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Story 1: President Trump Withdraws United States From Obama/Kerry Iran Nuclear Deal — Obama’s Legacy — Going, Going, Gone — The End — Videos —

 

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Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action
Iran Talks Vienna 14 July 2015 (19067069963).jpg

Officials announcing the agreement
Created 14 July 2015
Ratified N/A (ratification not required)
Date effective
  • 18 October 2015 (Adoption)[1]
  • 16 January 2016 (Implementation)[2]
Location ViennaAustria
Signatories IranRussiaChinaEuropean UnionUnited States(withdrawing)[3]
Purpose Nuclear non-proliferation

The Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOAPersianبرنامه جامع اقدام مشترک‎, translit. barnāme jāme‘ eqdām moshtarakacronymبرجامBARJAM[4][5]), known commonly as the Iran nuclear deal or Iran deal, is an international agreement on the nuclear program of Iran reached in Vienna on 14 July 2015 between Iran, the P5+1 (the five permanent members of the United Nations Security CouncilChinaFranceRussiaUnited KingdomUnited States—plus Germany),[a] and the European Union.

Formal negotiations toward the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action on Iran’s nuclear program began with the adoption of the Joint Plan of Action, an interim agreement signed between Iran and the P5+1 countries in November 2013. For the next twenty months, Iran and the P5+1 countries engaged in negotiations, and in April 2015 agreed on an Iran nuclear deal framework for the final agreement. In July 2015, Iran and the P5+1 confirmed agreement on the plan along with the “Roadmap Agreement” made between Iran and the IAEA.[8]

Under the agreement, Iran agreed to eliminate its stockpile of medium-enriched uranium, cut its stockpile of low-enriched uranium by 98%, and reduce by about two-thirds the number of its gas centrifuges for 13 years. For the next 15 years, Iran will only enrich uranium up to 3.67%. Iran also agreed not to build any new heavy-water facilities for the same period of time. Uranium-enrichment activities will be limited to a single facility using first-generation centrifuges for 10 years. Other facilities will be converted to avoid proliferation risks. To monitor and verify Iran’s compliance with the agreement, the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) will have regular access to all Iranian nuclear facilities. The agreement provides that in return for verifiably abiding by its commitments, Iran will receive relief from U.S., European Union, and United Nations Security Council nuclear-related economic sanctions.

On 13 October 2017, U.S. President Donald Trump announced that the United States would not make the certification provided for under U.S. domestic law, but stopped short of terminating the deal.[9] On 30 April 2018, the United States and Israel stated that Iran did not disclose a past covert nuclear weapons program to the IAEA, which was required in the 2015 deal.[10][11]

IAEA inspectors spend 3,000 calendar days per year in Iran, installing tamper-proof sealings and collecting surveillance camera photos, measurement data and documents for further analysis. IAEA Director Yukiya Amano stated (in March 2018) that the organization has verified that Iran is implementing its nuclear-related commitments.[12]

On 8 May 2018, President Trump announced that the United States would withdraw from the agreement.[13][14]

Background

nuclear weapon uses a fissile material to cause a nuclear chain reaction. The most commonly used materials have been uranium 235 (U-235) and plutonium 239 (Pu-239). Both uranium 233 (U-233) and reactor-grade plutonium have also been used.[15][16][17] The amount of uranium or plutonium needed depends on the sophistication of the design, with a simple design requiring approximately 15 kg of uranium or 6 kg of plutonium and a sophisticated design requiring as little as 9 kg of uranium or 2 kg of plutonium.[18] Plutonium is almost nonexistent in nature, and natural uranium is about 99.3% uranium 238 (U-238) and 0.7% U-235. Therefore, to make a weapon, either uranium must be enriched, or plutonium must be produced. Uranium enrichment is also frequently necessary for nuclear power. For this reason, uranium enrichment is a dual-use technology, a technology which “can be used both for civilian and for military purposes”.[19] Key strategies to prevent proliferation of nuclear arms include limiting the number of operating uranium enrichment plants and controlling the export of nuclear technology and fissile material.[17][19]

Iranian development of nuclear technology began in the 1970s, when the U.S. Atoms for Peace program began providing assistance to Iran, which was then led by the Shah.[20] Iran signed the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons (NPT) in 1968 as a non-nuclear weapons state and ratified the NPT in 1970.[20]

In 1979 the Iranian Revolution took place, and Iran’s nuclear program, which had developed some baseline capacity, fell to disarray as “much of Iran’s nuclear talent fled the country in the wake of the Revolution.”[20] Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini was initially opposed to nuclear technology; and Iran engaged in a costly war with Iraq from 1980 to 1988.[20]

Starting in the later 1980s, Iran restarted its nuclear program, with assistance from Pakistan (which entered into a bilateral agreement with Iran in 1992), China (which did the same in 1990), and Russia (which did the same in 1992 and 1995), and from the A.Q. Khannetwork.[20] Iran “began pursuing an indigenous nuclear fuel cycle capability by developing a uranium mining infrastructure and experimenting with uranium conversion and enrichment”.[20] According to the nonpartisan Nuclear Threat Initiative, “U.S. intelligence agencieshave long suspected Iran of using its civilian nuclear program as a cover for clandestine weapons development.”[20] Iran, in contrast, “has always insisted that its nuclear work is peaceful”.[21]

In August 2002, the Paris-based National Council of Resistance of Iran, an Iranian dissident group, publicly revealed the existence of two undeclared nuclear facilities, the Arak heavy-water production facility and the Natanz enrichment facility.[20][22] In February 2003, Iranian President Mohammad Khatami acknowledged the existence of the facilities and asserted that Iran had undertaken “small-scale enrichment experiments” to produce low-enriched uranium for nuclear power plants.[20] In late February, International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) inspectors visited Natanz.[22] In May 2003, Iran allowed IAEA inspectors to visit the Kalaye Electric Company, but refused to allow them to take samples, and an IAEA report the following month concluded that Iran had failed to meet its obligations under the previous agreement.[22]

In June 2003, Iran—faced with the prospect of being referred to the UN Security Council—entered into diplomatic negotiations with France, Germany, and the United Kingdom (the EU 3).[20][22] The United States refused to be involved in these negotiations.[22] In October 2003, the Tehran Declaration was reached between Iran and the EU 3; under this declaration Iran agreed to cooperate fully with the IAEA, sign the Additional Protocol, and temporarily suspend all uranium enrichment.[20][22] In September and October 2003, the IAEA conducted several facility inspections.[20] This was followed by the Paris Agreement in November 2004, in which Iran agreed to temporarily suspend enrichment and conversion activities, “including the manufacture, installation, testing, and operation of centrifuges, and committed to working with the EU-3 to find a mutually beneficial long-term diplomatic solution”.[20]

In August 2005, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, a hard-liner, was elected president of Iran. He accused Iranian negotiators who had negotiated the Paris Accords of treason.[22][23] Over the next two months, the EU 3 agreement fell apart as talks over the EU 3’s proposed Long Term Agreement broke down; the Iranian government “felt that the proposal was heavy on demands, light on incentives, did not incorporate Iran’s proposals, and violated the Paris Agreement”.[20][22] Iran notified the IAEA that it would resume uranium conversion at Esfahan.[20][22]

In February 2006, Iran ended its voluntary implementation of the Additional Protocol and resumed enrichment at Natanz, prompting the IAEA Board of Governors to refer Iran to the UN Security Council.[20][22] After the vote, Iran announced it would resume enrichment of uranium.[22] In April 2006, Ahmadinejad announced that Iran had nuclear technology, but stated that it was purely for power generation and not for producing weapons.[22] In June 2006, the EU 3 joined China, Russia, and the United States, to form the P5+1.[22] The following month, July 2006, the UN Security Council passed its first resolution demanding Iran stop uranium enrichment and processing.[22] Altogether, from 2006 to 2010, the UN Security Council subsequently adopted six resolutions concerning Iran’s nuclear program: 1696 (July 2006), 1737 (December 2006), 1747 (March 2007), 1803 (March 2008), 1835 (September 2008), and 1929 (June 2010).[24] The legal authority for the IAEA Board of Governors referral and the Security Council resolutions was derived from the IAEA Statute and the United Nations Charter.[24] The resolutions demanded that Iran cease enrichment activities and imposed sanctions on Iran, including bans on the transfer of nuclear and missile technology to the country and freezes on the assets of certain Iranian individuals and entities, in order to pressure the country.[20][22] However, in Resolution 1803 and elsewhere the Security Council also acknowledged Iran’s rights under Article IV of the NPT, which provides for “the inalienable right … to develop research, production and use of nuclear energy for peaceful purposes”.[24][b]

In July 2006, Iran opened the Arak heavy water production plant, which led to one of the Security Council resolutions.[20] In September 2009, U.S. President Barack Obama, revealed the existence of an underground enrichment facility in Fordow, near Qom saying, “Iran’s decision to build yet another nuclear facility without notifying the IAEA represents a direct challenge to the basic compact at the center of the non-proliferation regime.”[30] Israel threatened to take military action against Iran.[22]

In a February 2007 interview with the Financial Times, IAEA director general Mohamed ElBaradei said that military action against Iran “would be catastrophic, counterproductive” and called for negotiations between the international community and Iran over the Iranian nuclear program.[31] ElBaradei specifically proposed a “double, simultaneous suspension, a time out” as “a confidence-building measure”, under which the international sanctions would be suspended and Iran would suspend enrichment.[31] ElBaradei also said, “if I look at it from a weapons perspective there are much more important issues to me than the suspension of [enrichment],” naming his top priorities as preventing Iran from “go[ing] to industrial capacity until the issues are settled”; building confidence, with “full inspection” involving Iranian adoption of the Additional Protocol; and “at all costs” preventing Iran from “moving out of the [treaty-based non-proliferation] system”.[31]

A November 2007 U.S. National Intelligence Estimate assessed that Iran “halted its nuclear weapons program” in 2003; that estimate and subsequent U.S. Intelligence Community statements also assessed that the Iranian government at the time had was “keeping open the ‘option’ to develop nuclear weapons” in the future.[32] A July 2015 Congressional Research Service report said, “statements from the U.S. intelligence community indicate that Iran has the technological and industrial capacity to produce nuclear weapons at some point, but the U.S. government assesses that Tehran has not mastered all of the necessary technologies for building a nuclear weapon.”[32]

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerryshakes hands with Iranian Foreign Minister Javad Zarif after the P5+1 and Iran concluded negotiations about Iran’s nuclear capabilities on November 24, 2013

In March 2013, the United States began a series of secret bilateral talks with Iranian officials in Oman, led by William Joseph Burns and Jake Sullivan on the American side and Ali Asghar Khaji on the Iranian side.[22][33] In June 2013, Hassan Rouhani was elected president of Iran.[22][34] Rouhani has been described as “more moderate, pragmatic and willing to negotiate than Ahmadinejad”. However, in a 2006 nuclear negotiation with European powers, Rouhani said that Iran had used the negotiations to dupe the Europeans, saying that during the negotiations, Iran managed to master the conversion of uranium yellowcake at Isfahan. The conversion of yellowcake is an important step in the nuclear fuel process.[35] In August 2013, three days after his inauguration, Rouhani called for a resumption of serious negotiations with the P5+1 on the Iranian nuclear program.[36] In September 2013, Obama and Rouhani had a telephone conversation, the first high-level contact between U.S. and Iranian leaders since 1979, and U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry had a meeting with Iranian foreign minister Mohammad Javad Zarif, signaling that the two countries had an opening to cooperation.[22][36] Former officials alleged that, in order to advance the deal, the Obama administration shielded Hezbollah from the Drug Enforcement Administration‘s Project Cassandrainvestigation regarding drug smuggling and from the Central Intelligence Agency.[37][38] As a result of the Politico report, Attorney General Jeff Sessions ordered an investigation to determine the veracity of the allegations.[39]

After several rounds of negotiations, on 24 November 2013, the Joint Plan of Action, an interim agreement on the Iranian nuclear program, was signed between Iran and the P5+1 countries in Geneva, Switzerland. It consisted of a short-term freeze of portions of Iran’s nuclear program in exchange for decreased economic sanctions on Iran, as the countries work towards a long-term agreement.[40] The IAEA began “more intrusive and frequent inspections” under this interim agreement.[36] The agreement was formally activated on 20 January 2014.[41] On that day, the IAEA issued a report stating that Iran was adhering to the terms of the interim agreement, including stopping enrichment of uranium to 20 percent, beginning the dilution process (to reduce half of the stockpile of 20 percent enriched uranium to 3.5 percent), and halting work on the Arak heavy-water reactor.[36][41]

A major focus on the negotiations was limitations on Iran’s key nuclear facilities: the ArakIR-40heavy water reactor and production plant (which was under construction, but never became operational, as Iran agreed as part of the November 2013 Joint Plan of Action (interim agreement) not to commission or fuel the reactor); the Bushehr Nuclear Power Plant; the Gachin uranium mine; the Fordow Fuel Enrichment Plant; the Isfahan uranium-conversion plant; the Natanz uranium enrichment plant; and the Parchin military research and development complex.[42]

Negotiations

Foreign Ministers from the P5+1 nations, the European Union, and Iran in Vienna, Austria, on November 24, 2014

The agreement between the P5+1+EU and Iran on the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) is the culmination of 20 months of “arduous” negotiations.[43][44]

The agreement followed the Joint Plan of Action (JPA), an interim agreement between the P5+1 powers and Iran that was agreed to on 24 November 2013 at Geneva. The Geneva agreement was an interim deal,[45] in which Iran agreed to roll back parts of its nuclear program in exchange for relief from some sanctions. This went into effect on 20 January 2014.[46] The parties agreed to extend their talks with a first extension deadline on 24 November 2014[47] and a second extension deadline set to 1 July 2015.[48]

An Iran nuclear deal framework was reached on 2 April 2015. Under this framework Iran agreed tentatively to accept restrictions on its nuclear program, all of which would last for at least a decade and some longer, and to submit to an increased intensity of international inspections under a framework deal. These details were to be negotiated by the end of June 2015. The negotiations toward a Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action were extended several times until the final agreement, the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, was finally reached on 14 July 2015.[49][50] The JCPOA is based on the framework agreement from three months earlier.

Subsequently the negotiations between Iran and the P5+1 continued. In April 2015, a framework deal was reached at Lausanne. Intense marathon negotiations then continued, with the last session in Vienna at the Palais Coburglasting for seventeen days.[51] At several points, negotiations appeared to be at risk of breaking down, but negotiators managed to come to agreement.[51] As the negotiators neared a deal, U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry directly asked Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif to confirm that he was “authorized to actually make a deal, not just by the [Iranian] president, but by the supreme leader?”[51] Zarif gave assurances that he was.[51]

Ultimately, on 14 July 2015, all parties agreed to a landmark comprehensive nuclear agreement.[52] At the time of the announcement, shortly before 11:00 GMT, the agreement was released to the public.[53]

The final agreement’s complexity shows the impact of a public letter written by a bipartisan group of 19 U.S. diplomats, experts, and others in June 2015, written when negotiations were still going on.[54][55] That letter outlined concerns about the several provisions in the then-unfinished agreement and called for a number of improvements to strengthen the prospective agreement and win their support for it.[54] After the final agreement was reached, one of the signatories, Robert J. Einhorn, a former U.S. Department of State official now at the Brookings Institution, said of the agreement: “Analysts will be pleasantly surprised. The more things are agreed to, the less opportunity there is for implementation difficulties later on.”[54]

The final agreement is based upon (and buttresses) “the rules-based nonproliferation regime created by the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) and including especially the IAEA safeguards system”.[56]

Souvenir signatures of lead negotiators on the cover page of the JCPOA document. The Persian handwriting on top left side is a homage by Javad Zarif to his counterparts’ efforts in the negotiations: “[I am] Sincere to Mr. Abbas [Araghchi] and Mr. Majid [Takht-Ravanchi].”[57]

Signatories

Summary of provisions

The Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) runs to 109 pages, including five annexes.[44] Major provisions of the final accord include the following:[44][58][59]

Nuclear

JCPOA summary of enrichment-related provisions
(sources: The Economist[60]Belfer Center[61]:29)
Capability Before JCPOA After JCPOA
(for 10-year period)
After 15 years
First-generation
centrifuges installed
19,138 capped at 6,104 Unconstrained
Advanced centrifuges installed 1,008 0 Unconstrained
Centrifuge R&D Unconstrained Constrained Unconstrained
Stockpile of
low-enriched uranium
7,154 kg 300 kg Unconstrained
Stockpile of
medium-enriched uranium
196 kg 0 kg Unconstrained
  • Iran’s current stockpile of low-enriched uranium will be reduced by 98 percent, from 10,000 kg to 300 kg. This reduction will be maintained for fifteen years.[44][62][63][64] For the same fifteen-year period, Iran will be limited to enriching uranium to 3.67%, a percentage sufficient for civilian nuclear power and research, but not for building a nuclear weapon.[62][63][65] However, the number of centrifuges is sufficient for a nuclear weapon, but not for nuclear power.[66] This is a “major decline” in Iran’s previous nuclear activity; prior to watering down its stockpile pursuant to the Joint Plan of Action interim agreement, Iran had enriched uranium to near 20% (medium-enriched uranium).[62][63][64] These enriched uranium in excess of 300 kg of up to 3.67% will be down blended to natural uranium level or be sold in return for natural uranium, and the uranium enriched to between 5% and 20% will be fabricated into fuel plates for the Tehran Research Reactor or sold or diluted to an enrichment level of 3.67%. The implementation of the commercial contracts will be facilitated by P5+1. After fifteen years, all physical limits on enrichment will be removed, including limits on the type and number of centrifuges, Iran’s stockpile of enriched uranium, and where Iran may have enrichment facilities. According to Belfer, at this point Iran could “expand its nuclear program to create more practical overt and covert nuclear weapons options”.[61][67]
  • For ten years, Iran will place over two-thirds of its centrifuges in storage, from its current stockpile of 19,000 centrifuges (of which 10,000 were operational) to no more than 6,104 operational centrifuges, with only 5,060 allowed to enrich uranium,[44][62] with the enrichment capacity being limited to the Natanz plant. The centrifuges there must be IR-1 centrifuges, the first-generation centrifuge type which is Iran’s oldest and least efficient; Iran will give up its advanced IR-2M centrifuges in this period.[42][63][64] The non-operating centrifuges will be stored in Natanz and monitored by IAEA, but may be used to replace failed centrifuges.[68][69] Iran will not build any new uranium-enrichment facilities for fifteen years.[62]
  • Iran may continue research and development work on enrichment, but that work will take place only at the Natanz facility and include certain limitations for the first eight years.[42] This is intended to keep the country to a breakout time of one year.[62]
  • Iran, with cooperation from the “Working Group” (the P5+1 and possibly other countries), will modernise and rebuild the Arak heavy water research reactor based on an agreed design to support its peaceful nuclear research and production needs and purposes, but in such a way to minimise the production of plutonium and not to produce weapons-grade plutonium. The power of the redesigned reactor will not exceed 20 MWth. The P5+1 parties will support and facilitate the timely and safe construction of the Arak complex.[70] All spent fuel will be sent out of the country.[42] All excess heavy water which is beyond Iran’s needs for the redesigned reactor will be made available for export to the international market based on international prices. In exchange, Iran received 130 tons of uranium in 2015 and in late 2016 was approved to receive 130 tons in 2017.[71] For 15 years, Iran will not engage in, or research on, spent fuel reprocessing.[72] Iran will also not build any additional heavy-water reactors or accumulate heavy water for fifteen years.[42]
  • Iran’s Fordow facility will stop enriching uranium and researching uranium enrichment for at least fifteen years; the facility will be converted into a nuclear physics and technology center. For 15 years, Fordow will maintain no more than 1,044 IR-1 centrifuges in six cascades in one wing of Fordow. “Two of those six cascades will spin without uranium and will be transitioned, including through appropriate infrastructure modification,” for stable radioisotope production for medical, agricultural, industrial, and scientific use. “The other four cascades with all associated infrastructure will remain idle.” Iran will not be permitted to have any fissile material in Fordow.[42][62][64]
  • Iran will implement an Additional Protocol agreement which will continue in perpetuity for as long as Iran remains a party to the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT). The signing of the Additional Protocol represents a continuation of the monitoring and verification provisions “long after the comprehensive agreement between the P5+1 and Iran is implemented”.[73]
  • A comprehensive inspections regime will be implemented in order to monitor and confirm that Iran is complying with its obligations and is not diverting any fissile material.[62][63][c]
    • The IAEA will have multilayered[84] oversight “over Iran’s entire nuclear supply chain, from uranium mills to its procurement of nuclear-related technologies“.[85] For declared nuclear sites such as Fordow and Natanz, the IAEA will have “round-the-clock access” to nuclear facilities and will be entitled to maintain continuous monitoring (including via surveillance equipment) at such sites.[85][86] The agreement authorizes the IAEA to make use of sophisticated monitoring technology, such as fiber-optic seals on equipment that can electronically send information to the IAEA; infrared satellite imagery to detect covert sites, “environmental sensors that can detect minute signs of nuclear particles”; tamper-resistant, radiation-resistant cameras.[54][87] Other tools include computerized accounting programs to gather information and detect anomalies, and big data sets on Iranian imports, to monitor dual-use items.[84]
    • The number of IAEA inspectors assigned to Iran will triple, from 50 to 150 inspectors.[54]
    • If IAEA inspectors have concerns that Iran is developing nuclear capabilities at any non-declared sites, they may request access “to verify the absence of undeclared nuclear materials and activities or activities inconsistent with” the agreement, informing Iran of the basis for their concerns.[86] The inspectors would only come from countries with which Iran has diplomatic relations.[88] Iran may admit the inspectors to such site or propose alternatives to inspection that might satisfy the IAEA’s concerns.[86] If such an agreement cannot be reached, a process running to a maximum of 24 days is triggered.[86] Under this process, Iran and the IAEA have 14 days to resolve disagreements among themselves.[86] If they fail to, the Joint Commission (including all eight parties) would have one week in which to consider the intelligence which initiated the IAEA request. A majority of the Commission (at least five of the eight members) could then inform Iran of the action that it would be required to take within three more days.[89][90] The majority rule provision “means the United States and its European allies—Britain, France, Germany and the EU—could insist on access or any other steps and that Iran, Russia or China could not veto them”.[89] If Iran did not comply with the decision within three days, sanctions would be automatically reimposed under the snapback provision (see below).[90]

As a result of the above, the “breakout time”—the time in which it would be possible for Iran to make enough material for a single nuclear weapon—will increase from two to three months to one year, according to U.S. officials and U.S. intelligence.[44][62][91][d] An August 2015 report published by a group of experts at Harvard University‘s Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs concurs in these estimates, writing that under the JCPOA, “over the next decade would be extended to roughly a year, from the current estimated breakout time of 2 to 3 months”.[61] The Center for Arms Control and Non-Proliferation also accepts these estimates.[93][94] By contrast, Alan J. Kuperman, coordinator of the Nuclear Proliferation Prevention Project at the University of Texas at Austin, disputed the one-year assessment, arguing that under the agreement, Iran’s breakout time “would be only about three months, not much longer than it is today”.[95]

The longer breakout time would be in place for at least ten years; after that point, the breakout time would gradually decrease.[44][91] By the fifteenth year, U.S. officials state that the breakout time would return to the pre-JCPOA status quo of a few months.[44][91] The Belfer Center report states: “Some contributors to this report believe that breakout time by year 15 could be comparable to what it is today—a few months—while others believe it could be reduced to a few weeks.”[61]

Exemptions

Reuters reported that exemptions were granted to Iran prior to 16 January 2016. The reported purpose of the exemptions was so that sanctions relief and other benefits could start by that date, instead of Iran being in violation. The exemptions included: (a) Iran able to exceed the 300 Kg of 3.5% LEU limit in the agreement; (b) Iran able to exceed the zero Kg of 20% LEU limit in the agreement; (c) Iran to keep operating 19 “hot cells” that exceed the size limit in the agreement; (d) Iran to maintain control of 50 tonnes of heavy water that exceed the 130 tonne limit in the agreement by storing the excess at an Iran-controlled facility in Oman.[96] In December 2016, the IAEA published decisions of the Joint Commission that spell out these clarifications of the JCPOA.[97]

Sanctions

The following provisions regarding sanctions are written into the JCPOA:

