Category Archives: News

Hizballah Banned In The UK

Order proscribing Hizballah, Ansaroul Islam and Jamaat Nusrat al-Islam Wal-Muslimin came into force at midnight

Home Office

Home Office

An order laid in Parliament on Monday (25 February) to proscribe the terrorist organisations Hizballah, Ansaroul Islam and Jamaat Nusrat al-Islam Wal-Muslimin (JNIM) has now come into effect, following debates in the Houses of Parliament.

Under the Terrorism Act 2000, being a member – or inviting support for – these groups will be a criminal offence, carrying a sentence of up to 10 years’ imprisonment.

All three groups have been assessed as being concerned in terrorism.

Announcing his decision on Monday, Home Secretary Sajid Javid said:

My priority as Home Secretary is to protect the British people. As part of this, we identify and ban any terrorist organisation which threatens our safety and security, whatever their motivations or ideology which is why I am taking action against several organisations today.

Hizballah is continuing in its attempts to destabilase the fragile situation in the Middle East – and we are no longer able to distinguish between their already banned military wing and the political party. Because of this, I have taken the decision to proscribe the group in its entirety.

Decisions about whether to proscribe a particular organisation are taken after extensive consideration and in light of a full assessment of available information.

There are now 77 international terrorist organisations proscribed under the terrorism Act 2000, alongside 14 organisations connected to Northern Ireland proscribed under separate legislation.

Rampling Visits North Lebanon And Tripoli: UK Support Continues

On his first official visit to of Lebanon and Tripoli, British Ambassador to Lebanon Chris Rampling held a series of meetings and saw UK funded projects

Ambassador Rampling visiting UK supported project in the Souks of Tripoli

Ambassador Rampling visiting UK supported project in the Souks of Tripoli

Ambassador Chris Rampling held a series of meetings with the Head of the Municipality Ahmad Kamareddine, the Mufti of Tripoli Dr. Malek El Shaar, representatives from Tripoli’s Chamber of Commerce, and toured local UK funded projects benefiting the residents of Tripoli.

He visited the historical Souks of Tripoli to see how the second phase of Rehabilitation project for around 60 shops is progressing. This is part of an additional £800,000 to help renovate and create jobs through the Lebanon Host Communities Support Programme (LHSP). Rampling also met with young people from the cultural café on Syria Street, and talked with MARCH about peace building, coexistence and their forward looks for the future. At the Mouvement Sociale centre, Ambassador Rampling saw how vulnerable young people are benefiting from the learning opportunities provided through DFID’s No Lost Generation Programme.

He also attended the signing of a Memorandum of Understanding between the British Council, the Chamber of Commerce, the municipality and the Lebanese International University, represented by Director David Knox, Toufic Dabbousi, Ahmad Kamareddine and Dr Ahmad Al Ahdab respectively.

Since 2011, the UK has committed over £730 million to supporting Lebanon’s stability and prosperity. By March 2019 we will have reached over 1,440,000 people and more than 220 municipalities under the Lebanon Host Communities Support programme (LHSP) in cooperation with the Ministry of Social Affairs and UNDP. DFID has committed an additional £5 million on this programme in 2018-19. Since 2016, DFID support has enabled almost 64,000 boys and girls to benefit from non-formal education to and supported over 116,000 disadvantaged boys, girls and women in Lebanon who are vulnerable to abuse with a package of services to help them deal with trauma and prevent abuse in the future.

At the end of his visit, Ambassador Rampling said:

I am really privileged to be visiting Tripoli today, a city of much historical and geographical importance for Lebanon and the region. I listened to Tripoli officials and religious heads about the challenges and opportunities lying ahead.

I am excited to announce from Tripoli that next week London will be the venue for the Lebanon-UK Business and Investment Forum, led by PM Hariri. Trade will be at the heart of our growing relationship. With the total bilateral trade standing at £586m in quarter two of 2018 – it is a clear sign that we are heading in the right direction.

