Scientists’ Letter to Trump Supporting Iran Nuclear Deal

January 3, 2017 | 9:40 am
David Wright
Former contributor

Donald Trump has made conflicting statements about how he views the Iranian nuclear deal and what he plans to do about it once he takes office. But the deal has now been in effect for a year and experience shows the agreement is working—and that it would be foolish to discard or undermine it.

I’m one of 37 scientists who signed a letter delivered to Mr. Trump’s team yesterday explaining the successes of the deal and the value of keeping it. The letter was organized by a group of scientists, including Richard Garwin, who was recently awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom, and Sig Hecker, former director of the Los Alamos National Laboratory—one of the two US labs that design nuclear weapons. The signers include six Nobel laureates in physics.

The goals of the Iran deal, formally known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), are to significantly lengthen the time it would take Iran to make nuclear weapons and to put in place a set of intrusive verification measures that would give the world confidence that Iran was abiding by the terms of the agreement—or unambiguous warning if it was not.

Diplomats announcing the framework of the JCPOA in 2015 (Source: US Dept. of State)

Diplomats announcing the framework of the JCPOA in 2015 (Source: US Dept. of State)

The past year has shown that the deal is working. Iran has taken important steps specified in the agreement, and human inspections and continuous monitoring by instruments are underway. We conclude, as we say in the letter, that the nuclear deal “has dramatically reduced the risk that Iran could suddenly produce significant quantities of nuclear-weapon materials.”

Our letter ends by telling Mr. Trump:

The JCPOA does not take any options off the table for you or any future president. Indeed it makes it much easier for you to know if and when Iran heads for a bomb. It provides both time and legitimacy for an effective response.

Our technical judgment is that the multilateral JCPOA provides a strong bulwark against an Iranian nuclear-weapons program. We urge you to preserve this critical U.S. strategic asset.