For decades, Iran advanced towards a nuclear weapon. In the face of unprecedented sanctions, that stopped, negotiations began and we now have an opportunity to roll back Iran’s nuclear program.
No one ever said it would be easy. Negotiators have worked tirelessly under intense pressure and scrutiny for more than a year. The framework announced today is a positive step in the right direction. We should be encouraged, but not satisfied.
Far more work remains to be done as negotiators hash out the specifics outlined in the framework, but today the world took a big step towards preventing Iran from obtaining a nuclear weapon. As we move toward June, I encourage the international community to seize this historic opportunity and pressure the Iranian regime to accept a final deal that verifiably prevents Iran from developing a nuclear weapon. That is the goal we should all be focused on achieving. And that deal must not be based on trust - it must be based on a robust verification regime.
Preventing Iran from obtaining a nuclear weapon remains our top national security priority in the Middle East. Iran continues to be a bad actor throughout the region – fostering unrest in Yemen, Lebanon, meddling in Syria and threatening the very existence of Israel. Iran is a clear threat to our allies and interests even without a nuclear weapon. That does not change with this deal and Iran will remain under significant economic pressure for a variety of issues outside of its nuclear program. Cooperation on the nuclear program will not heal all ills for Iran.
This deal has the potential to cut off all of Iran’s paths to a nuclear weapon in a verifiable way. Opponents should seek to guide the framework towards a positive outcome, not attempt to derail a final comprehensive deal. No final deal will be perfect, but the objective is to prevent Iran from achieving a nuclear weapon without going to war. In the months ahead, I will follow negotiations closely and encourage a peaceful and positive outcome.