What was started last year is continuing this year with UK aid investing over £1.2 million to renovate the old Souks of Tripoli, a project that will play an important role in the city’s economic development. We believe that investments in infrastructure benefits Lebanese citizens and supports future economic growth. That is why we committed £40 million of UK support to the Lebanese economy during the CEDRE conference, and supports the ambitious programme the Government set out there.

Through our No Lost Generation Programme, we’re providing £65 million to deliver quality non-formal education and child protection services to the most vulnerable out of school children and young people in Lebanon. Today I saw a good example of how this is done at Movement Sociale. And I was pleased to meet with young people from Syria street who have put their differences behind them, for the sake of their communities and their city.

The relationship between our two countries has never been stronger and we remain a firm supporter of Lebanon’s security, prosperity and stability.

Defence Minister Reaffirms UK Commitment To The Gulf

Minister for the Armed Forces Mark Lancaster visits Iraq, Bahrain, and Oman

Mark Lancaster Minister of State for the Armed Forces visits HMS Albion and the Joint Logistics Support Base (JLSB) Duqm Port, Oman. Crown copyright

Mark Lancaster Minister of State for the Armed Forces visits HMS Albion and the Joint Logistics Support Base (JLSB) Duqm Port, Oman. Crown copyright

Gulf security is our security, Defence Minister Mark Lancaster reaffirmed whilst visiting Iraq, Bahrain and Oman. As part of the five-day visit, the minister also officially opened the UK-Oman joint exercise, Saif Sareea 3, alongside Oman’s Minister Responsible for Defence Affairs, His Excellency Sayyid Badr bin Saud bin Harub Al Busaidi.

Defence Minister Mark Lancaster said:

The security of the Gulf is of the utmost importance to not only regional stability, but to the world’s economic stability.

Our commitment to our international responsibilities in the region is unwavering. Saif Sareea is far more than just a bilateral military exercise, it is a demonstration of our commitment and will leave behind a legacy for decades to come.

The official opening of Exercise Saif Sereea 3 signals the start of the UK’s largest military exercise in 17 years, which will see over 5,500 UK troops train alongside Omani counterparts. It is the largest and the most complex of a series of events which will see the UK Armed Forces work with every single one of our Gulf partner nations in a combination of engagements on land, sea, and in the air over the coming months.

Mr Lancaster also visited Duqm port, opening the Joint Logistics Support Base, which will support UK forces operating and exercising in Oman and the region, including Queen Elizabeth Class carrier operations from 2021.

In Bahrain, the minister met the Crown Prince, His Royal Highness Prince Salman bin Hamad bin Isa Al Khalifa and the Prime Minister, His Royal Highness Khalifa bin Salman Al Khalifa; building on the strong and close UK-Bahraini relationship and discussing the shared threats faced in the region. He also met Rear Admiral Paul J. Schlise, Deputy Commander U.S 5th Fleet and the Combined Maritime Forces, reviewing the operational challenges in the Gulf including current maritime threats facing the UK and partners. He also visited the recently opened UK Naval Support Facilities at Mina Salman port, home to just over 300 British military personnel.

In Iraq, Mr Lancaster met Iraqi Defence Minister Erfan al-Hiyali, discussing the close cooperation between the UK and Iraq in the fight against Daesh as well as confirming that the UK will be contributing 10% of the total personnel to the NATO Mission in Iraq to help build a strong security service. He also met UK troops who are currently deployed as part of the 79-member Global Coalition, commending their efforts in training nearly 80,000 Iraqi Security Force members in battle winning infantry, engineering, and combat medical techniques as well as providing courses on countering IEDs and other critical skills.

