July 15, 2015

The Day After
Our collective strength as a community allows the JFO to be an advocate on behalf of Jews in Omaha, Israel and around the world. This role supports our mission to help sustain and ensure the continuity of the Jewish people.  The agreement reached yesterday between the P5+1 and Iran has implications for the Jewish world that cannot be underestimated.   

Iran's support for Hezbollah and Hamas, its human rights violations and its aggressive threats towards neighboring countries - including Israel - make the specter of a nuclear-armed Iran untenable.

We've created the following briefing statement in the hope that it provides structure and substance to the many Jewish Omaha conversations taking place today and in the weeks ahead.

During the next 60 days Congress has the opportunity to study and debate the merits of this agreement and vote to accept or reject it. We will monitor developments from a Jewish perspective and continue advocating for the safety and security of the Jewish people.

Starting Point
Six world powers (P5+1) led by the United States announced a deal with Iran limiting its nuclear program. In exchange, Iran would realize relief from crippling international economic sanctions while being allowed to continue a "peaceful" nuclear program.  Critics believe the deal leaves too much of Iran's nuclear infrastructure in place and overlooks Iran's destabilizing role in the region.

The deal would not irrevocably prevent Iran from getting nuclear weapons. But advocates say it would make it harder to do so and put roadblocks in the way that would give world powers time to fashion a response if Iran turned course and began taking steps toward making a bomb.

Key Points of the Framwork Agreement  
* Centrifuges: Iran would reduce its total of about 19,000 centrifuges -- 10,000 of which are still spinning today -- down to 6,104 under the deal, with only 5,060 allowed to enrich uranium over the next 10 years. Centrifuges are used to enrich uranium, the material necessary for nuclear power -- and nuclear bombs.

* Uranium enrichment: Iran's centrifuges will only enrich uranium to 3.67% -- enough for civil use to power parts of the country, but not enough to build a nuclear bomb. That agreement lasts 15 years. And Tehran has agreed not to build any new uranium enrichment facilities during that time period. The 3.67% is a major decline, and it follows Iran's move to water down its stockpile of 20% enriched uranium last year. In addition, Iran will reduce its current stockpile of 10,000 kilograms of low-enriched uranium to 300 kilograms for 15 years.

* Breakout time: The period of time it would take for Iran to acquire material necessary to make one nuclear weapon, currently assessed at two to three months, would be extended to about one year. That year-long breakout period would be in place for at least 10 years.

* Fordow facility: Iran's Fordow nuclear reactor would stop enriching uranium for at least 15 years. It will not have fissile material at the facility, but it will be able to keep 1,000 centrifuges there. Fordo, one of the country's biggest reactors, is buried more than 200 feet under the side of a mountain and was hidden from the international community until the U.S. revealed it in 2009.

* Research and development: Iran can continue its research and development on enrichment, but it will be limited to keep the country to its breakout time frame of one year. Though Iran will be required to make changes at a number of its facilities -- including reducing centrifuges and rebuilding a heavy water reactor in Arak -- the country will get to maintain its current facilities.

* Inspections: Iran will be required to give International Atomic Energy Agency inspectors 24/7 access to all of its declared facilities. That includes access to Parchin, an Iranian military facility related to its nuclear program. Western countries have been seeking unfettered access throughout Iran, not just declared facilities, as Iran has previously conducted nuclear work in secret.

* Sanctions lifted: The United States and the European Union will lift their nuclear-related sanctions on the Iranian economy. If there are violations, the sanctions will snap back into place. U.N. sanctions will be lifted when Iran completes its nuclear-related steps, as outlined in a new Security Council resolution.

Here is a guide to the Iran nuclear deal. 

What's at stake?
It depends on who you ask. If you take the European Union's top diplomat, Federica Mogherini, at her word, it's the security of the entire world.

Iran has long been accused of sponsoring terror, and for many in the West and Israel, the idea of Tehran possessing nuclear weapons is catastrophic. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has repeatedly warned of Iranian ambitions to expand its influence and annihilate Israel.

For Iran, it's the state of its economy, initially. Western and U.N. sanctions against Iran over its nuclear program and other issues have crippled the country's economy.

How did we get here?
Talks have been ongoing for more than a decade but began in earnest after the 2013 election of reformist Iranian President Hassan Rouhani. Even before, then presidential candidate Barack Obama said in 2007 that he would be open to talks with Iran on the country's nuclear program.

Discussions in November 2013 led to an interim deal called the Joint Plan of Action that offered some sanctions relief in exchange for curbs on Iran's nuclear program pending further talks toward a permanent solution.

International inspectors say Iran has complied with the terms of that interim agreement, but it's only now that an agreement on the broader, longer-lasting items has been agreed to.

Who's in favor of the deal?
It was a priority of Iranian negotiators to get out from under economic sanctions choking their country's economy. International sanctions have roughly cut in half Iran's oil exports and caused its economy to contract by 5% in 2013, according to the U.S. Institute for Peace.

Leaders of the Western nations involved in the negotiations also favored a deal as the best way to block Iran from becoming a nuclear power.

Who's Opposed?
  • Congressional Republicans have been particularly vocal critics, saying the deal is a losing proposition for the United States and its allies.
  • Saudi Arabia is concerned about the boost it could give to its regional rival, Iran.
  • Netanyahu said the deal will pave Iran's path to a nuclear arsenal. 
  • Iran's hard-line clerics are likely to oppose any deal that imposes restrictions on what they see as Iran's right to a nuclear program.
What happens next?
Congress has 60 days for discourse before voting to either accept or reject the agreement. President Barack Obama said Tuesday morning he would veto legislation to block the Iran deal. Congress needs a two-thirds majority in each house to override the veto. The House Foreign Relations Committee will begin its review on Tuesday, July 21.

To preview a copy of the complete Joint Plan of Action posted by
The Washington Post
, click here.


Alan Potash, CEO              Jay Noddle, President    

The Jewish Federation of Omaha credits the following news sources for providing clarity and purpose to our message: 
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