11.25.14

Rep. Schiff Statement on Extension of Negotiations with Iran

Washington, DC - Today, Rep. Adam Schiff (D-CA), a senior Member of the Intelligence Committee and State and Foreign Operations Appropriations Subcommittee, released the following statement:

"Yesterday's announcement that no agreement had been reached between the P5+1 and Iran on a permanent deal to dismantle Iran's nuclear program came as little surprise, but the failure to arrive at even a framework for a final agreement casts serious doubt on whether Iran is ready to make the kind of concessions necessary to end its international isolation and join the community of nations. On two of the most significant issues, the need to eliminate or dramatically reduce Iran's enrichment capability and the pace of sanctions relief, little or no advance appears to have been made. Secretary Kerry has stated that important progress has been achieved, but in light of the impasse on these two issues, it is unclear what step forward has been made that suggests a final agreement is attainable. Regrettably, it appears that whatever Mr. Rouhani's intentions, the Ayatollah Khamenei's objective is to obtain the maximum relief of the sanctions possible while giving up as little of Iran's nuclear program as possible -- and it is Khamenei who calls the shots.

"The new interim agreement preserves the status quo with one very important asymmetry -- Iran gets an additional 700 million in sanctions relief each month while apparently making no new concession on its nuclear program.  When the last extension was agreed to, both sides were required to pay a price in order to buy time: the P5+1 gave a new increment of sanctions relief and Iran was required to further blend down its stockpile. That should have been model for any further extension but this appears not to be the case. And while the currently falling price of oil may easily erase and more the 700 million a month in relief Iran gets from the extension, such an external mitigating factor is no substitute for a properly balanced agreement.

"In the days to come, I will look forward to hearing from Secretary Kerry and the Administration what progress they believe has been made in the negotiations that warrant the extension of time and why they believe a framework agreement is achievable in the next four months.  Secretary Kerry has said that it would be unwise to walk away from the interim agreement now, since the breakout time has been expanded. This may be true, but it could equally be said seven months from now if no deal is reached then, and at a certain point we may have to acknowledge that Iran is simply unwilling to negotiate away its nuclear program. If that point is now, or seven months from now, it will be critically important for the imposition and cohesion of new sanctions that the other nations in the P5+1 know that the United States made every effort to succeed in a negotiated resolution."