Arms Control And International Security: A Crisis of Compliance: The Cases Of Syria And Iran

Assistant Secretary, Bureau of Arms Control, Verification and Compliance Foundation for Defense of Democracies

Yleem D.S. Poblete

Yleem D.S. Poblete

Good afternoon. Thank you, Mark for affording me the opportunity to discuss some of the challenges posed to the United States and other responsible nations, by the Syrian and Iranian regimes, and to address their previous or current violations of legal obligations under either the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) or the Chemical Weapons Convention (CWC), as well as numerous resolutions of the UN Security Council. Iran continues to refuse to provide or acknowledge certain information regarding the military dimensions of its past nuclear activities. The Foundation for the Defense of Democracies has been in the forefront of efforts to keep these issues before the American people, and to support efforts by President Trump and his Administration to confront and impose costs on Syria and Iran for their malign activities.

Before delving into actions by the Syrian and Iranian regimes which constitute unusual and extraordinary threats to U.S. national security and to global peace and stability, I would like to share a few points of interest for this group about the history and mission of the Bureau I am fortunate to lead.

The Bureau of Arms Control, Verification and Compliance (AVC) is one of only a handful at the State Department mandated by the Congress with specific statutory authorities, the chief of which is principal responsibility within the Department of State for verification and compliance with arms control, nonproliferation, and disarmament agreements or commitments to which the United States is a party. Congress expressly created a position of Assistant Secretary for Verification and Compliance — the statutory name for my post – to elevate verification to the same level as any official responsible for regional affairs, and to provide a specialist official within the Department of State in negotiations on arms agreements from the perspective of verifiability.

We help develop frameworks for inspection and verification and are required to evaluate the verifiability of any such accords and submit such assessments to the Chairmen of the relevant Committees of Congress. A cadre of policy and technical experts—physicists, chemists, biologists, seismologists, engineers, former missile commanders and inspectors — are to comb through information from a myriad of sources to arrive at determinations on verifiability and compliance—whether focused on chemical, biological, radiological, and nuclear weapons, their delivery systems, activities in outer space or under the sea, or other new domains of potential warfare.

AVC is responsible for the preparation, on behalf of the Secretary of State, of the Report on Adherence to and Compliance with Arms Control, Nonproliferation, and Disarmament Agreements and Commitments, known as the Compliance Report. In order to fulfill this mission, AVC is the principal policy community representative to the intelligence community on verification and compliance matters. Via its Verification Fund, the AVC Bureau is able to drive development of monitoring and detection technologies that can help enable a determination on whether a party to a pledge or agreement is in compliance with or in violation of its obligations.

We take our mission seriously and view it as integral to advancing goals delineated in the National Security Strategy released in December of last year.


Under the rubric of defending our nation against weapons of mass destruction, the National Security Strategy notes how “The Syrian regime’s use of chemical weapons against its own citizens undermines international norms against these heinous weapons, which may encourage more actors to pursue and use them.”

Both before and after becoming a party to the Chemical Weapons Convention, Syria has brazenly violated the international norm prohibiting the use of chemical agents as weapons – bringing a horror that blighted the onset of the 20th century into the current landscape.

Responsible states have reacted to these violations using mechanisms provided for in the Convention, in particular, to bring the Assad regime back into compliance. The United States was critical to ensuring the creation of a Fact-Finding Mission of the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) – the organization tasked with monitoring CWC implementation – and a joint OPCW-United Nations Joint Investigative Mechanism (JIM). These bodies’ investigations culminated in reports clearly establishing the Syrian Arab Republic was responsible for four cases of CW use and that the so-called Islamic State was responsible for another two. After Russia vetoed the extension of the JIM’s mandate in an effort to hide the Assad regime’s crimes, we worked assiduously with other CWC States Parties to give the OPCW the authority to fulfill the JIM’s old mission.

I would be remiss if I did not note U.S. efforts outside of the OPCW to bring pressure on the Assad regime over its use of CW, including Treasury Department sanctions on key figures within the Syrian government, State’s efforts to impede the flow of key dual-use supplies to the CW program, and, of course, the U.S. military’s airstrikes. I also do not want to minimize the important role our partners have played in the effort, from the EU’s long-standing dual-use export ban on Syria to France’s International Partnership Against Impunity, and French and British involvement in last April’s airstrikes.