  • Following the issuance of a IAEA report verifying implementation by Iran of the nuclear-related measures, the UN sanctions against Iran and some EU sanctions will terminate and some will be suspended. Once sanctions are lifted, Iran will recover approximately $100 billion of its assets (U.S. Treasury Department estimate) frozen in overseas banks.[98]
    • Eight years into the agreement, EU sanctions against a number of Iranian companies, individuals and institutions (such as the Revolutionary Guards) will be lifted.[99]
  • The United States will “cease” application of its nuclear-related secondary sanctions[100] by presidential action or executive waiver.[101]Secondary sanctions are those that sanction other countries for doing business with Iran. Primary U.S. sanctions, which prohibit U.S. firms from conducting commercial transactions with few exceptions, are not altered by the JCPOA.[102]
    • This step is not tied to any specific date, but is expected to occur “roughly in the first half of 2016”.[100][103][104]
    • Sanctions relating to ballistic missile technologies would remain for eight years; similar sanctions on conventional weapon sales to Iran would remain for five years.[44][105]
    • However, all U.S. sanctions against Iran related to alleged human rights abuses, missiles, and support for terrorism are not affected by the agreement and will remain in place.[64][106] U.S. sanctions are viewed as more stringent, since many have extraterritorial effect (i.e., they apply worldwide). EU sanctions, by contrast, apply only in Europe.[99]
  • No new UN or EU nuclear-related sanctions or restrictive measures will be imposed.[107]
  • If Iran violates the agreement, any of the P5+1 can invoke a “snap back” provision, under which the sanctions “snap back” into place (i.e., are reimplemented).[62][63][107]
    • Specifically, the JCPOA establishes the following dispute resolution process: if a party to the JCPOA has reason to believe that another party is not upholding its commitments under the agreement, then the complaining party may refer its complaint to the Joint Commission, a body created under the JCPOA to monitor implementation.[64][108] If a complaint made by a non-Iran party is not resolved to the satisfaction of the complaining party within thirty-five days of referral, then that party could treat the unresolved issue as grounds to cease performing its commitments under the JCPOA, notify the United Nations Security Council that it believes the issue constitutes significant non-performance, or both.[108] The Security Council would then have thirty days to adopt a resolution to continue the lifting of sanctions. If such a resolution is not adopted within those thirty days, then the sanctions of all of the pre-JCPOA nuclear-related UN Security Council resolutions would automatically be re-imposed. Iran has stated that in such a case, it would cease performing its nuclear obligations under the deal.[53][108] The effect of this rule is that any permanent member of the Security Council (United States, United Kingdom, China, Russia and France) can veto any ongoing sanctions relief, but no member can veto the re-imposition of sanctions.
    • Snapback sanctions “would not apply with retroactive effect to contracts signed between any party and Iran or Iranian individuals and entities prior to the date of application, provided that the activities contemplated under and execution of such contracts are consistent with this JCPOA and the previous and current UN Security Council resolutions”.[68]

Ankit Panda of The Diplomat states that this will make impossible any scenario where Iran is non-compliant with the JCPOA yet escapes re-imposition of sanctions.[108] Mark Dubowitz of the Foundation for Defense of Democracies (which opposes the agreement) argues, however, that because the JCPOA provides that Iran could treat reinstatement of sanctions (in part or entirely) as grounds for leaving the agreement, the United States would be reluctant to impose a “snapback” for smaller violations: “The only thing you’ll take to the Security Council are massive Iranian violations, because you’re certainly not going to risk the Iranians walking away from the deal and engaging in nuclear escalation over smaller violations.”[109]

Records

According to several commentators, JCPOA is the first of its kind in the annals of non-proliferation and is in many aspects unique.[110][111][112][113][114] The 159-page JCPOA document and its five appendices, is the most spacious text of a multinational treaty since World War II, according to BBC Persian.[115]

This is the first time that the United Nations Security Council has recognized the nuclear enrichment program of a developing country[115][116] and backs an agreement signed by several countries within the framework of a resolution (United Nations Security Council Resolution 2231).[115][117] For the first time in the history of the United Nations, a country—Iran—was able to abolish 6 UN resolutions against it—169617371747180318351929—without even one day of implementing them.[115]Sanctions against Iran was also lifted for the first time.[115]

Throughout the history of international law, this is the first and only time that a country subject to Chapter VII of the United Nations Charter has managed to end its case and stop being subject to this chapter through diplomacy.[115][118][119] All other cases have ended through either regime changewar or full implementation of the Security Council’s decisions by the country.[120]

Gary Sick states that during the history of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT), no country other than Iran has ever voluntarily agreed to put such extraordinary restrictions on its nuclear activities.[121]

During the final negotiations, U.S. Secretary of StateJohn Kerry stayed in Vienna for 17 days, making him the top American official devoting time to a single international negotiation in more than four decades.[122]Mohammad Javad Zarif broke the record of an Iranian Foreign Minister being far from home with 18-days stay in Vienna,[115] and set the record of 106 days of negotiations in 687 days, a number higher than any other chief nuclear negotiator in 12 years.[123] The negotiations became the longest continuous negotiations with the presence of all foreign ministers of the permanent members of the United Nations Security Council.[115]

Pictured here, Iranian Minister of Foreign AffairsMohammad Javad Zarif and U.S. Secretary of StateJohn Kerry shaking hands at the end of negotiations on 14 July 2015, Vienna. They shook hands on 26 September 2013 in the United Nations Headquartersfor the first time.[124]

The negotiations included ‘rare events’ in Iran–United States relations not only since the 1979 Iranian Revolution, but also in the history of the bilateral relations. The U.S. Secretary of State and Iranian Foreign Minister met on 18 different dates—sometimes multiple occasions a day—and in 11 different cities, unprecedented since the beginning of the relations.[125] On 27 April 2015, John Kerry visited the official residence of the Permanent Representative of Iran to the United Nations to meet his counterpart. The encounter was the first of its kind since the Iran hostage crisis.[125][126] On the sidelines of the 70th session of the United Nations General AssemblyU.S. PresidentBarack Obama shook hands with the Iranian foreign minister Javad Zarif, marking the first such event in history. The event was also noted in form of diplomatic ranks, as a head of state shook hands with a minister.[127] Obama is reported to have said in the meeting: “Too much effort has been put into the JCPOA and we all should be diligent to implement it.”[128]

Reactions

Political and diplomatic reactions

There was a significant worldwide response following the announcement of the agreement; more than 90 countries endorsed the agreement,[129] as did many international organizations.

From countries that are parties to the JCPOA

  •  China
    • Foreign MinisterWang Yi said, “the most important achievement of the comprehensive agreement is that the international nuclear non-proliferation system is safeguarded. It can be said that China had played a unique and constructive role and thus is highly praised and affirmed by all parties. In the next step, there are still many matters to be attended to concerning the implementation of the agreement. China will continuously make new contribution [sic] to this end with a responsible attitude.”[130]
  •  European Union
  •  France
    • In a Bastille Day speech, PresidentFrancois Hollande praised the deal and called upon Iran to “show that it is ready to help us end” the Syrian civil war.[133] French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius told Le Monde that the pact was a “robust agreement” that would last at least a decade.[134] Both Hollande and Fabius pledged that France would be “extremely vigilant” in the implementation of the agreement.[133][134]
    • Fabius visited Iran on 29 July, telling reporters in Tehran, “this deal allows the relations between our countries to develop and allows us to renew cooperation.” His visit was controversial in Iran and met with public anger for several reasons.[135][136]
  •  Germany
    • ChancellorAngela Merkel said that the agreement was “an important success” of international diplomacy.[137]
    • Vice Chancellor and Economy Minister Sigmar Gabriel said that the agreement was a “historic breakthrough”.[138] In mid-July 2015, Gabriel, along with a delegation of German industry and science representatives, completed a three-day visit to Iran focused on bolstering German-Iranian trade.[138] Gabriel said there was “great interest on the part of German industry in normalizing and strengthening economic relations with Iran”.[138]
  •  Iran
    • Iranian Supreme Leader Khamenei who initially issued a letter of guidelines to President Rouhani, ordering him on how to proceed with the deal,[139][140] threatened to ‘set fire’ to nuclear deal if West violates.[141]PresidentHassan Rouhani said the final agreement proved that “constructive engagement works” and presented the deal as a step on the road towards a wider goal of international cooperation: “With this unnecessary crisis resolved, new horizons emerge with a focus on shared challenges.”[131]
    • Minister of Foreign AffairsMohammad Javad Zarif called it an “historic moment” and said: “Today could have been the end of hope on this issue, but now we are starting a new chapter of hope. Let’s build on that.”[142]
    • In a 21 July speech to the Iranian Parliament, Zarif said that the agreement was a defeat for Israel, saying, “Never before was the Zionist regime so isolated, even among her own allies.”[143] On 12 August, after a meeting with Hizbullah leader Hassan Nasrallah, Zarif said that the agreement “created a historic opportunity to [sic] for regional cooperation to fight extremism and face threats posed by the Zionist entity”.[144]
    • Many Iranian families and youth celebrated at Vanak Square and elsewhere on the streets of Tehran on the evening of the agreement’s announcements.[145] Some held signs calling for the release of Iranian opposition leaders Mir Hussein Moussavi and Mehdi Karroubi from house arrest.[145] Other ordinary Iranians cheered the announcement on social media.[145]
    • On 16 July 2015, two days after the agreement was signed, Iran’s supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, made his first public comments on the final agreement in a letter to President Hassan Rouhani posted on Khamenei’s website.[146] Khamenei wrote, “bringing the negotiations to a conclusion was a milestone” but, “the prepared text, however, needs careful scrutiny”.[146] Iranian hard-liners took the letter as a signal of openness to criticize the deal.[146][147] In a speech in Tehran marking the end of Ramadan made two days later, Khamenei said, “Our policies toward the arrogant government of the United States will not be changed at all,”[148] adding, “the Americans say they stopped Iran from acquiring a nuclear weapon … They know it’s not true. We had a fatwa, declaring nuclear weapons to be religiously forbidden under Islamic law. It had nothing to do with the nuclear talks.”[149] However, Khamenei also praised the negotiators who arranged the deal, which was taken as a symbol that he would not seek to block the deal in the Iranian parliament or the Supreme National Security Council.[148] Khamenei also expressed support for the agreement, saying: “After 12 years of struggling with the Islamic republic, the result is that they [the P5+1 nations] have to bear the turning of thousands of centrifuges in the country.”[150] Khamenei is believed to have approved the negotiations and the agreement, giving Rouhani crucial political cover to do so.[151]
    • The New York Times reported, “Iran’s influential hard-liners, who have criticized Mr. Rouhani in much the same way that President Obama has been denounced by Republicans in the United States, signaled their intent to undercut the agreement,” which they believe to be too favorable to the West.[145] Foad Izadi, a professor at the University of Tehran, complained that of the 19 Iranian “major red lines” identified by the supreme leader during negotiations, “18 and a half have been crossed.”[147] Conservative lawmaker Alireza Zakani said “celebrating too early can send a bad signal to the enemy.”[131]
    • Iran’s official Islamic Republic News Agency stressed that under the agreement “world powers have recognized Iran’s peaceful nuclear program and are to respect the nuclear rights of (Iran) within international conventions.”[152] The IRNA report also said, “The policy on preventing enrichment uranium is now failed” and stressed, “no Iranian nuclear facilities or centrifuges will be dismantled.”[152]
  •  Russian Federation
  •  United Kingdom
    • Prime Minister David Cameron applauded the agreement, saying that it would help “make our world a safer place” and that Iran now had a “real opportunity” to benefit economically.[137]
    • Foreign SecretaryPhilip Hammond criticized the Israeli government’s position on the JCPOA, saying in the House of Commons, “no agreement with Iran would have been enough for Netanyahu” and “Israel prefers a permanent state of standoff” with Iran.[155][156]At a joint press conference the next day in Jerusalem, Hammond and Netanyahu “sparred publicly” over the agreement, “veering off prepared comments … in an awkward back-and-forth that extended what is usually a standard, brief public appearance with visiting officials into a spirited debate”.[156]
  •  United States
    • President Barack Obama addressed the nation in a 7 a.m. televised address from the White House, with Vice President Joe Biden at his side.[157][158] Obama stated that the agreement “meets every single one of the bottom lines we established when we achieved a framework earlier this spring. Every pathway to a nuclear weapon is cut off. And the inspection and transparency regime necessary to verify that objective will be put in place.”[158] The president emphasized that the agreement is “not built on trust—it is built on verification”.[44][158] Obama vowed to veto any congressional action that would block the agreement’s implementation, saying: “I am confident that this deal will meet the national security needs of the United States and our allies, so I will veto any legislation that prevents the successful implementation of this deal. We do not have to accept an inevitable spiral into conflict, and we certainly shouldn’t seek it.”[158] Obama stated: “I welcome scrutiny of the details of this agreement” and added, “This is not the time for politics or posturing. Tough talk from Washington does not solve problems. Hard-nosed diplomacy, leadership that has united the world’s major powers, offers a more effective way to verify that Iran is not pursuing a nuclear weapon.”[158]
    • At a press briefing in Vienna, Secretary of State John Kerry said that the agreement was “a measureable step away from the prospect of nuclear proliferation” and “the specter of conflict” and “there can be no question that this agreement will provide a stronger, more comprehensive, and more lasting means of limiting Iran’s nuclear program than any realistic alternative.”[65] Kerry also stated, “The deal we have reached … gives us the greatest assurance that we have had that Iran will not pursue a weapon covertly.”[65]Addressing critics of the agreement, Kerry stated, “those who spend a lot of time suggesting that something could be better have an obligation to provide an alternative that, in fact, works” and “sanctioning Iran until it capitulates makes for a powerful talking point and a pretty good political speech, but it’s not achievable outside a world of fantasy.”[65] Kerry also stated, “we are under no illusions that the hard work is over. No one is standing here today to say that the path ahead is easy or automatic. We move now to a new phase—a phase that is equally critical and may prove to be just as difficult—and that is implementation.”[65]
    • Republicans lined up against the deal.[131] The candidates for the Republican nomination for president in 2016 uniformly condemned the deal; for example, Jeb Bush called the agreement “dangerous, deeply flawed, and short sighted” while Lindsey Grahamasserted that the deal was a “death sentence for the state of Israel”.[159][160][161] Former Obama advisor Daniel Pfeiffer tweeted, “none of these GOP contenders would end this Iran Deal if they got to the White House,” and that it would “massively damage US in the world”.[154]
    • Candidates for the Democratic nomination for president in 2016 welcomed the deal. Former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton called the agreement an “important step that puts the lid on Iran’s nuclear programs”; Senator Bernie Sanders called it “a victory for diplomacy over saber-rattling” that “could keep the United States from being drawn into another never-ending war in the Middle East”.[161]
    • Speaker of the HouseJohn Boehner, a Republican, called the JCPOA a “bad deal”.[162]
    • House Minority LeaderNancy Pelosi, a Democrat, said “I’ve closely examined this document. And it will have my strong support.”[163] Pelosi said that the agreement was “the product of years of tough, bold, clear-eyed leadership on the part of President Obama” and called it “a strong, effective option, for keeping the peace and stopping the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction”.[163]
    • Senate Majority LeaderMitch McConnell, a Republican, opposed the agreement, saying “The comprehensive nuclear agreement announced today appears to further the flawed elements of April’s interim agreement because the Obama Administration approached these talks from a flawed perspective: reaching the best deal acceptable to Iran, rather than actually advancing our national goal of ending Iran’s nuclear program.”[164]
    • Senate Minority LeaderHarry Reid, a Democrat, issued a brief statement on 14 July saying that the agreement was the result of years of hard work and, “now it is incumbent on Congress to review this agreement with the thoughtful, level-headed process an agreement of this magnitude deserves.”[165] On 23 August, Reid endorsed the agreement, saying that the agreement “is the best path to stop Iran from obtaining a nuclear weapon” and that he would “do everything in my power to ensure that it stands”.[166]
    • Senate Armed Services Committee Chairman John McCain, a Republican, pledged to hold hearings on the deal during the sixty-day congressional review period and said that he is “totally opposed to” the agreement.[167]Senate Foreign Relations Committeechairman Bob Corker, another Republican, also opposed the deal, saying that he believed that the West had conceded too much.[168]
    • The New York Times editorial board wrote that the agreement “is potentially one of the most consequential accords in recent diplomatic history, with the ability not just to keep Iran from obtaining a nuclear weapon but also to reshape Middle East politics”. They wrote: “It would be irresponsible to squander this chance to rein in Iran’s nuclear program.”[169]
    • On May 8, 2018, President Donald Trump called the agreement “a horrible one-sided deal that should have never, ever been made”[170] and announced the United States of America would withdraw from the agreement.[171]

From other countries

  •  Holy See
    • The Vatican applauded the deal, saying in a statement: “The agreement on the Iranian nuclear program is viewed in a positive light by the Holy See.”[172]
  •  Israel
    • Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said: “Israel is not bound by this deal with Iran, because Iran continues to seek our destruction, we will always defend ourselves.”[173] Netanyahu called the deal a “capitulation” and “a bad mistake of historic proportions”.[174]Deputy Foreign Minister Tzipi Hotovely called the deal an “historic surrender” and said that Israel would “act with all means to try and stop the agreement being ratified”—indicating that it would try to use its influence to block the agreement in the U.S. Congress,[131]Naftali Bennett, leader of the Bayit Yehudi party (which is a member of the government coalition), said: “The history books have been rewritten again today, and this period will be deemed particularly grave and dangerous.”[174]
    • Most Israelis were similarly critical of the agreement.[175] Netanyahu’s leading political opponent, Zionist Union leader Isaac Herzog, opposed the deal, stating that it “will unleash a lion from the cage” and make Iran “a nuclear-threshold state in a decade or so”;[176]another Zionist Union member of the KnessetShelly Yachimovich, called the JCPOA a “dangerous, damaging agreement”[174]Yair Lapid, head of the opposition Yesh Atid party, called the agreement “Israel’s biggest foreign policy failure since the establishment of the state”.[177] At the same time, many of these figures also criticized Netanyahu’s diplomatic campaign against the plan, calling it ineffectual and counter-productive. Yachimovich said that Netanyahu should “immediately cease and desist from confronting the Americans”.[174] Lapid called on the prime minister to resign,[174] stating: “I also am not thrilled by Obama’s policies. But Netanyahu crossed a line that caused the White House to stop listening to Israel. In the last year we weren’t even in the arena, we had no representative in Vienna, our intelligence cooperation was harmed, and the door to the White House was closed to us.”[174]
    • The head of the opposition Yisrael Beiteinu party, Avigdor Lieberman, described the agreement as a “surrender to terror”.[174]
    • Zehava Gal-On, head of the opposition Meretz party, voiced cautious support for the JCPOA, writing, “The agreement is not perfect, it does not turn Iran into lovers of Israel all of the sudden, but it does aim to prevent Iran from obtaining a bomb, regulate the international mechanisms to monitoring it and allows the international community to act if the agreement is violated.”[178]
    • The Joint (Arab) List party of Arab Israeli MKs welcomed the agreement.[178]
    • Ami Ayalon, former head of the Israeli internal security service Shin Bet and former commander of the Israeli Navy, said that the agreement was “the best option” for Israel, saying, “When negotiations began, Iran was two months away from acquiring enough material for a [nuclear] bomb. Now it will be 12 months.”[179] Ayalon said that opposition to the deal in Israel was “more emotional than logical”.[179][180]Efraim Halevy, the director of the Israeli intelligence agency Mossad from 1998 to 2002, wrote in support of the agreement in Yedioth Ahronoth, arguing that the JCPOA includes “components that are crucial for Israel’s security” and warning that a collapse of the agreement will leave Iran “free to do as it pleases”.[180] Chuck Freilich, a former deputy national security adviser in Israel and current senior fellow at Harvard University’s Belfer Center, wrote an op-ed for The New York Times arguing that the JCPOA is “a good deal for Israel” and that by avoiding the threat of a nuclear Iran, the agreement “will enable Israel to divert precious resources to more immediate threats” and to pressing domestic needs.[181]
  •  Italy
    • Prime Minister Matteo Renzi said: “The agreement sows new hope for a regional peace project. Italy will actively support this process, and will ensure that it can benefit all countries of the region, without exception, with the aim of reaching a Middle East finally stable, where all peoples can live in peace and security.”[182]
  •  Kazakhstan
    • Kazakhstan’s President Nursultan Nazarbayev welcomed the progress in the implementation of the Joint Comprehensive Action Plan on the regulation of the situation around Iran’s nuclear programme.[183]
    • President Nazarbayev said, “… in 2013 Almaty hosted two rounds of talks on Iran’s nuclear program, which contributed to the resumption of negotiations between “P5+1″ and Iran. We are proud that the results of those two rounds of talks in Almaty have served as foundation for JCPOA adopted two years later.”[183]
  • Arab states of the Persian Gulf
    •  Kuwait: Sabah bin Ahmad Al-Sabah, the emir of Kuwait, congratulated all the nations involved in the negotiations and hoped the deal would lead to stability in the region.[184]
    •  Oman: Oman welcomed the agreement.[185] Oman and its leader, Sultan Qaboos bin Said al Said, were praised for its key role in the talks by diplomats and leaders from both Iran and the P5+1.[185] Oman has good relations with both Iran and the United States and played a key role in the beginning of the talks; Oman offered to establish a back channel between Iran and the United States in 2009, and the first secret talks were held between U.S. and Iranian diplomats in July 2012 in Muscat.[186][187]
    •  Qatar: The government welcomed the agreement as a “significant step” toward enhancing regional peace and stability.[188]
    •  Saudi Arabia: On 14 July, the official Saudi Press Agency released a statement attributed to an “official source” saying, “The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia has always believed in the importance of reaching a deal regarding Iran’s nuclear program that ensures preventing Iran from obtaining nuclear weapons and at the same time includes a specific, strict and permanent mechanism for inspecting all sites—including military ones—along with a mechanism for rapidly and effectively re-imposing sanctions in case Iran violates the deal.”[189] U.S. Secretary of Defense Ashton B. Carter said that Saudi Arabia approved of the international agreement, despite the fact that “the Saudis, along with other Sunni Arab countries in the Persian Gulf, view the predominantly Shiite Iran as a regional adversary.”[190] The Saudis have undertaken a military campaign in Yemen against Iranian-backed Houthi insurgents there.[190]
  • Elsewhere in the Muslim world
    •  Afghanistan: Afghan presidentMohammad Ashraf Ghani congratulated “the government and people of Islamic Republic of Iran on the occasion and reiterates that the government of Afghanistan welcomes any efforts that result in expansion of political and economic relations between states as well as consolidation and strengthening of peace and stability in the region.”[191]
    •  Egypt: The Egyptian foreign ministry said the deal will prevent an arms race in the Middle East. The statement expressed hopes that the Middle East can be free of all weapons of mass destruction, including nuclear weapons.[192]
    •  Iraq: The Iraqi government applauded the agreement.[184]
    •  Pakistan: The Ministry of Foreign Affairs “welcomed” the agreement, saying, “reciprocal confidence-building measures … auger well for peace and security in our region.”[193] Former President Asif Ali Zardari welcomed the deal as “a triumph of diplomacy and negotiations over coercion and hostility” and called upon the government to push forward with plans for construction of an Iran–Pakistan gas pipeline.[194]
    •  Syria: President Bashar al-Assad, an Iranian ally, called the agreement as “a great victory” and wrote in a letter to Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, the Iranian supreme leader, that the agreement would be a “major turning point in the history of Iran, the region and the world”.[195]
    •  Turkey: The Ministry of Foreign Affairs welcomed the agreement in a statement saying that its implementation would contribute to regional peace, security and stability.[196] Observers noted that although Turkey would benefit economically from the lifting of sanctions in the future, Turkish officials seemed to be “uneasy” of the potential for Iran to reemerge as a regional power that might overshadow Turkey.[197]
  • Other countries
    •  Australia: Minister for Foreign AffairsJulie Bishop endorsed the agreement, saying: “What it has done is [bring] Iran into the international regime of inspections of nuclear programs, and that is a good thing. I think we have to give this comprehensive plan a chance.”[198]
    •  Canada: Foreign MinisterRob Nicholson stated at the time of the announcement: “We appreciate the efforts of the P5+1 to reach an agreement. At the same time, we will continue to judge Iran by its actions not its words. To this end, Canada will continue to support the efforts of the International Atomic Energy Agency to monitor Iran’s compliance with its commitments.”[199] The Globe and Mail reported at the time that Canada would keep its sanctions in place, at least initially, although Canada’s own sanctions will have little impact on the Iranian economy.[200] While the Canadian government under Prime Minister Stephen Harper was opposed to the agreement, the new Canadian government under Prime Minister Justin Trudeau supported it, and in February 2016, following the implementation of the agreement, Canada lifted most of its sanctions on Iran.[201]
    •  Colombia: PresidentJuan Manuel Santos applauded the agreement as “another triumph of diplomacy over confrontation” and praised President Obama and Secretary of State Kerry for their “courage” in securing the deal.[202]
    •  India: The Indian embassy in Tehran stated, “India welcomes the announcement of lifting of nuclear-related sanctions against Iran. The milestone represents a significant success for patient diplomacy and signals a new chapter of peace and prosperity. India looks forward to further developing its longstanding, close, and mutually beneficial economic cooperation with Iran, including in the spheres of energy and regional connectivity.”[203]
    •  North Korea: The Foreign Ministry said that North Korea had no interest in a nuclear disarmament agreement, saying: “We do not have any interest at all on dialogue for unilaterally freezing or giving up our nukes.”[204]
    •  Norway: In a statement, Foreign MinisterBørge Brende said: “This historic agreement will benefit the international community, the Middle East and Iran. It will also pave the way for closer political and economic contact with Iran.”[205]
    •  Philippines: The Department of Foreign Affairs welcomed the agreement, saying that it was an important measure to promote both regional and global security. They also called on the international community to maintain the positive momentum for long-term peace created by the agreement.[206]

