Public Forum: "High Standards and High Stakes: Defining Terms of an Acceptable Iran Nuclear Deal"

Last Friday night, the United States and other world powers extended the July 20th deadline for a nuclear agreement with Iran back to November 24, 2014.  Amid these developments, the Foreign Policy Initiative (FPI) recently hosted "High Standards and High Stakes: Defining Terms of an Acceptable Iran Nuclear Deal," along with the Bipartisan Policy Center and the Foundation for Defense of Democracies.

The public forum featured a bipartisan and bicameral group of congressional leaders in foreign policy who discussed the minimum standards for an acceptable deal with Iran and the need for sanctions-in-waiting to strengthen diplomatic efforts.  A panel of experts offered their views on the future of negotiations with Iran and engaged in a question-and-answer session with reporters and the audience.

For more, check out videos, key quotes, and a transcript from the event. We also recommend "Expand Non-Military Pressure on Iran," an op-ed on the need for sanctions-in-waiting on Iran by FPI Policy Director Robert Zarate in the July 21st print edition of USA Today.

| Video | Key Quotes | Transcript | Speaker Biographies |

| "Expand Non-Military Pressure on Iran" |


Remarks by Members of Congress - Full Video

Remarks by Representative Brad Sherman (D-CA)

Remarks by Former Senator Norm Coleman (R-MN)

Remarks by Panel of Experts - Full Video

Key quotes

From Senator Mark Kirk (R-IL)

“What I would like to see is effective non-military pressure brought to bear to make sure that Iran does not have nuclear weapons.”

“An acceptable deal looks like….  the ideal model is South Africa….  You’ll see South Africa had complete transparency, and Iran did not.  South Africa had ‘anytime, anywhere” inspections,’ and Iran did not.…  If [this regimen of complete nuclear transparency and ‘anytime, anywhere’ inspections] was good enough for Mandela, it should be good enough for Iran.”

From Senator Dan Coats (R-IN)

“I was very skeptical about the efforts of a negotiated good result from this, and my skepticism is greater today than it was before.”

“It’s almost a given now that there are going to be centrifuges turning.  The question is how many and what are they going to be enriching for.  My greatest fear is that we will wake up one day to a breaking news headline news that Iran has successfully achieved nuclear weapons capability.  That, as we all know, is a game changer of all game changers.”

From Congressman Eliot Engel (D-NY)

“Now we’re focused on the sanctions side of the equation for a simple reason, and that is that the sanctions have worked.  We need to remind ourselves that the Iranians didn’t come to the table out of the goodness of their hearts.  These negotiations aren’t underpinned by some newfound trust of the Iranian regime…  The road to any permanent sanctions relief runs through Congress.  I fully believe that the Congress imposes sanctions, and only Congress can remove the sanctions, and Congress must play a vital role in that decision.”

“We know that Iran remains the single largest state sponsor of terrorism, and by the way, as the battle goes on in Gaza between the terrorist organization Hamas and Israel, it’s interesting to see who has supplied Hamas with most of their weaponry, and that, of course, is Iran.  We shouldn’t forget that, and we should not pull apart Iran’s nuclear program from other issues, such as Iran being the largest sponsor of terrorism throughout the world.”

“In my view, and I think I speak for a lot of other Members of Congress on this scene, if we ease sanctions without having a good deal in hand, we’re giving away the farm.  And, if the Iranians want to get this weight off their backs, they need to earn it.  I agree with Secretary Kerry when he says that no deal is better than a bad deal.  The question is we need to define what a bad deal is and what a good deal is….  Like many of you, I have trouble stomaching that the world’s leading sponsor of terrorism would have any kind of enrichment capability.  And that’s why strong provisions are needed to ensure Iran is living up to its word.  Any sort of agreement would be contingent on inspections, transparency, and verifications measures….  and how long they’ll last.”

From Congresswoman Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-FL)

“For me, the only acceptable Iran nuclear deal will be one in which Iran must dismantle its entire nuclear infrastructure and must not allowed the capacity to enrich any uranium at all.  Anything short of that leaves the regime the potential to create and proliferate nuclear weapons and materials.”

“I think it’s incredibly irresponsible and dangerous for the administration to be negotiating with Iran with blinders on, only focusing on its nuclear program and none of its other many illicit activities as if there’s no interconnection.”

“We know the nature of the regime.  We have heard its intentions toward us and toward Israel.  So to define the terms of an acceptable deal, that's easy. No nuclear infrastructure.  No enrichment.  And the Administration also needs to hold the regime accountable for its acts of terror worldwide.  And that is the only acceptable outcome.”