Syria’s blatant disregard for its international obligations, of course, is not limited to the Chemical Weapons Convention.

Syria also remains in continued noncompliance with the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons (NPT) and Syria’s safeguards agreement with the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) as a result of its clandestine efforts to construct an undeclared plutonium production reactor in the Dair Alzour region of eastern Syria. While the Dair Alzour reactor was destroyed by an Israeli airstrike in 2007, Syria has persistently refused to cooperate with the IAEA’s investigation and denied the Agency’s requests for information and access to address outstanding questions regarding its activities at the site and other related sites. Syria’s failure to cooperate with the IAEA remains a matter of ongoing concern for IAEA inspectors and the IAEA Board of Governors and indeed should be for all of us.

Moreover, Syria’s efforts to impede the IAEA’s investigation illustrate the degree to which the Assad regime is prepared to go to conceal its clandestine nuclear activities from international inspectors. Rather than responding in good faith to the IAEA requests for information and access, Syria continues to go to great lengths to deceive, obfuscate, and distract international attention from its perennial noncompliance. We have been clear that we cannot allow Syria’s NPT and IAEA safeguards noncompliance to merely fade into our collective memory. All outstanding questions regarding Syria’s noncompliance must be resolved.

Clearly, the behavior of the Assad regime with respect to the CWC and the NPT present a stark challenge to all other parties to these agreements – or at least those who remain in compliance – and to the role these agreements play in the maintenance of international peace and security. Within the region, the ongoing conflict fueled by Assad’s determination to remain in power through any means necessary adds to instability that provides opportunities for even larger threats to develop.

Syria has provided Iran an opportunity to expand its influence in order to threaten the security of Israel, Lebanon, and even other targets around the entire Mediterranean region. The case of Iran’s previous pursuit of a nuclear weapon is well documented, as illustrated by the recent revelation by Israel of an enormous cache of documents related to Iran’s past nuclear weapons program – documents that suggest Iran contemplated reconstituting its weapons program at some point in the future.

In a moment, I will discuss the flaws of the JCPOA and why the United States was fully warranted to withdraw from it. If Iran is indeed determined to remain true to its NPT obligations and declared commitments not to develop nuclear weapons, it should negotiate and accept a new agreement that provides the heightened assurance the United States and others require.


The JCPOA was flawed at both the technical and political levels, and at the practical level.

First, technically: It allows Iran to continue to conduct certain research and development activities on more efficient centrifuge machines that, if deployed on a larger scale, would significantly reduce the number required to produce highly enriched uranium, and could make clandestine enrichment facilities more difficult to detect. It also does not provide irreversibility of limitations imposed on existing centrifuge equipment. For example, IR-1 centrifuges at Natanz in excess of JCPOA limitations are stored, not destroyed.

President Trump has underscored the dangers posed by the Sunset provisions in the JCPOA. Technical examples include ending the limit on Iran’s stockpile of uranium hexafluoride enriched to 3.67%, installing infrastructure for the advanced IR-8 centrifuges at Natanz, and eventually ending containment and surveillance of centrifuge rotors and bellows, and ending of the prohibition to operate additional heavy water reactors or accumulation of heavy water.

Iran’s Comprehensive Safeguards Agreement provides the IAEA the authority to verify the correctness and completeness of Iran’s declaration of its nuclear facilities and materials. The Additional Protocol to that agreement provides the IAEA with expanded access to nuclear fuel cycle-related information and locations in Iran so that the IAEA can provide assurances of the absence of undeclared nuclear materials and activities. In addition, the JCPOA is supposed to provide the IAEA with access and measures that go beyond that enabled by Iran’s CSA safeguards or AP obligations. Iran, however, has made repeated public statements denying important aspects of the IAEA’s authorities there, and although the IAEA reports that it has not yet been denied access to any site it has requested to visit, the IAEA has suggested publicly that Iran may not always have given “timely and proactive cooperation” in response to such requests.