From international organizations

  •  United Nations
    • Secretary-General of the United NationsBan Ki-moon issued a statement saying: “I warmly welcome the historic agreement in Vienna today and congratulate the P5+1 and Iran for reaching this agreement. This is testament to the value of dialogue…. The United Nations stands ready to fully cooperate with the parties in the process of implementing this historic and important agreement.”[207][208]
    • International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) – Director General Yukiya Amano welcomed the agreement and congratulated Iran, the P5+1 countries and the European Union and said he is confident that IAEA is capable of doing the necessary monitoring and verification activities when requested.[209]
  • Other international organizations and figures
    •  NATO Secretary GeneralJens Stoltenberg called the agreement a “historic breakthrough” and stated: “It is critical for Iran to implement the provisions of today’s agreement and to fulfill all its international obligations and advance security in the region and beyond.”[210]
    •  Arab League Secretary-GeneralNabil Elaraby said he hoped the JCPOA would bring “stability and security” to the Middle East.[211]
    •  Gulf Cooperation Council – The Gulf Cooperation Council publicly announced backing for the agreement at a 2 August 2015 summit in DohaQatar.[212]Khalid al-Attiyah, the foreign minister of Qatar (which currently chairs the GCC) said at a news conference with U.S. Secretary of State Kerry following the summit, “This was the best option amongst other options in order to try to come up with a solution for the nuclear weapons of Iran though dialogue, and this came up as a result of the efforts exerted by the United States of America and its allies. [Secretary Kerry] let us know that there’s going to be a kind of live oversight for Iran not to gain or to get any nuclear weapons. This is reassuring to the region.”[212]
    • Association of Southeast Asian Nations – On 6 August 2015, following the 5th East Asia Summit Foreign Ministers’ Meeting, the foreign ministers of the 10 ASEAN nations, along with the foreign ministers of India, Japan, New Zealand and South Korea, endorsed the deal, welcoming it as an “important resolution” to a pressing global concern.[213][214] Shortly before the joint ASEAN statement was released, U.S. Secretary of State Kerry met Japanese Foreign Minister Fumio Kishida in Kuala Lumpur to mark the 70th anniversary of the atomic bombing of Hiroshima.[213]
    • Mohamed ElBaradei, former director general of the International Atomic Energy Agency, hailed the agreement as a triumph of diplomacy.[154]
    • The International Crisis Group called the deal “a triumph of nuclear diplomacy” and urged both the United States Congress and Iranian Majlis to approve it.[215]

Expert reactions

Following the unveiling of the agreement, “a general consensus quickly emerged” among nuclear experts and watchdogs that the agreement “is as close to a best-case situation as reality would allow”.[216] In August 2015, 75 arms control and nuclear nonproliferation experts signed a statement endorsing the deal as “a net-plus for international nuclear nonproliferation efforts” that exceeds the historical standards for arms control agreements.[217] The Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists invited top international security experts to comment on the final agreement.[218]

  • Jeffrey Lewis, arms control expert and director of the East Asia Nonproliferation Program at the Monterey Institute of International Studies, reviewed the final agreement and gave it a positive assessment, saying that he would give it an “A” grade.[219] While Lewis was skeptical about the chances of a workable deal emerging in 2014, during the negotiations, Lewis said that the final agreement was “a good deal because it slows down [the Iranian] nuclear program … And it puts monitoring and verification measures in place that mean if they try to build a bomb, we’re very likely to find out, and to do so with enough time that we have options to do something about it. There’s a verifiable gap between their bomb option and an actual bomb. That’s why it’s a good deal.”[219] Lewis said that the final agreement was very similar to the April 2015 framework agreement.[219] Lewis does not believe that the agreement will fundamentally alter the U.S.-Iranian relationship, seeing the agreement instead as “a really straightforward measure to slow down an enrichment program that was going gangbusters”.[219]
  • Lawrence Korb and Katherine Blakeley, senior fellow and policy analyst, respectively, at the Center for American Progress, wrote that the agreement was “one of the most comprehensive and detailed nuclear arms agreements ever reached”.[218] Korb and Blakeley wrote, “a good look at the three main legs of the agreement shows that this deal is, in fact, a good one, for the United States and for the international community.”[218] Korb and Blakey said that the agreement “precludes Iranian development of a nuclear weapon by shutting down all of the pathways Iran might use to accumulate enough nuclear material to make a weapon” and praised components of the agreement which keep Iran subject to the constraints of the Nuclear Non-proliferation Treaty, provides for robust IAEA monitoring and verification, and links the phased lifting of nuclear-related sanctions to IAEA verification of Iranian compliance.[218]
  • Frank von Hippel, senior research physicist and professor of public and international affairs emeritus at the Program on Science and Global Security at Princeton University, wrote, “The July 14 agreement is a political miracle” in which “Iran has agreed to back away from the nuclear-weapon threshold in exchange for a lifting of nuclear-related sanctions.”[218] Von Hippel wrote, “The Obama administration argues—and I agree—that the ratcheting back of Iran’s enrichment capacity will give the world a much longer warning time should Iran attempt to build a bomb.”[218] Von Hippel suggested that once the first ten years of the agreement were complete, “One option that should be explored is multinational ownership and management of Iran’s enrichment complex by a group of countries—perhaps including the United States.”[218]
  • Frederick H. Fleitz, former CIA nonproliferation analyst and currently of the Center for Security Policy, wrote, “The provisions of this agreement… contains minor concessions by Iran but huge concessions by the United States that will Iran to continue its nuclear program with weak verification provisions. Conditions for sanctions relief will be very easy for Iran to meet. Iran will not only continue to enrich uranium under the agreement, it will continue to develop advanced centrifuges that will reduce the timeline to an Iranian nuclear bomb.”[220]
  • William H. Tobey, senior fellow at Harvard University’s Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs, was critical of the agreement, writing that given Iranian hostility to the United States and Israel, the agreement provides little “more than a speed bump on the path to Iran’s nuclear ambition”.[218] Tobey wrote that that “speed bump” is not “a good trade for at least $150 billion in sanctions relief”.[218]
  • Kingston Reif, director for disarmament and threat reduction policy at the Center for Arms Control and Non-Proliferation, said that although the JCPOA is “not perfect”, it “will be a net plus for nonproliferation and will enhance U.S. and regional security”.[218] Reif wrote that it was “clear that Tehran had to retreat from many of its initial demands, including in the areas of the scale of uranium enrichment it needed, the intrusiveness of inspections it would tolerate, and the pace of sanctions relief it would demand”.[218] Reif also wrote that the JCPOA “will keep Iran further away from the ability to make nuclear weapons for far longer than the alternative of additional sanctions or a military strike possibly could”, and as a result, the threat of regional proliferation throughout the Middle East was diminished.[218] Reif added: “A perfect deal was not attainable. Overall, it’s a very strong and good deal, but it wasn’t negotiations that resulted in a score of 100-0 for the [United States]. That’s not how international negotiations go…. The monitoring and verification regime in this deal is the most comprehensive and intrusive regime that has ever been negotiated.”[216]
  • Siegfried S. Hecker of the Center for International Security and Cooperation at Stanford University wrote, “the Iran nuclear deal was hard-won and is better than any other reasonably achievable alternative.”[218] Hecker wrote, “Iran agreed to considerably greater restrictions on its program than what I thought was possible.”[218] Hecker’s view is that it is “imperative that the international community develops a credible and decisive response in the event of an Iranian violation of the agreement”.[218] He noted, “this agreement was one of the most technically informed diplomatic negotiations I have seen,” with both sides advised by “world-class nuclear scientists”: U.S. Secretary of State Kerry by U.S. Secretary of Energy Moniz, and Iranian Foreign Minister Zarif by Atomic Energy Organization of Iran chief Ali-Akbar Salehi.[218]
  • Zia Mian of the Program on Science & Global Security at Princeton University wrote that the JCPOA offers three “important lessons for those wanting to make progress towards nuclear disarmament and a more peaceful world”.[218] The first lesson was, “nuclear diplomacy can work. But it requires hard political work of many kinds”; Mian praised both the “creative technical and policy analysis work from within and outside governments to create options for negotiators to find common ground” as well as “the patient grassroots work to engage and mobilize public constituencies that brought to power leaders in the United States and in Iran willing to engage with each other and to take risks for a more peaceful relationship between their countries”.[218] The second lesson was, “International nuclear politics is bound to domestic politics, for good and ill. The Iran agreement has come despite determined hostility from conservatives within the United States, Israel, Saudi Arabia, the Gulf states, and Iran. Seeing the world as a hierarchy shaped by power and fear, and locked in rigid, exclusivist national or religious identities, they press for advantage and privilege or to maintain the status quo. Sharing a propensity for mistrust, coercion, and violence, they would risk war with those they see as enemies rather than try dialogue and possible agreement on a peaceful future based on the ideals of equity and respect for others. These opponents will derail the Iran deal if they can.”[218] The third lesson is, “nuclear disarmament issues do not exist in isolation”; Mian called for more foreign minister-level talks in the Middle East, rather than expanded U.S. military assistance in the region.[218]
  • Ernest MonizU.S. Secretary of Energy and a nuclear physicist and former professor at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology who was a key member of the U.S. negotiating team, stated that the JCPOA helps put Iran further from a nuclear weapon not only in the first fifteen years, with “lots of very, very explicit constraints on the program that roll back current activities”, but also beyond that period, because the agreement commits Iran to join the Additional Protocol.[221][222] Former IAEA Deputy Director Olli Heinonen and former Iraq weapons inspector David Albright expressed concerns with the length of a review process for inspecting undeclared facilities, stating that a delay up to a maximum of 24 days was too long.[223] Heinonen said, “it is clear that a facility of sizable scale cannot simply be erased in three weeks’ time without leaving traces,” but said there was a risk that the Iranians could hide small-scale work, such as creating uranium components of a nuclear weapon, particularly because they have experience with cheating.[223] Albright said that activities on “a small scale”, such as experiments with high explosives or a small plant to make centrifuges operation could possibly be cleared out in 24 days.[223] Former U.S. State Department official Robert J. Einhorn, who took part in P5+1 nuclear talks with Iran from 2009 to 2013, said, “a limit shorter than 24 days would have been desirable,” but “it is probably the case that the greater the significance of a covert activity, the more difficult it will be to remove evidence of it in 24 days.”[223] U.S. Energy Department officials said that if the Iranians attempted to conduct centrifuge test, uranium conversion, or other activities, contamination would be generated that is very difficult to conceal.[223]
  • At a September 2015 panel discussion at the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) with Albert Carnesale (a former SALT I negotiator), Dalia Dassa Kaye (of the RAND Corporation), and Aslı Bâli and Steven Spiegel of UCLA, the panelists came a general consensus that the JCPOA “should be given a chance to work” and “despite its flaws, the agreement was worth pursuing and that the alternative would have been no agreement at all.”[224]
  • Henner Fürtig, a senior member of German Institute of Global and Area Studies and a professor at the University of Hamburg wrote that the accord contains multiple victories for all sides. It is a “triumph of international diplomacy” and “rarely reached consensus” for the United Nations and the UNSC, but “it is no panacea” resolving other conflicts in the Middle East.[225]

In popular culture

The American TV series Madam Secretary built a whole season around the negotiations.[226] Five years before the deal, in 24season 8, the negotiations between the United States leaders and “President Hassan” of Islamic republic of Kamistan to abandon his nuclear technology programme was shown, which drew comparison to the US-Iran dispute.[227] However the deal was contrarily to Homelandseason 3 plot that “fueled nuclear paranoia” against Iran.[228]

After the deal, a joke began circulating in Iran that the name of city of Arak would change to “Barack” in honor of Obama, and that in return, the United States would change the name of Manhattan borough to “Mash Hassan” (Persianمش حسن‎) which is a very casual way of referring to Rouhani.[229]

Javad Zarif‘s efforts in the negotiations drew comparisons to mythological Arash the Archer, and two former Prime Ministers: Mohammad Mosaddegh, who led the withdrawal of foreigners and nationalization of the Iran oil industry and was overthrown by American–British coup d’état, because both fought foreigners for Iran’s rights; and Amir Kabir, because both faced domestic hostility through their way to gain more interest for the nation.[230]

Public opinion surveys

United States (nationwide)

Public polling on the issue has yielded varied and sometimes contradictory results, depending on the question wording,[231] whether the poll explains the provisions of the agreement, and whether an “undecided” option is offered.[232] Polls have consistently shown polarization by party affiliation, with majorities of self-identified Democrats supporting the agreement and majorities of self-identified Republicans opposing it.[233][234][235][236]

Poll Sample Conducted Sample size
margin of error
Question(s) Asked Findings Reference
YouGov U.S. adults 14–16 July 1000; ±3.9% Support/oppose (major provisions described) 43% support, 30% oppose, 26% unsure [233][237]
Abt-SRBI for Washington Post/ABC News U.S. adults 16–19 July 1,002; ±3.5% Support/oppose (major provisions described)
Confidence that agreement will prevent Iran from developing nuclear weapons
56% support, 37% oppose, 7% no opinion
35% very/somewhat confident, 64% not confident
[238]
Pew Research Center U.S. adults 14–20 July 2,002; ±2.5; 1,672; ±2.7% Have you heard about agreement?
Support/oppose based on what you know (provisions not described)
34% heard a lot, 44% heard a little, 22% have not heard
(Among those who have heard at least a little) 48% disapprove, 38% approve, 14% do not know
[235]
Steven M. Cohen/Social Science Research Solutions for Los Angeles Jewish Journal U.S. adults 16–20 July 505 Support/oppose (major provisions described)
Should Congress vote to approve or oppose the deal?
28% support, 24% oppose, 48% don’t know enough to say
41% approve, 38% disapprove, 21% undecided.
[239][240][241]
Steven M. Cohen/Social Science Research Solutions for Los Angeles Jewish Journal Jewish American adults 16–20 July 501 Support/oppose (major provisions described)
Should Congress vote to approve or oppose the deal?
47.5% approve, 27.6% oppose, 24.6% don’t know enough to say
53.6% approve, 34.7% oppose, 11.7% don’t know
[239][240][242]
YouGov for The Economist U.S. adults 18–20 July 1000; ±4.3% Support/oppose (major provisions described)
Do you want your Senators to support or oppose the international agreement?
15% strongly support, 26% tend to support; 16% tend to oppose; 17% strongly oppose; 16% not sure
45% support; 27% oppose; 27% not sure
[243]
Public Policy Polling U.S. registered voters 23–24 July 730; ±3.6% Support/oppose (major provisions described)
Should Congress allow agreement to go forward or block it?
35% strongly support; 19% somewhat support; 6% somewhat oppose; 32% strongly oppose; 8% not sure
54% go forward; 39% block; 7% not sure
[244]
ORC for CNN U.S. adults 22–25 July 1,017; ±3% Should Congress approve or reject the deal? 44% approve; 52% reject; 5% no opinion [245]
Quinnipiac U.S. registered voters 23–28 July 1,644; ±2.4% Support/oppose (provisions not described) 28% support; 57% oppose; 15% don’t know/NA [246]
Public Opinion Strategies & Hart Research Associates for Wall Street Journal/NBC News U.S. adults 26–30 July 500 Support/oppose (major provisions described) 35% support, 33% oppose, 32% do not know enough [236][247][248]
Anderson Robbins Research & Shaw & Company Research for Fox News U.S. registered voters 11–13 August 1,008
±3%
In you were in Congress, would approve or reject the deal? 31% approve, 58% reject, 10% don’t know [249][250]
ORC for CNN U.S. adults 13–16 August 500
±4.5%
Favor/oppose a hypothetical agreement (major provisions explained) 50% favor, 46% oppose, 4% no opinion [251]
ORC for CNN U.S. adults 13–16 August 500
±4.5%
Should Congress approve or reject the deal? (provisions not described) 41% approve, 56% reject, 2% no opinion [251]
Quinnipiac U.S. registered voters 20–25 August 1,563; ±2.5% Support/oppose (provisions not described) 25% support; 55% oppose; 20% don’t know/NA [252]
Pew Research Center U.S. adults 3–7 September 1,004; ±3.6% Approve/disapprove the agreement 21% approve; 49% disapprove; 30% don’t know/refused [253]
University of Maryland Program on Public Consultation/Center for International and Security Studies U.S. registered voters who took part in National Citizens Cabinet
(policymaking simulation involving a briefing and hearing of expert-vetted arguments from both sides of the debate)
17–20 September 702; ±3.7% Final recommendation after hearing alternatives 55% approve agreement; 14% pursue better terms; 23% ramp up sanctions; 7% threaten military force [254][255]

United States (specific communities)

  • According to a Zogby Research Services poll for the Public Affairs Alliance of Iranian Americans, conducted 20–31 May 2015, 64% of Iranian Americans support the Iran deal, and 8 in 10 say it will improve Iran’s relations with the West.[256]
  • A poll of American Jewish adults conducted by GBA Strategies for J Street (which supports the agreement) from 21–23 July found that 60 percent of American Jews support the agreement.[257] The poll found that: “There is broad support for the agreement, regardless of age, gender, region, Jewish organizational engagement, and awareness about the agreement.”[257] The poll found that support was strong across every denomination except for Orthodox Jews, with 67% of Reform Jews in support, 63% of Jews of no particular denomination in support, and 55% of Conservative Jews in support.[257]
  • According to a Quinnipiac poll taken 30 July – 4 August 43% of New York City voters oppose the agreement, while 36% support it; 42% said that the agreement would make the world less safe, while 40% said it will make the world more safe. Among Jewish voters in New York City, 33% support the agreement while 53% oppose it, and 51% say the agreement will make the world less safe, while 37% say that the agreement will make the world more safe.[258]
  • According to a Public Policy Polling poll of New York City voters taken 11–12 August, 58% of New York City voters support the Iran agreement, while 35% oppose it; 49% of New York City voters want their members of Congress to let the agreement go forward, while 33% want their members of Congress to block the agreement. The agreement achieved majority support from women and men; whites, African Americans, and Hispanics; and in every age group.[259]
  • GfK poll of American Jews conducted for the American Jewish Committee between 7 and 22 August found that American Jews narrowly favored the agreement with 50.6% approving and 47.2% disapproving.[260]

Iran

  • According to a poll conducted from 12–28 May 2015 by the University of Tehran Center for Public Opinion Research, the independent, Toronto-based firm IranPoll, and the Center for International and Security Studies at the University of Maryland School of Public Policy, 57% of Iranians support the deal, whereas 15% opposed it.[261]
  • According to First Vice PresidentEshaq Jahangiri‘s interview on 6 August 2015, an Iranian government poll indicates that 80%-88% of Iranians support the Iran deal, whereas 4% oppose it.[262]
  • A poll conducted 27 May to 29 May 2015, by private Virginia-based Information and Public Opinion Solutions LLC (iPOS), suggests that a 63% majority of Iranians favor a deal, with 12% conditional approval (they would support it only if certain advantages for Iran are contained within a final agreement). Answering “If Iran and the West reach a nuclear deal, do you agree or disagree (with) a normalization of relations between Iran and the US?”, 52% agreed and 20% disagreed. The poll was conducted by phone with a random sample of 680 Iranians 18-years-old and older.[263]

Germany

  • A July 2015 nationally representative survey of German adults conducted by YouGov Germany Omnibus found that overall, “63% of Germans support the deal to curb Iran’s nuclear program, while only 18% oppose it and 20% don’t know.”[233]

Process

Incorporated into international law by the United Nations Security Council

As provided for in the JCPOA, the agreement was formally endorsed by the UN Security Council,[264][265] incorporating it into international law.[266][267] There was initially disagreement on if the deal is legally binding on the United States.[e] The U.S. State Department clarified this in a 19 November 2015 letter to Congress, stating, “The Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) is not a treaty or an executive agreement, and is not a signed document. The JCPOA reflects political commitments between Iran, the P5+1, and the EU.”[274] According to the State Department Political Commitments are non-binding.

On 15 July 2015, the American ambassador to the UNSamantha Power, circulated a fourteen-page draft to Council members.[265] On 20 July 2015, the Security Council unanimously approved the fourteen-page resolution—United Nations Security Council resolution2231[275]—in a 15–0 vote.[267] The resolution delays its official implementation for 90 days, to allow for U.S. Congressional consideration under the Iran Nuclear Agreement Review Act of 2015.[266][267] The resolution lays out the steps for terminating sanctions imposed by seven past Security Council resolutions, but retains an arms embargo and ballistic missile technology ban.[264][267] The resolution also did not affect the sanctions imposed separately by the United States and the European Union.[267] The resolution also codifies the “snapback” mechanism of the agreement, under which all Security Council sanctions will be automatically reimposed if Iran breaches the deal.[264]

Speaking immediately after the vote, Power told the Security Council that sanctions relief would start only when Iran “verifiably” met its obligations. Power also called upon Iran “to immediately release all unjustly detained Americans”, specifically naming Amir HekmatiSaeed Abedini, and Jason Rezaian, were imprisoned by Iran was detained at the time, and Robert A. Levinson, who has been missing in the country.[267][276] Hekmati, Abedini, and Rezaian were subsequently released in a January 2016 prisoner exchange, which Secretary of State Kerry said had been accelerated by the nuclear agreement.[277]

Approved by European Union

On the same day that the Security Council approved a resolution, the European Union formally approved the JCPOA via a vote of the EU Foreign Affairs Council (the group of EU foreign ministers) meeting in Brussels. This sets into motion the lifting of certain EU sanctions, including those prohibiting the purchase of Iranian oil.[267][278] The EU continues its sanctions relating to human rights and its sanctions prohibiting the export of ballistic missile technology.[267] The approval by the EU was seen as a signal to the U.S. Congress.[278]

Review period in the United States Congress

Secretary of State John Kerry, Secretary of Energy Ernest Moniz, and Secretary of the Treasury Jack Lew defending the JCPOA at a hearing of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee on 23 July 2015

Under U.S. law, the JCPOA is a non-binding political commitment.[279][280] According to the U.S. State Department, it specifically is not an executive agreement or a treaty.[274] There are widespread incorrect reports that it is an executive agreement.[281][282] In contrast to treaties, which require two-thirds of the Senate to consent to ratification, political commitments require no congressional approval, and are not legally binding as a matter of domestic law (although in some cases they may be binding on the U.S. as a matter of international law).[281][f]

Under the terms of the Iran Nuclear Agreement Review Act of 2015, which was signed into law on 22 May 2015,[g] the agreement is undergoing a sixty-day review in the United States Congress.[291] Under that Act, once all documents have been sent to the Capitol, Congress will have sixty days in which it can pass a resolution of approval, a resolution of disapproval, or do nothing.[291] The Act includes additional time beyond the sixty days for the president to veto a resolution and for Congress to take a vote on whether to override or sustain the veto.[292] President Obama has said he will veto any resolution of disapproval.[291] Thus, Republicans will only be able to defeat the deal if they can muster the two-thirds of both houses of Congress needed to override a veto of any resolution of disapproval.[291][293] This means that 34 votes in the Senate could sustain a veto and place the JCPOA into effect.[292][294]

On 19 July 2015, the State Department officially transmitted to Congress the JCPOA, its annexes, and related materials.[295] These documents included the Unclassified Verification Assessment Report on the JCPOA and the Intelligence Community‘s Classified Annex to the Verification Assessment Report.[295] The sixty-day review period began the next day, 20 July,[295][296] and ended 17 September.[297] On 30 July, Senator Ted Cruz introduced a resolution seeking a delay in the review period, arguing that the sixty-day congressional review under the Act should not begin until the Senate obtains a copy of all bilateral Iran-IAEA documents.[298][299]

Obama administration

The “international community” had long sought a landmark diplomatic agreement with Iran on its nuclear program, and such an agreement was also a long-sought foreign-policy goal of the Obama administration.[300][301][302]

In comments made in the East Room of the White House on 15 July 2015, President Obama urged Congress to support the agreement, saying “If we don’t choose wisely, I believe future generations will judge us harshly, for letting this moment slip away.”[303] Obama stated that the inspections regime in the agreement was among the most vigorous ever negotiated, and criticized opponents of the deal for failing to offer a viable alternative to it.[303] Obama stated: “If 99 percent of the world’s community and the majority of nuclear experts look at this thing and they say ‘this will prevent Iran from getting a nuclear bomb,’ and you are arguing either that it does not … then you should have some alternative to present. And I haven’t heard that.”[304][305] The same day, Obama made a case for the deal on the agreement in an interview with New York Times columnist Thomas Friedman.[306] Obama stated:

With respect to Iran, it is a great civilization, but it also has an authoritarian theocracy in charge that is anti-American, anti-Israeli, anti-Semitic, sponsors terrorism, and there are a whole host of real profound differences that we [have with] them… [T]heir argument was, ‘We’re entitled to have a peaceful nuclear program.’… You know, I have a lot of differences with Ronald Reagan, but where I completely admire him was his recognition that [we] were able to verify an agreement that [was negotiated] with the evil empire [the Soviet Union] that was hellbent on our destruction and was a far greater existential threat to us than Iran will ever be… I had a lot of disagreements with Richard Nixon, but he understood there was the prospect, the possibility, that China could take a different path. You test these things, and as long as we are preserving our security capacity—as long as we are not giving away our ability to respond forcefully, militarily, where necessary to protect our friends and our allies—that is a risk we have to take. It is a practical, common-sense position. It’s not naïve; it’s a recognition that if we can in fact resolve some of these differences, without resort to force, that will be a lot better for us and the people of that region.[306]

Also on 15 July, Vice President Joe Biden met with Senate Democrats on the Foreign Relations Committee on Capitol Hill, where he made a presentation on the agreement.[307]

On 18 July, Obama devoted his weekly radio address to the agreement, stating, “this deal will make America and the world safer and more secure” and rebutting “a lot of overheated and often dishonest arguments about it”.[308] Obama stated “as commander-in-chief, I make no apology for keeping this country safe and secure through the hard work of diplomacy over the easy rush to war.”[308] On 23 July, President Obama met in the White House Cabinet Room with about a dozen undecided House Democrats to speak about the agreement and seek their support.[309]

