tv News Al Jazeera September 2, 2015 11:00am-12:01pm EDT
sentences... and beat them. >> they had been trafficking on behalf of the united states government. >> the cia admitted it. ♪ this is al jazeera america, live from new york city. i'm randall pinkston. we have a live look now at the national constitution center in philadelphia. that's where secretary of state john kerry is set to speak in just a few minutes about the iran nuclear deal. it's being called a major speech. he is being introduced right now by former senator richard lugar. he will be talking no doubt
about the need to support the iran nuclear deal on the eve of the congressional vote. we have jamie mcentire live in washington. jamie what are we expecting to hear from secretary kerry? >> reporter: we're expecting the secretary to again make the case that the iran nuclear deal is not only the best option to prevent them from obtaining nuclear weapons, but really the only option. considering that if it is not put into effect, the other countries that negotiated this deal along with the united states would not support the continued sanctions. so if iran adheres to the deal, and if iran would not adhere to the deal the u.s. would have options down the road. he is making this case as the
administration has just secured what appears to be the crucial 34th vote in the senate that assures the president would be able to override any veto or disapproval of the bill in congress. now the administration would like to get 41 votes in the senate, so that the bill -- the resolution to disapprove the iran deal could be filibustered and never actually make it to his desk. this is coming right at the same day it appears the president has won the legislative victory that he is looking for in congress, but securing the pledges of enough democratic senators to ensure that he has enough -- that they -- that he can veto any disapproval of the deal, and republicans would not have enough support to override that veto. >> of course the president would also like some bipartisan support for this major international agreement. any chance he is going to get any republicans to come on board? >> it doesn't look like it.
the republicans seem to be almost unanimous in their disapproval of this deal, feeling it does not do enough to prevent iran from getting a nuclear weapon and provides iran with an infusion of cash that they say can be used to further nefarious activities around the world. it doesn't appear there will be any break in the republican consensus on this, although it's possible a senator here or there could defect. and this is all contingent of the fact that these democrats who have come out, the latest today, that they stick to their pledges as well. >> thank you jamie. as we wait for secretary kerry to deliver his major speech. he is coming to the podium now. obviously his presence there intended to encourage other
republicans to support the iran nuclear deal. secretary kerry. >> dick, thank you so much for the generous introduction. but i want to say good morning to all of you here. it is great for me to be able to be here in philadelphia. i am delighted to see so many young people with us. i know school has started and i know the choice between coming here and sitting in class was a very tough one. [ laughter ] >> we're glad you made the choice you did. i am particularly grateful that senator lugar chose to come here this morning in order to introduce me and to reaffirm his support for this agreement. but i'm even more grateful for his service to our country over the course of a lifetime. as a former colleague of his on the foreign relations committee, which he referred to in his introduction, i can bare witness that dick lugar is one of the
true legislative path finders of recent times with a long record of foreign policy accomplishments and what he and sam nun did is a lasting legacy of making this world safer. he has also consistently placed our country's interests above any other consideration, and he has a very deep understanding of how best to prevent nuclear weapons from falling into the wrong hands. he is one of our experts when it comes to that judgment. so it is appropriate that the senator is here with us this morning, and i think every one of us here joins in saying thank you to you, dick, for your tremendous service. [ applause ] >> it's also fitting to be here in philadelphia, the home ground of this absolutely magnificent center to the constitution, the
liberty bell, and one of our nation's most revered founders, benjamin franklin, and i must say, i never quite anticipated, but this is one of the great vistas in america, and to be able to look down and see independence hall here is inspiring, i think for all of us here. in addition to ben franklin's many inventions, and his special status as america's first diplomat, franklin is actually credited with being the first person known to have made a list of pros and cons, literally, dividing a page in two, and writing all of the reasons to support a proposal on one side, and all of the reasons to oppose it on the other. and this morning i would like to invite you, all of you, those here, and those listening through the media, to participate in just such an exercise. because two months ago, in