The verification provisions of the JCPOA did not go far enough. Given Iran’s history of clandestine nuclear activities and extensive sanitization campaigns to conceal the nature and scope of these efforts once detected, effective verification in Iran requires an intrusive inspection regime that helps ensure the paramount objective of permanently denying Iran any pathway to nuclear weapons.

At the political level, the conditions under which Iran’s noncompliance had been addressed prior to the negotiation and implementation of the JCPOA have drastically altered. Unanswered questions about the possible military dimensions of Iran’s past nuclear activities still loom large in our assessment of the potential threat Iran represents. Playing on the other parties’ evident desire to keep the JCPOA alive, Iran is now attempting to throw a scare into them over continued compliance in order to prompt them to provide the economic benefits Iran believes are due under the JCPOA.

And most concerning of all, as it relates to broader U.S. nonproliferation objectives, the JCPOA did not cover Iran’s missile programs or its chemical weapons program.

At the practical level, the JCPOA’s most significant flaw is that it fails to prevent Iran from ever having fissile material production capabilities that would permit it to rapidly breakout into weaponization. This, along with its failure to address Iran’s aggressive misbehavior in the region, is why President Trump has accurately described the JCPOA as a “terrible” deal. Iran asserts its perceived so-called “inalienable right” under the NPT to enrichment, but the NPT must be viewed in its entirety. Article IV speaks of the States Parties’ right to develop research, production and use of nuclear energy for peaceful purposes, but it connects this right to conformity with Articles I and II as well as the safeguards described in Article III. This is an explicit requirement to confirm the peaceful nuclear programs of all Parties. Iran has not yet demonstrated to the world that it has rectified its egregious record of noncompliance with Articles II and III, which led to the IAEA Board of Governors referral of Iran to the UN Security Council and the passage of 10 resolutions between 2006 and 2014.

Iran is also using the JCPOA to justify its renewed acquisition of equipment and materials – ostensibly for its “peaceful” nuclear program – that have dual-use. The recent disclosure by Israel of its discovery of thousands of documents preserved and in storage in Iran related to its past nuclear weapons program – including, according to recent press reports, plans for the design of a nuclear device — should leave no one in doubt that Iran has not yet clearly put its unlawful nuclear weapons ambitions forever behind it.

AVC experts are monitoring these and other developments that would inform our assessments on Iranian compliance with its obligations.

Looking Ahead

President Trump has made clear that we need to abandon the JCPOA “mindset”. In withdrawing from this deal, the President said: “It is the policy of the United States that Iran be denied a nuclear weapon and intercontinental ballistic missiles;…and to counter Iran’s aggressive development of missiles and other asymmetric and conventional weapons capabilities.”

Secretary Pompeo has elaborated on how this policy will be pursued and has reiterated President Trump “is ready, willing, and able to negotiate a new deal. But the deal is not the objective. Our goal is to protect the American people” and we will “not renegotiate the JCPOA itself.”

Any new agreement must address the full spectrum of threats to U.S. security and interests presented by Iranian noncompliance with its international obligations. It should verifiably and indefinitely deny Iran all paths to nuclear and other weapons of mass destruction, rather than merely contain, control or delay it. As such it is incumbent upon the U.S. in moving beyond the JCPOA to seek effective verification. The Senate Foreign Relations Committee Report accompanying the legislation which created my Bureau, stated that effective verification “consists of (1) a high level of assurance in the United States’ ability to detect (2) a ‘militarily significant’ violation in (3) ‘a timely fashion’ and should provide ‘detection of patterns of marginal violations’.”