The debate over the agreement was marked by acrimony between the White House and with Republicans inside and outside of Congress. Senator Ted Cruz of Texas said that under the agreement “the Obama administration will become the leading financier of terrorism against America in the world.”[310] Former Governor Mike Huckabee of Arkansas, a candidate for the Republican presidential nomination, called the president “naive” and repeatedly invoked the Holocaust, saying that the president’s policy would “take the Israelis and march them to the door of the oven”.[311] This comparison was denounced by the Anti-Defamation League, the National Jewish Democratic Council, and various Israeli government officials.[311][312][313] At a 27 June news conference, Obama specifically criticized Huckabee, Cruz, and Cotton, saying that such remarks were “just part of a general pattern we’ve seen that would be considered ridiculous if it weren’t so sad”, especially from “leaders in the Republican Party”.[310] Obama stated that “fling[ing] out ad hominem attacks like that … doesn’t help inform the American people” and stated: “This is a deal that has been endorsed by people like Brent Scowcroft and Sam Nunn … historic Democratic and Republican leaders on arms control and on keeping America safe. And so when you get rhetoric like this, maybe it gets attention and maybe this is just an effort to push Mr. Trump out of the headlines, but it’s not the kind of leadership that is needed for America right now.”[314]

On 5 August, Obama gave a speech before an audience of around 200 at American University, marking a new phase in the administration’s campaign for the agreement.[315][316] Obama stated: “Let’s not mince words: The choice we face is ultimately between diplomacy and some form of war—maybe not tomorrow, maybe not three months from now, but soon. How can we in good conscience justify war before we’ve tested a diplomatic agreement that achieves our objectives?”[315] In his speech, Obama also invoked a speech made by John F. Kennedy at American University in 1963 in favor of the Partial Nuclear Test Ban Treaty.[315] Obama also said that the opponents of the agreement were the same people who created the “drumbeat of war” that led to the Iraq War and criticized “knee-jerk partisanship that has become all too familiar, rhetoric that renders every decision made to be a disaster, a surrender”.[315]

New York Senator Chuck Schumer, a senior Democrat, made a different assessment of prospects for war by distinguishing between nuclear and non-nuclear aspects of the agreement. In each case he asked whether we are better off with the agreement or without it and his conclusion was: “… when it comes to the nuclear aspects of the agreement within ten years, we might be slightly better off with it. However, when it comes to the nuclear aspects after ten years and the non-nuclear aspects, we would be better off without it.” Then Schumer assessed the Iranian government, saying, “Who’s to say this dictatorship will not prevail for another ten, twenty, or thirty years? To me, the very real risk that Iran will not moderate and will, instead, use the agreement to pursue its nefarious goals is too great.” And, finally, Schumer concluded: “I will vote to disapprove the agreement, not because I believe war is a viable or desirable option, nor to challenge the path of diplomacy. It is because I believe Iran will not change, and under this agreement it will be able to achieve its dual goals of eliminating sanctions while ultimately retaining its nuclear and non-nuclear power.”[317]

In the same speech, Obama stated: “Just because Iranian hard-liners chant ‘Death to America‘ does not mean that that’s what all Iranians believe. In fact, it’s those hard-liners who are most comfortable with the status quo. It’s those hard-liners chanting ‘Death to America’ who have been most opposed to the deal. They’re making common cause with the Republican caucus.”[316][318] This statement was criticized by congressional Republican leaders. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell called it “crass political rhetoric” that was a strategy to “Demonize your opponents, gin up the base, get the Democrats all angry, and rally around the president.” McConnell said “This is an enormous national security debate that the president will leave behind, under the Constitution, a year and a half from now, and the rest of us will be dealing with the consequences of it. So I wish he would tone down the rhetoric and let’s talk about the facts” and promised that Republicans would discuss the agreement respectfully in September.[319][320] Republican Senator Bob Corker, the chairman of Foreign Relations Committee, asserted that the president was “trying to shut down debate by saying that those who have legitimate questions, legitimate questions—are somehow unpatriotic, are somehow compared to hardliners in Iran”.[321] The president subsequently stood by his statement, with White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest calling it a “statement of fact”[319] and the president saying in an interview, “Remember, what I said was that it’s the hard-liners in Iran who are most opposed to this deal. And I said, in that sense, they’re making common cause with those who are opposed to this deal here. I didn’t say that they were equivalent.”[318] In the same interview, Obama said: “A sizable proportion of the Republicans were opposed before the ink was even dry on the deal.”[318]

In comments made at the Aspen Security Forum in Aspen, Colorado in July 2015, Director of National IntelligenceJames Clapper said that the JCPOA will improve the U.S. ability to monitor Iran, saying “[The agreement] puts us in a far better place in terms of insight and access” than no agreement.[322] While Clapper remains “concerned about compliance and deceit”, but “pointed out that during the negotiation period [Iran] complied with rules” negotiated under the interim agreement (the Joint Plan of Action).[322]

Public debate

An intense public debate in the United States took place during the congressional review period.[294] “Some of the wealthiest and most powerful donors in American politics, those for and against the accord”, became involved in the public debate,[323] although “mega-donors” opposing the agreement have contributed substantially more money than those supporting it.[324] From 2010 to early August 2015, the foundations of Sheldon AdelsonPaul Singer, and Haim Saban contributed a total of $13 million (at least $7.5 million, at least $2.6 million, and at least $2.9 million, respectively) to advocacy groups opposing an agreement with Iran.[324] On the other side, three groups lobbying in support of the agreement have received at least $803,000 from the Ploughshares Fund, at least $425,000 from the Rockefeller Brothers Fund, and at least $68,500 from George Soros and his foundation.[324] Other philanthropists and donors supporting an agreement include S. Daniel AbrahamTim GillNorman LearMargery Tabankin, and Arnold Hiatt.[323]

Many Iranian Americans, even those who fled repression in Iran and oppose its government, welcomed the JCPOA as a step forward.[325] The National Iranian American Council (NIAC), Iranian American Bar Association, and other Iranian American organizations welcomed the JCPOA.[326] The NIAC released a statement saying: “Our negotiators have done their job to win a strong nuclear deal that prevents an Iranian nuclear weapon, all the while avoiding a catastrophic war. Now is the time for Congress to do theirs. Make no mistake: if Congress rejects this good deal with Iran, there will be no better deal forthcoming and Congress will be left owning an unnecessary war.”[327] NIAC created a new group, NIAC Action, to run advertisements supporting the agreement.[324] NIAC also organized an open letter from 73 Middle East and foreign affairs scholars stating, “reactivating diplomatic channels between the United States and Iran is a necessary first step” to reduce conflict in the region, and that while “the nuclear deal will not automatically or immediately bring stability to the region … Ultimately, a Middle East where diplomacy is the norm rather than the exception will enhance U.S. national security and interests,”[328] Signatories to the letter include John EspositoEhsan YarshaterNoam ChomskyPeter BeinartJohn Mearsheimer, and Stephen Walt.[328]

U.S. pro-Israel groups divided on the JCPOA.[329] The American Israel Public Affairs Committee opposes the agreement, and formed a new 501(c)(4) group, Citizens for a Nuclear Free Iran, to run a television advertising campaign against the JCPOA.[315][329][330][331] In August 2015, it was reported that AIPAC and Citizens for a Nuclear Free Iran plan to spend between $20 million and $40 million on its campaign.[332] From mid-July to 4 August 2015, AIPAC’s Citizens for a Nuclear Free Iran spent more than $11 million running network television political advertisements opposing the agreement in 23 states, spending more than $1 million in the large states of California, Florida, New York, and Texas.[332][333] In the first week of August, AIPAC said that it had 400 meetings with congressional offices as part of its campaign to defeat the agreement.[332]

In contrast to AIPAC, another pro-Israel organization, J Street, supports the agreement, and plans a $5 million advertising effort of its own to encourage Congress to support the agreement.[332][334] During the first week of August, J Street launched a $2 million, three-week ad campaign in support of the agreement, with television ads running in Colorado, Maryland, Michigan, Oregon, and Pennsylvania.[335][336] From mid-July through early August, J Street reported having 125 meetings with congressional offices.[332] J Street has also paid to fly prominent Israelis who support the agreement (including Amram Mitzna, a retired Israeli general, member of the Knesset, and mayor of Haifa) to the United States to help persuade members of Congress to support the agreement.[332]

The group United Against Nuclear Iran (UANI) opposes the agreement and committed to spending more than $20 million on a national “TV, radio, print and digital campaign” against the agreement.[324][337] After UANI announced its opposition, the group’s president and co-founder, nonproliferation expert Gary Samore, announced that he had concluded “that the accord was in the United States’ interest” and supported the agreement.[324][338] Samore thus stepped down as president and was replaced by ex-Senator Joseph I. Lieberman.[338] By 20 August, UANI had released its third national television ad against the agreement.[337]

Anti-JCPOA bus advertisement in New York City. The bus ad was sponsored by New York Assemblyman Dov Hikind, an opponent of the agreement.[339]

Various other groups that have also run ad campaigns for or against the agreement. John R. Bolton‘s Foundation for American Security and Freedom has run advertisements against the agreement, as has “Veterans Against the Deal”, a group which does not disclose its donors.[340] Various pro-agreement ads were run by MoveOn.org (which ran an ad with the title “Let Diplomacy Work” theme), Americans United for Change (which warned “They’re back—the Iraq war hawks are fighting the Iran deal, want more war” over photos of Bolton, Dick Cheney, and Donald Rumsfeld), and Global Zero (which ran a humorous ad featuring actors Jack BlackMorgan Freeman, and Natasha Lyonne).[340]

The New York-based Iran Project, a nonprofit led by former high-level U.S. diplomats and funded by the Rockefeller Brothers Fund, along with the United Nations Association of the United States, supports the agreement.[341] The Rockefeller fund has also supported the San Francisco-based Ploughshares Fund, which has spent several years marshaling support for an agreement.[341]

On 17 July 2015, a bipartisan open letter endorsing the Iran agreement was signed by more than 100 former U.S. ambassadors and high-ranking State Department officials.[342][343] The ex-ambassadors wrote: “If properly implemented, this comprehensive and rigorously negotiated agreement can be an effective instrument in arresting Iran’s nuclear program and preventing the spread of nuclear weapons in the volatile and vitally important region of the Middle East. In our judgment the [plan] deserves Congressional support and the opportunity to show it can work. We firmly believe that the most effective way to protect U.S. national security, and that of our allies and friends is to ensure that tough-minded diplomacy has a chance to succeed before considering other more costly and risky alternatives.”[342][343] Among the signatories to the letter were Daniel C. KurtzerJames R. JonesFrank E. LoyPrinceton N. LymanJack F. Matlock Jr.Donald F. McHenryThomas E. McNamara, and Thomas R. Pickering.[343]

A separate public letter to Congress in support of the agreement from five former U.S. ambassadors to Israel from administrations of both parties, and three former Under Secretaries of State was released on 26 July 2015.[344] This letter was signed by R. Nicholas BurnsJames B. CunninghamWilliam C. HarropDaniel Kurtzer, Thomas R. Pickering, Edward S. Walker Jr., and Frank G. Wisner.[345] The former officials wrote: “We are persuaded that this agreement will put in place a set of constraints and monitoring measures that will arrest Iran’s nuclear program for at least fifteen years and assure that this agreement will leave Iran no legitimate avenue to produce a nuclear weapon during the next ten to fifteen years. This landmark agreement removes the threat that a nuclear-armed Iran would pose to the region and to Israel specifically.”[345]

Another public letter to Congress urging approval of the agreement was signed by a bipartisan group of more than sixty “national-security leaders”, including politicians, retired military officers, and diplomats.[344] This letter, dated 20 July 2015, stated: “We congratulate President Obama and all the negotiators for a landmark agreement unprecedented in its importance for preventing the acquisition of nuclear weapons by Iran…. We have followed carefully the negotiations as they have progressed and conclude that the JCPOA represents the achievement of greater security for us and our partners in the region.”[344][346] Among the Republicans who signed this letter are former Treasury Secretary Paul O’Neill, former U.S. Trade RepresentativeCarla Anderson Hills, and former Senator Nancy Landon Kassebaum.[344] Among the Democrats who signed the letter are former Secretary of State Madeleine Albright; former Senate Majority Leaders George J. Mitchell and Tom Daschle, former Senator Carl Levin, and former Defense Secretary William Perry.[344][347] Also signing were former National Security Advisors Zbigniew Brzezinski and Brent Scowcroft; Under Secretaries of State R. Nicholas Burns and Thomas R. Pickering; U.S. Ambassadors Ryan Crocker and Stuart Eizenstat; Admiral Eric T. OlsonUnder Secretary of Defense for PolicyMichele Flournoy; and Assistant Secretary for Nonproliferation Robert Einhorn.[347]

On 8 August 2015, 29 prominent U.S. scientists, mostly physicists, published an open letter endorsing the agreement.[348][349] The letter, addressed to President Obama, says: “We congratulate you and your team on negotiating a technically sound, stringent and innovative deal that will provide the necessary assurance in the coming decade and more than Iran is not developing nuclear weapons, and provides a basis for further initiatives to raise the barriers to nuclear proliferation in the Middle East and around the globe.”[349] The letter also states that the agreement “will advance the cause of peace and security in the Middle East and can serve as a guidepost for future nonproliferation agreements”.[348][349] The 29 signatories included “some of the world’s most knowledgeable experts in the fields of nuclear weapons and arms control”, many of whom have held Q clearances and have been longtime advisers to Congress, the White House, and federal agencies.[348] The five primary authors were Richard L. Garwin (a nuclear physicist who played a key role in the development of the first hydrogen bomb and who was described by The New York Times as “among the last living physicists who helped usher in the nuclear age”); Robert J. Goldston (Director of the Princeton Program on Science and Global Security and former director of the Princeton Plasma Physics Laboratory); R. Scott Kemp (an MIT professor of Nuclear Science and Engineering and a former science advisor for nonproliferation and arms control at the State Department); Rush D. Holt (a physicist and former U.S. Representative who is now the president of the American Association for the Advancement of Science); and Frank N. von Hippel (Princeton Professor of Public Policy and former assistant director for national security in the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy). Six Nobel Prize in Physics laureates co-signed the letter: Philip W. Anderson of Princeton UniversityLeon N. Cooper of Brown UniversitySheldon L. Glashow of Boston UniversityDavid Gross of the University of California, Santa BarbaraBurton Richter of Stanford University; and Frank Wilczek of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.[348] Among the other scientists to sign are Siegfried S. Hecker (a Stanford physicist and the former director of Los Alamos National Laboratory); Freeman Dyson (of Princeton), and Sidney Drell (of Stanford).[348]

On 11 August 2015, an open letter endorsing the agreement signed by 36 retired military generals and admirals, titled “The Iran Deal Benefits U.S. National Security: An Open Letter from Retired Generals and Admirals”, was released.[350][351] The letter, signed by retired officers from all five branches of the U.S. armed services, said that the agreement was “the most effective means currently available to prevent Iran from obtaining nuclear weapons”, and said, “If at some point it becomes necessary to consider military action against Iran, gathering sufficient international support for such an effort would only be possible if we have first given the diplomatic path a chance. We must exhaust diplomatic options before moving to military ones.”[351] The signers included General James E. “Hoss” Cartwright of the Marine Corps, former Vice Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff; General Joseph P. Hoar of the Marine Corps, the former commander of the U.S. Central Command; and Generals Merrill McPeak and Lloyd W. Newton of the Air Force.[350][351] Other signers include Lieutenant Generals Robert G. Gard Jr. and Claudia J. Kennedy; Vice Admiral Lee F. Gunn; Rear Admirals Garland Wright and Joseph Sestak; and Major General Paul D. Eaton.[351]

The above letter was answered on 25 August 2015, by a letter signed by more than 200 retired generals and admirals opposing the deal.[352][353][354] The letter asserted: “The agreement does not ‘cut off every pathway’ for Iran to acquire nuclear weapons. To the contrary, it provides Iran with a legitimate pathway for doing exactly that simply by abiding by the deal…. The JCPOA would threaten the national security and vital interests of the United States and, therefore, should be disapproved by the Congress.”[354][355] This letter was organized by Leon A. “Bud” Edney; other signers included Admiral James A. Lyons; Lieutenant General William G. Boykin, former Undersecretary of Defense for Intelligence; and Lieutenant General Thomas McInerney, former vice commander of U.S. Air Forces in Europe.[353]

Retired Marine Corps General Anthony Zinni said that he had refused requests from both sides to sign their letters, saying to Time magazine: “I’m convinced that 90% of the guys who signed the letter one way or the other don’t have any clue about whether it’s a good or bad deal. They sign it because somebody’s asked them to sign it.” As to the JCPOA Zinni said: “The agreement’s fine, if you think it can work. But if this is a Neville Chamberlain then you’re in a world of shit.”[355]

On 13 August, retired Senators Carl Levin of Michigan, a Democrat, and John Warner of Virginia, a Republican, co-wrote an op-ed in support of the agreement—titled “Why hawks should also back the Iran deal”—published in Politico.[356] Levin and Warner, both past chairmen of the Senate Armed Services Committee, argued, “If we reject the agreement, we risk isolating ourselves and damaging our ability to assemble the strongest possible coalition to stop Iran” in the event that military action was needed in the future.[356] Levin and Warner wrote, “The deal on the table is a strong agreement on many counts, and it leaves in place the robust deterrence and credibility of a military option. We urge our former colleagues not to take any action which would undermine the deterrent value of a coalition that participates in and could support the use of a military option. The failure of the United States to join the agreement would have that effect.”[356] On 14 August, retired senators Richard Lugar of Indiana, a Republican, and J. Bennett Johnston of Louisiana, a Democrat, also wrote in support of the agreement.[357] In a column for Reuters, Lugar and Johnston argued, “Rejection of the agreement would severely undermine the U.S. role as a leader and reliable partner around the globe. If Washington walks away from this hard-fought multilateral agreement, its dependability would likely be doubted for decades.”[357] They also wrote: “Tehran would be the winner of this U.S. rejection because it would achieve its major objective: the lifting of most sanctions without being required to accept constraints on its nuclear program. Iran could also claim to be a victim of American perfidy and try to convince other nations to break with U.S. leadership and with the entire international sanctions regime.”[357]

On 17 August 2015, a group of 75 arms control and nuclear nonproliferation experts issued a joint statement endorsing the agreement.[358][359] The statement says, “the JCPOA is a strong, long-term, and verifiable agreement that will be a net-plus for international nuclear nonproliferation efforts” and that the JCPOA’s “rigorous limits and transparency measures will make it very likely that any future effort by Iran to pursue nuclear weapons, even a clandestine program, would be detected promptly, providing the opportunity to intervene decisively to prevent Iran from acquiring a nuclear weapon”.[358][359] The letter was organized through the nonpartisan Arms Control Association.[359] Among the 75 signatories are the Valerie Plame and Joseph C. Wilson; former IAEA director-general Hans BlixMorton H. Halperin; and experts from the Brookings InstitutionStimson Center, and other think tanks.[358][359] On 3 September, an open letter to President Obama signed by 56 people was issued criticizing the JCPOA as “unverifiable”. The letter said: “Guided by our experience with U.S. and foreign nuclear weapons programs—as well as with the history and practice of arms control, nonproliferation, and intelligence matters, we judge the current JCPOA to be a very bad deal indeed.”[360] Signers included Boykin; Bolton; ex-CIA director James Woolsey, former national security advisor Robert McFarlanePaula A. DeSutter, former Assistant Secretary of State for Verification, Compliance, and Implementation; various former ACDA officials; and former Sandia National Laboratories president/director C. Paul Robinson.[360]

Foreign diplomats are also involved in the congressional debate. The Israeli ambassador to the United StatesRon Dermer appeared on cable television shows to attack the agreement, while ambassadors from European nations, including Sir Peter Westmacott, the British ambassador to the United States, “came on to say the precise opposite”.[361] Dermer also lobbied members of Congress on Capitol Hill against the agreement,[362] while diplomats from France, Britain, and Germany made the rounds on Capitol Hill to advocate for the agreement.[363] On 4 August, P5+1 diplomats held “a rare meeting of world powers’ envoys on Capitol Hill” with about 30 Senate Democrats to urge support for the agreement, saying, “If Congress rejects this good deal, and the U.S. is forced to walk away, Iran will be left with an unconstrained nuclear program with far weaker monitoring arrangements, the current international consensus on sanctions would unravel, and international unity and pressure on Iran would be seriously undermined.”[364]

On Meet the Press on 6 September 2015, former Secretary of State Colin Powell expressed support for the nuclear agreement with Iran, saying that it was “a pretty good deal”.[365] Powell said that various provisions accepted by Iran—such as the reduction in centrifuges and the uranium stockpile and the agreement to shut down its plutonium reactor—were “remarkable changes” that stopped the Iranian pathway to a nuclear weapons program. Powell also defended the verification provisions of the agreement, saying: “I think a very vigorous verification regime has been put into place.”[365]

Former Ambassador Dennis Ross, a longtime American negotiator in the Middle East, wrote that he was not yet convinced by either proponents or opponents of the agreement.[366] Ross wrote that the United States should be focused on “deterring the Iranians from cheating” (e.g., by producing highly enriched uranium) after year fifteen of the agreement.[366] Ross wrote, “President Obama emphasizes that the agreement is based on verification not trust. But our catching Iran cheating is less important than the price they know they will pay if we catch them. Deterrence needs to apply not just for the life of the deal.”[366] As part of a deterrence strategy, Ross proposed transferring to Israel the U.S. Massive Ordnance Penetrator (MOP) “bunker buster” bomb at some point before year fifteen of the agreement.[366] In a 25 August op-ed in The Washington Post, Ross and David H. Petraeus again argued for transferring the MOP to Israel.[367]

The Jewish American community was divided on the agreement. On 19 August 2015, leaders of the Reform Jewish movement, the largest Jewish denomination in the United States, issued a lengthy public statement expressed a neutral position on the agreement.[368][369]The statement, signed by the leaders of the Union for Reform JudaismCentral Conference of American RabbisReligious Action Center of Reform Judaism and Association of Reform Zionists of America, reflected what RabbiRick Jacobs, president of the URJ, called “deep divisions within the movement”.[368] On 20 August 2015, a group of 26 prominent current and foreign American Jewish communal leaders published a full-page ad in The New York Times with a statement backing the agreement; signers included three former chairs of the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations as well as former AIPAC executive director Tom Dine.[370] Separately, a group of 340 rabbis organized by Ameinu issued a public letter to Congress on 17 August 2015, in support of the agreement, saying: “We, along with many other Jewish leaders, fully support this historic nuclear accord.”[371] The signers were mostly Reform rabbis, but included at least 50 rabbis from the Conservative movement and at least one Orthodox rabbi.[372] Prominent rabbis who signed this letter included Sharon BrousBurton VisotzkyNina Beth CardinLawrence KushnerSharon Kleinbaum, and Amy Eilberg.[371] In a separate letter released 27 August, eleven Democratic Jewish former members of Congress urged support for the agreement; the letter noted the signatories’ pro-Israel credentials and said that the agreement “halts the immediate threat of a nuclear-armed Iran”, while a rejection of the deal would “put Iran back on the path to develop a nuclear weapon within two to three months”.[373] Signatories included former Senator Carl Levin and former Representatives Barney FrankMel LevineSteve Rothman, and Robert Wexler.[373]

Conversely, a group of 900 rabbis signed an open letter written by Kalman Topp and Yonah Bookstein in late August, calling upon Congress to reject the agreement.[374] The Orthodox Union and American Jewish Committee also announced opposition to the agreement.[375][376]

The Roman Catholic Church has expressed support for the agreement. In a 14 July 2015 letter to Congress, Bishop Oscar Cantú, chairman of the Committee on International Justice and Peace of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, stated that the JCPOA was “a momentous agreement” which “signals progress in global nuclear non-proliferation”.[377][378] Cantú wrote that Catholic bishops in the United States “will continue to urge Congress to endorse the result of these intense negotiations because the alternative leads toward armed conflict, an outcome of profound concern to the Church”.[377][378]

On 25 August 2015, a group of 53 Christian faith leaders from a variety of denominations sent a message to Congress urging them to support the agreement.[379] The Christian leaders wrote: “This is a moment to remember the wisdom of Jesus who proclaimed from the Sermon on the Mount, ‘Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called children of God’ (Matthew 5:9). … There is no question we are all better off with this deal than without it.”[379] The letter was coordinated by a Quaker group, the Friends Committee on National Legislation.[379] Signatories to the letter included Jim Wallis of SojournersJohn C. Dorhauer, general minister and president of the United Church of ChristShane Claiborne; Adam Estle of Evangelicals for Middle East Understanding; Archbishop Vicken Aykazian of the Armenian Orthodox Church; A. Roy Medley, the head of American Baptist Churches USA; the Reverend Paula Clayton Dempsey of the Alliance of Baptists, senior pastor Joel C. Hunter of Northland, A Church Distributed; and Sister Simone Campbell, a leader of the Catholic “Nuns on the Bus” campaigns.[379][380]

Congressional committee hearings

A hearing on the JCPOA before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee took place on 23 July 2015. Secretary of State Kerry, Treasury SecretaryJack Lew, and Energy Secretary Moniz testified.[309][381] Republican Senator Bob Corker of Tennessee, the committee chairman, said in his opening statement that when the talks began the goal was to dismantle the Iranian nuclear program, whereas the achieved agreement codified “the industrialization of their nuclear program”.[382][383] Corker, addressing Secretary of State Kerry, said, “I believe you’ve been fleeced” and “… what you’ve really done here is you have turned Iran from being a pariah to now Congress, Congress being a pariah.”[363] Corker asserted that a new threshold in U.S. foreign policy was crossed and the agreement would “enable a state sponsor of terror to obtain sophisticated, industrial nuclear development program that has, as we know, only one real practical need”.[384] The committee’s ranking Democratic member, Senator Benjamin Cardin of Maryland, said he had many questions and his hope was that the answers will cause a debate “in Congress and the American people”.[384] Democrats, led by Senator Barbara Boxer of California, expressed support for the agreement, with Boxer saying that criticisms by Republicans were “ridiculous”, “unfair”, and “wrong”.[309][363] Corker and Cardin sent a letter to Obama saying the bilateral IAEA-Iran document should be available for Congress to review.[363]

At the hearing Kerry, Lew, and Moniz “were unequivocal in their statements that the accord was the best that could be achieved and that without it, the international sanctions regime would collapse”.[309] Kerry warned that if the United States would be “on our own” if it were to walk away from a multi-lateral agreement alongside the five global powers.[363] Kerry stated that the belief that “some sort of unicorn arrangement involving Iran’s complete capitulation” could be achieved was “a fantasy, plain and simple”.[309]The Washington Postreported, “Moniz emerged as the calm center of the proceedings, beginning his interjections with recitations of what he described as ‘facts,’ and mildly observing that Republican characterizations were ‘incorrect.'”[363] Kerry, Lew, and Moniz faced “uniform animus of Republicans” at the hearing,[309] with Republican senators giving “long and often scathing speeches denouncing what they described as a fatally flawed agreement and accusing the administration of dangerous naivete” and showing “little interest in responses” from the three cabinet secretaries.[363]The Washington Post reported on twelve issues related to the agreement over which the two sides disagreed at the hearing.[385]

On 28 July, Kerry, Moniz, and Lew testified before the House Committee on Foreign Affairs.[386] Committee chairman Ed Royce, Republican of California, said in his opening statement, “we are being asked to consider an agreement that gives Iran permanent sanctions relief for temporary nuclear restrictions.”[386][387] “Royce also said the inspection regime ‘came up short’ from ‘anywhere, anytime’ access to Iran’s nuclear facilities and criticized the removal of restrictions on Iran’s ballistic missile program and conventional arms.”[388] The committee’s ranking member, Representative Eliot Engel, Democrat of New York, said he has “serious questions and concerns” about the agreement.[388][389] Kerry, Lew, and Moniz spent four hours testifying before the committee.[390][391] At the hearing, Kerry stated that if Congress killed the deal, “You’ll not only be giving Iran a free pass to double the pace of its uranium enrichment, to build a heavy-water reactor, to install new and more efficient centrifuges, but they will do it all without the unprecedented inspection and transparency measures that we have secured. Everything that we have tried to prevent will now happen.”[392]

Senators John McCain (Republican of Arizona), the committee chair, and Jack Reed (Democrat of Rhode Island), the committee ranking member, at a hearing of the Senate Armed Services Committee on the JCPOA, 29 July 2015.

