Kerry: Nuclear Accord’s Alleged Sunset Clauses a Misnomer

John Kerry
John Kerry

Former US secretary of state, John Kerry, who led the US team in the negotiations resulting in the nuclear deal with Iran, chided the accord's critics for what they allege to be "sunset" clauses to the international agreement.

"Much attention has been focused on the agreement’s 'sunset provisions'.

That is a misnomer for an agreement that has provisions lasting 10, 15, 20 and 25 years, with the most important ones lasting forever," Kerry said in an article published in the Washington Post on Friday.

"That said, nearly all arms-control agreements contain time elements, which is why so many result in follow-on accords, once confidence is built on both sides."

The pact was finalized under the watch of former US president Barack Obama after 18 months of negotiations on July 14, 2015, to settle more than a decade of dispute with the West over Tehran's nuclear program.

But the multiparty deal has come under fierce attack from Obama's successor, Donald Trump, who has vowed to either kill or revisit it.

He must notify the US Congress by Oct. 15 whether his administration has found Iran in compliance with the pact over the last three months.

If he does not certify Iran's commitments, the US Congress has 60 days to decide whether to re-impose sanctions suspended under the deal.

Kerry's replacement, Rex Tillerson, has said the United States could not stay in the agreement unless it is revised.

Tillerson said the so-called "sunset" clauses, under which some of the deal's restrictions on Iran's nuclear program expire from 2025, were of particular concern.

"If we're going to stick with the Iran deal, there has to be changes made to it. The sunset provisions simply are not a sensible way forward," he said.

Kerry defended the pact, noting that such time-bound provisions helped Tehran and Washington come to terms despite a deep, longstanding mistrust between them.

"We were comfortable because the cap on Iran’s low-enriched uranium stockpile remains in place until 2030. It is impossible to produce a nuclear weapon with 300 kilograms of low-enriched uranium," the ex-diplomat said.

  JCPOA Revocation to Isolate USA

Tehran denies having ever considered developing a nuclear warhead and insists its nuclear program has peaceful purposes only.

"We were also comfortable because the unprecedented monitoring and verification measures we achieved never expire. Because of the International Atomic Energy Agency's permanent inspections, the world would know if Iran were … to seek a bomb," Kerry said.

He dismissed as "irrational" Trump's insistence on forcing a full review of the deal, which has been rejected by Washington's European allies and other signatories to the deal, citing among other things regular inspections and quarterly reports by the IAEA that all have confirmed Iran's compliance.

"Fundamentally, it seems irrational to leave an agreement that’s working today out of a fixation on potential growth of Iran’s nuclear program more than a decade from now, when such growth could happen tomorrow if we unravel the agreement. We’d be back where we were before, only way worse, with the United States isolated, not Iran," Kerry concluded.


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