- Bombshell testimony: Head of nonpartisan nonproliferation think tank says breakout time under deal could be 6-7 months
At a Senate hearing, David Albright, President of the Institute for Science and International Security, stated that Iran’s breakout time could be as low as 6-7 months, calling into question the administration’s claim to have secured a one-year breakout. Albright based this calculation on the likelihood that Iran would deploy its more advanced IR-2m centrifuges in an attempt to break out, and on the failure of the deal to require full dismantlement of all of the equipment used in the cascades at the Fuel Enrichment Plant. Senator Menendez (D-NJ) stated that Albright’s claim concerns him because “six or seven months, that’s not going to be helpful if they decide to break out... The next president of the United States… will really only have one choice: to accept Iran as a nuclear weapons state or to have a military strike, because sanctions will be ineffective.”
Albright also criticized the provision giving Iran up to 24 days to provide access to suspicious, undeclared sites. In his testimony, he wrote that Iran has extensive experience in evading IAEA monitoring and that “twenty four days could be enough time, presumably, for Iran to relocate undeclared activities that are in violation of the JCPOA while it undertakes sanitization activities that would not necessarily leave a trace in environmental sampling.” Additionally, Albright warned that the procurement channel set up by the deal falls short of what is needed to be effective because there would only be up to 30 days to reject proposed exports to Iran, which is not enough time for countries including the United States to assess whether certain exports to Iran could contribute to activities inconsistent with the deal.
At the hearing, Dr. Robert Joseph, former Under Secretary of State for Arms Control and International Security, also criticized the deal because it recognizes and legitimizes a path to nuclear weapons, provides for ineffective verification, fails to prevent breakout, and fails to limit Iran’s ballistic missile development. Moreover, Joseph argued that the deal increases the likelihood of nuclear proliferation in the region, undermines the nonproliferation regime and the IAEA, and enables a more aggressive and repressive Iranian regime, thereby increasing the prospect of conflict and war. He concluded that Congress should reject the deal because “a bad agreement is worse than no agreement.”
Three leading members of the House of Representatives – Reps. Steve Israel (D – N.Y.), Nita Lowey (D – N.Y.), and Ted Deutch (D – Fla.) – today became the first three Democratic Jewish members of Congress to go on record opposing the nuclear deal with Iran.Rep. Israel, the chair of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, toldNewsday that he would vote against the deal and will work to defeat it in next month’s Congressional vote.
Israel told Newsday that he was going public with his opposition hoping that he might influence other members of the House.
Lowey, the ranking Democrat on the House Appropriations Committee, which controls government spending, issued a press release stating that preventing Iran from obtaining nuclear weapons is a “essential national security imperative,” and that after extensive consultations with “officials in the Obama Administration, regional experts, foreign leaders, Congressional colleagues, and my constituents,” she could not support the deal.
Deutch, the ranking member of the House Foreign Affairs Committee’s Subcommittee on the Middle East and North Africa, made his announcement in an op-ed published today in the Sun-Sentinel newspaper. Citing his longstanding efforts to prevent Iran from acquiring nuclear weapons, Deutch argued that the deal not only fails to accomplish its stated goals of preventing a nuclear Iran, but dangerously strengthens Iran in a number of other ways.
Deutch also dismissed concerns that the only alternative to the deal is war, writing that “there are different predictions” of the consequences of Congress rejecting the deal, but approving the deal will provide Iran with billions in unfrozen assets and new business and will mean “more money for Hamas for building terror tunnels in Gaza, more weapons for Hezbollah in Lebanon, more slaughter in Syria, and more violence worldwide.” Deutch concluded that he could not support a deal that will give Iran billions while “letting it maintain an advanced nuclear program and the infrastructure of a threshold nuclear state.”