On 29 July, Secretary of DefenseAshton Carter, General Martin Dempsey, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Kerry, Moniz, and Lew appeared before the Senate Armed Services Committee in a three-hour hearing.[393] Carter and Dempsey had been invited to testify by Republican Senator John McCain of Arizona, the chairman of the committee; Kerry, Moniz, and Lew attended the hearing at the invitation of the Pentagon.[394][395] In his opening statement, McCain said that if this agreement failed and U.S. armed forces were called to take action against Iran, they “could be at greater risk because of this agreement”. He also asserted that the agreement may lead American allies and partners to fateful decisions and result in “growing regional security competition, new arms races, nuclear proliferation, and possibly conflict”.[396] The committee’s ranking Democratic member, Senator Jack Reed of Rhode Island, said Congress had an obligation “to independently validate that the agreement will meet our common goal of stopping Iran from acquiring a nuclear weapon” and stated, “the agreement, no matter your position on it, is historic and, if implemented scrupulously, could serve as a strategic inflection point in the world’s relations with Iran, for international non-proliferation efforts, and for the political and security dynamics in the Middle East.”[397][398]

Carter said the agreement prevented Iran from “getting a nuclear weapon in a comprehensive and verifiable way”.[394] He assured the committee that the deal would not limit the U.S. ability to respond with military force if needed.[399] In response to a question from McCain, Carter said he had “no reason to foresee” that the agreement would cause Iran’s threatening behavior to change more broadly, stating “That is why it’s important that Iran not have a nuclear weapon.”[395][400] Dempsey offered what he described as a “pragmatic” view.[393] He neither praised nor criticized the deal, but did testify that the agreement reduced the chances of a near-term military conflict between the United States and Iran.[393] Dempsey said that the agreement works to keep Iran from developing nuclear weapons, but does not address other concerns about Iran’s malign activities in the region, ranging from “ballistic missile technology to weapons trafficking, to … malicious activity in cyberspace”.[401] Dempsey testified, “Ultimately, time and Iranian behavior will determine if the nuclear agreement is effective and sustainable” and stated that he would continue to provide military options to the president.[401] Senator Joni Ernst expressed disagreement with President Obama who stated that the choice was the Iran nuclear deal or war. When General Martin Dempseytestified that the United States had “a range of options” and he presented them to the president, Ernst said: “it’s imperative everybody on the panel understand that there are other options available.”[402][403]

Under the JCPOA, Iran must submit a full report on its nuclear history before it can receive any sanctions relief.[404] The IAEA has confidential technical arrangements with many countries as a matter of standard operating procedure.[404][405][406] “Republican lawmakers refer to these agreements as ‘secret side deals’ and claim that the JCPOA hinges on a set of agreements no one in the administration has actually seen.”[405] Senator Tom Cotton of Arkansas, a Republican opponent of the agreement, said that Kerry had “acted like Pontius Pilate” and “washed his hands, kicked it to the IAEA, knowing Congress would not get this information unless someone went out to find it.”[407] On 30 July, Republican Senator Ted Cruz of Texas introduced a resolutionseeking a delay in the review period, arguing, “The 60-calendar day period for review of such agreement in the Senate cannot be considered to have begun until the Majority Leader certifies that all of the materials required to be transmitted under the definition of the term ‘agreement’ under such Act, including any side agreements with Iran and United States Government-issued guidance materials in relation to Iran, have been transmitted to the Majority Leader.”[298][299] On 5 August, Yukiya Amano, director general of the IAEA, spoke with members of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee in a closed briefing about two IAEA documents: an agreement on inspection protocols with Iran and an agreement with Iran regarding Iranian disclosure of its previous nuclear activity (known as Possible Military Dimensions).[405][408] Following this briefing with Amano, Republican Senator Bob Corker, the committee chairman, told reporters: “The majority of members here left with far more questions than they had before the meeting took place” and “We can not get him to even confirm that we will have physical access inside of Parchin.” The committee’s ranking Democratic member, Senator Benjamin Cardin told reporters: “I thought today was helpful, but it was not a substitute for seeing the document.”[409]

State Department spokesman John Kirby responded, “There’s no secret deals between Iran and the IAEA that the P5+1 has not been briefed on in detail” and stated “These kinds of technical arrangements with the IAEA are a matter of standard practice, that they’re not released publicly or to other states, but our experts are familiar and comfortable with the contents, which we would be happy to discuss with Congress in a classified setting.”[406] The Center for Arms Control and Non-Proliferation writes that: “The arrangement specifies procedural information regarding how the IAEA will conduct its investigation into Iran’s past nuclear history, including mentioning the names of informants who will be interviewed. Releasing this information would place those informants, and the information they hold, at risk.”[404] Mark Hibbs of the Nuclear Policy Program at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace and Thomas Shea, a former IAEA safeguards official and former head of Defense Nuclear Nonproliferation Programs at the Pacific Northwest National Laboratory, wrote that the charges of a “secret side deal” made by opponents of the agreement were a “manufactured controversy“.[81] Hibbs and Shea noted: “The IAEA has safeguards agreement with 180 countries. All have similar information protection provisions. Without these, governments would not open their nuclear programs for multilateral oversight. So IAEA Director General Yukiya Amano was acting by the book on August 5 when he told members of Congress that he couldn’t share with them the details of [the] verification protocol the IAEA had negotiated with Iran as part of a bilateral ‘roadmap.'”[81]David Albright, founder and president of the Institute for Science and International Security and a former IAEA nuclear inspector, stated that the demands for greater transparency regarding the agreement between Iran and IAEA “aren’t unreasonable” and, “Iran is a big screamer for more confidentiality. Nonetheless, if the IAEA wanted to make it more open, it could.”[410] Albright also proposed that the United States “should clearly and publicly confirm, and Congress should support with legislation, that if Iran does not address the IAEA’s concerns about the past military dimensions of its nuclear programs, U.S. sanctions will not be lifted”.[411]

Congressional support and opposition

Republican leaders vowed to attempt to kill the agreement as soon as it was released, even before classified sections were made available to Congress, and “Republican lawmakers raced to send out news releases criticizing it.”[412] According to The Washington Post, “most congressional Republicans remained deeply skeptical, some openly scornful, of the prospect of relieving economic sanctions while leaving any Iranian uranium-enrichment capability intact.”[413] Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, Republican of Kentucky, said the deal “appears to fall well short of the goal we all thought was trying to be achieved, which was that Iran would not be a nuclear state”.[413] A New York Times news analysis stated that Republican opposition to the agreement “seems born of genuine distaste for the deal’s details, inherent distrust of President Obama, intense loyalty to Israel and an expansive view of the role that sanctions have played beyond preventing Iran’s nuclear abilities”.[412]The Washington Post identified twelve issues related to the agreement on which the two sides disagreed, including the efficacy of inspections at undeclared sites; the effectiveness of the snapback sanctions; the significance of limits on enrichment; the significance of IAEA side agreements; the effectiveness of inspections of military sites; the consequences of walking away from an agreement; and the effects of lifting sanctions.[385][h]

One area of disagreement between supporters and opponents of the JCPOA is the consequences of walking away from an agreement, and whether renegotiation of the agreement is a realistic option.[385] Senator Chuck Schumer, Democrat of New York, an opponent of the agreement, called for the U.S. government to keep sanctions in place, strengthen them, and “pursue the hard-trodden path of diplomacy once more, difficult as it may be”.[317] Senator Bob Corker, Republican of Tennessee, said that he believed that it was “hyperbole” to say that the agreement was the only alternative to war.[385] President Obama, by contrast, argued that renegotiation of the deal is unrealistic, stating in his American University speech, “the notion that there is a better deal to be had. … relies on vague promises of toughness” and stated, “Those making this argument are either ignorant of Iranian society, or they are not being straight with the American people. … Neither the Iranian government, or the Iranian opposition, or the Iranian people would agree to what they would view as a total surrender of their sovereignty.”[316] Obama also argued, “those who say we can just walk away from this deal and maintain sanctions are selling a fantasy. Instead of strengthening our position, as some have suggested, Congress’ rejection would almost certainly result in multi-lateral sanctions unraveling,” because “our closest allies in Europe or in Asia, much less China or Russia, certainly are not going to enforce existing sanctions for another five, 10, 15 years according to the dictates of the U.S. Congress because their willingness to support sanctions in the first place was based on Iran ending its pursuit of nuclear weapons. It was not based on the belief that Iran cannot have peaceful nuclear power.”[316] Secretary of State Kerry has echoed these remarks, saying in July 2015 that the idea of a “‘better deal,’ some sort of unicorn arrangement involving Iran’s complete capitulation …. is a fantasy, plain and simple, and our intelligence community will tell you that”.[385][421] Senator Al Franken, Democrat of Minnesota, a supporter of the agreement wrote: “Some say that, should the Senate reject this agreement, we would be in position to negotiate a “better” one. But I’ve spoken to representatives of the five nations that helped broker the deal, and they agree that this simply wouldn’t be the case.”[422][i]

On 28 July 2015, Representative Sander M. Levin, Democrat of Michigan, the longest-serving Jewish member now in Congress, announced in a lengthy statement that he would support the JCPOA, saying, “the agreement is the best way” to stop Iran from obtaining a nuclear weapon and that a rejection of the agreement would lead the international sanctions regime to “quickly fall apart”, as “sanctions likely would not be continued even by our closest allies, and the United States would be isolated trying to enforce our unilateral sanctions as to Iran’s banking and oil sectors.”[390][426][427]

A key figure in the congressional review process is Senator Benjamin Cardin of Maryland, a Democrat who is the ranking member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee.[293] Cardin took a phone call from Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu opposing the agreement and participated in a private 90-minute session with Energy Secretary Moniz supporting the agreement.[293] On 21 July, Cardin said that if the agreement is implemented, the United States should increase military aid to Israel and friendly Gulf states.[293]

On 4 August 2015, three key and closely watched Senate Democrats—Tim Kaine of Virginia (a Foreign Relations Committee member), Barbara Boxer of California (also a Foreign Relations Committee member), and Bill Nelson of Florida—announced their support for the agreement.[428] In a floor speech that day, Kaine said that the agreement is “far preferable to any other alternative, including war” and, “America has honored its best traditions and shown that patient diplomacy can achieve what isolation and hostility cannot.”[428] In a similar floor speech the same day, Nelson said that: “I am convinced [that the agreement] will stop Iran from developing a nuclear weapon for at least the next 10 to 15 years. No other available alternative accomplishes this vital objective”[429][430] and “If the U.S. walks away from this multinational agreement, I believe we would find ourselves alone in the world with little credibility.”[431] Conversely, another closely watched senator, Chuck Schumer of New York, who is expected to make a bid to become Senate Democratic leader,[294]announced his opposition to the agreement on 6 August, writing, “there is a strong case that we are better off without an agreement than with one”[317][432]

According to an Associated Press report, the classified assessment of the United States Intelligence Community on the agreement concludes that because Iran will be required by the agreement to provide international inspectors with “unprecedented volume of information about nearly every aspect of its existing nuclear program”, Iran’s ability to conceal a covert weapons program will be diminished.[433][434] In a 13 August letter to colleagues, ten current and former Democratic members of the House Select Committee on Intelligence (including House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi and Intelligence Committee ranking member Adam Schiff) referred to this assessment as a reason to support the agreement, writing, “We are confident that this monitoring and the highly intrusive inspections provided for in the agreement—along with our own intelligence capabilities—make it nearly impossible for Iran to develop a covert enrichment effort without detection.”[434][435] The ten members also wrote “You need not take our word for it” and referred members to the classified assessment itself, which is located in an office in the Capitol basement and is available for members of Congress to read.[434][435]

Congressional votes

A resolution of disapproval was initially expected to pass both the House and Senate, meaning, “the real challenge for the White House is whether they can marshal enough Democrats to sustain the veto.”[436][437] Two-thirds of both houses (the House of Representatives and the Senate) are required to override a veto, meaning that one-third of either house (146 votes in the House, or 34 in the Senate) could sustain (uphold) President Obama’s veto of a resolution of disapproval.[438][439]

By early September 2015, 34 Senators had publicly confirmed support for the deal, a crucial threshold because it ensured that the Senate could sustain (i.e., uphold) any veto of a resolution of disapproval.[440] Senator Barbara Mikulski of Maryland announced support on 2 September, a day after Chris Coons of Delaware and Bob Casey, Jr. of Pennsylvania also announced support, reaching 34 votes and assuring that an eventual disapproval resolution passed in the Senate could not override an Obama veto.[441] By the following day, 38 Democratic senators supported the deal, 3 were opposed, and 5 were still undecided.[442]

By 8 September, all senators had made a commitment on the agreement, with 42 in support (40 Democrats and two independents) and 58 opposed (54 Republicans and four Democrats).[440] It is possible for senators in support of the agreement to kill the disapproval resolution outright in the Senate by effectively filibustering it, making it unnecessary for Obama to veto a disapproval resolution at all.[440] However, this is only possible if at least 41 vote to do so, and several senators in support of the agreement, including Coons, “have suggested they’d prefer an up-or-down vote on the deal instead of blocking it altogether”.[440]

The apparent success of a strategy to marshal congressional support for the deal, linked to a carefully orchestrated rollout of endorsements (although Democratic Senate WhipDick Durbin and other officials disputed the suggestion of coordination[443]) was attributed to lessons learned by the White House and congressional Democrats during struggles in previous summers with Republicans, in particular, over Obama’s health care legislation.[444] An August 2015 meeting at which top diplomats from the UK, Russia, China, Germany, and France told 10 undecided Democratic senators they had no intention of returning to the negotiating table was reported to be particularly crucial.[444] Senator Coons said: “They were clear and strong that we will not join you in re-imposing sanctions.”[444]

On 20 August 2015, House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi said that House Democrats had the votes to uphold a veto of a resolution of disapproval.[445] To sustain a veto, Pelosi would need to hold only 146 of the 188 House Democrats;[446] by 20 August, about 60 House Democrats have publicly declared their support for the final agreement,[447] and about 12 had publicly declared their opposition.[445] In May 2015, before the final agreement was announced, 151 House Democrats signed in support for the broad outlines in the April framework agreement; none of those signatories have announced opposition to the final agreement.[439]

It was originally expected that the House would vote on a formal resolution of disapproval introduced by Representative Ed Royce, Republican of California, the chair of the House Foreign Affairs Committee.[448][j] As the Senate moved toward a vote on a resolution of disapproval, House leadership (under Republican control) planned to vote on a similar resolution of disapproval.[451] However, conservative Republicans “revolted in protest” as “the chamber’s right flank wanted tougher action from its leader” and the House Republican leadership (under Speaker John Boehner) planned to vote instead chose to bring a resolution of approval to the floor “as a way to effectively force Democrats who had voiced support for the president to formally register such endorsement”.[451] On 11 September 2015, the resolution failed, as expected, on a 162-269 vote; 244 Republicans and 25 Democrats voted no, while 162 Democrats and no Republicans voted yes.[451][452] On the same day, House Republicans held two additional votes, one on a resolution claiming that the Obama administration had failed to meet the requirements of a congressional review period on the deal and another resolution which would prevent the United States from lifting any sanctions.[451][453] The former resolution passed on a party-line vote, with all Republicans in favor and all Democrats opposed; the latter resolution passed on nearly a party-line vote, with all Republicans and two Democrats in favor and every other Democrat opposed.[451][453][454] The House action against the resolution was a “symbolic vote that will have no consequence for the implementation of the deal”, and the two anti-agreement measures passed by the House were seen as “unlikely to even reach Obama’s desk”.[453][454]

On 10 September, the day before the vote, House speaker Boehner threatened to “use every tool at our disposal to stop, slow and delay this agreement from being fully implemented” and said that a lawsuit by House Republicans against the president (claiming that the Iran Nuclear Agreement Review Act was not followed) was “an option that is very possible”.[453][455] Four months later, however, House Republicans abandoned their plans for a lawsuit against the administration over the JCPOA.[456]

Conservative legal activist Larry Klayman filed a lawsuit against President Obama and members of Congress in July 2015 in federal court in West Palm Beach, Florida, asserting that the agreement should be considered a treaty requiring Senate ratification.[457][458]Klayman’s suit was dismissed for lack of standing in September 2015.[459]

Review period in Iran

Iranian Supreme Leader Khamenei issued a letter of guidelines to President Rouhani, ordering him on how to proceed with the deal.[139][140] On 21 June 2015, the Iranian Parliament (Majlis) decided to form a committee to study the JCPOA and to wait at least 80 days before voting on it.[460] Foreign minister Mohammad Javad Zarif and Atomic Energy Organization of Iran chief Ali Akbar Salehi, defended the deal in Parliament on the same day.[460] Although the Iranian constitution gives Parliament the right to cancel the deal, it was reported that this outcome is unlikely.[460]The New York Times reported, “the legislators have effectively opted to withhold their judgment until they know whether the American Congress approves of the deal.”[460]

In televised remarks made on 23 July 2015, Iranian President Hassan Rouhani rejected domestic criticism of the JCPOA from Iranian hardliners, “such as the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps and its allies”, which “have criticized the accord as an invasive affront to the country’s sovereignty and a capitulation to foreign adversaries, particularly the United States”.[461] In remarks described by The New York Times as “blunt” and uncharacteristically frank, Rouhani claimed a popular mandate to make an agreement based on his election in 2013 and warned that the alternative was “an economic Stone Age” brought on by sanctions which (as the Times described) have “shriveled oil exports and denied the country access to the global banking system“.[461] On 26 July, a two-page, top-secret directive sent to Iranian newspaper editors from Iran’s Supreme National Security Council surfaced online.[462] In the document, newspapers are instructed to avoid criticism of the agreement and to avoid giving the impression of “a rift” at the highest levels of government.[462] The BBCreported that the document appears to be aimed at constraining criticism of the JCPOA by Iranian hardliners.[462]

On 3 September, Iranian supreme leader Khamenei said that the Majlis should make the final decision on the agreement.[463] On the same day, Ali Larijani, the speaker of the parliament, said that he support the agreement and that: “The agreement needs to be discussed and needs to be approved by the Iranian parliament. There will be heated discussions and debates.”[463]

Abbas Milani and Michael McFaul wrote: “those [in Iran] supporting the deal include moderates inside the government, many opposition leaders, a majority of Iranian citizens, and many in the Iranian American diaspora—a disparate group that has rarely agreed on anything until now.”[464] Within the government, Rouhani and Foreign Minister Javad Zarif, who negotiated the agreement, “are now the most vocal in defending it against Iranian hawks”.[464] Also vocally supporting the agreement are former presidents Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani and Mohammad Khatami and moderates within parliament.[464] The agreement is also supported by most prominent opposition leaders, including Mir-Hossein Mousavi, a 2009 presidential candidate who is under house arrest for his role as a leader of the Green Movement.[464]

Conversely, “the most militantly authoritarian, conservative, and anti-Western leaders and groups within Iran oppose the deal.”[464] The anti-agreement coalition in Iran includes former president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, former head of Atomic Energy Organization of IranFereydoon Abbasi, ex-nuclear negotiator Saeed Jalili; and various conservative clerics and Revolutionary Guard commanders.[464] This group has “issued blistering attacks on the incompetence of Iran’s negotiating team, claiming that negotiators caved on many key issues and were outmaneuvered by more clever and sinister American diplomats”.[464]

Anti-JCPOA representatives of Islamic Consultative Assembly protested Ali Akbar Saheli and made death threats toward him[465]

Iranian defense minister Hossein Dehqan said on 2 September that Iran would not allow the IAEA to visit every site or facility that it wishes.[466]

The Majlis special commission for examining the JCPOA, has invited Ali Shamkhani, as well as members of former nuclear negotiation team including Ali Bagheri and Fereydoon Abbasi to comment on the deal.[467] During the session, Saeed Jalili, ex-chief negotiator has slammed the deal, stating “approximately 100 absolute rights” of Iran were conceded to the opposing side. He believes the deal is “unacceptable” because Iran makes an “exceptional [nuclear case], replacing ‘permission’ with ‘right’ under the NPT, and accepting unconventional measures”.[468] He also believes that the deal has crossed the red lines drawn by the Supreme leader of Iran. His testimony was criticized by commission members Masoud Pezeshkian and Abbas Ali Mansouri Arani.[469] In another session, current negotiatiors Abbas Araqchi and Majid Takht-Ravanchi defended the deal, led by Javad Zarif.[470]

In the Iranian media, the leading reformist newspapers, Etemad and Shargh, “continue to write approvingly of the negotiations and their outcome”.[471] Conversely, the leading conservative paper Ettelaat has criticized the agreement.[471] The most “bombastic and hard-line criticism of the deal” has come from Kayhan, which is edited by Hossein Shariatmadari and closely associated with Khamenei, the supreme leader.[471]

The agreement is supported by many Iranian dissidents, including Nobel Peace Prize laureate, human rights activist, and Iranian exile Shirin Ebadi, who “labeled as ‘extremists’ those who opposed the agreement in Iran and America”.[464] Likewise, dissident journalist and former political prisonerAkbar Ganji expressed hope, “step-by-step nuclear accords, the lifting of economic sanctions and the improvement of the relations between Iran and Western powers will gradually remove the warlike and securitized environment from Iran.”[464] Citing Iran’s human rights situation and the “lack of religious and political freedom in the country”, some dissidents opposed the agreement, including Ahmad BatebiNazanin Afshin-Jam, and Roozbeh Farahanipour, who signed an open letter arguing, “more pressure should be applied to the regime, not less.”[472]

On 13 October, The New York Times and many other major U.S. news sources reported that the Iranian Parliament had approved the JPCOA by a vote of 161 votes in favor, 59 against and 13 abstentions. Major Iranian news sources including Fars News Agency and Press TV, referred to as a semi-official government source by U.S. media, reported that what was actually approved was a document consisting of the text of the JPCOA, supplemented by text unilaterally added by Iran and not agreed by the P5+1.[473][474][475][476][477][478]

Adoption Day

On 18 October 2015, EU High Representative Mogherini and Iranian Foreign Minister Zarif jointly announced “Adoption Day” for the JCPOA, noting actions taken and planned by the EU, Iran, the IAEA, and the United States, and stating, “All sides remain strongly committed to ensuring that implementation of the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action can start as soon as possible.”[479]

Implementation Day

Last meeting between diplomatic teams of Iran and the United States, at the Palais Coburg Hotel in Vienna

After the IAEA confirmed that Iran met the relevant requirements under the JCPOA, all nuclear sanctions were lifted by the UN, the EU and the United States on 16 January 2016.[480]