vienna, the united states and five other nations, including permanent members of the u.n. security council reached an agreement with iran on ensuring the peaceful nature of that country's nuclear program. as early as next week, congress will begin voting on whether to support that plan. and the outcome will matter as much as any foreign policy decision in recent history. like center lugar, president obama and i are convinced beyond any reasonable doubt, that the framework that we have put forward will get the job done. and in that assessment, we have excellent company. last month 29 of our nation's top nuclear physicists and nobel prize winners, scientists from onen of the country to the other congratulated the president for
what they called, quote, a technically sound, stringent and innovative deal that will provide the necessary assurance that iran is not developing nuclear weapons. the scientists praised the agreement for its creative approach to verification and for the rigorous safeguards that will present iran from obtaining the fissile material for a bomb. today i will lay out the facts that caused those scientists and many other experts to reach the favorable conclusions that they have. i will show why the agreed plan will make the united nations, israel, the gulf states, and the world safer. i will explain how it gives us the access that we need to ensure that iran's nuclear program remains wholly peaceful,
while preserving every option to respond if iran fails to meet its commitments. i will make clear that the key elements of the agreement will last not for ten, or 15 years, as some are trying to assert, or for 20 or 25, but they will last for the lifetime of iran's nuclear program. and i will dispel some of the false information that has been circulating about the proposal in which congress is soon going to vote. now, for this discussion this is an inescapable starting point, a place where every argument made against the agreement must confront a stark reality. the reality of how advanced iran's nuclear program had become, and where it was headed
when presidents obama and rouhani launched the diplomatic process that concluded this past july. two years ago, in september of 2013, we were facing an iran that had already mastered the nuclear fuel cycle, already stockpiled enough enriched uranium that if further enriched could arm ten to 12 bombs. an iron that was enriching uranium to 20%, which is just below weapon's grade, an iran that had already installed 10,000-plus centrifuges, and an iran that was moving rapidly to commission a heavy water reactor, able to produce enough's grade plutonium for an
additional bomb or two a year. in that my friends is where we already were when we began our negotiations. and a well-remembered moment during the u.n. general assembly the previous fall. israeli prime minister netenyahu had held up a cartoon of a bomb to show just how dangerous iran's nuclear program had begun. and in 2013, he returned to that podium to warn that iran was positioning itself, quote, to rush forward to build nuclear bombs before the international community can detect it, and much less prevent it. the prime minister argued rightly, that the so-called break-out time, the interval required for iran to produce enough fissile material for one bomb had dwindled to as little as two months, even though it would take significantly longer
to actually build the bomb itself, using that fissile material, the prime minister's message was clear. iran had successfully transformed itself into a nuclear threshold state. in the obama administration, we were well affair of that troubling fact, and more important, we were already responding to it. the record is irrefutable that over the course of two american administrations, it was the united states that lead the world in assembling against tehran, one of the toughest international sanctions regimes ever developed. but we also had to face an obvious fact. sanctions alone were not getting the job done. not even close. they were failing to slow, let alone halt, iran's relentless
march towards a nuclear weapons capability. so president obama acted. he reaffirmed his vow that iran would absolutely not be permitted to have a nuclear weapon. he marshalled support for this principal there every corner of the international community. he made clear his determination to go beyond what sanctions could accomplish, and find a way to not only stop but to throw into reverse iran's rapid expansion of its nuclear program. as we developed our strategy, we cast a very wide net, to enlist the broadest expertise available. we sat down with the iea and our own intelligence community, to ensure that the verification standards that we sought on paper would be effective in reality. we consulted with congress and
our international allies and friends. we examined carefully every step we might take to close off each of iran's potential pathways to a bomb. and of course we were well aware that every proposal, every provision, every detail, would have to withstand the most painstaki painstaking scrutiny, and we made clear from the outset we would not settle for anything less. we began with an interim agreement reached in geneva. the joint plan of action. it accomplished diplomatically what sanctions alone could never have done or did. it halted the advance of iran's nuclear activities.
