knows it is a mistake to overpromise and underdeliver. our politicians do it all the time. i think president rouhani has
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done the same thing. he may face the domestic consequences on that i also sshs since i think i'm the only one on the panel who is accused of being a deal kriktd. so i take a lot of it. i think we're going to spend a lot of time, seems like, on this panel relitigating the jcpoa and i'm happy to do that. it involves lots of interesting debates on this. but i do think it is important, and i do adopt the position that we shouldn't be an row c abroga deal. i don't think we should fall into the trap that just because the iranians say we won't renegotiate the deal and just because the europeans say we won't renegotiate this deal, that we should all throw up our hands and say i guess we're not renegotiating this deal so we're going to have to live with this deal. i think there are -- there is a big mistake in assuming that. i think there is a big mistake in assuming that in light of what a trump administration has said repeatedly and that is that this deal in its very design and its very architecture provided
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some short-term benefits, but in the medium and long-term is very dangerous for the u.s. national security because this deal includes, as i said, these key provisions which the iranians are very smart to negotiate, which ultimately zgives iran nuclear capabilities. that doesn't mean the iranians will use that capability. doesn't mean they made a decision to build a nuclear weapon, though one would suggest that given the -- the decades long record of nuclear mendacity they weren't in the business of building a civilian nuclear program. clearly in the business of building a capability. and the deal itself is going to give them a very dangerous capability, which i think we should all be cognizant of. it is an industrial size capability. it means they're going to have unlimited enrichment capacity and means they have the ability to build a number of water reactors, it means they will be literally days if not hours away
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from a nuclear weapons breakout. >> i think we get the point. >> so can i just finish? >> sure. >> i think we have got to -- we got to think through how do we set up a strategy where we address some of the fundamental flaws of the deal, and it is worth noting and we talked about this later, there is a history in the cold war of us negotiating follow-on agreements for the soviet union while they had nuclear missiles aimed at our city, we can't foresee or assume that there is going to be a follow-on agreement just because the other party today is saying they want to do it i think would be a big mistake. >> okay. want to bring our audience into this now because we have a very packed day. but i wanted to first call on constantine sidnikov, if you raise your hand. he's head of the political and military section of the embassy of the russian federation. we asked the russian ambassador to participate in this event and
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he could not. but i would love to have your thoughts. do you think it is possible following the old u.s./russia model we could have follow on agreements to the jcpoa? >> first of all, thank you, barbara, thank you for the atlantic council for giving me a chance to speak to engage -- >> hold it closer to your mouth? >> is that better? >> yes. >> thank you, first of all, to the atlantic council and barbara to give me the opportunity to speak before the audience and such a distinguished panel. first of all, i'd like to say a couple of general points on how we access the first year of the jcpoa political implementation. first of all, we believe that this is a real success. we see that everybody compliance and do its hard and its best not to violate. with regard to the iranians, confirmed by the iaea, of course
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during the last year we had some minor issues, but we have the joint commission mechanism to deal with the -- and its efficiency and that was very, very helpful and instrumental and fine tuning, if i could call it so, russia is a state has a very active participation in the jcpoa realization as all of you know. we made an arrangement with iranians to ship out stockpile and we have this separate arrangement with them to converse the former enrichment facility for productional stabilizing jobs and we're well under way. our general assessments of around the jcpoa and this first year, it is quite positive. and it was also confirmed by the joint commission meeting the last one which took place on
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the -- in vienna, everybody shared this positive assessment. so overall, with regards to renegotiating different elements, i personally do not think it is possible at this point. i personally took part -- to negotiations and i remember how that happened, it was a really unique exercise and that was special and took a lot of efforts from all the parties. the administration will not be able to repeat this exercise. once again, this is my personal assessment. >> thank you very much. i appreciate that. harlan, i think you had a question. why don't we go to you? wait for the microphone. >> i'm harlan oman of the atlantic council. thank you for your contributions. this past weekend is representative of how the trump administration may pursue foreign policy, given sort of
