NEW BRITAIN, CT – Today, Congresswoman Elizabeth Esty (CT-5) released the following statement announcing her support for the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action.
“I have diligently and carefully reviewed the Iran nuclear agreement negotiated between the U.S., China, Russia, the United Kingdom, France, Germany, and Iran since the announcement of the final Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) in July. I have attended classified briefings, examined classified materials, and sought answers. I have met to discuss the agreement with my constituents, Jewish leaders throughout Connecticut, national security and nuclear energy experts, and Israeli leaders during my recent trip to Israel. Throughout my evaluation, my priority has been straightforward: determining the best realistic option to prevent Iran from acquiring a nuclear weapon. After careful consideration, I believe implementing this agreement – which is far from perfect – gives us the best chance to stop Iran’s nuclear weapons program. I will therefore vote to support the Iran nuclear agreement.
“I do not come to this decision easily. The truth is that there are no certainties or simple options in dealing with Iran. Iran is a deadly state sponsor of terror and a deceitful regime. Since the early 2000s, despite sanctions and isolation, Iran’s nuclear weapons program progressed to being mere months away from producing the necessary fissionable material for a nuclear bomb. That “breakout” timeline – the time Iran needs to produce enough enriched uranium for a bomb – is now an estimated 2 to 3 months. Thwarting Iran’s efforts to acquire nuclear weapons is of utmost importance to the United States and to our allies now and in the future precisely because Iran is already on the threshold of becoming a nuclear state.
“The JCPOA represents a real and significant improvement over current conditions. The deal reverses Iran’s uranium and plutonium pathways to the bomb, removes 97% of Iran’s current enriched material stockpile, reduces Iran’s access to existing centrifuges by 2/3rds, and provides the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) with unrestricted access to key sites for monitoring and enforcement. The IAEA will have an unprecedented number of inspectors on the ground with the most sophisticated technology available to detect violations. Most importantly, the terms do not depend on trust but on cold, hard analysis and an extraordinary level of scientific and technical verification.
“These provisions represent the best option for moving Iran’s “breakout” time to beyond 1 year and blocking Iran from developing a bomb for at least a decade. In exchange for ending Iran’s nuclear weapon capabilities, Iran would receive phased-in relief from international sanctions, depending upon verification of Iran’s compliance. As part of the agreement, Iran “reaffirms that under no circumstances will Iran ever seek, develop, or acquire any nuclear weapons.” And if Iran violates its terms of the agreement, the deal includes a “snapback” agreement for the U.S., EU, and UN sanctions to return.
“This agreement is not ideal, but is the best available option. I have listened to critics and constituents raise legitimate concerns – concerns that I believe will help guide the United States in our duty to enforce Iran’s compliance with the agreement and ensure that they meet not just the letter of the agreement but also its spirit.
“The Iranian nuclear deal is the beginning, but only the beginning of a new, multinational commitment. It is not enough to sign a piece of paper. We must commit to ensuring that the inspectors have the resources to carry out the agreement and that they have access to the most sophisticated technology. We must also continue to support our own intelligence and military capabilities to be ready to act at any sign of cheating. And we must stand strong with our allies who helped negotiate this agreement to act decisively and with unity in response to Iranian efforts to avoid or undermine its obligations. Make no mistake – Iran will test our resolve. We must be vigilant, and we must be ready.”