and it is critical to note -- you don't hear much about it -- but it's critical to note that for more than 19 months now, iran has complied with every requirement of that plan. but this was just a first step. from that moment, we pushed ahead. seeking a brood and enduring agreement. sticking to our core positions. maintaining unity among a diverse negotiating group of partners, and we arrived at the good and effective deal that we had sought. and i ask you today and in the days ahead, as we have asked members of congress over the course of these last months, consider the facts of what we achieved, and judge for yourself the difference between where we were two years ago, and where we are now, and where we can be in the future. without this agreement, iran's
so-called breakout time was about two months. with this agreement, it will increase by a factor of six to at least a year and it will remain at that level for a decade or more. without this agreement iran could double the number of its operating centrifuges almost overnight, and continue expanding with ever-more efficient designs. with this agreement, iran's centrifuges will be reduced by two-thirds for ten years. without this agreement iran could continue expanding its stockpile of enriched uranium, which is now more than 12,000 kilograms, enough if further enriched for multiple bombs. with this agreement, that stockpile will shrink, and shrink some more a deduction of
some 98% to no more than 300 kilograms for 15 years. without this agreement, iran's heavy water reactor would soon be able to produce enough weapon's grade plutonium each year to fuel one or two nuclear weapons. with this agreement, the core of that reactor will be removed, and filled with concrete, and iran will never be permitted to produce any weapon's-grade plutonium. without this agreement, the iaea would not have assured access to undeclared locations in iran where suspicious activity might be taking place. the agency could seek access, but if iran objected there would be no sure method for resolving a dispute in a finite period,
which is lead us to where we are today, that standoff. with this agreement the iaea can go wherever the evidence leads, no facility declared or undeclared will be off limits and there is a time certain for assuring access. there is no other country to which such a requirement applies. this arrangement is both unprecedented and unique. in addition, the iaea will have more inspectors working in iran, using modern technologies such as real time enrichment monitoring, high-tech electronic seals and cameras that are always watching, 24/7/365. further iran has agreed never to pursue see technologies that would be necessary to develop a nuclear explosive device. so the agreement deals not only
with the production of fissile material, but also with the critical issue of weaponization. because of all of these limitations and guaranteed, we can sum up by saying, that without this agreement, the iranians would have several potential pathways to a bomb, with it, they won't have any. iran's plutonium pathway will be blocked because it won't have a reactor, producing plutonium for a weapon, and it won't build any new heavy water reactors or engage in reprocessing for at least 15 years, and after that we have the ability to watch and know precisely what they are doing. the iranian pathway will be blocked because of the deep reductions in the enrichment capacity, and because for 15 years the country will not enrich uranium to a level higher than 3.67%.
let me be clear, no one can build a bomb from a stockpile of 300 kilograms of uranium, enriched only to 3.67%. it is just not possible. finally, iran's covert pathway to a bomb will also be blocked. under our plan, there will be 24/7 monitoring of iran's key nuclear facilities. as soon as we start the implementation, inspectors will be able to track iran's uranium, as it is mined, then milled, then turned into yellow cake, then into gas, and eventually into waste. this means that for a quarter of a century, at least, every activity throughout the nuclear fuel chain will receive added scrutiny. and for 20 years, the ish
ishes -- iea will be monitoring the key centrifuges in iran in order to assure that none are diverted to a covert program. so if iran did decide to cheat, it's technicians would have to do more than bury a processing facility deep beneath the ground. they would have to come up with a complete -- complete, and completely secret nuclear supply chain, a secret source of you yan um, a secret milling facility, a secret conversion facility, a secret enrichment facility, and our intelligence community and energy department which manages our nuclear program and nuclear weapons, both agree iran could never get away with such a deception. and if we have even a shadow of doubt that illegal activities are going on, either the iaea
will be given access required to uncover the truth or iran will be in violation and the nuclear-related sanctions can snap back into place. we will also have other options to ensure compliance if necessary. given all of these requirements, it is no wonder that this plan has been endorsed by so many leading american scientists, experts on nuclear non-proliferation and others. more than 60 former top national security officials, 100 -- more than 100 retired ambassadors, people who served under democratic and republican presidents alike, are backing the proposals as are retired generals and admirals from all five of our military services. brent [ inaudible ] served as a national security advisor to two republican presidents, he is
also among the many respected figures who are supporting it. internationally the agreement is being backed with one exception by each of the more than 100 countries that have taken a formal position. the agreement was also endorsed by the united nations security council on a vote of 15 to nothing. this not only says something very significant about the quality of the plan, particularly when you consider that five of those countries are permanent members and they are all nuclear powers, but it should also invite reflection from those who believe the united states can walk away from this without causing grave harm to our international reputation to relationships and to interests. you have probably heard the claim that because of our strength, because of the power of our banks, all we americans have to do if congress rejects
