August 1, 2019
News Press Release

ZOA Urges Trump Administration: End Sanctions Waivers That Permit Certain Iranian Nuclear Operations

Waivers Hinder the Trump Administration’s Vital Maximum Pressure Campaign

Zionist Organization of America (ZOA) President Morton A. Klein, ZOA Chairman Mark Levenson, Esq. released the following statement:

The Zionist Organization of America strongly urges the Trump administration to end sanctions waivers that allow five Iranian nuclear programs to continue.  Waivers hinder the administration’s “maximum pressure” policy. Maximum pressure needs to be continuously exerted, to achieve the administration’s key goal of bringing Iran to the table to negotiate a good deal – to replace the disastrous Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (the “JCPOA” or “Iran deal”).  The JCPOA paves Iran’s path to a nuclear bomb.  

ZOA appreciates and continues to praise the Trump administration’s many correct, important steps forward to curb Iran’s activities – including announcing the U.S. pullout from the catastrophic Iran deal last May; targeting IRGC commanders; and just yesterday sanctioning Iran Foreign Minister Zarif, for acting on behalf of Iran’s Supreme Leader.  It would be a step backwards to renew waivers.  Senator Ted Cruz explained yesterday that the reported waivers would be “a temporary victory for the deep state staffers . . . who continue working tirelessly to preserve the Obama Iran deal rather than implementing the president’s directive [to halt implementation of the catastrophic Obama-Iran nuclear deal].”  

ZOA is concerned by reports (also see here) that, at the Treasury Department’s request, the administration expects to renew sanctions waivers for another three months, despite strong opposition by the Secretary of State Pompeo, National Security Adviser John Bolton and 50 Republican members of Congress.  The waivers permit Iran to continue operating nuclear programs at its: (1) Bushehr nuclear plant, (2) Fordow uranium enrichment facility; (3) Arak nuclear complex, which produces heavy water; and (4) Tehran research reactor.   

Some programs (e.g., at Fordow and the Tehran research reactor) apparently received waivers because their supposed purpose is to produce medical isotopes.  However, the huge cache of secret Iranian nuclear documents that Israeli agents removed from Iran in January 2018 proved, among other things, that the Fordow uranium enrichment facility was not intended to produce medical isotopes – but instead was intended to produce uranium for nuclear weapons.  (See “‘Iran Lied Big Time’ About Nuclear Program, Netanyahu Says in Describing Secret Files,” JTA, Apr. 30, 2018.)

The highly-respected Institute for Science and International Security (ISIS) reported that there is no civilian justification for these programs, and that the programs can be readily converted to nefarious nuclear proliferation purposes.  The report explained:

A relatively small number of [centrifuges at Iran’s Fordow facility] are dedicated to stable isotope separation in cooperation with Russia. The U.S. and allied negotiators were not able to convince Iran to shut down this site, even though it has no credible civilian nuclear justification.  Moreover, Iran could reactivate the production of enriched uranium there relatively quickly.”   

(See Report: The Fordow Enrichment Plant, aka Al Ghadir: Iran’s Nuclear Archive Reveals Site Originally Purposed to Produce Weapon-Grade Uranium for 1-2 Nuclear Weapons per Year,” by David Albright, Frank Pabian, and Andrea Stricker, Institute for Science and International Security, Mar. 13, 2019.)

U.S. Congressman David Scott (D-GA), who courageously opposed the Iran deal, and served as General Rapporteur of the NATO Parliamentary Assembly’s Science and Technology Committee, to which Cong. Scott presented a detailed 2012 report with disturbing evidence that Iran had a hidden military nuclear weapons component to its nuclear program, explained back in 2015 that Iran’s research capabilities must be restricted, as follows:

A good deal must restrict Iran’s nuclear capabilities, including those for research and development, until the country demonstrates to inspectors that it no longer seeks a nuclear weapons capability.”

(See “ZOA Praises African-American Democratic Cong. David Scott For Opposing Iran Deal,” Aug. 14, 2015, quoting Cong. Scott’s July 2015 interview on “A Closer Look.”)

Iran’s JCPOA violations, recent missile launch, and malign terrorist and piracy activities also underscore the need to continue and ramp up the administration’s “maximum pressure” campaign on Iran.  Heavy sanctions offer our best chance or curtailing Iran.  By contrast, renewed waivers will lessen the pressure on Iran, and encourage and enable Iran to continue its deal violations and hostile actions.

Without maximum pressure, we are unlikely to persuade Iran to even stop its current JCPOA violations. For instance, Iran has apparently exceeded its advanced (IR-6) centrifuge limit indicated in United Nations Security Council Resolution 2231 (2015).  An Institute for Science and International Security (ISIS) analysis noted that the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA)’s latest monitoring report on Iran found that: 

up to 33 IR-6 centrifuges have been installed [by Iran], of which up to 10 have been tested with UF6 (uranium hexafluoride)…” 

The Institute for Science and International Security then explained that:

This number of deployed centrifuges is far in excess of what is a reasonable interpretation of the deployment rate implied in Iran’s long-term enrichment plan. . .”  

(See Report: IAEA Iran Safeguards Report Analysis: Iran Pushes Past an Advanced Centrifuge Limit,” by David Albright and Andrea Stricker, Institute for Science and International Security,  May 31, 2019, quoting from IAEA May 31, 2019 safeguards report: “Verification and monitoring in the Islamic Republic of Iran in Light of United Nations Security Council Resolution 2231 (2015).)  

Waivers related to Iran’s Arak facility are also deeply concerning because Iran’s Atomic Energy Organization just announced early this week its intention to resume construction of the Arak heavy water reactor according to its original, dangerous design. Iranian President Hassan Rouhani also threatened in July that Iran would bring the Arak facility to a condition that “according to you, is dangerous and can produce plutonium.”  (Enriched plutonium can be used to produce nuclear weapons.)  (See Iran Vows to Restart Activities at Arak Heavy Water Facility,” JTA, July 28, 2019.) 

Iran’s announcement this week carried out Iran’s threat two months ago, that within 60 days, Iran would resume construction on the Arak facility’s original design which can produce plutonium.  (See Report: IAEA Iran Safeguards Report Analysis: Iran Pushes Past an Advanced Centrifuge Limit,” by David Albright and Andrea Stricker, Institute for Science and International Security, May 31, 2019.)

Moreover, Iran is already producing heavy water in excess of the limits set forth in the JCPOA, and trying to evade the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA or Iran deal) by storing its excess heavy water in Oman. (See Institute for Science and International Security May 31, 2019 report, Id.)   Thus, on May 3, 2019, the U.S. State Department announced: “We will no longer permit the storage for Iran of heavy water it has produced in excess of current limits; any such heavy water must no longer be available to Iran in any fashion.”

In sum, Iran’s offensive actions demonstrate that we need to beef up the administration’s vital maximum pressure campaign to curb Iran’s dangerous activities.  We cannot afford sanctions waivers that hamper the Trump administration’s efforts to deter Iran.