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rough ride with mexico and the situation with refugees, it is not inconceivable that for whatever reasons the trump team could conclude to abrogate the jcpoa under whatever circumstances. so let's assume on a contingency that the united states trump administration pulls out from the jcpoa, could you speculate on what the consequences might be for the other signatories for iran, for the region, and the future of sanctions, please. >> i'll give that to you, caroline. how would the eu react if there is no violation but the u.s. says, no, we're out of it. >> thank you. first of all, i believe that this administration will get people in place, who are specialized in all the different areas. we have a lot of competence all over the administration on this. and i think they hopefully will use that competence. so -- and what the first things we have heard, it was after the
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phone call with the king of saudi arabia yesterday was that there was no immediate worry about this -- that you are pointing at. so we have to give the trump administration the benefit of the doubt, absolutely. and the eu is not alone in this. we have russia, we have china, we have the other eu countries who are partners of this, and there is certainly not unilateral -- anything unilateral for the eu to do in this situation as such. i think what they said is that we are -- high representative for foreign policy. >> yes, the eu's foreign minister, is that if this would happen, we would certainly look to try to keep the agreement going anyhow. how -- if that would at all be possible, that's another
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question. i think it is a very complicated agreement. and whether you're not treatiwise, when it comes to international law, et cetera, if that would be possible, so pass through the u.s. security council. i cannot -- i'm not expert enough to tell. but i think there is certainly for the eu we believe that this is the right way to avoid iran develops nuclear weapons, which we think would be very dangerous for the region, and for the world, and therefore we are -- we do want to try to do everything we can to maintain this. that is exactly -- >> you can ask aly who is sitting next to you. do you want to grab the microphone? aly is with the international crisis group and he's followed the nuclear talks very closely. >> thank you very much, barbara. well, it is hard to predict how
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iranians are going to reant, but i think they have lee options. they can play victim, trying to drive a wedge between the u.s. and the eu, try to in that way neutralize new u.s. sanctions, but they can also retaliate, they can retaliate by reviving their nuclear program, or they can retaliate regionally, let's remember that the u.s. forces and iranian forces are co-located in many places in iraq and syria. and that would be the beginning of an escalating cycle on both sides that would revive the nuclear crisis altogether. and that's precisely what i want to ask mark, because i wonder how you think the eiranians woud respond to nonnuclear sanctions, hard to define nonnuclear sanctions that are also as effective as the nuclear sanctions once were. but how do you think the iranians would react. many say that the critics who were not able to kill the deal with a gunshot are now trying to
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kill it with a thousand paper cuts. is that really the strategy? and, second, on sunset clauses, i think, mark, you're not a critic of the jcpoa. you're a critic of the mpt because at the end of the day, if the country is in compliance with the most rigorous inspection mechanism ever implemented for 15 years or more, if you take into account the interim agreement, do you still expect that country to be treated as a second class citizen among other mpt member states? thanks. >> good question. mark, you're on the spot now i guess. >> thanks. good to see you, by the way. so a lot in that. i think first of all, it absolutely is possible to distinguish between nuclear and nonnuclear sanctions. it is possible to distinguish between nuclear and nonnuclear behavior. when we talk about nonnuclear sanctions, we're talking about using sanctions to respond to a whole range of iran's maligned activities that are outside of a
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nuclear deal and outside of iran's nuclear program. and i can tell you there are lots of ways to design very effective sanctions that are outside of the nuclear deal that are nonnuclear sanctions to respond to iran's support for terrorism, missile tests, human rights abuses, et cetera. i'm not going to go into detail, but i'm sure you'll probably see in march or april some of these sanctions that are coming out of congress and may come out of the trump administration even earlier. so absolutely. and, again, i think we should not fall into the trap of the iranian narrative. i know the iranian narrative on this. they came out with a letter in 2015 when the iranian ambassador sent a letter which was very clear, which we will treat all sanctions as a violation of the deal. the notion is that we have to accept a proposition that if we designate individuals who are responsible for brutal human rights repression, for abusing, f