From Congressman Brad Sherman (D-CA)

“We’re in a weaker bargaining position than we should be….  Instead of dealing with an Iran on the ropes about to fall apart economically after over a dozen years of the toughest possible sanctions, we have an Iran that … has a two percent economic growth rate.  ….  Here in America we call that ‘a recovery’.”

“A final deal has got to say that Iran must years away from breakout, years between when we know they’re violating the agreement to when they have a first bomb.”

“How do we strengthen our bargaining position?  First, we expose Iran’s militarization and we rally world support.  Second, we pass triggered sanctions.  I was with Secretary Kerry today.  All I’ll say is the Administration is not as opposed as they were yesterday or months ago to a bill that would impose new sanctions on Iran—not now, but on a date next year if the President is unable to declare by that time that he has not entered into a good deal with Iran.”

From Former Senator Norm Coleman (R-MN)

“We’re dealing with a regime that has consistently flouted international law.  And if that’s the case, then what kind of measures of assurance can you have that you can have the kind of transparency that will in the end stop the unthinkable?  And I really think that Iran getting the nuclear bomb is unthinkable.”

“What about the issue of proliferation in the region?  If you’re the Egyptians or you’re the Saudis, if Iran has a nuclear weapon, you’re going to say to yourself, ‘What are we going to do?’  And if you think any of us are going to sleep easier, sleep better at night, if there’s greater proliferation in the region, if the Iranians, the Saudis, and the Egyptians have a nuclear weapon, you’re kidding yourself.”

Senator Mark Kirk served five terms in the House of Representatives before being elected to the Senate in 2010 and is a veteran of the United States Navy. He serves on four Senate Committees: Appropriations, Banking, HELP (Health, Education, Labor & Pensions), and Aging and is the Ranking Republican on the Appropriations Subcommittee for Military Construction and Veterans Affairs. Senator Kirk is a leader on national security issues, including efforts to address Iran’s pursuit of a nuclear weapons capability, countering terrorism, and working with our allies to combat common enemies. With Senator Robert Menendez, he co-authored the Nuclear Weapon Free Iran Act of 2013, which includes parameters of an acceptable nuclear deal with Iran and sanctions-in-waiting provisions if an acceptable deal isn't concluded by January 2015. The Senator was recently published in The Daily Herald on human rights abuses against members of the Baha’i faith in Iran and is an outspoken critic of the Iranian regime’s human rights abuses.

Senator Dan Coats has dedicated much of his life to serving Indiana and the nation in a variety of roles. After graduating from Wheaton College, Coats went on to serve in the U.S. Army. Following his military service, Coats attended the Indiana University Robert H. McKinney School of Law, where he received his J.D. and was associate editor of the Indiana Law Review. He went on to work for a life insurance company in Fort Wayne before joining the office of then-Congressman Dan Quayle as a district representative. From 1981 to 1999, Coats served in the United States Congress, first in the House of Representatives and then in the Senate. During his time in Congress, Coats served on the Senate Armed Services Committee and Select Committee on Intelligence where he worked on ways to strengthen our national defense and security. Honoring a term-limits pledge, Coats stepped down from his Senate seat in 1999. In 2001, he was named Ambassador to Germany, arriving in the country only a few days before the tragic events of 9/11. After his time as Ambassador, he worked at a law firm and continued to be active in public service. Concerned about the direction of our country, Coats returned to the U.S. Senate in 2011 to help restore fiscal responsibility and ensure that future generations inherit a safe and prosperous America. In the 113th Congress, Coats serves on four Senate committees: Appropriations; Select Intelligence (SSCI); Commerce, Science and Transportation; and the Joint Economic Committee (JEC).

