NEW YORK, July 19, 2016 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- AJC today voiced deep concern about the one-year-old Iranian nuclear deal, following the revelation by the Associated Press of a side agreement to the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA).
According to the "side agreement," Iran, beginning in 2027, can begin replacing its currently reduced stockpile of centrifuges with thousands more advanced models that will cut the time needed to develop weapons-grade uranium to six months or less. The JCPOA had set the time of no less than 12 months until at least 2031, 15 years after the implementation of the accord began in January.
AJC opposed the U.S.-led P5+1 nuclear deal, calling its terms only a "temporary freeze" of Iran's nuclear weapons program and a "validation of Iran's future status as a nuclear threshold state."
The AP report raises new questions about the overall effectiveness of the JCPOA in curtailing Iran's nuclear weapons capability, and, specifically, why this dimension of the accord was kept secret by the P5+1 and Iran.
"No one likes surprises, especially when they deal with potentially life-and-death issues down the road," said AJC CEO David Harris.
"Whether the original deal truly can prevent Iran from developing nuclear weapons capability always was uncertain, despite the 15 years of restrictions on, and monitoring of, Iranian nuclear research and development," Harris said. "But now, thanks to the AP, we know that the long-term impact is diminished, given the built-in provision that will enable Iran to prepare in the last five years of the agreement to race ahead on the nuclear pathway."
An additional concern comes in the reaction of Iranian Foreign Minister Zarif, who confirmed the AP report, calling his country's plans to expand its uranium enrichment program a "matter of pride."
The U.S. claims that there is no secret document or deal, and that the AP report refers to Iran's long-term R&D enrichment plan submitted to the IAEA earlier this year.
"The P5+1 reviewed this plan and we are confident that Iran's enrichment capacity in the years after the initial decade of the JCPOA will undergo measured, incremental growth consistent with a peaceful nuclear program. Iran is committed in the JCPOA to abide by this plan," said State Department Deputy Spokesman Mark Toner.
"To be fully clear, that assertion remains to be tested," Harris concluded.
SOURCE American Jewish Committee