AMBASSADOR MULL: I’ve been working as the
lead coordinator for the Iran – implementation of the Iran nuclear deal since September,
and in that process I’ve been working at coordinating all of the activities of the
U.S. Government, both in the State Department but also in other agencies as well, to make
sure that the deal is fully implemented according to the very complicated terms that we negotiated.
We reached a really important milestone in the deal last Saturday in Vienna, almost exactly
six months after the Joint Comprehensive Program of Action was agreed back in July last year,
and so-called implementation day. And implementation day is the day by which Iran has kept all
of its commitments. It had a number of commitments that it had to carry out before reaching implementation
day, but basically introduced new limits and controls on its nuclear program. So the whole
first part of the deal was getting to that day. And then implementation day is an important
milestone because once the International Atomic Energy Agency – IAEA – certified that
Iran had met all of these steps, then part two of the agreement comes in, which is that
the United States and the European Union as well as the United Nations Security Council
agree to lift a number of sanctions that had been on Iran because of concerns about its
nuclear program over the year. So all of this happened all at once on Saturday.
We had the IAEA announce that it had found Iran in full compliance, and then instantly
we had to go through and have the President and Secretary of State sign the lifting of
sanctions and certain provisions of a new UN Security Council Resolution, 2231, went
into effect, and the European Union did the same thing. So it was a very – it was a
pretty momentous day in terms of the agreement. I think all of us were really pleased with
how it went. The motive for the U.S. going into this whole
process, and the negotiations were going on for more than two years before we actually
had the agreement last July. But our motive was to work with Iran so that concerns that
the international community had had about its nuclear program going back 10 years and
more – that all of those concerns were addressed. Principally, the concerns were that because
of past concealed activities with the program, that there was a concern that Iran might have
a military objective. Iran all along assured that it did not have, but there was a lot
of disagreement, and of course, the international community, through a number of Security Council
resolutions, IAEA resolutions, had set in place these sanctions.
So the main elements that – of the deal that Iran complied with as of last Saturday
were pretty significant. I mean, there were dozens of steps that Iran took. I’ll summarize
the most important of them. First of all, although all of the parties to the agreement
– one of the main elements of the agreement was an agreement that Iran could have a nuclear
enrichment program subject to verification and monitoring by the IAEA. And so in exchange
for that agreement from the United States and the permanent members of the Security
Council and Germany and the European Union, Iran agreed to limit its enrichment activities.
Before, prior to implementation day, they had about 19,000 centrifuges that were enriching
uranium. As of implementation day, that number had dropped to 5,060 centrifuges, so more
than a two-thirds reduction in operating centrifuges. It reduced the amount of nuclear – of enriched
nuclear material that it had on hand from about 12,000 kilograms of enriched nuclear
material down to 300. And they agreed that for the life of the agreement, through year
15, they will keep a stockpile of enriched nuclear material below 300 kilograms the entire
time. And that material that they have cannot be enriched to a greater level than 3.67 percent.
So that was a 98 percent reduction in the holdings of Iran’s enriched nuclear material.
Additionally, Iran was building a heavy-water reactor that was capable of producing weapons-grade
plutonium, another potential pathway towards developing a nuclear weapon. And Iran agreed
that it would remove the core of that reactor – it’s the Arak reactor, A-r-a-k – and
fill it with concrete so that it could not be used to produce weapons-grade plutonium,
and instead, will be working with a subgroup of the P5+1 – the Permanent Five members
of the Security Council plus Germany, who negotiated the deal – to modernize the reactor
in a way that will almost eliminate the ability to produce weapons-grade plutonium.
In addition, Iran agreed to invite really an unprecedented number of inspectors and
monitoring mechanisms on its territory, so – from the IAEA so that the IAEA could monitor
that Iran’s program is fully peaceful going forward. And the IAEA will be identifying
between 130 to 150 inspectors who will be responsible for regularly visiting Iran, working
in Iran, to verify that Iran is in – remains in compliance.
Additionally, Iran agreed as of implementation day to implement the Additional Protocol,
which is an extra series of rules and procedures by which the IAEA can get access not only
to declared facilities in Iran but any place in Iran where it believes nuclear activity
might be going on. So this will give the IAEA the ability to follow up if there’s a report
that there’s a covert nuclear operation somewhere that inspectors will be able to
follow certain procedures to go there and inspect.