Washington imposed new sanctions on 11 companies and individuals for supplying Iran’s ballistic missile program on the first day of the implementation.[481][482][483] According to Kerry, $1.7 billion in debt with interest is to be paid to Tehran. However, some Iranian financial institutions including Ansar BankBank Saderat, Bank Saderat PLC, and Mehr Bank remain on the SDN List[484] and a number of U.S. sanctions with respect to Iran including existing terrorism, human rights and ballistic missiles-related sanctions will remain in place.[485]

Deterring Iran from obtaining nuclear weapons

Some argue that deterrence is the key to ensuring not just that Iran is in compliance with the agreement but also to preventing them from developing nuclear weapons.[486] Former Assistant Secretary for Nonproliferation Robert Einhorn, a supporter of the agreement, wrote it would be better to have permanent or longer-term restrictions on Iran’s enrichment program, but preventing a nuclear-armed Iran is possible, “provided the United States and key partners maintain a strong and credible deterrent against a future Iranian decision to go for the bomb”.[487] According to Michael Eisenstadt, Director of the Military and Security Studies Program at the Washington Institute for Near East Policy, “deterring Iran from developing or acquiring nuclear weapons will remain the core imperative driving U.S. policy in the coming years”.[488]

Four days after the JCPOA was adopted, Khamenei delivered a speech, highlighting his fatwa and rejecting the claim that the nuclear talks rather than Iran’s religious abstinence prevented Iran from acquiring nuclear weapons. He said:

The Americans say they stopped Iran from acquiring a nuclear weapon. They know it’s not true. We had a fatwa (religious ruling), declaring nuclear weapons to be religiously forbidden under Islamic law. It had nothing to do with the nuclear talks.[489]

In a letter[490] addressed to Representative Jerrold Nadler, Democrat of New York, President Barack Obama raised the issue about U.S. ability to deter Iran from obtaining nuclear weapons:

The JCPOA, moreover, does not remove any of our options when it comes to preventing Iran from acquiring a nuclear weapon. As I have repeatedly emphasized, my Administration will take whatever means are necessary to achieve that goal, including military means. Should Iran seek to dash toward a nuclear weapon, all of the options available to the United States—including the military option—will remain available through the life of the deal and beyond.[490]

Ambassador Dennis Ross, former top Mideast official, and General David Petraeus, former CIA director, wrote in a Washington Post op-ed, “Bolstering deterrence is essential in addressing key vulnerabilities” of the agreement. Petraeus and Ross asserted that if Iran decide to race toward a nuclear weapon “there is a need not to speak of our options but of our readiness to use force”, since the threat of force is far more likely to deter the Iranians. They said the president could resolve their concerns by stating that he would use military force to prevent Iran from obtaining a nuclear weapon, including producing highly enriched uranium, even after the deal ends in 15 years. It is “critically important for the president to state this clearly, particularly given his perceived hesitancy to use force”, they said.[486][491]

In the same letter, Obama detailed the possible non-military unilateral and multilateral responses to be employed should Iran violate the agreement, however, the president made it clear: “Ultimately, it is essential that we retain the flexibility to decide what responsive measures we and our allies deem appropriate for any non-compliance.”[490] Flexibility meant that Obama rejected specifying “the penalties for smaller violations of the accord” in advance.[492]

The open letter, which was signed by more than 100 former U.S. ambassadors and high-ranking State Department officials endorsing the agreement, begins with the words: “The Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) with Iran stands as a landmark agreement in deterring the proliferation of nuclear weapons.”[343][344] In contrast, Michael Mandelbaum, the Christian A. Herter Professor at the Johns Hopkins UniversitySchool of Advanced International Studies, wrote that nuclear nonproliferation in the Middle East ultimately depended “not on the details of the Vienna agreement but on the familiar Cold-War policy of deterrence”. Mandelbaum added that if President Obama will leave office without Iran building the bomb, “the responsibility for conducting a policy of effective deterrence will fall on his successor.”[493] Harvard law professor Alan Dershowitz expressed his view on deterring Iran from pursuing nuclear weapons as follows: “Nothing currently on the table will deter Iran. Sanctions are paper protests to an oil-rich nation. Diplomacy has already failed because Russia and China are playing both sides.”[494]

Aftermath

Impact

Economic

With the prospective lifting of some sanctions, the agreement was expected to have a significant impact on both the economy of Iran and global markets. The energy sector is particularly important, with Iran having nearly 10 percent of global oil reserves and 18 percent of natural gas reserves.[495] Millions of barrels of Iranian oil might come onto global markets, lowering the price of crude oil.[495][496] However, the impact would not be immediate, because Iran would not be able to implement measures that are needed to lift sanctions until the end of 2015.[496] Technology and investment from global integrated oil companies were expected to increase capacity from Iran’s oil fields and refineries, which have been in “disarray” in recent years, plagued by mismanagement and underinvestment.[495][496] Senior executives from oil giants Royal Dutch ShellTotal S.A, and Eni met with the Iranian oil minister in Vienna in June, the month before the JCPOA was announced, and sook business opportunities in Iran.[496]

The economic impact of a partial lifting of sanctions extends beyond the energy sector; The New York Times reported that “consumer-oriented companies, in particular, could find opportunity in this country with 81 million consumers,” many of whom are young and prefer Western products.[495] Iran is “considered a strong emerging market play” by investment and trading firms.[495]

French auto manufacturerPSA Peugeot Citroën was one of the first Western companies to re-establish commercial ties following the deal.[497]

In February 2016, after the end of a four year restriction, Iranian banks—except MehrAnsar and Saderat banks—[498]reconnected to the SWIFT.[499] However, many Iranian observers including critics of Rouhani’s administration, economists and private sector representatives claimed the news was false. According to Financial Timess report, Iran’s banks are indeed being reconnected to SWIFT but there have been “too few” transactions because european and US banks are “worried about the risks” of dealing with them and “scarred by a string of multibillion-dollar fines”.[498]

Three months after implementation, Iran was unable to tap about $100 billion held abroad. One 15 April 2016, Central Bank of Iran Governor Valiollah Seif said in an interview with Bloomberg Television that Iran has gotten “almost nothing” from the accord. He also met Secretary of TreasuryJack Lew on the sidelines of his Washington’s trip to discuss the concerns.[500]Josh Earnest, the White House Press Secretary, said that “the agreement that’s included in the JCPOA does not include giving Iran access to the US financial system or to allow the execution of so-called U-turn transactions.”[501]

On 20 April 2016, the Supreme Court of the United States decided on Bank Markazi v. Peterson and ruled that almost $2 billion of Iranian frozen assets must be given to families of people killed in the 1983 Beirut barracks bombings. The court accused Iran of being responsible for the incident.[502] Iranian foreign minister Zarif called the ruling “highway robbery”, lashing the court for its previous ruling of holding Iran responsible for 9/11, adding that the Supreme Court is “the Supreme Court of the United States, not the Supreme Court of the world. We’re not under its jurisdiction, nor is our money.”[503][504]

On 27 November 2016, Schlumberger, the largest oil service company in the world, announced that it had signed a preliminary deal to study an Iranian oil field. According to Schlumberger’s spokesperson, this was a memorandum of understanding with the state-run National Iranian Oil Company “for the non-disclosure of data required for a technical evaluation of a field development prospect”.[505]

Scientific

In July 2015, Richard Stone wrote in the journal Science in July 2015 that if the agreement is fully implemented, “Iran can expect a rapid expansion of scientific cooperation with Western powers. As its nuclear facilities are repurposed, scientists from Iran and abroad will team up in areas such as nuclear fusionastrophysics, and radioisotopes for cancer therapy.”[506]

Diplomatic

In August 2015, the British embassy in Tehran reopened almost four years after it was closed after protesters attacked the embassy in 2011.[507] At a reopening ceremony, Hammond said that since Rouhani’s election as president, British-Iranian relations had gone from a “low point” to steady “step-by-step” improvement.[507] Hammond said: “Last month’s historic nuclear agreement was another milestone, and showed the power of diplomacy, conducted in an atmosphere of mutual respect, to solve shared challenges. Re-opening the embassy is the logical next step to build confidence and trust between two great nations.”[507] The BBC‘s diplomatic correspondent, Jonathan Marcus, reported that the nuclear agreement “had clearly been decisive in prompting the UK embassy to be reopened”, stating that British-Iranian “ties have slowly been warming but it is clearly the successful conclusion of the nuclear accord with Iran that has paved the way for the embassy reopening”.[508]

Continued tensions

After the adoption of the JCPOA, the United States imposed several new non-nuclear sanctions against Iran, some of which were condemned by Iran as possible violations of the deal. According to Seyed Mohammad Marandi, professor at the University of Tehran, the general consensus in Iran while the negotiations were taking place was that the United States would move towards increasing sanctions on non-nuclear areas. He said that these post-JCPOA sanctions could “severely damage the chances for the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action bearing fruit”.[509][510][neutrality is disputed]

On 8 and 9 March 2016, the IRGC conducted ballistic missile tests as part of its military drills, with one of the Qadr H missiles carrying the inscription, “Israel should be wiped off the Earth.”[511] Israel called on Western powers to punish Iran for the tests,[512] which U.S. officials said do not violate the nuclear deal, but may violate United Nations Security Council Resolution 2231.[513] Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif insisted that the tests were not in violation of the UNSC resolution.[514] On 17 March, the U.S. Treasury Department sanctioned Iranian and British companies for involvement in the Iranian ballistic missile program.[515]

On 21 May 2016, Zarif, the foreign minister of Iran, persisted that “U.S. must take practical steps” in the meeting with his New Zealander counterpart Murray McCully[516]

Iran–U.S. prisoner exchange

Hours before the official announcement of the activation of JCPOA on 16 January 2016, Iran released four imprisoned Iranian AmericansWashington Post reporter Jason Rezaian, who had been convicted of espionage,[517] former Marine Corps infantryman Amir Hekmati, who had been convicted of co-operating with hostile governments,[518][519] Christian pastor Saeed Abedini, who was convicted on national security charges,[520] and former Iranian infantryman Nosratollah Khosravi-Roodsari, who was convicted of violating alcohol prohibitions and awaiting trial on espionage charges[521]—in exchange for the United States’ release of seven Iranian Americans—Bahram Mechanic, Khosrow Afghahi and Tooraj Faridi, charged with sanctions violations,[522] Nader Modanlo, convicted of helping launch Iranian satellite Sina-1,[522] Arash Ghahreman, convicted of money laundering and sanctions violations for exporting navigation equipment to Iran,[522] Nima Golestaneh, convicted of hacking,[522] and Ali Saboonchi, convicted of sanctions violations[522]—and the dismissal of outstanding charges against 14 Iranians outside the United States.[523][524] A fifth American, student and researcher Matthew Trevithick, left Iran in a separate arrangement.[525][526][527]

As part of the exchange, the U.S. government dropped charges and Interpol red notices against “14 Iranians for whom it was assessed that extradition requests were unlikely to be successful.” Senior U.S. officials defended the agreement as a good deal for the U.S., but some Justice Department officials and FBI and DHS agents were critical because this disrupted the National Counterproliferation Initiative efforts “to lure top Iranian targets into traveling internationally in order to arrest them”.[528]

Continued criticism

Shahi Hamid of The Atlantic wrote that the agreement “had a narrow—if understandable—focus on the minutia of Iran’s nuclear program”, and “[t]he Obama administration repeatedly underscored that the negotiations weren’t about Iran’s other activities in the region: They were about the nuclear program.”[529] The U.S. government and observers noted from the time that the framework was entered into in April 2015 “that the United States and Iran still find themselves on opposite sides of most of the conflicts that have pitched the Arab world into chaos” and that the agreement was “unlikely” to cause Iran to become a firm partner of the West.[530]

The narrow nuclear non-proliferation focus of the deal was criticized by the agreement’s opponents (such as Lawrence J. Hass of the American Foreign Policy Council), who argued that the agreement was faulty because it did not address anti-Semitism and threats against Israel, hostility and rhetoric against America and the West in general, illegal missile testing, supplying of arms to terrorist groups, and efforts to destabilize ongoing conflicts in Syria and Yemen.[531]

In October 2015 The Wall Street Journal noted that Iran had recently carried out ballistic missile tests, announced the conviction of Washington Post journalist Jason Rezaian, launched military operations to maintain Bashar al-Assad’s regime in Syria, and continued shipping arms and money to Houthi rebels in Yemen, the latter two actions fueling fears of a broader regional war.[532]

Israel and Saudi Arabia expressed concern about Iran’s ability to use diplomatic cover and unfrozen money from the deal to strengthen its regional position and that of its allies.[532] Critics in Washington accused the Obama administration of having been duped by Iran and Russia into accepting a deal that was antithetical to American interests.[532]

Meanwhile, the administration was also accused of whitewashing Iran’s failure to cooperate fully with the IAEA investigation into the possible military dimensions of its past nuclear work.[533]

In November 2015, The New York Times wrote, “[a]nyone who hoped that Iran’s nuclear agreement with the United States and other powers portended a new era of openness with the West has been jolted with a series of increasingly rude awakenings over the past few weeks.”[534] The Times reported, variously, that the Iranian government had invited a Lebanese-American to visit the country, and then arrested him for spying; the Ayatollah made a public statement that the slogan “Death to America” was “eternal”; a wave of anti-American billboards went up in the capital; a backlash by political hard-liners began and the Revolutionary Guard intelligence apparatus “started rounding up journalists, activists and cultural figures”; state media circulated conspiracy theories about the United States, including that the CIA had downed a Russian civilian passenger jet in Egypt; Iranian and Lebanese citizens in Iran holding dual American citizenship were targeted for arrest on charges of “spying”; clothing manufacturers were prohibited from selling items featuring the American or British flags; and a state-sponsored demonstration was held outside the former U.S. embassy in Tehran on the anniversary of the takeover and hostage crisis in 1979.[534]

Business Insider reported that a variety of factors made it more likely that Iran’s stance would harden once the agreement was in place, with one Iran expert saying that Iran’s “nice, smiling face” would now disappear as the country pursued more adversarial stances, and policy analysts saying that by negotiating the deal with the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps, Obama had “made an investment in the stability of the [IRGC] regime”.[535]

The National Review wrote that the U.S. administration’s unwillingness to acknowledge any Iranian noncompliance had left the Iranians in control, and that the deal was undermining international security by emboldening Iran to act as a regional hegemon, at the expense of U.S. influence and credibility.[536]

The Wall Street Journal editorial page editor Paul Gigot argued in February 2016 that Iran’s prohibited missile tests, capture of U.S. naval personnel, and other provocations were a sign that rapprochement hoped for by Iran’s Western negotiating partners was not going to happen, saying the government had no interest in accommodating U.S. interests, seeking instead to humiliate the United States and spread propaganda. [537] Gigot noted Iran’s desire to be the dominant power in the Mideast and would work to promote instability there while using the nuclear agreement as a “shield” to protect from criticism of its “imperialist” behavior.[537]

James S. Robbins, an American political commentator and a senior fellow on the American Foreign Policy Council, criticized the nuclear deal as “impotent” because it does not limit Iran’s ballistic missile program, and UNSC Resolution 2231, which was adopted along with the deal, weakened the limits Iran’s ballistic missile program that had been imposed by previous UNSC resolutions.[538]

On 4 March 2016, Olli Heinonen, former Deputy Director General of the International Atomic Energy Agency, wrote “the International Atomic Energy Agency’s most recent report on Iran’s nuclear activities provides insufficient details on important verification and monitoring issues,” and said that the report’s lack of detailed data prevented the international community from verifying whether Iran was complying with the deal.[539]

On 20 March 2017, the Trump administration formally certified that Iran was in compliance with JCPOA, but added that the country will be subject to non-nuclear, terrorism related, sanctions.[540] The Trump administration refused to recertify Iran’s compliance in October 2017, however, citing multiple violations. [541]

Violations

On 9 November 2016 Deutsche Welle, citing an alleged source from the IAEA, reported that “Iran has violated the terms of its nuclear deal.”[542]

On 1 December 2016, the U.S. Senate voted to renew the Iran Sanctions Act (ISA) for another decade. The future of nuclear agreement with Iran is uncertain under the administration of President Trump.[543] The Obama Administration and outside experts said the extension would have no practical effect and risked antagonizing Iran.[544]

Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Khamenei,[545] President Rouhani,[546][547] and Iran’s Foreign Ministry spokesman said that the extension of sanctions would be a breach of the nuclear deal.[548] Some Iranian officials said that Iran might ramp up uranium enrichment in response.[549]

In January 2017, representatives from Iran, P5+1 and EU gathered in Vienna’s Palais Coburg hotel to address Iran’s complaint about the US congressional bill.[546]

The Trump administration boasted that Trump personally lobbied dozens of European officials against doing business with Iran during the May 2017 Brussels summit; this likely violated the terms of the JCPOA, which expressly states that the U.S. may not pursue “any policy specifically intended to directly and adversely affect the normalization of trade and economic relations with Iran”. The Trump administration certified in July 2017 that Iran had upheld its end of the agreement.[550] In October 2017, however, the Trump administration refused to recertify Iran’s compliance with the deal, saying that “Iran has violated the agreement multiple times.” [551]

The IAEA, EU, Russia and China have all affirmed that Iran is respecting the limitations on its nuclear program.[552] The IAEA, the foremost authority on the matter, has repeatedly deemed Iran in compliance with the nuclear deal. The U.S. State Department has also certified that Iran is holding up its end of the bargain, and a host of experts affirmed these findings.[553] IAEA Director General Amano said that “Iran is subject to the world’s most robust nuclear verification regime.”[554]

Dispute over access to military sites

Ali Khamenei banned allowing international inspectors into military sites.[555] Trump and his administration said that Iranian military facilities could be used for nuclear-related activities barred under the agreement.[556] Iran rejected Trump’s request to allow inspection of Iran’s military sites.[557] However, Amano insisted that IAEA inspectors were entitled to inspect military sites under the agreement, although the IAEA has avoided requesting access to any military sites since the deal went into effect.[558][559]

Denial of Re-certification

On 13 October 2017, U.S. President Donald Trump announced that he would not make the certification required under the Iran Nuclear Agreement Review Act, accusing Iran of violating the “spirit” of the deal and calling on the U.S. Congress and international partners to “address the deal’s many serious flaws so that the Iranian regime can never threaten the world with nuclear weapons”.[560]

Declaring that he would not decide to certify the deal, President Trump left it to Congress whether to reimpose sanctions on Iran and “blow up” the deal. However, Trump’s aides sought to enact rules indicating how the United States could “reimpose sanctions” and president listed three items which could provide such as “trigger” leaving the deal: Iran’s intercontinental ballistic missile, Iranian rejection of “an extension of the deal’s existing constraint on its nuclear activities”, and “evidence that Iran could manufacture a bomb in less than 12 months”. Trump described the deal as “one of the worst and most one-sided transactions the United States has ever entered into”.[561]

Iranian President Hassan Rouhani stated that getting out from the Iran nuclear deal would “carry a high cost” for the United States.[562] Also he said that no president was allowed to “single-handedly revoke” the deal signed by the UN.[563]

After Trump said that he “can not and will not” recertify the nuclear deal with Iran, Theresa May, Emmanuel Macron and Angela Merkel supported the deal in a joint statement. The European Union’s foreign policy chief, Mogherini said that the agreement was working well and that no one country could break the deal concluded by Britain, France, Germany, Russia, China and the European Union. She suggested a “collective process” for keeping the deal. Russia’s foreign minister confirmed that Iran was abiding by the nuclear deal.[563]

US withdrawal

On May 8, 2018, the United States officially withdrew from the agreement after President Donald Trump signed a Presidential Memorandum ordering the reinstatement of harsher sanctions.[564] During Trump’s speech at May 8, 2018, he cited that his decision was due to violation of the deal by Iran and to prevent Iran to develop nuclear arms. No evidence of significant noncompliance was presented by President Trump to support his withdrawal decision and the IAEA inspection team has continued to assess that Iran has been in compliance.

The European members of the deal have stated that they would remain in this deal.

Consequences after US withdrawal

The Iran currency dropped significantly right after Trump announced the US withdrawal. The leader of Iran, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, stated: “I said from the first day: don’t trust America”[565]. Also, the American flag was set on fire in the Iran Parliament.[566].

See also

Notes

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Joint_Comprehensive_Plan_of_Action

Story 2: Iran and Obama Lied To American People — President Trump’s Goal: Stop Nuclear Proliferation in Far East and Middle East By Diplomacy, Negotiation or Military Means — Videos

See the source image

Emily Landau: “Iran is strongly, strongly motivated to become a nuclear state”

Published on May 6, 2018

Dr. Emily Landau, one of the foremost experts on nuclear proliferation in the Middle East, claims that Iran’s threats to pull out of the deal if Trump tries to renegotiate it are exaggerated – the deal has been great for Iran Read the full story: https://www.haaretz.com/middle-east-n…

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See the source imageImage result for branco cartoons obama iran cash paymentsSee the source imageSee the source imageSee the source image

Emily B. Landau

Emily B. Landau

Senior Research Fellow, head of the Arms Control and Regional Security Program
emily@inss.org.il
03-640-0408

CV

Emily Landau is a senior research fellow at INSS and head of the Arms Control and Regional Security Program, leading its research, conference outreach, and mentorship projects. Dr. Landau has published and lectured extensively on nuclear proliferation, arms control, and regional security dynamics in the Middle East; WMD proliferation challenges in the post-Cold War era; Israel’s nuclear image and policy; and developments in global arms control thinking in the nuclear realm. Her books and monographs include Israel’s Nuclear Image: Arab Perceptions of Israel’s Nuclear Posture (co-author, 1994), a landmark study into the regional effects of Israel’s unique model of nuclear ambiguity; and a major study of the ACRS talks entitled Arms Control in the Middle East: Cooperative Security Dialogue and Regional Constraints (Sussex Academic Press, 2006). Her most recent publications include co-edited volumes, among them: The Obama Vision and Nuclear Disarmament (2011); The Nuclear Nonproliferation Regime at a Crossroads (2014), and Arms Control and National Security: New Horizons (2014). In 2012 she published Decade of Diplomacy: Negotiations with Iran and North Korea and the Future of Nuclear Nonproliferation, a comparative study assessing the effectiveness of negotiations as a strategy to confront the military nuclear ambitions of Iran and North Korea. She is also the author of numerous book chapters and articles published in various academic and professional journals.

Dr. Landau has taught nuclear strategy, negotiations and arms control in different programs at Tel Aviv University since 2004; she currently teaches in the executive MA program on Diplomacy and Security at Tel Aviv University, as well as in the Lauder school of Government at IDC Herzliya (from 2013), and the International School at the University of Haifa (from 2008). She is a frequent expert commentator in Israeli and leading international media; her op-eds, comments and interviews have been featured in the New York TimesWashington PostWall Street JournalTime MagazineNational InterestFinancial TimesThe GuardianReutersBloomberg, and USA Today among others, and in Israel’s Times of IsraelJerusalem PostHaaretzMaariv, and Jerusalem Report.

Dr. Landau is a frequent guest lecturer and public speaker, and briefs many audiences on the Iranian nuclear crisis. She has participated in numerous Tack II initiatives on arms control and regional security in the Middle East, serving on the steering committee of the Euro-Mediterranean network of research institutes EuroMeSCo for eight years. She currently serves on the board of advisory editors of Fathom and is a member of IISS, London.  Dr. Landau holds a PhD from the Hebrew University of Jerusalem. Forbesmagazine chose Dr. Landau as one of Israel’s fifty most influential women for 2015, in recognition of her work on security issues, in particular her public profile regarding the Iranian nuclear crisis.

 

Preventing a nuclear meltdown in the Middle East

Preventing a nuclear meltdown in the Middle East
© Getty Images

U.S. geopolitical and nuclear nonproliferation objectives are on a potential collision course as Saudi Arabia seeks to join the Middle East’s growing nuclear power club by soliciting bids for the construction of two reactors. An agreement between the two countries to allow U.S.-supplied nuclear technology to flow to the kingdom must limit nuclear weapons potential and serve geostrategic objectives.

With the nuclear supplier-recipient relationship lasting up to 100 years, it is important that the United States be a principal nuclear partner with Saudi Arabia. It can provide proven technology, strong regulatory capability, and has a long history of strengthening global nuclear governance and opposing proliferation, providing confidence in the Saudis’ nascent program.

But the pathway to achieving the balance between geopolitical and non-proliferation goals is fraught and the decision-making timeline short, presenting a significant challenge to the Trump administration that conducts the negotiations and the Congress that controls final approval.

If the United States insists that the Saudis renounce the possession of nuclear technologies that have dual civil and weapons uses the negotiations may fail, raising geopolitical and security concerns. If it relies on international norms and guidelines instead, they will need to be firmly enforced and strengthened or risk proliferation concerns.

A major worry about Saudi nuclear ambitions is that it will try to match Iran atom-for-atom by possessing uranium enrichment and plutonium reprocessing that can be used to manufacture nuclear weapons materials. While energy diversity is an underlying rationale for the shift from fossil to nuclear generation, a significant impetus is to respond to the nuclear advances by Iran, its regional competitor. Iran’s nuclear program is currently limited under a multilateral agreement because of its weapons implications, but important restrictions will expire in coming years.

The United States has several nuclear cooperation agreements with nations in the Middle East, including Egypt and Morocco, but the most recent one with the United Arab Emirates is significant. This agreement prohibits enrichment and reprocessing and is dubbed the “gold standard.” This restriction exists in only one other agreement, between Taiwan and the United States. But, post-9/11, it has been proposed as a new threshold for future U.S. nuclear collaboration in the Middle East and beyond.