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torturing citizens -- i'm sure you wouldn't accept that, i wouldn't accept that, i can't imagine too many people would accept that proposition. we're absolutely able to use all instruments of american power to respond to american -- to iranian aggression and that would include but not be limited to nonnuclear sanctions. i think on the issue of the sunset, the reality is iran is in a class not by itself, but in a class with north korea. and it is a country that has engaged in decades of nuclear mendacity. a country that conducted militarization and weaponization of its program and by the way, a country that never fully resolved the 12 outstanding questions that the iaea -- >> mark, i'm going to have to stop you there. you know, when the u.n. resolution that sanctified the jcpoa was passed, it took iran out of the doghouse as far as the u.n. security council was concerned. that was a key demand of the iranians. so they're no longer in the same boat with -- you may say that
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they did not answer these questions to all of our satisfactions, and i think that's very clear but from the u.n. perspective they're out of the doghouse and they haven't developed and tested nukes which north korea has done. you're trying to say iran is still in the doghouse and the whole purpose of the jcpoa from iran's point of view is to get out of this. >> again, ali asked my opinion on this. we can have this debate, but i'm sure you're more interested to know going forward as a matter of u.s. policy. i think there are serious concerns that the questions were not resolved that iran's nuclear program, that there are scientists and sites and documentation that we were never able to access and i don't see the trump administration giving iran a clear bill of health. and i certainly don't see a trump administration accepting this iranian regime is going to be entitled as a matter of
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deeply flawed sunset provisions to emerge as an industrial sized nuclear program with near zero nuclear breakout and clandestine sneakout action. i don't think they'll accept it. the real question is do i think they'll abrogate the deal, no, i don't think they will abrogate the deal. but i think they'll use the joint commission and nonnuclear sanctions, i think they'll have a zero tolerance policy with respect to iranian violations and i think there will be an attempt to lay the predicate for pressure, not to drive the iranians away from the table, but to lay the predicate for a follow on negotiation to address some of the fundamental flaws of the deal that both we see and iranian see. if iranians are not getting the sanctions relief they want, there is an opportunity to come to the table, negotiate a jcpoa 2 and get the relief they want but that will require concessions. >> im! y jim, you know more about north korea than most people in this room. >> let me talk about first, i
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think there is some confusion here. the notion that iran is going on year 15 to build an industrial scale enrichment capacity is a guess. you don't know that's going to happen. no one knows if that's going to happen or not. i find it -- >> being entitled and doing are different things. number two, you don't need -- what state built an industrial sized enrichment capacity to have a nuclear weapons program? south africa had a tiny program. the north koreans had a tiny program. this is a -- industrial scale has nothing to do with whether you can build nuclear weapon or not. they already know how -- they have the capacity to do it if they choose to do it. the whole idea that we can technically limit this, that was gone a long time ago. that was gone after they built the second thousandth centrifuge. this is a political problem. and the idea we're going to solve this with technical limits on their program is just not
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true. at the end of the day, the best way to prevent iran from becoming a nuclear weapon state is to see it is in its interest not to become a nuclear weapons state. that's what the agreement is about. that's what the npt is about. that's how these agreements work. let me say on sanctions, i think mark is right, and right to be here with so many contending voices and right to say, u.s. reserves, all policy streicy ins to deal with -- but context is important here. how do we judge whether something has the intention of undermining the deal or response to behavior that iran has taken that we don't like? today, if you say all through your campaign, you want a muslim ban, you want a muslim ban, you want a muslim ban and have an immigration order and say this is not a muslim ban, it is going to look that way to people. it technically may not, but it is going to look that way. now, it seems to me if we want to stop iranian behavior, a
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valid public policy question, this knee jerk thing that says they need bad sanctions, that makes no sense to me. correcting human rights violations, not very good. evidence would suggest that it makes them worse, not better. on things that iran sees as its national self-interest, like its military, i don't think you're going to sanction them away from a missile program when iraq shot missiles at them during the iran/iraq war. you should think about that as a policy instrument, you should assign some probability here. what is the probability this is going to achieve our policy objective and weigh it against the costs. so the cost here is we can sanction the hell out of the irgc and try to cripple them, so then do they become a voice for nuclear restraint in iraq? is that how it works? rather than as you point out, they seem to be benefitting from the agreement, that would seem to suggest that they have a