The IAEA also put in place really monitoring and verification and checks at every step
along the way in the nuclear fuel cycle within Iran. So the uranium mines will be monitored,
the factories that produce centrifuges will be monitored, the actual enrichment sites
at Natanz at their enrichment fuel site – fuel enrichment site will be monitored. So there
will be very – it will be very difficult to divert nuclear material to a covert program
without the IAEA being aware of it. And then finally, the – Iran has agreed
in the framework of the Security Council to procure all of its materials for its nuclear
program on the international market through very carefully monitored procurement channels,
so that any material that Iran tries to buy or needs to buy for its nuclear program has
to get the approval of a subcommittee of the P5+1 plus Iran that will work with the Security
Council in approving every single sale of this material.
So through all of these measures we effectively guarantee – before implementation day, a
few months ago – if, despite its public announcements that it did not want to build
a nuclear weapon, if Iran had decided today we’re going to build a nuclear weapon, a
few months ago they could have done so with its existing capabilities within about two
months. Now, as a – its so-called breakout time. Now, as a result of these measures and
the departure from Iran of all of this enriched material, with this reduction in its enrichment
capacity, if Iran decided today to build a nuclear weapon, it would take at least one
year to do so. So there’s been a more than six-fold increase in the amount of time, which
gives some assurance to Iran’s neighbors and others in the world community that the
threat of a nuclear Iran is not as serious as they may have considered it at one point.
So I mentioned we lifted sanctions, a certain number of sanctions together with our European
partners and the United Nations, effective on implementation day, and we did so on Saturday.
Effectively, we’ve removed – some years ago, the United States had – there’s a
lot of sanctions on Iran for lots of reasons, because of our various disagreements and differences
that we’ve had with Iran on human rights, on terrorism, and regional stability over
the years. But we’ve lifted those sanctions that were imposed for nuclear reasons that
put sanctions on third countries who did business or banking with Iran. So foreign businesses
or governments had a choice. If they did business with Iran, they would not be able to get access
to the U.S. financial system, and so it was an additional source of pressure. So all of
those sanctions have been lifted. So now foreign governments, foreign banks can do business
with Iran without any risk to their businesses in the United States.
We’ve also removed similar sanctions on insurance companies who would – could not
insure activities in Iran without risking contacts with the United States. In energy,
foreign entities, countries, are now free to buy Iranian petroleum products without
any penalty with – to their business in the United States and a number of other sectors.
So that will significant – allow significant expansion of trade with Iran by other countries.
Additionally, the United States on Saturday removed sanctions on individual Iranian entities
and people who were under sanction because of their involvement in Iran’s nuclear program.
And so 400 of those entities were un-sanctioned on Saturday.
Additionally, the United States, although American – Americans, American businesses
are broadly prohibited from doing business with Iran for other reasons, the United States
Government decided as a part of this agreement to let foreign-owned subsidiaries of American
companies, who may be owned by American companies but operate overseas – they will now be
allowed to do business in Iran. And those – a license to allow that was released on
Saturday by our Treasury Department. Additionally, the United States has agreed
– we used to have – allow some trade from Iran, some imports from Iran: carpets and
foodstuffs – pistachios, caviar, and so forth. That was eliminated as a part of sanctions
back in 2010. That has now been restored. So if you want to buy Iranian or import Iranian
pistachios or buy good Persian carpets, you can do so again legally in the United States.
And then the United States agreed to lift a prohibition on direct U.S.-Iranian trade
and investment in the aviation industry. So aviation companies are now free to sell either
airplanes or aviation support products to Iranian entities, which is a major breakthrough
in terms of allowing a new category of trade between the United States and Iran.
So as I said, all of these took effect last Saturday or on the first business day since
Saturday. Some parts – it’s a major change in how I think the world and certainly the
United States will be dealing with Iran. Some things do remain the same. Obviously, there
are significant foreign policy differences between the Iranian Government and the American
Government, whether it concerns the Middle East peace process or regional stability,
events in Syria. Of course, we have serious differences with the Iranian Government. We
have concerns about Iran’s support for terrorist activities, we have concerns about the human
rights situation in Iran, and there are different sanctions that remain in place for those reasons.
This nuclear deal was never supposed to be about those parts of the relationship; it
was just about reducing the threat of a potential nuclear Iran and giving Iran the opportunity
to demonstrate that its nuclear program is, in fact, peaceful in a verifiable kind of
way. So it’s an important development in U.S.-Iranian
relations. It’s an important development, I think, in nonproliferation, nuclear nonproliferation,
and in general regional security concerns that we think will make a positive difference.
But the work is just beginning. We’ve reached this goal. I think we’re going to be, as
Orna mentioned, working in – with my staff and others in the U.S. Government going forward
to make sure that both sides comply with the deal, that Iran keeps its commitments, that
we as a government keep our commitments together with our European partners, and we’ll keep
working at it. But it’s a good outcome. I think Iran got something that was important
for it, we got something that was important for us, and I hope we can build on it going
forward to improve security in – particularly in that region.