P5 Unity on the Iran Deal and the Fate of the NPT

Below is a letter that Lawyers Committee on Nuclear Policy sent on July 23 to New York Senators Schumer and Gillibrand urging support for the Iran agreement. If you are in the United States and have not done so already, it’s definitely worth getting in touch with your senators and representatives on this extremely important matter.


Dear Senator:

The Lawyers Committee on Nuclear Policy, a New York City-based nonprofit association of lawyers and legal scholars devoted to analyzing nuclear weapons policy in the framework of national and international law, submits this letter to urge your support for the agreement curbing Iran’s nuclear program. It would be disastrous for the United States now to reject a carefully negotiated agreement supported by an overwhelming majority of the world’s nations, including the Permanent Five members of the Security Council and all of our European allies. If the United States were now to walk away from the deal, unity among the world’s major powers on crucial issues of nuclear nonproliferation would be unlikely ever to be achieved again.

Ami Ayalon, a former commander of the Israeli navy and a former director of the Shin Bet security service, stated in an interview last week that the agreement with Iran is “the best possible alternative for Israel, given the other available alternatives.” He is right, and it is also the best available alternative for the United States. Rejection of the deal would cause the international sanctions regime to collapse, leaving Iran free to resume its nuclear program without restrictions. Even if deemed wise and lawful in the abstract, there is in practice no good military option: air strikes would at best set back the Iranian program for a few years, while risking another prolonged war in the Middle East, a war which would be opposed by most of our allies and by the United Nations. This would be a tragic mistake.


It receives little emphasis in the flood of commentary, but the agreement with Iran aims to ensure Iran’s compliance with its obligation not to acquire nuclear weapons under a multilateral agreement, the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty. Thus the agreement does not concern Iran only, but also the fate of a global treaty central to international peace and security, and more particularly future US-Russian cooperation on control and elimination of nuclear weapons.

And it’s hardly mentioned at all that under Article VI of the same treaty, the United States and other members of the Permanent Five are obligated to negotiate in good faith the elimination of their nuclear arsenals – an obligation they are very far from fulfilling. For more on the Article VI requirement of good-faith negotiations, see the amicus brief LCNP just filed in the Marshall Islands’ appeal of the dismissal of its Nuclear Zero case in US federal court.

– John Burroughs, Executive Director
Lawyers Committee on Nuclear Policy
contact [at] lcnp.org