I would like to close with one observation: Nothing in the conduct of foreign policy is ever done in a vacuum. The end state that we must seek for the successful conclusion of any future deal with Iran must inform and be informed by the end state we are seeking for North Korea. Inconsistency in our approach to either negotiation will undermine our credibility and most likely doom the prospects for successfully dealing with the threats to our security posed by these and other actors, or to the proliferation challenges of the future.

The President noted in the National Security Strategy: “The scourge of the world today is a small group of rogue regimes that violate all principles of free and civilized states.” In response to these threats, the Strategy calls for the augmentation of measures to prevent the spread of and to eliminate WMD and related materials, their delivery systems, and technologies. It further underscores the need to hold state and non-state actors accountable for the use of WMD.

To do so, we must be semper vigilans — always vigilant — intensifying monitoring, detection, and verification of the activities of these pariahs. Wishful thinking cannot substitute for such vigilance, and hope cannot be allowed to replace rigor – as appears to have been done with the JCPOA. Noncompliance and blatant disregard of international norms must be dutifully and thoroughly reviewed, documented, and assessed. This is where the AVC Bureau’s mandate comes into focus, with the Compliance Report, among other tools, serving as a predicate for action and accountability.

Thank You.

Arms Control And International Security: Moving American Policy Forward In The Aftermath Of The Iran Nuclear Deal

Assistant Secretary, Bureau of International Security and Nonproliferation, DACOR Bacon House

Dr. Christopher Ashley Ford

Dr. Christopher Ashley Ford

As Prepared

Good afternoon, everyone. Thank you to DACOR Bacon House Foundation and its members for the warm welcome and kind introduction. I am grateful for the opportunity to speak with you here today, and it’s a pleasure to help offer some insight into the Administration’s views on where we go from here with Iran.

We have been very clear about the multitude of problems that were left unsolved, exacerbated, or even created by the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) nuclear deal with Iran – problems which led the President to withdraw the United States from participation. It’s useful to recap them, however – and with a special focus upon nuclear proliferation risks – because understanding these problems points not just to why this administration took the decision it did, but also to the need for a more comprehensive and enduring solution.

So let me start by highlighting the degree to which the JCPOA – and the concessions it embodied in providing legitimacy to and facilitating Iran’s provocative nuclear program – not only did not lead to improvements in Iran’s regional behavior, but in fact led to this behavior worsening. The lifting of sanctions and Iran’s degree of re-integration into the global economy that the deal permitted both enriched and emboldened Iran, making it a more dangerous regional actor than before.

Iran’s defense budget has risen significantly since 2015, and its malign activities in destabilizing the Middle East have only increased. Iran’s sinister Qods Force became even more deeply involved in the Syrian civil war and now serves as what is essentially an occupying force in parts of Syria. Its development of a huge arsenal of ever more sophisticated ballistic missiles continues, and it has been proliferating missiles and missile production technology to terrorist clients such as Lebanese Hizbollah and the Houthis in Yemen. Its support for international terrorism has continued, and even accelerated, and its human rights abuses at home remain unabated.

Since 2012, Iran has spent in excess of $16 billion propping up the Assad regime in Syria, and is supporting its other destabilizing regional partners and proxies in Syria, Iraq, and Yemen. Lebanese Hizbollah receives perhaps $700 million from Iran every year, and that’s not counting something on the order of $100 million a year to Palestinian groups such as Hamas and Palestinian Islamic Jihad. Despite the earnest expectations of the Obama Administration – as expressed in the preface of the nuclear deal itself – that “full implementation of this JCPOA will positively contribute to regional and international peace and security,” Iran was only empowered and emboldened in its malign activities.

Worse still, the JCPOA actually got in the way of international efforts to push back against all of Iran’s destabilizing provocations, by limiting the degree to which sanctions that had been lifted by the JCPOA could be reimposed against Iranian entities in response to these malign activities. Even where sanctions pressures were not formally ruled out by JCPOA commitments to lift them, any suggestion of serious sanctions pushback against Iran for its behavior invariably engendered resistance from partners who feared that efforts to punish Iran for non-nuclear provocations would lead Tehran to pull out of the nuclear deal.