this plan is return to the bargaining table, puff out our chests and demand a better deal. i have heard one critic say he would use sanctions to give iran a choice between having an economy or having a nuclear program. well, folks, that's a very punchy sound bite, but it has no basis in any reality. as dick said, i was chair the of senate foreign relations committee our nation came together to enact round after round of sanctions against iran. but even the toughest restrictions didn't stop iran's nuclear program from speeding ahead. from a couple of hundred centrifuges to 5,000 to 19,000. we have already been there. if this agreement is voted down, those who vote no, will not be able to tell you how many centrifuges iran will have next
year or the year after if it's approved, we will be able to tell you exactly what the limits on iran's program will be. the fact is that it wasn't either sanctions or threats that actually stopped and finally stopped the expansion of iran's nuclear activities. the sanctions brought people to the table, but it was the start of the negotiating process and the negotiations themselves recently concluded in vienna that actually stopped it. only with those negotiations did iran begin to get rid of its stockpile of enriched uranium, stop installing more centrifuges and cease advancing the reactor. only then did it commit to be more forthcoming about iaea access, and negotiate a special
arrangement to break the dead lock. so just apply your common sense. what do you think will happen? if we say to iran now, hey, forget it. the deal is off, let's go back to square one. how do you think our partners will react. all of whom are prepared to go forward with it. how will they react? what will happen to that multi-lateral sanctions regime that brought iran to the bargaining table in the first place? the answer is straightforward, not only will we lose the momentum that we have built up in pressing iran to limit its nuclear activities, we will almost surely start moving in the opposition direction. we need to remember sanctions don't just sting in one direction, my friends. they also impose costs on those who forgo the commercial
opportunities in order to abide by them. it's a tribute to president obama's dip massey, and before that to president george w. bush that we were able to convince countries to accept economic difficulties and sacrifices and put together the comprehensive sanctions regime that we did. many nations that would like to do business with iran agreed to hold back because of the sanctions and -- and this is vital -- and because they wanted to prevent iran from acquiring a nuclear weapon. they have as much interest in it as we do. and that's why they hoped the negotiations would succeed. and that's why they will join us in insisting that iranly up to its obligations. but they will not join us if we unilaterally walk away from the very deal that the sanctions were designed to bring about,
and they will not join us if we're demanding even greater sacrifices and threatening their businesses, and banks, because of a choice we made and they opposed. so while it may not happen all at once, it is clear that if we reject this plan, the multi-lateral sanctions regime will start to unravel, the pressure on iran will lessen, and our negotiating leverage will diminish if not disappear. obviously that is not the path to a so-called better deal. it's a path to a much weaker position to the united states of america, and to a much more dangerous middle east. and this is by no means a partisan point of view that i just expressed. henry pahlsson, was secretary of treasury under george w. bush.
he helped design the early stages of the iran sanctions regime. but just the other day he said, quote, it would be totally unrealistic to believe if we backed out of this deal, the multi-lateral sanctions would remain in place. and paul who chaired the federal reserve under president reagan, said, quote, this agreement is as good as we are going to get. to think that we can unilaterally maintain sanctions, doesn't make any sense. we should pause for a minute, to contemplate what voting down this agreement might mean for iran's cadre of hard liners, for those people in iron that lead the chants, death to america, death to israel, and even death to rouhani, and who prosecute journalists simply for doing their jobs. the evidence documents that
among those who most fer verantly want this agreement to fall apart are the most extreme factions in iran, and their opposition should tell you all you need to know. from the very beginning these treejsists have warned that negotiating with the united states would be a waste of time. why on earth would we now take a step that proving them right? let me be clear. rejecting this agreement would not be sending a signal of resolve to iran. it would be broadcasting a message so puzzling, most people across the globe would find it impossible to comprehend. they listened as we warned over and over again about the dangers of iran's nuclear program. they watched as we spent two years forging a broadly accepted agreement to reign that program in, they have nodded their heads in support as we explained how
the program that we developed would make the world safer. who would blame them for not understanding if we suddenly switch course and reject the very outcome we have worked so hard to obtain. and not by offering some new and viable alternative, but by offering no alternative at all. it is hard to conceive of a quicker or more self destructive blow to our nation's credibility and leadership, not only with respect to this one issue, but i'm telling you, across the board, economically, politically, militarily, and even morally. we would pay in a miserable price for this unilateral reversal. friends, as dick mentioned in his introduction, i have been in public service for many years, and i have been called on to make some difficult choices in that course of time.
