News Release

American, European Experts Sign Agreement on Iran on Eve of International Atomic Energy Agency Board Meeting

As the International Atomic Energy Agency’s Board prepares to meet on September 19, a group of prominent experts and former officials from the United States and Europe have signed a U.S.-Europe Statement on Iran. The Statement underscores the importance of preventing nuclear proliferation to Iran. It calls on the United States and Europe to make clear to Iran that it can win significant political and economic benefits if it foregoes a nuclear weapons program but that it will pay a heavy political and economic price if it does not.

U.S. signatories include Samuel R. Berger and Anthony Lake, former national security advisers; William J. Perry, former secretary of defense; Strobe Talbott, former deputy secretary of state and now president of the Brookings Institution; James B. Steinberg, former deputy national security adviser, now vice president and director of the Foreign Policy Studies program at Brookings; Robert Kagan, senior associate at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace; Francis Fukuyama, professor at Johns Hopkins University; and Philip H. Gordon, senior fellow and director of the Center on the United States and Europe at Brookings. European signatories include George Robertson, former NATO secretary general; Ana Palacio, former Spanish foreign minister; Douglas Hurd, former British foreign secretary; Nicole Gnesotto, director of the EU Institute for Security Studies; David Hannay, former British ambassador to the United Nations and European Union; Narcís Serra, former Spanish minister of defense; Lawrence Freedman, professor of War Studies at King’s College, London; and Charles Grant, director of the Centre for European Reform.

The statement expresses disappointment in Iran’s rejection of a recent offer by Britain, France, and Germany to provide Iran with support for a civilian nuclear energy program—as well as far-reaching political and economic incentives—in exchange for Tehran’s agreement not to develop its capacity for nuclear enrichment and reprocessing. The European proposal, which had explicit support from the United States, would have made it possible for Iran to acquire Western nuclear reactors and fuel for the civilian nuclear energy program Iran claims to need. Yet Iran rejected it out of hand, removed International Atomic Energy Agency seals at its nuclear facility in Isfahan, and resumed the process of uranium conversion.

“As European and American leaders have said many times, an Iranian nuclear weapons capability would be dangerous and destabilizing. It could lead to further nuclear proliferation, provide cover for Tehran to pursue a more aggressive foreign policy and could be a fatal blow to the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty (NPT),” the document declares. “Given Iran’s past track record of hiding significant aspects of its nuclear program, moreover, allowing Iran to develop enrichment and reprocessing capabilities—even under an international inspection regime—would be extremely risky. Doing so would leave Iran one short step away from a nuclear weapons capability—with which it could easily proceed, once the full fuel cycle was in hand, by withdrawing from the NPT and asking inspectors to leave.”

“The credibility of western nonproliferation policy is now clearly on the line. The European Union and the United States have a strong common interest in bringing Iran back to the negotiating table and persuading it to change course,” the document concludes. “The best way to do that is to make clear to Iran that it can win significant political and economic benefits if it foregoes a nuclear weapons program, but that it will pay a very big political and economic price if it does not. Such an effort will only work if America and Europe stand united.”

Among the specific proposals in the Compact:

  • The United States and European Union reaffirm their determination to prevent nuclear proliferation and their insistence that Iran abide by its obligations under the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty, including by providing full information about its past and present nuclear program. They regret Iran’s August 2005 decision to resume its nuclear conversion activities and call upon Iran to suspend such activities and to send overseas all materials produced since the breaking of seals at Isfahan as a basis for resuming nuclear discussions with the EU-3. The U.S. and EU insist that only a permanent and verifiable end to Iran’s nuclear fuel cycle (enrichment and reprocessing) program can provide an objective guarantee that Iran is not working toward a nuclear weapons option.
  • The United States reiterates its support for the European Union’s nuclear dialogue with Iran. If Iran permanently and verifiably ends its fuel cycle programs, the United States would support Iran’s right to import technology for a civilian nuclear energy program (including the provision of fuel and fuel-cycle services on a commercial basis); not impose sanctions against European companies that engage in civilian trade and investment with Iran; enter into a dialogue with the Iranian government on regional security issues. The United States reiterates its intention to deal with the Iranian nuclear issue through diplomatic means while leaving all options open if diplomatic efforts fail.
  • The United States declares its willingness to explore directly with Iran other areas of concern. These include the issue of bilateral diplomatic and economic relations; U.S. economic sanctions against Iran; Iranian support for terrorist groups such as Hizbollah and Palestinian Islamic Jihad; Iran’s opposition to the Israeli-Palestinian peace process; Iran’s membership in the World Trade Organization; and financial disputes dating back to the Iranian revolution. The United States and European Union will continue to support the efforts of the Iranian people to secure basic human rights and build a functioning democracy in Iran.
  • The European Union countries declare their readiness to impose meaningful penalties on Iran if it refuses to end its fuel cycle programs or withdraws from the NPT. If Iran refuses to reestablish the full suspension of all enrichment related activities and to send overseas the materials produced at Isfahan since August 1, EU leaders will support taking the issue to the United Nations Security Council and support a mandatory resolution requiring Iran to do so. If Iran refuses to comply with this resolution, the EU countries will support a UNSC resolution imposing economic and diplomatic sanctions on Iran, including a ban on new foreign investment in Iran’s energy sector. The EU countries will seek consensus at the Security Council but Russian or Chinese opposition will not prevent them from imposing sanctions on their own, together with the United States and Japan, if Iran refuses to end its fuel cycle program and live up to its NPT obligations. The EU will consider additional steps should Iran proceed with nuclear enrichment, withdraw from the IAEA Additional Protocol, or withdraw from the NPT.
  • The signatories of the U.S.-Europe Statement on Iran are drawn from the group that on February 17, 2005, issued the “Compact between the United States and Europe,” a detailed and comprehensive proposal for transatlantic cooperation on the key foreign policy issues of the day. In their 11-page Compact, written in the form of an agreement between governments, the signatories offered specific proposals for dealing with Iraq, Iran, peace prospects and democracy in the Middle East, China, the International Criminal Court, climate change, the Geneva Conventions, Afghanistan, U.S.-European relations, the developing world, Sudan, and the United Nations.

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