The JCPOA, in other words, both facilitated Iranian misbehavior and made it more difficult for us to respond to these problems. As I have pointed out repeatedly, the JCPOA became – to some extent – an altar on which were sacrificed other critical aspects of U.S. Iran strategy. The nuclear tail, as it were, was very much wagging the Iran policy dog.

Nor, ironically, did the JCPOA even really do the one thing that its defenders advanced as its major selling point. It conspicuously failed to permanently address Iranian nuclear proliferation threats.

The Iranian regime began secretly trying to develop nuclear weapons at least as early as the mid-1980s, embarking upon a weapons effort that included two prongs: (1) work specifically on nuclear weaponization; and (2) work to produce the fissile materials that would be needed to actually construct a weapon. According to the U.S. intelligence community, Iran suspended its weaponization work in 2003 – at a time when our moves against Iraq seemed to send a clear signal that engaging in such weapons of mass destruction work might be, one might say, exceedingly unwise. Iran did not, however, stop its effort to produce fissile materials.

Indeed, despite public revelations of its previously secret fissile material production effort, Iran doubled down. After its work was exposed, Iran simply declared to the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) the uranium enrichment program that it had been caught illegally pursuing, pretended that this made everything alright, and proceeded full speed ahead.

The international community tried to persuade Iran to stop, but it could never put sufficient pressures on the regime in Tehran. The world did not exactly fail to respond, mind you, but it always responded too late, and with too little. Indeed, U.S. officials had openly assessed as early as 1991 that Iran was seeking to develop nuclear weapons, but even after Iran’s hitherto secret enrichment program was publicly revealed in August of 2002, and Iran admitted the existence of this effort, the first United Nations sanctions were not imposed until late 2006 – by which point the unlawful enrichment plant at Natanz had gone from being just a big hole in the ground to being a facility stocked with spinning centrifuges enriching uranium.

It was not until 2015 that the JCPOA purported to offer a solution to this problem, and it wasn’t much of an answer. Indeed, the nuclear deal accepted and legitimized the fissile material production program that Iran had illegally undertaken in flagrant violation of its IAEA safeguards obligations, Article II of the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty, and multiple legally binding U.N. Security Council resolutions adopted under Chapter VII of the United Nations Charter. And the JCPOA only temporarily constrained the size and scope of this dangerous program, expressly phasing out all of restrictions on Iran’s enrichment capacity, enrichment purity, and uranium stockpiles over periods ranging from 10-15 years. This was the so-called “sunset clause” problem.

The main accomplishment of the JCPOA, in other words, was merely to kick the proliferation can a bit further down the road – just by coincidence (I hope), to a point in time just beyond that at which President Obama’s anticipated successor Hillary Clinton would have been finishing a presumed second term. After that, Iran would be free to build up the massive enrichment capacity that Supreme Leader Ali Khameini has repeatedly identified as his objective, thus positioning Iran dangerously close to extraordinarily rapid weaponization were it to resume the work suspended in 2003. (Iran even proclaimed itself interested in developing a nuclear-powered submarine, apparently hoping to take advantage of a provision in traditional nuclear safeguards agreements that allows nuclear material to be removed from safeguards while it is being used for naval propulsion.)

So this was the JCPOA’s answer to the Iran nuclear problem. We in the current administration, however, did not see this as much of a solution – especially as it became clear that the deal facilitated Iranian misbehavior in non-nuclear arenas and impeded efforts to punish Iran for such malign acts.

Accordingly, we tried very hard to achieve a better answer. We reached out to partners on Capitol Hill, working closely with them in an effort to develop legislation that would mandate the reimposition of full sanctions if Iran expanded its nuclear capabilities beyond those to which the JCPOA currently restricts it. And we worked with our European partners for months in an effort to find a similar diplomatic understanding.