there are those who believe deciding whether or not to support the iran agreement is just such a choice, and i respect that. and i respect them. but i also believe that because of the stringent limitations on iran's program, that are included in this agreement that i just described. because of where that program was headed before our negotiations began, and will head again if we walk away, because of the utter absence of a viable alternative to this plan that we have devised, t the -- benefits of this agreement far outweigh any potential drawbacks. certainly the goal of preventing iran from having a nuclear weapon is supported across our political spectrum, and it has the backing of countries on every continent. so what then explains the controversy that has persisted in this debate?
a big part of the answer, i think, is that even before the ink on the agreement was dry, we started being bombarded by myths about what the agreement will and won't do, and that bombardment continues today. the first of these myths is that the deal is somehow based on trust or a naive expectation that iran is going to reverse course on many of the policies it has been pursuing internationally. critics tell us over and over again, you can't trust iran. well, guess what? there is not a single sentence, not a single paragraph in this whole agreement that depends on promises or trust. not one. the arrangement that we worked out with tehran, is based, exclusively, on verification and proof. that's why the agreement is structured the way it is.
that's why sanctions relief is tied strictly to performance. and it is why we have formulated the most far-reaching, monitoring and transparency regime ever negotiated. those same critics point to the fact that two decades ago, the united states reached a nuclear framework with north korea that didn't accomplish what it set out to do. and we are told we should have learned a lesson from that. well, the truth is, we did learn a lesson. the agreement with north korea was four pages and only dealt with plutonium. our agreement with iran runs 159 detailed pages, applies to all of tehran's potential pathways to a bomb, and is specifically grounded there the transparency rules of the iaea's additional protocol, which didn't even
exist two decades ago when the north korea deal was made, because it was developed specifically with the north korea experience in mind. lesson learned. the reality is, that if we trusted iran or thought that it was about to become more moderate, this agreement would be less necessary than it is. but we don't. we would like nothing more than to see iran act differently, but not for a minute are we counting on it. iran's support for terrorist groups and its contributions to sectarian violence are not recent policies. they reflect the perceptions of its leaders about iran's long-term national interests, and there are no grounds for expecting those calculations to change in the near future. that is why we believe so strongly that every problem in the middle east, every threat to israel, and to our friends in the region, would be more
dangerous if iran were permitted to have a nuclear weapon. that is the inescapable bottom line. that's also why we're working so hard and so proactively to protect our interests and those of our allies. in part, because of the challenge posed by iran, we have engaged in an unprecedented level of military intelligence, and security cooperation with our friend and ally israel. we are determined to help our ally address new and complex security threats and to ensure its qualitative military edge. we work with israel every day to enforce sanctions and prevent terrorist organizations such as hamas, and hezbollah from obtaining the financing and the weapons that they seek, whether from iran or any other source. and we will stand with israel to stop its adversaries from once again launching deadly attacks
against the israeli people. since 2009 we have provided $20 billion in foreign military financing to israel. more than half of what we have given to nations worldwide. over and above that, we have invested some $3 billion in the production and deployment of iron dome batteries and other missile defense programs and systems, and we saw how in the last gaza war, lives were saved in israel because of it. we have given privileged access to advanced military equipment, such as the f35 joint strike fighter. israel is the only nation in the middle east to which the united states has sold this aircraft. the president recently authorized a massive arms resupply package, featuring penetrating munitions and air-to-air missiles, and we hope to conclude a new memorandum of
understanding that will guide our security cooperation through the next decade. diplomatically, our support for israel also remains rock solid. as we continue to oppose every effort to delegitimize the jewish state or to pass biased resolutions against them in international bodies. now, i understand -- i understand personally, there is no way to overstate the concern in israel about iran and about the potential consequences that this agreement or rejecting this agreement might have on israel's security. the fragility of israel's position has been brought home to me on every one of the trips i have made to that country. in fact as secretary of state i