Congressman Eliot Engel is the Ranking Member on the House Foreign Affairs Committee. He also serves on the Energy and Commerce Committee including the Subcommittee on Health, and the Subcommittee on Energy and Power. He is the founder and Co-Chair of the House Oil and National Security Caucus, which is seeking clean, energy efficient alternatives to America's over-reliance on oil. He is also a member of the Democratic Task Force on Health and serves on Commission on Human Rights. Congressman Engel is the author of the Syria Accountability and Lebanese Sovereignty Restoration Act of 2003, which successfully sparked international pressure on Syria to withdraw from Lebanon, and sponsored a key resolution recognizing Jerusalem as the undivided capital of Israel. He is the leader in the House of Representatives on U.S. policy toward Latin American and the Caribbean. In addition, he has written important laws relating to Albania and Kosova, Cyprus, Irish affairs, and is co-author of the Harkin-Engel Protocol, which addresses the child slave labor in the cocoa fields of Africa.Congressman Engel was born in the Bronx on February 18, 1947. He grew up in a city housing project and attended New York City public schools. In 1969, he graduated from Hunter-Lehman College with a B.A. in History and received a Master's Degree in Guidance and Counseling in 1973 from Herbert H. Lehman College of the City University of New York. In 1987, he received a law degree from New York Law School. For twelve years prior to his election to Congress, Mr. Engel served in the New York State Assembly (1977-1988), where he chaired the Committee on Alcoholism and Substance Abuse, as well as the Subcommittee on Mitchell-Lama Housing. Prior to that, he was a teacher and guidance counselor in the New York City public school system.

Congresswoman Ileana Ros-Lehtinen represents Florida's 27th Congressional District.  She is Chairman emeritus of the House Foreign Affairs Committee (HFAC) and now Chairman of the HFAC Subcommittee on the Middle East and North Africa. In this role, she continues to voice her strong support for the state of Israel and human rights, including her opposition to Castro’s dictatorial regime in Cuba. She has also led on pressing foreign policy issues including the fight against Islamist extremism, and support of free trade agreements with Colombia, Panama, and South Korea.  She also serves as a member of the House Committee on Rules. Born in Havana in 1952, Ros-Lehtinen and her family were forced to flee from the oppressive Cuban communist regime of Fidel Castro to the United States. In 1982, she was elected to the Florida State House of Representatives and the Florida Senate in 1986, becoming the first Hispanic woman to serve in either body. She was elected to the U.S. House of Representatives in 1989--the first Hispanic woman to serve in Congress--following a special election to fill the seat held by the late Claude Pepper. She earned an Associate of Arts degree from Miami-Dade Community College in 1972, Bachelors and Masters Degree in Education from Florida International University in 1975 and 1985 respectively, and a Doctorate in Education from the University of Miami in 2004.

Congressman Brad Sherman, born and raised in southern California, represents California’s San Fernando Valley, and has served in the U.S. House of Representatives since 1997. Congressman Sherman is serving his ninth term in Congress, and currently resides in Sherman Oaks, CA. Congressman Sherman is a senior member of the House Foreign Affairs Committee and serves as the senior Democrat on the Subcommittee on International Terrorism, Nonproliferation and Trade.  He is also a senior member of the Financial Services Committee. During his tenure in Congress, Sherman has developed a reputation as a strong advocate for fiscal responsibility, a balanced budget, federal aid to education, the interests of working families, strong environmental standards, the protection of Social Security and Medicare, and policies to expand U.S. exports. According to USA Today and The Washington Post, Congressman Sherman led the effort to prevent taxpayer dollars from being used for unlimited bailouts to Wall Street giants. In 2009, he took an important role in crafting legislation that ended bailouts putting taxpayers on the hook for risky Wall Street behavior, by successfully defeating the Treasury Department’s proposal for permanent, unlimited TARP. Sherman received a Bachelor's degree from the University of California, Los Angeles, where he graduated Summa Cum Laude.  Sherman was also an accounting tutor during his time at UCLA.  Later he received his law degree from Harvard, where he graduated Magna Cum Laude.

Stephen G. Rademaker is senior advisor to the Bipartisan Policy Center’s Foreign Policy Project. He served as an Assistant Secretary of State from 2002 through 2006, heading at various times three bureaus of the State Department, including the Bureau of Arms Control and the Bureau of International Security and Nonproliferation. He directed the Proliferation Security Initiative, as well as nonproliferation policy toward Iran and North Korea, and led strategic dialogues with Russia, China, India and Pakistan. He also headed U.S. delegations to the 2005 Review Conference of the Parties to the Treaty on Nonproliferation of Nuclear Weapons, as well as many other international conferences. Mr. Rademaker concluded his career on Capitol Hill in 2007, serving as senior counsel and policy director for national security affairs for then-Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist (R-TN). In this role, he helped manage all aspects of the legislative process relating to foreign policy, defense, intelligence and national security. He earlier served as chief counsel for the House Select Committee on Homeland Security of the U.S. House of Representatives and as deputy staff director and chief counsel of the House Committee on International Relations. During President George H. W. Bush’s administration, Mr. Rademaker served as general counsel of the Peace Corps, associate counsel to the President in the Office of White House Counsel, and as deputy legal adviser to the National Security Council. After leaving government in 2007, he continued to serve as the U.S. representative on the United Nations Secretary-General’s Advisory Board on Disarmament Matters, and was subsequently appointed by House Republican Leader John Boehner (R-OH) to the U.S. Commission on the Prevention of Weapons of Mass Destruction Proliferation and Terrorism. Mr. Rademaker received the Officer's Cross of the Order of Merit from the government of Poland in 2009. He has a bachelor's, a Juris Doctor and a master's in foreign affairs from the University of Virginia.