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self-interest in its continuation. isn't that what we want to have happen, the agreement to continue rather than fall apart? now, i agree, absolutely, that we should consider follow on agreements. i think that's fabulous. we shouldn't confuse follow on agreements and renegotiations. so you don't come out after the first 365 days and say, i want to do it over. that's renegotiation. you let this sit for a while, hopefully build some sustainable relations so that we're just not insulting each other every other day, a little trust and then you say, you know, you're 3, you're 5, how can we make this better? how can we make it better for you? how can we make it better for me? you don't do it, you know, before the first birthday is passed. and so i think we're not going to renegotiate, because if we call that meeting, we'll be the only ones there. and that will be --
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>> so we all agree we're going to renegotiate a follow on agreement, a jcpoa 2 and we agree it shouldn't happen in the first 100 days and we agree it should happen when the united states is built, number one, the negotiating leverage so we can actually negotiate a proper follow-on agreement and number two, we work very closely with our allies to lay the table so that we can actually negotiate this. i think we're all in agreement. >> i would add a few more things to that, but, yes. i would agree with those elements. other elements would be important as well. but, yes, i think -- i've said that -- >> you hit on something which working with our allies, the nuclear -- the sanctions did not really begin to impact iran until the europeans and the japanese and the south koreans came on board and stopped buying their oil. that's what did -- >> that's not true. and, b, just let's -- >> 2012. >> i spent a lot of time working on sanctions the past 13 years. let's remember the sequencing of this. the sequencing of this is that the united states put in place
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very powerful secondary sanctions, they went around the world, particularly the u.s. treasury department went around the world and read the riot act to financial institutions not to do business with iran. they then imposed billions of dollars of fines on banks that violated iran sanctions. u.s. congress came in 2010 and passed very powerful secondary sanctions, financial sanctions, through sasada and began an escalation where congress began to pass tougher and tougher sanctions. the same time, you had this powerful instrument of coercion where european companies and asian companies were beginning to fear that they were going to get cut off from the u.s. market. everybody was afraid the israelis would bomb iran. all of us were look for a nonnuclear -- nonmilitary way out of this crisis because we all fear that israeli military strike would lead to massive escalation. the europeans finally came to the table recognizing that they needed a made in european solution because they didn't
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want the israel whyi strikes an sanctions and fines imposed on their companies. and then the europeans came to the table and they absolutely -- >> 2012 was the real -- the national defense -- >> let's remember the sequencing of this, the europeans finally came, once we were pretty far up the escalation curve because they recognized these threats. and so when we talk about reconstituting pressure, so we can get a jcpoa 2, of course we have to work with the europeans and our allies to ensure they're on board, but one should never underestimate, number one, the power of u.s. financial sanctions and number two, forget about israeli military strike. as somebody who supports sanctions, one should always fear a u.s. military strike under the trump administration. which could begin with an escalation on the gulf the next time an irgc attack boat harasses one of our navy ships and president trump orders secretary mattis to blow that out of the water. then you can imagine an escalation that leads to military confrontation. and so when you talk about
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nonnuclear sanctions, it may be the least confrontational coercive instrument we may face in the next four years. >> do you want to react to that, caroline? >> there is final solutions for everything. you can always escalate everything as far as one wishes and -- something we want to avoid, i think. i think what is important is to understand that this deal, it takes -- it takes huge tangle and if we don't keep the iranians on board, there is no purpose with the deal. and therefore i also want to point out so it has been said that the eu still maintains sanctions on iran or for human rights and terrorism. so we haven't lifted all our sanctions. but it certainly needs, i think, and we work with china, we work with russia to try to maintain a
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sort of positive incentive for iran to maintain this. this will, of course, be more complicated if the pressure increases from the u.s. side. that is clear. and i cannot say where the break point is for something like that. that is, of course, to the u.s. congress has to take that into consideration because there is -- there is just so much you can do with the carrot if the stick is beating faster and faster. and that is -- that is political judgment where -- but certainly the other partners of the deed, we have not -- i must repeat, i prefer to remain in good faith