have travelled to israel more than a dozen times. spending the equivalent of a full month there. even ordering my plane to land at the airport when commercial air traffic had been halted during the last gaza war, doing so, specifically as a sign of support. over the years i have walked through [ inaudible ] a living memorial to the 6 million lost, and i have felt in my bones the unfathomable evil of the holocaust, and the undying reminder never to forget. i climbed inside a shelter where children were forced to leave their homes and classrooms to seek refuge from rockets. i visited an area and witnessed the shredded remains of homemade missiles from gaza, missiles fired with no other purpose than to sew fear in the hearts of israeli families. i piloted an israeli jet and
observed firsthand the tiniest of israel air space from which it is possible to see all of the country's neighbors at the same time. and i have bowed my head at the western wall, and offered my prayer for peace. peace for israel, for the region, and for the world. i take a back seat to no one in my commitment to the security of israel, a commitment i demonstrated through my 28-plus years in the senate. and as secretary of state i am fully conscious of the exso sen shall nature of the choice israel must make. i understand the conviction that israel even more than any other country simply cannot afford a mistake in defending its security. and while i respectfully disagree with prime minister netenyahu about the benefits of the iran agreement, i do not question for an instant the basis of his concern or that of any israeli, but i am also
convinced as is president obama, our senior defense and military leaders, and even many former israeli military and intelligence officials, that this agreement puts us on the right path to prevent iran from ever getting a nuclear weapon. the people of israel will be safer with this deal, and the same is true for the people throughout the region. and to fully ensure that, we are also taking specific and far-reaching steps to coordinate with our friends from the gulf states. president obama hosted their leaders at camp david earlier this year. i visited with them in doha this month. and we will welcome the leader of saudi arabia to washington later this year. gulf leaders share our concerns. but they are also alarmed by
iron's nuclear program. we must and will respond on both fronts. we will make certain that iran lives up to its commitments, and we will continue strengthening our security partnerships. we're determined that our gulf friends will have the political and military support that they need, and to that end, we are working with them to develop a ballistic missile defense in the arabian peninsula, authorize urgently required arms transfers, strengthen cyber security, engage in large-scale security eckx -- exercises, and we're deeping our cooperation and support in the fight against the threat posed to them, to us, and to all civilization by the forces of international terror, including their surrogates and their proxies. through these steps and others
we will maintain international pressure on iran. the united nations sanctions imposed because of iran's support for terrorism, and its human rights records, those will remain in place, as will our sanctions aimed at preventing the proliferation of ballistic missiles and transfer of convention alarms. the houthi rebels in yemen, all of those will remain as well. we will also continue to urge tehran to continue to provide information regarding an american who disappeared in iran several years ago, and to release the u.s. citizens its government has unjustly imprisoned. we will do everything we can to see that our citizens are able to safely return to where they belong, at home, and with their families. have no doubt the united nations will oppose iran's destabilizing
policies with every national security tool available. and disregard the myth the iran agreement is based on proof, not trust. and in a letter that i am sending to all members of congress today, i make clear the administration's willingness to work with them on legislation to address shared concerns about regional security consistent with the agreement that we have worked out with our international partners. this brings us to the second peace of fiction. that this deal would somehow legitimize iran's pursuit of a nuclear weapon. i keep hearing this. well, yes, for years iran has had a civilian nuclear program, under the non-proliferation treaty, you can do that. it was never a realistic option to change that. but recognizing this reality is not the same as legitimizing the
pursuit of the nuclear weapon. in fact this agreement does the exact opposite. under iaea safeguards, iran is prohibited from ever pursuing a nuclear weapon. this is an important point, so i want to be sure that everyone understands. the international community is not telling iran that it can't have a nuclear weapon for 15 years. we are telling iran that it can't have a nuclear weapon period. there is no magic moment 15, 20, or 25 years from now, when iran will suddenly get a pass from the mandates of the nuclear non-proliferation treaty. iran is required to sign up to and abide by the iaea additional protocol that i mentioned earlier that came out of the