The Saudis have indicated resistance to this restriction, although they have not stated an intention to enrich uranium and have not publicly expressed an interest in plutonium reprocessing.

A consequence of insistence on the “gold standard” is that it could push the Saudis away from American technology and into the embrace of Russia or China, whose reactors likely will come with fewer strings and a cheaper price. This would open the door to greater geopolitical influence by strategic competitors of the United States undermining its political, nonproliferation and security goals. The choice of South Korea to fill the Saudis’ order, as it did for UAE, could partly serve U.S. interests, but would still require a U.S.-Saudi agreement if controlled American componentry is involved.

An alternative to the “gold standard” requires that the United States focus on ensuring the effectiveness of other constraints. This includes enforcing the Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG) restrictions on the transfer of enrichment and reprocessing technology if it may aid a weapons effort and closing loopholes that non-NSG nations could use to skirt the controls. The Saudis can enhance their nonproliferation credentials by accepting the Additional Protocol to its safeguards agreement with the International Atomic Energy Agency. This would allow in-depth verification that its nuclear activities are peaceful.

Bilaterally, the United States maintains consent rights over the use and disposition of the nuclear fuel it provides. An additional step can be copied from the U.S.-South Korea nuclear pact, which faced similar pressures to provide access to weapons capable technologies. It allowed for a multi-year joint examination of a sensitive technology without pre-authorizing its use. A comparable approach would recognize the Saudis’ rights under the Nonproliferation Treaty but eliminate immediate concerns about weapon-grade materials in the kingdom.

Nuclear geopolitical and nonproliferation imperatives cannot be in conflict in the Middle East — both are critically important. There are serious concerns about the dangers posed by the production of weapon-grade materials in the region, including a potential Iran-Saudi nuclear arms race and the temptation for nuclear terrorism. There are equally real dangers that without a central U.S. role in the Saudi program nuclear and global security will suffer.

The balance between these goals can be found, but it will require creativity, compromise and a commitment to limit the inevitable imperfections.

Kenneth N. Luongo is president and founder of the Partnership for Global Security and the Center for a Secure Nuclear Future. He served from 1994-1997 as senior advisor to the Secretary of Energy for Nonproliferation Policy and simultaneously as the Department of Energy’s director of the Office of Arms Control and Nonproliferation.

http://thehill.com/opinion/international/375585-preventing-a-nuclear-meltdown-in-the-middle-east

 

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The Pronk Pops Show 1010, December 8, 2017, Story 1: Labor Participation Rate In November 2017 Remained At 62.7% with Over 95.4 Million Not in Labor Force With 160.5 Million In Labor Force –U-3 Unemployment Rate Hit Low 4.1% and U-6 Unemployment Rate Rose To 8.0% — Total Non-farm Payroll Jobs Added 228,000 — Videos — Story 2: Corporate Tax Cut Bill Will Pass By December 22, 2017 — Definitively Not Fundamental Tax Reform For The Middle Class — Replace Income Tax System with A Single Broad Based Consumption Tax Replacing All Federal Income Based Taxes — Videos — Story 3: Defeating The Islamic State in Iraq and Syria By Bombing Them To Death — ISIS Free? — Videos

Posted on December 11, 2017. Filed under: American History, Blogroll, Bombs, Breaking News, Communications, Congress, Constitutional Law, Corruption, Countries, Cruise Missiles, Donald J. Trump, Donald Trump, Drones, Economics, Education, Elections, Empires, Employment, European History, Federal Communications Commission, Fiscal Policy, Foreign Policy, Free Trade, Freedom of Speech, Genocide, Government, Government Dependency, History, House of Representatives, Human Behavior, Illegal Immigration, Illegal Immigration, Immigration, Independence, Iraq, Islam, Israel, Killing, Knifes, Language, Law, Legal Immigration, Lying, Media, Middle East, MIssiles, National Interest, National Security Agency, Networking, News, People, Philosophy, Photos, Politics, Polls, President Trump, Raymond Thomas Pronk, Regulation, Religion, Rifles, Rule of Law, Scandals, Spying, Success, Surveillance and Spying On American People, Surveillance/Spying, Syria, Tax Policy, Taxation, Taxes, Terror, Terrorism, Trade Policy, Trump Surveillance/Spying, Turkey, Unemployment, United States of America, Videos, Violence, War, Weapons, Weather, Wisdom, Yemen | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , |

 

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The Pronk Pops Show Podcasts

Pronk Pops Show 1010, December 8, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 1009, December 7, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 1008, December 1, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 1007, November 28, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 1006, November 27, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 1005, November 22, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 1004, November 21, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 1003, November 20, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 1002, November 15, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 1001, November 14, 2017 

Pronk Pops Show 1000, November 13, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 999, November 10, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 998, November 9, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 997, November 8, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 996, November 6, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 995, November 3, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 994, November 2, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 993, November 1, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 992, October 31, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 991, October 30, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 990, October 26, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 989, October 25, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 988, October 20, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 987, October 19, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 986, October 18, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 985, October 17, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 984, October 16, 2017 

Pronk Pops Show 983, October 13, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 982, October 12, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 981, October 11, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 980, October 10, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 979, October 9, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 978, October 5, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 977, October 4, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 976, October 2, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 975, September 29, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 974, September 28, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 973, September 27, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 972, September 26, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 971, September 25, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 970, September 22, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 969, September 21, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 968, September 20, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 967, September 19, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 966, September 18, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 965, September 15, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 964, September 14, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 963, September 13, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 962, September 12, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 961, September 11, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 960, September 8, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 959, September 7, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 958, September 6, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 957, September 5, 2017

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Story 1: Labor Participation Rate In November 2017 Remained At 62.7% with Over 95.4 Million Not in Labor Force With 160.5 Million In Labor Force –U-3 Unemployment Rate Hit Low 4.1% and U-6 Unemployment Rate Rose To 8.0% — Total Non-farm Payroll Jobs Added 228,000 — Videos —

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US economy adds 228K jobs in November

Analyzing The November Jobs Report Compared To Previous Years | Velshi & Ruhle | MSNBC

U.S. economy continues its strong performance

National Economic Council Director Gary Cohn: Tax Reform Will Help Us Drive Real Wage Growth | CNBC

CNN’s Christine Romans Highlights November’s Really Good Jobs Numbers

Larry Kudlow: Jobs Report Shows We Are On Front End Of “Very, Very Strong Rebound In Manufacturing”

Panel on Strong November Jobs Report; 228K Jobs Added. #Economy #Jobs #Report #November

Stockman: Here’s Why Today’s Jobs Report Is Nothing to Celebrate

Alan Greenspan // We are about to go from stagnation to ‘stagflation’

Ep. 307: Trump Continues What He Once Called the Biggest Hoax in American Politics

The Reason Trump is President – Peter Schiff

 

Civilian Labor Force Level

160,529,000

 

Labor Force Statistics from the Current Population Survey

 

Series Id:           LNS11000000
Seasonally Adjusted
Series title:        (Seas) Civilian Labor Force Level
Labor force status:  Civilian labor force
Type of data:        Number in thousands
Age:                 16 years and over

Download:
Year Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec Annual
2000 142267(1) 142456 142434 142751 142388 142591 142278 142514 142518 142622 142962 143248
2001 143800 143701 143924 143569 143318 143357 143654 143284 143989 144086 144240 144305
2002 143883 144653 144481 144725 144938 144808 144803 145009 145552 145314 145041 145066
2003 145937(1) 146100 146022 146474 146500 147056 146485 146445 146530 146716 147000 146729
2004 146842(1) 146709 146944 146850 147065 147460 147692 147564 147415 147793 148162 148059
2005 148029(1) 148364 148391 148926 149261 149238 149432 149779 149954 150001 150065 150030
2006 150214(1) 150641 150813 150881 151069 151354 151377 151716 151662 152041 152406 152732
2007 153144(1) 152983 153051 152435 152670 153041 153054 152749 153414 153183 153835 153918
2008 154063(1) 153653 153908 153769 154303 154313 154469 154641 154570 154876 154639 154655
2009 154210(1) 154538 154133 154509 154747 154716 154502 154307 153827 153784 153878 153111
2010 153484(1) 153694 153954 154622 154091 153616 153691 154086 153975 153635 154125 153650
2011 153263(1) 153214 153376 153543 153479 153346 153288 153760 154131 153961 154128 153995
2012 154381(1) 154671 154749 154545 154866 155083 154948 154763 155160 155554 155338 155628
2013 155695(1) 155268 154990 155356 155514 155747 155669 155587 155731 154709 155328 155151
2014 155295(1) 155485 156115 155378 155559 155682 156098 156117 156100 156389 156421 156238
2015 157022(1) 156771 156781 157043 157447 156993 157125 157109 156809 157123 157358 157957
2016 158362(1) 158888 159278 158938 158510 158889 159295 159508 159830 159643 159456 159640
2017 159716(1) 160056 160201 160213 159784 160145 160494 160571 161146 160381 160529
1 : Data affected by changes in population controls.

 

Labor Force Participation Rate

62.7%

Series Id:           LNS11300000
Seasonally Adjusted
Series title:        (Seas) Labor Force Participation Rate
Labor force status:  Civilian labor force participation rate
Type of data:        Percent or rate
Age:                 16 years and over

Download:
Year Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec Annual
2000 67.3 67.3 67.3 67.3 67.1 67.1 66.9 66.9 66.9 66.8 66.9 67.0
2001 67.2 67.1 67.2 66.9 66.7 66.7 66.8 66.5 66.8 66.7 66.7 66.7
2002 66.5 66.8 66.6 66.7 66.7 66.6 66.5 66.6 66.7 66.6 66.4 66.3
2003 66.4 66.4 66.3 66.4 66.4 66.5 66.2 66.1 66.1 66.1 66.1 65.9
2004 66.1 66.0 66.0 65.9 66.0 66.1 66.1 66.0 65.8 65.9 66.0 65.9
2005 65.8 65.9 65.9 66.1 66.1 66.1 66.1 66.2 66.1 66.1 66.0 66.0
2006 66.0 66.1 66.2 66.1 66.1 66.2 66.1 66.2 66.1 66.2 66.3 66.4
2007 66.4 66.3 66.2 65.9 66.0 66.0 66.0 65.8 66.0 65.8 66.0 66.0
2008 66.2 66.0 66.1 65.9 66.1 66.1 66.1 66.1 66.0 66.0 65.9 65.8
2009 65.7 65.8 65.6 65.7 65.7 65.7 65.5 65.4 65.1 65.0 65.0 64.6
2010 64.8 64.9 64.9 65.2 64.9 64.6 64.6 64.7 64.6 64.4 64.6 64.3
2011 64.2 64.1 64.2 64.2 64.1 64.0 64.0 64.1 64.2 64.1 64.1 64.0
2012 63.7 63.8 63.8 63.7 63.7 63.8 63.7 63.5 63.6 63.8 63.6 63.7
2013 63.6 63.4 63.3 63.4 63.4 63.4 63.3 63.3 63.3 62.8 63.0 62.9
2014 62.9 62.9 63.1 62.8 62.8 62.8 62.9 62.9 62.8 62.9 62.9 62.7
2015 62.9 62.7 62.7 62.8 62.9 62.6 62.6 62.6 62.4 62.5 62.5 62.7
2016 62.7 62.9 63.0 62.8 62.6 62.7 62.8 62.8 62.9 62.8 62.6 62.7
2017 62.9 63.0 63.0 62.9 62.7 62.8 62.9 62.9 63.1 62.7 62.7

Unemployment Level

6.6 Million

 

Series Id:           LNS13000000
Seasonally Adjusted
Series title:        (Seas) Unemployment Level
Labor force status:  Unemployed
Type of data:        Number in thousands
Age:                 16 years and over

Year Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec Annual
2000 5708 5858 5733 5481 5758 5651 5747 5853 5625 5534 5639 5634
2001 6023 6089 6141 6271 6226 6484 6583 7042 7142 7694 8003 8258
2002 8182 8215 8304 8599 8399 8393 8390 8304 8251 8307 8520 8640
2003 8520 8618 8588 8842 8957 9266 9011 8896 8921 8732 8576 8317
2004 8370 8167 8491 8170 8212 8286 8136 7990 7927 8061 7932 7934
2005 7784 7980 7737 7672 7651 7524 7406 7345 7553 7453 7566 7279
2006 7064 7184 7072 7120 6980 7001 7175 7091 6847 6727 6872 6762
2007 7116 6927 6731 6850 6766 6979 7149 7067 7170 7237 7240 7645
2008 7685 7497 7822 7637 8395 8575 8937 9438 9494 10074 10538 11286
2009 12058 12898 13426 13853 14499 14707 14601 14814 15009 15352 15219 15098
2010 15046 15113 15202 15325 14849 14474 14512 14648 14579 14516 15081 14348
2011 14013 13820 13737 13957 13855 13962 13763 13818 13948 13594 13302 13093
2012 12797 12813 12713 12646 12660 12692 12656 12471 12115 12124 12005 12298
2013 12470 11954 11672 11752 11657 11741 11350 11284 11264 11133 10792 10410
2014 10240 10383 10400 9705 9740 9460 9637 9616 9255 8964 9060 8718
2015 8962 8663 8538 8521 8655 8251 8235 8017 7877 7869 7939 7927
2016 7829 7845 7977 7910 7451 7799 7749 7853 7904 7740 7409 7529
2017 7635 7528 7202 7056 6861 6977 6981 7132 6801 6520 6610

U-3 Unemployment Rate

4.1%

Series Id:           LNS14000000
Seasonally Adjusted
Series title:        (Seas) Unemployment Rate
Labor force status:  Unemployment rate
Type of data:        Percent or rate
Age:                 16 years and over

Download:
Year Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec Annual
2000 4.0 4.1 4.0 3.8 4.0 4.0 4.0 4.1 3.9 3.9 3.9 3.9
2001 4.2 4.2 4.3 4.4 4.3 4.5 4.6 4.9 5.0 5.3 5.5 5.7
2002 5.7 5.7 5.7 5.9 5.8 5.8 5.8 5.7 5.7 5.7 5.9 6.0
2003 5.8 5.9 5.9 6.0 6.1 6.3 6.2 6.1 6.1 6.0 5.8 5.7
2004 5.7 5.6 5.8 5.6 5.6 5.6 5.5 5.4 5.4 5.5 5.4 5.4
2005 5.3 5.4 5.2 5.2 5.1 5.0 5.0 4.9 5.0 5.0 5.0 4.9
2006 4.7 4.8 4.7 4.7 4.6 4.6 4.7 4.7 4.5 4.4 4.5 4.4
2007 4.6 4.5 4.4 4.5 4.4 4.6 4.7 4.6 4.7 4.7 4.7 5.0
2008 5.0 4.9 5.1 5.0 5.4 5.6 5.8 6.1 6.1 6.5 6.8 7.3
2009 7.8 8.3 8.7 9.0 9.4 9.5 9.5 9.6 9.8 10.0 9.9 9.9
2010 9.8 9.8 9.9 9.9 9.6 9.4 9.4 9.5 9.5 9.4 9.8 9.3
2011 9.1 9.0 9.0 9.1 9.0 9.1 9.0 9.0 9.0 8.8 8.6 8.5
2012 8.3 8.3 8.2 8.2 8.2 8.2 8.2 8.1 7.8 7.8 7.7 7.9
2013 8.0 7.7 7.5 7.6 7.5 7.5 7.3 7.3 7.2 7.2 6.9 6.7
2014 6.6 6.7 6.7 6.2 6.3 6.1 6.2 6.2 5.9 5.7 5.8 5.6
2015 5.7 5.5 5.4 5.4 5.5 5.3 5.2 5.1 5.0 5.0 5.0 5.0
2016 4.9 4.9 5.0 5.0 4.7 4.9 4.9 4.9 4.9 4.8 4.6 4.7
2017 4.8 4.7 4.5 4.4 4.3 4.4 4.3 4.4 4.2 4.1 4.1  U-3

U-6 Unemployment Rate

8.0%

 

Series Id:           LNS13327709
Seasonally Adjusted
Series title:        (seas) Total unemployed, plus all marginally attached workers plus total employed part time for economic reasons, as a percent of all civilian labor force plus all marginally attached workers
Labor force status:  Aggregated totals unemployed
Type of data:        Percent or rate
Age:                 16 years and over
Percent/rates:       Unemployed and mrg attached and pt for econ reas as percent of labor force plus marg attached

Download:
Year Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec Annual
2000 7.1 7.2 7.1 6.9 7.1 7.0 7.0 7.1 7.0 6.8 7.1 6.9
2001 7.3 7.4 7.3 7.4 7.5 7.9 7.8 8.1 8.7 9.3 9.4 9.6
2002 9.5 9.5 9.4 9.7 9.5 9.5 9.6 9.6 9.6 9.6 9.7 9.8
2003 10.0 10.2 10.0 10.2 10.1 10.3 10.3 10.1 10.4 10.2 10.0 9.8
2004 9.9 9.7 10.0 9.6 9.6 9.5 9.5 9.4 9.4 9.7 9.4 9.2
2005 9.3 9.3 9.1 8.9 8.9 9.0 8.8 8.9 9.0 8.7 8.7 8.6
2006 8.4 8.4 8.2 8.1 8.2 8.4 8.5 8.4 8.0 8.2 8.1 7.9
2007 8.4 8.2 8.0 8.2 8.2 8.3 8.4 8.4 8.4 8.4 8.4 8.8
2008 9.2 9.0 9.1 9.2 9.7 10.1 10.5 10.8 11.0 11.8 12.6 13.6
2009 14.2 15.2 15.8 15.9 16.5 16.5 16.4 16.7 16.7 17.1 17.1 17.1
2010 16.7 17.0 17.1 17.1 16.6 16.4 16.4 16.5 16.8 16.6 16.9 16.6
2011 16.2 16.0 15.9 16.1 15.8 16.1 15.9 16.1 16.4 15.8 15.5 15.2
2012 15.2 15.0 14.5 14.6 14.7 14.8 14.8 14.6 14.8 14.4 14.4 14.4
2013 14.5 14.4 13.8 14.0 13.8 14.2 13.8 13.6 13.7 13.6 13.1 13.1
2014 12.7 12.6 12.6 12.3 12.1 12.0 12.2 12.0 11.8 11.5 11.4 11.2
2015 11.3 11.0 10.9 10.8 10.7 10.5 10.3 10.2 10.0 9.8 9.9 9.9
2016 9.9 9.8 9.8 9.7 9.7 9.6 9.7 9.7 9.7 9.5 9.3 9.2
2017 9.4 9.2 8.9 8.6 8.4 8.6 8.6 8.6 8.3 7.9 8.0

Employment Situation Summary

Transmission of material in this release is embargoed until                  USDL-17-1616
8:30 a.m. (EST) Friday, December 8, 2017

Technical information:
 Household data:       (202) 691-6378  *  cpsinfo@bls.gov  *  www.bls.gov/cps
 Establishment data:   (202) 691-6555  *  cesinfo@bls.gov  *  www.bls.gov/ces

Media contact:         (202) 691-5902  *  PressOffice@bls.gov


                         THE EMPLOYMENT SITUATION -- NOVEMBER 2017


Total nonfarm payroll employment increased by 228,000 in November, and the unemployment 
rate was unchanged at 4.1 percent, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reported today. 
Employment continued to trend up in professional and business services, manufacturing, 
and health care.

Household Survey Data

The unemployment rate held at 4.1 percent in November, and the number of unemployed 
persons was essentially unchanged at 6.6 million. Over the year, the unemployment rate 
and the number of unemployed persons were down by 0.5 percentage point and 799,000, 
respectively. (See table A-1.)

Among the major worker groups, the unemployment rate for teenagers increased to 15.9 
percent in November. The jobless rates for adult men (3.7 percent), adult women (3.7 
percent), Whites (3.6 percent), Blacks (7.3 percent), Asians (3.0 percent), and Hispanics 
(4.7 percent) showed little change. (See tables A-1, A-2, and A-3.)

The number of long-term unemployed (those jobless for 27 weeks or more) was essentially 
unchanged at 1.6 million in November and accounted for 23.8 percent of the unemployed. 
Over the year, the number of long-term unemployed was down by 275,000. (See table A-12.)

The labor force participation rate remained at 62.7 percent in November and has shown no 
clear trend over the past 12 months. The employment-population ratio, at 60.1 percent, 
changed little in November and has shown little movement, on net, since early this year. 
(See table A-1.)

The number of persons employed part time for economic reasons (sometimes referred to as 
involuntary part-time workers), at 4.8 million, was essentially unchanged in November but 
was down by 858,000 over the year. These individuals, who would have preferred full-time 
employment, were working part time because their hours had been cut back or because they 
were unable to find full-time jobs. (See table A-8.)

In November, 1.5 million persons were marginally attached to the labor force, down by 
451,000 from a year earlier. (The data are not seasonally adjusted.) These individuals 
were not in the labor force, wanted and were available for work, and had looked for a job 
sometime in the prior 12 months. They were not counted as unemployed because they had not 
searched for work in the 4 weeks preceding the survey. (See table A-16.)

Among the marginally attached, there were 469,000 discouraged workers in November, down by 
122,000 from a year earlier. (The data are not seasonally adjusted.) Discouraged workers 
are persons not currently looking for work because they believe no jobs are available for 
them. The remaining 1.0 million persons marginally attached to the labor force in November 
had not searched for work for reasons such as school attendance or family responsibilities. 
(See table A-16.)

Establishment Survey Data

Total nonfarm payroll employment increased by 228,000 in November. Employment continued to 
trend up in professional and business services, manufacturing, and health care. Employment 
growth has averaged 174,000 per month thus far this year, compared with an average monthly 
gain of 187,000 in 2016. (See table B-1.)

Employment in professional and business services continued on an upward trend in November 
(+46,000). Over the past 12 months, the industry has added 548,000 jobs. 

In November, manufacturing added 31,000 jobs. Within the industry, employment rose in 
machinery (+8,000), fabricated metal products (+7,000), computer and electronic products 
(+4,000), and plastics and rubber products (+4,000). Since a recent low in November 2016, 
manufacturing employment has increased by 189,000.

Health care added 30,000 jobs in November. Most of the gain occurred in ambulatory health 
care services (+25,000), which includes offices of physicians and outpatient care centers. 
Monthly employment growth in health care has averaged 24,000 thus far in 2017, compared 
with an average increase of 32,000 per month in 2016. 

Within construction, employment among specialty trade contractors increased by 23,000 in 
November and by 132,000 over the year.  

Employment in other major industries, including mining, wholesale trade, retail trade, 
transportation and warehousing, information, financial activities, leisure and hospitality, 
and government, changed little over the month. 

The average workweek for all employees on private nonfarm payrolls increased by 0.1 hour 
to 34.5 hours in November. In manufacturing, the workweek was unchanged at 40.9 hours, and 
overtime remained at 3.5 hours. The average workweek for production and nonsupervisory 
employees on private nonfarm payrolls was unchanged at 33.7 hours. (See tables B-2 and 
B-7.)

In November, average hourly earnings for all employees on private nonfarm payrolls rose 
by 5 cents to $26.55. Over the year, average hourly earnings have risen by 64 cents, or 
2.5 percent. Average hourly earnings of private-sector production and nonsupervisory 
employees rose by 5 cents to $22.24 in November. (See tables B-3 and B-8.)

The change in total nonfarm payroll employment for September was revised up from +18,000 
to +38,000, and the change for October was revised down from +261,000 to +244,000. With 
these revisions, employment gains in September and October combined were 3,000 more than 
previously reported. (Monthly revisions result from additional reports received from 
businesses and government agencies since the last published estimates and from the 
recalculation of seasonal factors.) After revisions, job gains have averaged 170,000 over 
the last 3 months. 

_____________
The Employment Situation for December is scheduled to be released on Friday, January 5, 
2018, at 8:30 a.m. (EST).