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of this new administration that we will be able to work very well together and that we will be able to discuss this with members of congress openly, and that we will be able to maintain this deal moving forward and the further we get into the deal, i think, the better it is. >> did you want to add something -- >> i was going to say, i thought that mark's chronology of how sanctions worked is very useful and worth reminding ourselves that this did happen under an administration that wanted to engage with iran. so coercive diplomacy worked. yet the iranians would tell the story differently. they would say that they were ready to talk when they were ready to talk. and that might have had to do with some of their technological achievements, not just the economic pressures. so we got a problem of what is it that brought people to the table and what were their assumptions about the other actor. i guess what i find a little bit
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disheartening is the notion that it is very -- there is a profound lack of trust, the iranians are doing more stuff that we don't like, the problem seems in a way to be getting worse, not better. and i guess i do have -- if we revert back to an all punitive psychology about dealing with iran, we haven't learned a lot from history, okay. it seems to me that we still need to be a little self-critical of decades that went by, when we did not succeed in changing the iranian calculation of what was in their interest. as you said, how do we get under their skin. how do we get them to rethink what is in their interest. and maybe that's beyond our capability. maybe iran always wants to be an outlier country in a way. the revolutionary fervor is at least alive and well for some, not for many. but maybe this iran cannot
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change in the direction that we wish that it could. so i guess i'm taking away from this, you know, it is a little bit turning the clock back to a mind set about managing the iran challenge and ways -- and maybe the jcpoa survives as a minor piece of the bigger puzzle. but that that larger story is getting darker, not lighter. >> i think it is a great point. i would, again, i would recommend not going back to an all punitive approach. i go back to the obama approach, which was a dual track approach, which is usie ining punitive mes like sanctions and hopefully under a trump administration other instruments of american coercion beyond sanctions. and also offering the iranians all the time and opportunity to sit down and negotiate a follow on agreement that addresses a fundamental flaw of the agreement as we see it, and as they see it. and i think that's an opportunity to go -- not back to the punitive, but to offer a dual pack. >> would you support a complete
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lifting of u.s. primary sanctions on iran if it were to take steps that would actually, you know -- its ability to make a nuclear weapon. >> for swearing their right or their right never to build a nuclear weapon is for me not a guarantee of anything. the iranians foreswearing anything -- >> if they agree to have no more than 300 kilograms of enraiched uranium in perpetuity. >> i'm not going to start a negotiation about what the jcpoa agreement should look like. i think that is a great way for deal opponents and deal supporters to come together and start to think through from a policy perspective what an agreement would look like, what are we prepared to do, what do we think they're prepared to do. and on what they're prepared to do, i think we should not fall into the trap of the obama administration did which is where we start to negotiate with ourselves and this notion we will only ask something that we
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think they're prepared to give. i think that's a big mistake. i agree with your analysis on this -- on how we -- what brought iranians to the table in the first place. i think sanctions brought them to the table. i think that's something the ni agrees with. i think one of the biggest things that brought them to the table was our willingness to give them up front a major concession. two major concessions. one was on enrichment. and to abandon decades of u.s. policy. on enrichment. and number two, to give them a way out of these permanent restrictions on their nuclear program, which, again, were decades of u.s. policy that the construct that we used to have was that the security council would vote in the affirmative to lift restrictions on iran's program, and the united states and france and other countries had a veto on that. we actually, secretary kerry, others, offered these huge concessions at the beginning of the negotiation which i think was a big mistake. it absolutely brought them to the table. but it resulted in a deeply
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flawed deal with sunset provisions and enrichment capacity. >> i thought we were going to -- but i do have something to say here, you know. i have lots to say, i'll keep it to one thing. >> no you won't. >> that's not an unreasonable guess. so mark said something, may have just misspoke, i can tell you i misspoke -- misspeak when you're up in front of the audience or on tv, but did or didn't, but if the iranians are listening, this is what they heard him say, we need to increase leverage on iran, put on the pressure so that when we go into a negotiation for jcpoa 2.0, we can use this pressure and get an agreement we want. now, that sure sounds to me like we're using sanctions for a nuclear agreement. even though that's prohibited under the jcpoa. now, you know -- >> i didn't misspeak. i did not misspeak and that is absolutely not in -- with the