earth in korean experience, and that requires inspections of all nuclear facilities. what does this mean? it means that iran's nuclear program will remain subject to regular inspections forever. iran will have to provide access to all of its nuclear facilities forever. iran will have to respond promptly to requests for access to any suspicious sight forever. and if iran at anytime, at anytime, embarked on nuclear activities incompatible with the wholly peaceful program, it will be in violation of the agreement forever. we will know of that violation right away, and we will retain every option we now have to respond, whether diplomatically, or through a return to sanctions, or by other means. in short, this agreement gives us unprecedented tools and all of the time we need to hold iran
accountable for its choices and actions. now it's true some of the special additional restrictions that we successfully negotiated. those begin to ease after a period, in some cases ten or 15, in others 20 or 25. but it would defy logic to vote to kill the whole agreement with all of the permanent restrictions by which iran has to live for that reason. after all, if your house is on fire, if it's going up in flames, would you refuse to extinguish it because of the chance that there might be another fire in 15 years? obviously not. you put out the fire and take advantage of the extra time to prepare for the future. my friends it just doesn't make sense to conclude that we should vote no now, because of what might happen in 15 years,
thereby guaranteeing that what might happen in 15 years will actually -- begin to happen now. because if this agreement is rejected, every possible reason for worry in the future would have to be confronted now, immediately, in the months ahead. once again, and soon, iran would begin advancing its nuclear program. we would lose the benefit of the agreement that contin continue -- contains all of these restrictions. needless to say, that is not the out come we want. it is not an outcome that would be good for our country, nor for our allies, or for the world. there is a third myth, quick one, a more technical one, that iran could get away with building a covert nuclear facility because the deal allows access for 24 days to a
suspicious sight. there is no way in 24 days, 24 months, or 24 years for that matter to destroy all of the evidence of illegal activity that has been taking place rewarding fissile material. you can't eliminate the evidence by shoving it under a mattress, flushing it down a toilet. the materials may go, but the tail tail traces remain year after year after year. and the 24 days is the outside period of time during which they must allow access. under the agreement if there is a dispute over access to any location, the united nations and our european allies have the votes to decide the issue, and once we have identified a site that raises questions, we will be watching it continuously until the inspectors are allowed
in. let me underscore that. the united nations and the international community will be monitoring iran non-stop, and you can bet that if we see something, we will do something. the agreement gives us a wide range of enforcement tools, and we will use them, and the standard we will apply can be summed up in two words. zero tolerance. there is no way to guarantee that iran will keep its word. that's why this isn't based on a promise or trust, but we can guarantee that if iran decides to break the agreement it will regret breaking any promise that it has made. there are many other myths circulating about the agreement, but the last one i'm going to highlight is just economic. and it's important. the myth that sanctions relief -- that iran will receive is somehow both too generous and too dangerous.
obviously the discussions that concluded in vienna like any sirius negotiation, involved a quid pro quo, iran wanted sanctions relief. the world wanted to ensure a wholly peaceful nature of iran's program. without the trade off there could have been no deal, and no agreement by iran to the constraints that it has accepted, very important con sai saint -- constraints. but there are some who point to sanctions relief as grounds to reject the agreement. absent new violations by iran, the sanctions are going to erode regardless of what we are going to do. it's an illusion to think that we can vote this plan down, and then turn around and persuade
countries like china, japan, india, convince them to continue the sanctions that are costing thimbles of dollars a year. it's not going to happen. and the money that has been locked up is not sitting in some u.s. bank. the money is frozen and being held in escrow with countries with which iran has had commercial dealings. we can't control that money. it's going to begin to be released anyway if we walk away from this agreement. the bulk of the funds that iran will receive will already spoken for. and they are dwarfed by the country's unmet economic needs. iron has a crippled infrastructure, energy infrastructure. it has got to rebuild it to be able to pump oil. it has an agricultural sector that has been starved for
investment. significant foreign reserves already aloe indicated to foreign-lead projects, and a civilian population that sitting there expecting that the lifting of sanctions going to result in a tangible improvement in the quality of their lives. the sanctions relief is not going to make a significant difference in what iran can do nationally. never been based on money. make no mistake, the important thing about this agreement is not what it will enable iran to do, but what it will stop iran from doing, and that is the building of a nuclear weapon. before closing, i want to comment on the nature of the debate, which we are currently engaged in. some have accused advocates of the iran agreement, including me, of conjuring up frightening scenarios to scare listeners into supporting it. curiously this allegation comes
