Blocking a Persian Bomb

Donald Trump called it “the worst deal ever negotiated”. Benjamin Netanyahu called it an “embarrassment” which “paves Iran’s path to the bomb”; Lindsey Graham called it “a death sentence for Israel”. They were talking about the JCPOA, or Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, commonly known as the Iran Nuclear Deal, an agreement signed in 2015 between Iran, the U.S., Russia, China, the United Kingdom, France, Germany, and the E.U., to limit Iran’s development of nuclear weapons. Most nuclear experts described the Iran Deal as by far the most comprehensive non-proliferation agreement ever, enforced by stringent inspections unprecedented in scope. So why was there such fevered opposition from the right? And now that President Trump has pulled the U.S. out of the deal, what will the future bring?

We explore this controversial topic with a remarkable group of guests. Wendy Sherman, the lead U.S. negotiator, describes her difficult task. Ben Rhodes and Joe Cirincione talk about the highly contentious political battle to get the deal approved in the U.S. Dr. Thomas Shea discusses the rigorous inspection protocol. Jeffrey Lewis tells of the benefits of the deal and why pulling out of it will cause drastic unforeseen consequences. Dr. Seyed Mousavian, a former Iranian diplomat, gives us the Iranian perspective on the deal, the dangerous ramifications to internal Iranian politics of the U.S. pull-out, and the prospects of renewing the deal. Finally, we discuss recent developments, including the fallout from the assassination of Qasem Suliemani and the responses to Iran announcing that it is increasing its uranium enrichment program.


Joe Cirincione  @Cirincione
Past President, Ploughshares Fund; author of Nuclear Nightmares: Securing the World Before It Is Too Late

Jeffrey Lewis  @ArmsControlWonk
Adjunct Professor, James Martin Center for Nonproliferation Studies at the Middlebury Institute of International Studies at Monterey; creator, Arms Control Wonk podcast. To learn much more about the Iran Deal, check out their new 5 part series; first episode here.

Seyed Hossein Mousavian
Former Iranian diplomat; 2003-5 nuclear negotiator for Iran w/ EU and IAEA; scholar-in-residence, Princeton University

Ben Rhodes  @brhodes
Deputy National Security Advisor for President Obama; co-host of the podcast Pod Save the World

Dr. Thomas Shea
Nuclear engineer; head of the IAEA Trilateral Initiative 1996 through 2002; non-resident senior fellow, Federation of American Scientists

Wendy Sherman  @wendyrsherman
Former U.S. Under Secretary of State for Political Affairs; director, Center for Public Leadership, Harvard Kennedy School; author, Not for the Faint of Heart


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