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jcpoa. >> i think the cat is out of the bag. >> wait a second. the notion we cannot pressure the iranians in any way, in any way because of the nuclear deal means what i will always suspect, that we were going to paralyze u.s. iran policy. we were going to -- >> we have primary sanctions on iran. we already have enormous -- >> the idea that we're using sanctions on human rights and this other stuff and it is purely because of that and not to get leverage over nuclear -- well, that just went away, my friends. that just -- that's up in smoke. >> unfortunately, i hate to tell you, i hate to tell you, but our keynote speaker, i believe, is about to arrive, yes? do we have time for one more question? >> i'm sorry we ate up all the time. >> we have time for one more question. right here. and wait for the microphone, if you would. do we have a microphone. yeah. pass it down. yeah. >> as a person who spent a good bit of time in iran, and has lived and worked with people in iran -- >> just hold it up to your
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mouth. >> my specialty is higher education in iran and the u.s. and from my perspective, i must say i very much agree with ellen and mark's point of view, well, caroline's well, that respect is a basic necessity in this situation. context is huge. i think the idea of technically muddling the iran agreement, the nuclear agreement with all of the other objections we have to their behavior is a hugely dangerous thing to do. everyone thinks, i think, that the current agreement works well. it is well constructed. it specifically separates all of those very important issues from the other issues, precisely in order to get nuclear proliferation done. >> do you have a question? >> my question is, in the -- in the -- but what possible benefit could there be and what can we do to educate the anti-agreement folks on the hill as i represent
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the national peace corps association from iran, and i think we need to educate people on the hill to the best we can, context and respect is where we need to go, and i don't know how to do it given the kind of very dangerous idea that somehow muddling human rights and other things, which are huge, with the nuclear agreement, is going to achieve anything other than disaster. >> okay. caroline, i know that the eu, europe and european diplomats in general are trying to do this, others are trying to do this. >> yeah, i think we are looking to engage with the new congress now. if they -- when they start to think about doing this, we are -- waiting to see what comes out of this new administration, as well. but we are certainly ready to go up again, we were very present there in view of the decision on
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the jcpoa in congress and i think we were able to help to get there with russia and with china, we were present there. we are ready to do that again because we think this is worth defending and we also believe that we can help out in iran by engaging with iranians of -- and iranian society on different topics, high education, environment, small end business, and many other areas, where we go in from the eu side to engage. and also try to build -- build confidence in this agreement. and build confidence. and also feel that a larger part of society benefits from it. even if it doesn't come in -- >> those of you who have direct
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knowledge of how things happen on the hill, many folks do not, what specific actions can -- >> the question is about what specific actions. i think we have seen just since president trump came into office that there has been a tremendous resurgence of willingness on the part of ordinary americans to call their members of congress, on a variety of issues, and i think you could probably add the iran nuclear deal to the long list of things that people are now talking about with members of congress and issues that they think are worth preserving and the atlantic council stands ready to educate members of congress and their staff about not just the nuclear agreement, but other aspects of iranian policy, domestic realities, and so on. we're committed to explaining the complexity of this society to a broader audience in washington and outside. with that, i'm afraid we have
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come to the end of this panel. we're going to have a brief coffee break, so go and get a coffee or snack and then we will come back to hear senator chris murphy give his address, and thank you very much to my panel. thank you. [ applause ] breaking for about 15 minutes on this forum on the iran nuclear agreement and the trump presidency. we'll be hearing from connecticut senator chris murphy, a member of the foreign relations committee, and also later a panel on whether iran
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might help or hinder solutions to conflict in the region. we'll have more live programming as well later on c-span3 at 5:30 we'll be hearing from former secretary of state madeleine albright about the importance of american leadership and president trump's executive order on refugees and immigrants, live at 5:30 eastern here on c-span3. and at 6:30, white house press secretary sean spicer will join one of his predecessors, ari fleischer, and white house correspondents to talk about media coverage of president trump live at 6:30. on capitol hill the senate gavels in at 3:00 eastern and will take up the nomination of rex tillerson to be secretary of state at 5:00 a procedural vote on that expected at 5:30. and you can always watch live coverage of the senate over on c-span2. and tomorrow morning, live at 9:30, the senate judiciary committee will meet to vote on the nomination of senator jeff sessions to be the next attorney general. the senate has not yet announced a time for


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