most often from the very folks who have been raising alarms about one thing or another for years. the truth is, if this plan is voted down, we cannot predict with certainly what iran will do. but we do know what iran says it will do. and that is begin again to expand its nuclear activities. and we know that the strict limitations that iran has accepted, will no longer apply, because they will no longer be any agreement. iran will then be free to begin operating thousands of other advanced and other centrifuges that would otherwise have been moth balled. they'll be free to expand their stockpile of low-enriched uranium. free to move ahead with the productions of weapon's grade plutonium, free to go forward with weaponization research. and just who do you think is
going to be held responsible for all of this? not iran. because iran was preparing to implement the agreement, and we'll have no reason whatsoever to return to the bargaining table. no, the world will hold accountable the people who broke with the consensus, turned their backs on our negotiating partners and ignored the counsel of top leaders, the world will blame the united states. and so in those same voices that accuse us of scare mongering, begin to warn, oh, wow, iran's nuclear activities are once again out of control, and must be stopped, what do you think is going to happen? the pressure will build, my friends. the pressure will build for military action. the pressure will bill for the united states to use its unique military capabilities to disrupt iran's nuclear program. because negotiating isn't going to work, because we just tried
it. president obama has been crystal clear that we will do whatever is necessary to present iran from getting a nuclear weapon, but the big difference is, at that point, we won't have the world behind us the way we do today. because we rejected the fruits of diplomacy, we will be held accountable for a crisis that could have been avoided. so my question is, why in the world would we want to put ourselves in that position of having to make that choice, especially when there is a better choice, a much-more broadly supported choice, a choice that sets us on the road to greater stability and security, but that doesn't require us to give up any option at all today. so here is the decision that we are called on to make. to vote down this agreement is to solve nothing.
because none of the problems that we are concerned about will be made easier if it is rejected, none of them. not iran's nuclear program, not iran's support for terrorism, or sectarian activities, not its human right record, and not its opposition to israel. to oppose this agreement is whether intended or not, to recommend in its policy, a policy of national paralysis. it is to take us back directly to the very dangerous spot that we were in two years ago, only to go back there devoid of any realistic plan or option. by contrast, the adoption and implementation of this agreement will cement the support of the international community behind a plan to ensure that iran does not ever acquire or possession a nuclear weapon, in doing so, it removes a looming threat from a
uniquely fragile region, discourage others from trying to develop nuclear arms, make our citizens and allies safer, and reassure the world that the hardest problems can be addressed successfully by diplomatic means. at its best, american foreign policy, the policy of the united states combines immense power with clarity of purpose, relying on reason and persuasion whenever possible, as has been demonstrated many times, our country does not shy from the necessary use of force. but our hopes and our values push us to explore every avenue for peace. the iran deal reflects our determination to protect the interests of our citizens, and to shield the world from greater harm, but it reflects as well, our knowledge that the firmest foundation for security is built
on mobilizing countries across the globe to defend actively and bravely the rule of law. in september, 228 years ago, benjamin franklin rose in the great city of philadelphia right down there, to close debate on the proposed draft of the constitution of the united states. he told a rapped audience that when people of opposing views and passions are brought together, compromise is essential, and perfect from the perspective of any single participant is not possible. he said that after weighing carefully the pros and cons of that most historic debate, he said the following, i consent, sir, to this constitution, because i expect no better, and because i am not sure that it is
not the best. my fellow citizens i have had the privilege of serving our countries in times of peace and in times of war, and peace is better. i have seen our leaders act with incredible foresight, and also seen them commit tragic errors by plunging into conflicts without sufficient thought about the consequences. like old ben franklin, i can claim and do claim go monopoly on wisdom, and certainly nothing can compare to the gravity of the debate of our found fathers over our nation's founding documents, but i believe based on a lifetime's experience, that the iran nuclear agreement is a hugely positive step at a time when problem-solving, and danger reduction have rarely been so urgent, specialsly in the middle east. the iran
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