In neither case, however, would our interlocutors commit to taking steps to penalize Iran for expanding its nuclear capacities and shortening the assessed “breakout time” in which the regime in Tehran would be able to produce enough fissile material for a nuclear weapon. Neither Congress nor our British, French, and German partners would commit to placing any additional restriction upon the future size and scope of the Iranian nuclear program absent agreement by Iran to do so.

And then came the public revelation that Israel had acquired a massive collection of documents from Iran’s past nuclear weapons work, a development that highlighted the dangers inherent in the JCPOA’s “sunsetting” of restrictions on the size of Iran’s enrichment capacity and stocks of fissile material. Rather than putting its past nuclear weapons program emphatically and demonstrably behind it, it turns out that Iran had been carefully preserving documentation and research on nuclear weapons designs.

The regime in Tehran had promised in the JCPOA that “under no circumstances will Iran ever seek, develop or acquire any nuclear weapons.” If it had meant this, one might perhaps have expected that Iran would have admitted its past weapons work – much of which had, in any event, already been extensively documented by the IAEA – and destroyed or turned over all this documentation. Instead, however, Iran seems, as it were, to have hidden its weapons research away for a rainy day – perhaps in anticipation of a potential future decision to reconstitute full-scope weapons development once the “sunset” of JCPOA restrictions had allowed it to amass a large enough stockpile of enriched uranium and advanced centrifuges to permit a rapid sprint to weaponization. Almost nothing could better highlight the problem of the JCPOA “sunset clause.”

As a result of all this, we left the JCPOA in order to start over. We now aim to use the reimposition of full sanctions in a new “maximum pressure”-style campaign against Iran as a catalyst for bringing international partners – and eventually Iran itself – back to the table to negotiate a permanent solution to these problems. We need these pressures to help provide incentives to find a negotiated answer that puts enduring limits on Iran’s nuclear capacities, rather than temporary ones, and which thus permanently denies Iran a pathway to nuclear weapons. We also need to address Iran’s missile development and proliferation threats, its support for terrorism and its destabilization of its neighbors.

Secretary Pompeo spelled out the full range of our negotiating objectives in his remarks at the Heritage Foundation on May 21. Notably, however, our approach is not just about sanctions pressures. As Secretary Pompeo also made clear, if Iran agrees to a new and better deal that comprehensively addresses our concerns, we would support Iran’s full reintegration, politically and economically, into the community of nations. This would include the establishment of diplomatic relations, lifting all our sanctions against Iran – not just some of them, as the JCPOA did – and supporting Iran’s reintegration into the global economy and community of nations.

Normal nations do not engage in prolonged proxy wars against their neighbors, continue destabilizing behavior with persistent ballistic missile testing and proliferation, and posture themselves for illegal nuclear weaponization breakout. If Iran abandons such behaviors and thus comes to act like a normal nation, U.S. officials have indicated that they would be willing to treat it as a normal nation in every way. That is our hope, and that is our negotiating objective.

This is a huge project, but we are fully invested and ready to put in the sustained and serious effort required to get an outcome that provides lasting security for the region and the world. And we’re also prepared to lean hard on our partners and the international community to get it done.

We are not naive enough to think that achieving a comprehensive new deal will be easy. It won’t. But we are confident that friends and allies will eventually join us in demanding that Iranian behavior and conduct be normalized and made non-threatening, so that Iran can in turn enjoy truly normalized relations and commerce with the international community – benefitting, in the end, the Iranian people themselves perhaps most of all.

So that, then, is what I would offer for discussion regarding our path forward. We obviously face great challenges with Iran, but these problems demand from us an approach that seeks to re-shape the security environment and starts anew toward a comprehensive and lasting solution. If we are realistic, creative, and diligent, I believe that such an answer is indeed possible – and I promise you we will be working very hard to achieve it.

Thank you for your time this afternoon. I look forward to your questions.

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