Reuel Marc Gerecht is a senior fellow with the Foundation for Defense of Democracies.  He focuses on Iran, Iraq, Afghanistan, terrorism, and intelligence. Mr. Gerecht is the author of The Wave: Man, God, and the Ballot Box in the Middle East (Hoover Institution Press, 2011), Know Thine Enemy: A Spy's Journey into Revolutionary Iran (Farrar, Straus & Giroux, 1997) and The Islamic Paradox: Shiite Clerics, Sunni Fundamentalists, and the Coming of Arab Democracy (AEI Press, 2004). He is a contributing editor for The Weekly Standard and has been a correspondent for The Atlantic Monthly, as well as a frequent contributor to the Wall Street Journal, the New York Times, and other publications. He was previously a resident fellow at the American Enterprise Institute and the director of the Middle East Initiative at the Project for the New American Century. Earlier, he served as a Middle Eastern specialist at the CIA's Directorate of Operations.

Dr. Ray Takeyh is a senior fellow for Middle Eastern studies at the Council on Foreign Relations and adjunct professor at Georgetown University. His areas of specialization are Iran, political reform in the Middle East, and Islamist movements and parties. Prior to joining the Council on Foreign Relations, Dr. Takeyh was senior advisor on Iran at the Department of State. He is the author of The Guardians of the Revolution: Iran's Approach to the World (Oxford University Press, 2009) and Hidden Iran: Paradox and Power in the Islamic Republic (Henry Holt, 2006). Dr. Takeyh has testified frequently in front various congressional committees and appears regularly on radio and television and has been published, including articles in Foreign Affairs, Foreign Policy, The New York Times, Washington Post, Los Angeles Times, Financial Times, International Herald Tribune, among others.

Expand Non-Military Pressure on Iran

By FPI Policy Director Robert Zarate | Originally published in USA Today

As the July 20 deadline for a nuclear deal with Iran is delayed four months, the United States should expand non-military pressure on Iran to boost the chances of a breakthrough. Iran should face a clear choice — make significant concessions before the new Nov. 24 deadline or suffer crippling economic sanctions.

Last November, Iran paused parts of its nuclear program in return for partial relief of economic sanctions. Yet Secretary of State John Kerry has warned Congress that Iran retains substantial illicit nuclear infrastructure and could potentially produce explosive nuclear material for a weapon in "two months."

It's alarming that Washington's generous offer of eventual comprehensive sanctions relief hasn't persuaded Tehran to make any significant nuclear concessions. In fact, Iranian Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei recently declared that his regime, rather than reduce its fleet of 19,000 centrifuges to enrich uranium, should increase it up to 190,000 units.

With Iran unwilling to make significant nuclear concessions, the Obama administration has decided to put more time on the clock for a deal. But if that's all it does, it's almost certain to fail.

Non-military pressure on Iran, in the form of economic sanctions, reopened the door to diplomacy. As President Obama conceded to Congress in his 2014 State of the Union, "The sanctions that we put in place helped make this opportunity possible." In turn, expanded non-military pressure can keep open the diplomatic door and persuade Iran to accept a good nuclear deal that's comprehensive, airtight and long-lasting.

The White House should start by working with Congress. Sanctions legislation introduced by Sens. Robert Menendez, D-N.J., and Mark Kirk, R-Ill., last December, for example, offers a fruitful approach. It would create a new framework that better balances diplomacy with non-military pressure, promising to impose decisive and crippling economic sanctions if Iran won't make significant nuclear concessions.

President Obama has pledged to use all means to block Iran's path to a nuclear weapon, but he's also rightly said, "No deal is better than a bad deal." As he doubles-down on diplomacy, he shouldn't forget the one tool with a proven track-record on Iran — non-military pressure.

Mission Statement

The Foreign Policy Initiative seeks to promote an active U.S. foreign policy committed to robust support for democratic allies, human rights, a strong American military equipped to meet the challenges of the 21st century, and strengthening America’s global economic competitiveness.
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