    ______________________________________________________________________________________
   |                                                                                      |
   |               Revision of Seasonally Adjusted Household Survey Data                  |
   |                                                                                      |
   | In accordance with usual practice, The Employment Situation news release for December|
   | 2017, scheduled for January 5, 2018, will incorporate annual revisions in seasonally |
   | adjusted household survey data. Seasonally adjusted data for the most recent 5       |
   | years are subject to revision.                                                       |
   |______________________________________________________________________________________|


    ______________________________________________________________________________________
   |                                                                                      |
   |        Conversion to the 2017 North American Industry Classification System          |
   |                                                                                      |
   | With the release of January 2018 data on February 2, 2018, the establishment survey  |
   | will revise the basis for industry classification from the 2012 North American       |
   | Industry Classification System (NAICS) to 2017 NAICS. The conversion to 2017 NAICS   |
   | will result in minor revisions reflecting content changes within the mining and      |
   | logging, retail trade, information, financial activities, and professional and       |
   | business services sectors. Additionally, some smaller industries will be combined    |
   | within the mining and logging, durable goods manufacturing, retail trade, and        |
   | information sectors. Several industry titles and descriptions also will be updated.  |
   |                                                                                      |
   | Approximately 4 percent of employment will be reclassified into different industries |
   | as a result of the revision. Details of new, discontinued, and combined industries   |
   | due to the 2017 NAICS update, as well as changes due to the annual benchmarking      |
   | process, will be available on January 5, 2018.                                       |
   |                                                                                      |
   | For more information on the 2017 NAICS update, visit www.census.gov/eos/www/naics/.  |
   |______________________________________________________________________________________|



 

https://www.bls.gov/news.release/empsit.nr0.htm

Employment Situation Summary Table A. Household data, seasonally adjusted

HOUSEHOLD DATA
Summary table A. Household data, seasonally adjusted
[Numbers in thousands]
Category Nov.
2016
Sept.
2017
Oct.
2017
Nov.
2017
Change from:
Oct.
2017-
Nov.
2017

Employment status

Civilian noninstitutional population

254,540 255,562 255,766 255,949 183

Civilian labor force

159,456 161,146 160,381 160,529 148

Participation rate

62.6 63.1 62.7 62.7 0.0

Employed

152,048 154,345 153,861 153,918 57

Employment-population ratio

59.7 60.4 60.2 60.1 -0.1

Unemployed

7,409 6,801 6,520 6,610 90

Unemployment rate

4.6 4.2 4.1 4.1 0.0

Not in labor force

95,084 94,417 95,385 95,420 35

Unemployment rates

Total, 16 years and over

4.6 4.2 4.1 4.1 0.0

Adult men (20 years and over)

4.3 3.9 3.8 3.7 -0.1

Adult women (20 years and over)

4.2 3.9 3.6 3.7 0.1

Teenagers (16 to 19 years)

15.2 12.9 13.7 15.9 2.2

White

4.2 3.7 3.5 3.6 0.1

Black or African American

8.0 7.0 7.5 7.3 -0.2

Asian

3.0 3.7 3.1 3.0 -0.1

Hispanic or Latino ethnicity

5.7 5.1 4.8 4.7 -0.1

Total, 25 years and over

3.9 3.5 3.3 3.3 0.0

Less than a high school diploma

7.9 6.5 5.7 5.2 -0.5

High school graduates, no college

4.9 4.3 4.3 4.3 0.0

Some college or associate degree

3.9 3.6 3.7 3.6 -0.1

Bachelor’s degree and higher

2.3 2.3 2.0 2.1 0.1

Reason for unemployment

Job losers and persons who completed temporary jobs

3,542 3,359 3,227 3,159 -68

Job leavers

934 738 742 751 9

Reentrants

2,266 2,079 2,006 2,029 23

New entrants

728 669 629 691 62

Duration of unemployment

Less than 5 weeks

2,415 2,226 2,129 2,250 121

5 to 14 weeks

2,133 1,874 1,942 1,878 -64

15 to 26 weeks

1,073 963 853 927 74

27 weeks and over

1,856 1,733 1,621 1,581 -40

Employed persons at work part time

Part time for economic reasons

5,659 5,122 4,753 4,801 48

Slack work or business conditions

3,485 3,121 2,952 2,983 31

Could only find part-time work

1,902 1,733 1,629 1,559 -70

Part time for noneconomic reasons

21,059 21,011 20,923 21,018 95

Persons not in the labor force (not seasonally adjusted)

Marginally attached to the labor force

1,932 1,569 1,535 1,481

Discouraged workers

591 421 524 469

– Over-the-month changes are not displayed for not seasonally adjusted data.
NOTE: Persons whose ethnicity is identified as Hispanic or Latino may be of any race. Detail for the seasonally adjusted data shown in this table will not necessarily add to totals because of the independent seasonal adjustment of the various series. Updated population controls are introduced annually with the release of January data.

Employment Situation Summary Table B. Establishment data, seasonally adjusted

ESTABLISHMENT DATA
Summary table B. Establishment data, seasonally adjusted
Category Nov.
2016
Sept.
2017
Oct.
2017(P)
Nov.
2017(P)

EMPLOYMENT BY SELECTED INDUSTRY
(Over-the-month change, in thousands)

Total nonfarm

164 38 244 228

Total private

178 50 247 221

Goods-producing

35 26 34 62

Mining and logging

7 4 1 7

Construction

28 13 10 24

Manufacturing

0 9 23 31

Durable goods(1)

3 6 13 27

Motor vehicles and parts

1.4 -3.1 -0.8 1.7

Nondurable goods

-3 3 10 4

Private service-providing

143 24 213 159

Wholesale trade

5.6 7.3 8.0 3.4

Retail trade

-12.9 11.7 -2.2 18.7

Transportation and warehousing

21.8 18.3 7.6 10.5

Utilities

0.3 0.6 0.1 -0.2

Information

-12 -5 -8 -4

Financial activities

12 12 7 8

Professional and business services(1)

46 30 54 46

Temporary help services

25.5 10.1 17.9 18.3

Education and health services(1)

31 23 24 54

Health care and social assistance

28.2 8.3 34.6 40.5

Leisure and hospitality

44 -75 104 14

Other services

7 1 18 9

Government

-14 -12 -3 7

(3-month average change, in thousands)

Total nonfarm

179 128 163 170

Total private

178 122 160 173

WOMEN AND PRODUCTION AND NONSUPERVISORY EMPLOYEES
AS A PERCENT OF ALL EMPLOYEES(2)

Total nonfarm women employees

49.6 49.5 49.5 49.5

Total private women employees

48.2 48.1 48.1 48.1

Total private production and nonsupervisory employees

82.3 82.4 82.4 82.4

HOURS AND EARNINGS
ALL EMPLOYEES

Total private

Average weekly hours

34.3 34.4 34.4 34.5

Average hourly earnings

$25.91 $26.53 $26.50 $26.55

Average weekly earnings

$888.71 $912.63 $911.60 $915.98

Index of aggregate weekly hours (2007=100)(3)

105.8 107.4 107.7 108.2

Over-the-month percent change

-0.1 0.0 0.3 0.5

Index of aggregate weekly payrolls (2007=100)(4)

131.0 136.3 136.4 137.3

Over-the-month percent change

-0.2 0.5 0.1 0.7

DIFFUSION INDEX
(Over 1-month span)(5)

Total private (261 industries)

51.5 60.9 65.1 63.0

Manufacturing (78 industries)

48.7 59.0 62.2 59.0

Footnotes
(1) Includes other industries, not shown separately.
(2) Data relate to production employees in mining and logging and manufacturing, construction employees in construction, and nonsupervisory employees in the service-providing industries.
(3) The indexes of aggregate weekly hours are calculated by dividing the current month’s estimates of aggregate hours by the corresponding annual average aggregate hours.
(4) The indexes of aggregate weekly payrolls are calculated by dividing the current month’s estimates of aggregate weekly payrolls by the corresponding annual average aggregate weekly payrolls.
(5) Figures are the percent of industries with employment increasing plus one-half of the industries with unchanged employment, where 50 percent indicates an equal balance between industries with increasing and decreasing employment.
(P) Preliminary

NOTE: Data have been revised to reflect March 2016 benchmark levels and updated seasonal adjustment factors.

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Precision sacrificed for speed as GOP rushes ahead on taxes

5 tax issues Republicans need to resolve in conference

Now that the Senate and the House have passed two tax bills, there are some crucial differences they need to resolve in conference.

 December 10 at 6:42 PM
Republicans are moving their tax plan toward final passage at stunning speed, blowing past Democrats before they’ve had time to fully mobilize against it but leaving the measure vulnerable to the types of expensive problems popping up in their massive and complex plan.Questionable special-interest provisions have been stuffed in along the way, out of public view and in some cases literally in the dead of night. Drafting errors by exhausted staff are cropping up and need fixes, which must be tackled by congressional negotiators working to reconcile competing versions of the legislation passed separately by the House and the Senate.And the melding process underway has opened the door to another frenzy of 11th-hour lobbying as special interests, including President Trump’s rich friends, make one last dash for cash before the final bill speeds through both chambers of Congress and onto Trump’s desk. Passage is expected the week before Christmas.

Veterans of congressional tax overhauls, particularly the seminal revamp under President Ronald Reagan in 1986, have been stunned and in some cases outraged at how swiftly Republicans are moving on legislation that touches every corner of the economy and all Americans. And although GOP leaders make no apologies, some in their rank and file say that the process would have benefited from a more deliberate and open approach.

“I think it would have looked better if we had taken more time and had more transparency, had more open committee hearings,” said freshman Rep. James Comer (R-Ky.).

“Having said that, the goal that everybody had was to reduce the tax rates. . . . So at the end of the day the goal is going to be achieved, but we could have done it in a more transparent manner that probably would have given the voters that are being polled a little more confidence,” Comer said, referring to the effort’s poor showing in opinion surveys.

It has been a little more than a month since the $1.5 trillion legislation was introduced in the House, and in that short time it has cleared the two key committees in the House and Senate and won approval on the floors of both chambers, all without a single Democratic vote. If Trump signs the bill as planned before Christmas, that would mean a journey of less than two months between introduction and final passage.

The specific legislation that probably will become law, sold as a middle-class tax cut but featuring a massive corporate rate reduction at its center, is moving from release toward passage without any hearings, unusual for a bill of such magnitude. And as it tumbled along it picked up some startling new features, to the surprise of affected industries, Democrats and in some cases Republicans themselves.

Some of the most notable changes came in the hours before the Senate’s passage of its version of the plan, which happened about 1:50 a.m. Dec. 2.

The final vote was preceded by hours of inaction as Republicans fine-tuned their legislation behind closed doors, while fuming Democratic staffers ate Chinese food and pored over versions of the bill and lists of amendments that had been leaked by lobbyists on K Street before Republicans had made anything public.

As they got additional drafts of the bill, Democrats were incensed at some of what they found, including new breaks for the oil and gas industry, and a provision that appeared aimed specifically at helping Hillsdale College, a small liberal arts college in Michigan that doesn’t accept federal funding and has a large endowment funded by wealthy conservatives — including the family of Education Secretary Betsy DeVos.

An angry Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) stood on his chamber’s floor to declare that “the federal treasury is being looted.” In their one victory of the debate, Democrats offered an amendment to strike the Hillsdale provision, and with the help of four Republicans it passed.

Democrats weren’t the only ones surprised by what was in the bill. Republicans and the business community were stunned when the final Senate version restored the alternative minimum tax for corporations. The tax, aimed at keeping companies from shirking their tax duties entirely, had been repealed in the House bill and earlier versions of the Senate measure.

Restoring the corporate alternative minimum tax created $40 billion in revenue for the bill, which helped Republicans come in under complex budgetary guidelines saying the legislation can’t go over the $1.5 trillion the GOP has agreed to add to the deficit over the next decade. Still, some Republicans professed not to know how the change had come about.

And under the new tax code the GOP bill would create, including the alternative minimum tax could have the unintended consequence of preventing companies from using other deductions, including the popular research and development tax credit.

“I’m guessing they just needed something quick to make the bill work,” said Rep. Devin Nunes (R-Calif.), who is one of the conferees charged with blending the two bills together.

Now, as quickly as it reappeared, the corporate alternative minimum tax probably will disappear again. Republican lawmakers widely agree that it doesn’t work and can’t be included, but it remains a mystery where they’ll find revenue to offset that change and pay for others they’re looking to include in the final package.

There has been discussion of moving the corporate rate — slashed from 35 percent to 20 percent by the House and Senate — back up to 22 percent, but the backlash against that proposal has been intense and it probably will be dropped. But revenue must be found somewhere because there are some changes that look nearly certain, including adjusting the new limit on deducting state and local taxes. Both the House and Senate legislation would allow taxpayers to deduct only up to $10,000 in property taxes. Some of Trump’s New York friends have taken exception to that provision and have lobbied the president personally against it.

It’s all part of a breakneck pace of the tax plan that contrasts with the nearly a year-and-a-half that passed between when Reagan unveiled his initial version of the 1986 tax plan and its ultimate passage into law. The less far-ranging tax cuts that President George W. Bush signed in 2001 took four months to become law after the release of Bush’s initial blueprint. And the Affordable Care Act took nearly a year to complete, including a congressional summer recess featuring angry town hall meetings that turned public sentiment sharply against the bill.

Democrats accuse Republicans of whisking the legislation along to avoid extended public scrutiny and prevent them from mounting an offensive at public hearings or over lengthy congressional breaks. The GOP bills have endured neither.

“It’s clear that we could have defeated this bill had we gone through regular order and had any expert witness from any blue state or high-tax state come in,” said Rep. John B. Larson (Conn.), who was a member of Democratic leadership during the much lengthier and more open process of passing the ACA. The provision limiting taxpayers’ ability to deduct state and local taxes hits high-tax areas such as California, New York, New Jersey and Connecticut particularly hard.

“People would have said, ‘Well, wait a minute,’ ” Larson said.

Republican congressional leaders dispute such comparisons, saying that the process on taxes has been going on for years, given that the party has long been debating the idea and an early foundational bill was released by then-Rep. Dave Camp (R-Mich.), former chairman of the tax-writing Ways and Means Committee, nearly four years ago. House Republicans, led by Speaker Paul D. Ryan (Wis.), also campaigned last year on an agenda called “A Better Way,” which featured a tax plank similar in many respects to the bill the House ultimately passed, although it drew scant attention at the time.

“These are relatively small bills, 400 pages or so; they’re not hard to digest. The policy decisions, the thoughtfulness, a lot of these issues we’ve been debating together and apart for years,” said House Ways and Means Chairman Kevin Brady (R-Tex.). “Bottom line is the American people have been waiting 30 years. So to paraphrase a hardware store: less talking, more doing.”

Even before the late-night Senate dramatics, the process offered surprises and sudden twists.

A provision repealing an Affordable Care Act requirement for most Americans to carry insurance or pay fines was added to the Senate bill with little warning over the course of an afternoon, a major health policy decision that is projected to leave 13 million more Americans uninsured in a decade but that would give Republicans $330 billion to pay for other things they want to do.

And the release of the House bill stunned manufacturers when they discovered it contained an “excise tax” on purchases from American companies’ foreign subsidiaries that some said could drive them out of business. The provision was watered down before passage by the Ways and Means Committee, but companies are still fighting to keep it out of the final bill, said Nancy McLernon, president of the Organization for International Investment, which represents global companies with U.S. operations. Despite the years-long focus on tax overhaul, such a provision had not been debated — even after companies beat back a different import tax, she said.

The Senate has a different provision that companies like better, but as far as the cost of going from one to the other or how it will all shake out, “It’s all a Rubik’s cube,” McLernon said.

Many lobbyists, Democrats and other observers expect to find the final version of the plan, which could be filed late this week, just as full of surprises as the various iterations that have appeared. But as they gun for a legislative win that has eluded them this year, Republicans show little interest in slowing down to take a closer look.

“The frenzy, and I would call it a frenzy, to get it done and have a Christmas present for America — number one, I think it’s unnecessary; it’s a self-imposed deadline, and number two, it makes the possibility for error much greater,” said Steve Bell, a senior adviser at the Bipartisan Policy Center who was staff director of the Senate Budget Committee during the 1986 tax effort. “This is a rush without a reason other than the political desire for a Rose Garden signing ceremony.”

Mike DeBonis contributed to this report.

https://www.washingtonpost.com/business/economy/precision-sacrificed-for-speed-as-gop-rushes-ahead-on-taxes/2017/12/10/876ab274-dc62-11e7-b1a8-62589434a581_story.html?utm_term=.167e53dc0cba

 

The Taxman Cometh: Senate Bill’s Marginal Rates Could Top 100% for Some

Certain high-income business owners would face backwards incentives; lawmakers work to bridge gap

House and Senate Republicans are trying to reconcile their tax bills to get rid of the most contentious proposals.
House and Senate Republicans are trying to reconcile their tax bills to get rid of the most contentious proposals. PHOTO: DANIEL ACKER/BLOOMBERG NEWS

WASHINGTON—Some high-income business owners could face marginal tax rates exceeding 100% under the Senate’s tax bill, far beyond the listed rates in the Republican plan.

That means a business owner’s next $100 in earnings, under certain circumstances, would require paying more than $100 in additional federal and state taxes.

As lawmakers rush to write the final tax bill over the next week, they already are looking at changes to prevent this from happening. Broadly, House and Senate Republicans are trying to reconcile their bills, looking for ways to pay for eliminating the most contentious proposals. The formal House-Senate conference committee will meet on Wednesday, and GOP lawmakers may unveil an agreement by week’s end.

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The possible marginal tax rate of more than 100% results from the combination of tax policies designed to provide benefits to businesses and families but then deny them to the richest people. As income climbs and those breaks phase out, each dollar of income faces regular tax rates and a hidden marginal rate on top of that, in the form of vanishing tax breaks. That structure, if maintained in a final law, would create some of the disincentives to working and to earning business profit that Republicans have long complained about, while opening lucrative avenues for tax avoidance.

As a taxpayer’s income gets much higher and moves out of those phaseout ranges, the marginal tax rates would go down.

Consider, for example, a married, self-employed New Jersey lawyer with three children and earnings of about $615,000. Getting $100 more in business income would force the lawyer to pay $105.45 in federal and state taxes, according to calculations by the conservative-leaning Tax Foundation. That is more than double the marginal tax rate that household faces today.

If the New Jersey lawyer’s stay-at-home spouse wanted a job, the first $100 of the spouse’s wages would require $107.79 in taxes. And the tax rates for similarly situated residents of California and New York City would be even higher, the Tax Foundation found. Analyses by the Tax Policy Center, which is run by a former Obama administration official, find similar results, with federal marginal rates as high as 85%, and those don’t include items such as state taxes, self-employment taxes or the phase-out of child tax credits.

The bill as written would provide incentives for business owners to shift profit across calendar years, move personal expenses inside the business and engage in other economically unproductive maneuvers, said David Gamage, a tax-law professor at Indiana University.

“I would expect a huge tax-gaming response once people fully understand how it works,” said Mr. Gamage, a former Treasury Department official, who said business owners have an easier time engaging in such tax avoidance than salaried employees do. “The payoff for gaming is huge, within the set of people who both face these rates and have flexible enough business structures.”

The analyses “raise a valid concern” that lawmakers are examining, said Julia Lawless, a spokeswoman for the Senate Finance Committee.

“With any major reform, there will always be unusual hypotheticals delivering anomalous results,” she said. “The goal of Congress’s tax overhaul has been to lower taxes on the American people and by and large, according to a variety of analyses, we’re achieving that.”

Marginal tax rates are different from average tax rates. A marginal rate is the tax on the edge, or margin, of one’s earnings, and so it reflects what would be the next dollar of income. The average rate is a way of measuring a taxpayer’s total burden.

The Republican bills are trying to reduce both marginal and average tax rates, and for many taxpayers, they do. The marginal tax rates above 100% affect a small slice of households with very particular circumstances. Similar, though smaller, effects occur throughout the tax system.

“This is a big concern,” said Scott Greenberg, a Tax Foundation analyst. “It would be unfortunate if Congress passed a tax bill that had the effect of making additional work and additional income not worthwhile for any subgroup of households.”

Here’s how that New Jersey lawyer’s marginal rate adds up to more than 100%:

The household is paying the 35% marginal tax rate on their income range. Or, they are paying the alternative minimum tax, which operates at the same marginal rate in that income range.

The household is paying New Jersey’s highest income-tax rate, which is 8.97%, and now has to pay all of that because the Republican tax plan wouldn’t let such state or local taxes be deducted from federal income.

The household is also losing a deduction the Senate created for so-called pass-through businesses such as partnerships and S corporations. That 23% deduction is fully available to owners of service businesses like law firms, but only if income is below $500,000 for a married couple.

The deduction then phases out over $100,000 in income, according to a complex formula, disappearing entirely once income reaches $624,000. Up to that point, each additional dollar of business income faces progressively steeper tax rates because the deduction and its benefit are shrinking rapidly as income goes up.

The provisions also interact with each other in ways that drive up marginal rates. “The central problem here is that there is a large benefit phasing out over a short range,” Mr. Greenberg said.

The Republican bill doubles the child tax credit to $2,000 but phases it out beginning at $500,000 income for joint filers. The credit shrinks by $50 for every $1,000 in income above that, so a married couple with three children faces a higher marginal tax rate when they’re in that phase-out range.

The analysis assumes that the New Jersey lawyer is paying a 3.8% tax on self-employment income.

Pushing marginal rates lower on these households wouldn’t be easy and would require tradeoffs. Republicans could make the phaseout of the business deduction more gentle, spreading it over, say, $200,000, as opposed to $100,000, of income above $500,000. But that would make the tax cuts bigger, and Republicans are already looking for money to offset other changes they are planning.

They could lower the threshold for the child tax credit, but that would reduce tax cuts for households below $500,000.

Under current law, there are some high marginal tax rates for some lower-income households. Some families just above the poverty line can see their earned income tax credits and food stamps going down as their federal and state taxes go up. That combination can create marginal tax rates of around 75%, according to the Congressional Budget Office.

Appeared in the December 11, 2017, print edition as ‘Taxman Cometh: Marginal Rates Could Top 100% for Some.’

https://www.wsj.com/articles/the-taxman-cometh-senate-bills-marginal-rates-could-top-100-for-some-1512942118

Tax Reform Under History’s Light


Senior Vice President, Economic Policy Division, and Chief Economist

Former Democratic Senator John Breaux

Former Democratic Senator John Breaux.

[This is part of an ongoing series entitled “The Case for Tax Reform,” which examines the importance of reforming the outdated tax code, and how achieving that goal will advance economic growth, jobs, and prosperity.]

Tax reform’s chances are better in this Congress than at any time in the past 30 years. Thus, comparisons come naturally to the events leading up to the 1986 Tax Reform Act (TRA86). These comparisons are useful for the similarities and the differences, both of which provide insights as to how to assure success today.

One important similarity is TRA86 brought to conclusion a long and detailed debate about tax policy. Our current efforts also rest on a lengthy debate recently brought to the fore. An important difference, however, is TRA86 was enacted as a widely accepted “should do,” whereas tax reform in 2017 is much more of a “must do.”

‘86 tax reform in 30 seconds

TRA86 culminated as a complex debate starting about 10 years prior with the release of Treasury’s “Blueprints for Basic Tax Reform” in the waning hours of the Ford administration. Treasury’s “Blueprints” laid out a coherent approach to tax policy, emphasizing simplification and a reduction in tax distortions that were sapping economic growth.

Two years later, in response to a poorly performing economy, Congress adopted the Steiger Amendment, significantly cutting the capital gains tax rate as part of the 1978 Revenue Act. While often ignored, the Steiger Amendment marked the bi-partisan recognition of tax policy’s importance for economic growth. Pro-growth tax reform was not just for tax geeks anymore.

Federal tax policy debate took on new energy in 1981 with the passage of the landmark Reagan tax cuts, dominated by substantial rate reduction. Following legislation in 1982 and 1984 to readjust tax levels, the stage was set for fundamental tax reform.

A bipartisan consensus regarding sound tax policy evolved through the years leading up to TRA86. This consensus distilled down to the simple mantra of “lower the rates, broaden the base.”  Like the 1981 legislation, TRA86 would reduce tax rates substantially and install a less punitive system of capital consumption allowances. Unlike the 1981 legislation, however, the focus would also be on simplification, on the wide range of areas of the tax code reformed, and especially on revenue neutrality.

This consensus first took concrete form in two highly-detailed proposals out the Reagan Treasury Department, commonly dubbed Treasury I and its improved version, Treasury II, and released in 1984 and 1985 respectively. With these reports laying the groundwork, Congress then took over a year to legislate, finally producing TRA86.

The years between

TRA86 was the product of an extended period of consensus building and analysis. For those new to the debate, today’s strong momentum for comprehensive, pro-growth tax reform may seem to have arisen out of thin air, but, in fact, this debate has ebbed and flowed almost without pause since 1986.

The appetite for tax reform did not die following TRA86, and so consideration naturally moved on to the “next big thing.” For a period, the big thing seemed to be some kind of European-style Value Added Tax (VAT). The VAT momentum quickly petered out, however, and soon revenue pressures shifted the focus of tax policy once again to raising income tax rates, often with distinct “soak-the-rich” overtones. The VAT episode set tax reform’s pattern of ebb and flow for the following years.

Even as the debate toward TRA86 was underway, a very different approach to tax policy appeared in the Hall-Rabushka Flat Tax. Though the Flat Tax is best known for having a single rate of tax, hence the name, what really distinguishes the Flat Tax is its simplification, the elimination of all taxes on capital income and capital gains, and the adoption of a cash-flow tax on businesses centered on allowing capital purchases to be “expensed,” or deducted immediately.

In the 1990s, as the Flat Tax gained greater acceptance, tax reform topped the national agenda with Steve Forbes leading the charge. But this effort soon deflated along with Forbes’ 1996 presidential campaign.

Tax reform again gained traction briefly after the 2004 election with the release of the superb report of the presidential commission led by former Democratic Senator John Breaux and former Republican Senator Connie Mack. However, this effort, too, led to naught, a victim of competing priorities and a lack of consensus.

Income tax reform was pushed far onto the back burners during President Barack Obama’s tenure. Despite a historically weak economic recovery, the Obama administration expressed little interest in proposals to reduce the tax code’s drag on growth. The Obama administration contented itself with modest tweaks at the edges and otherwise dedicated its efforts to defending the status quo, especially in the area of international tax where global pressures were felt most profoundly.

Tax reform today

Even as years of inaction passed, pressure to reform the federal income tax code rose steadily from all sides. In part, this pressure arose because the U.S. economy was changing rapidly, and the tax code became an ever-worse fit for a modern economy.

In part, the pressure arose because even as America stood pat, America’s major trading partners did not. They were cutting business tax rates steadily and almost all were moving toward a territorial tax system to allow their businesses to compete more effectively in a global business climate of increasing intensity.

Though on the back burner, tax reform continued to simmer in backchannels. Then-House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan (R-WI) advanced a series of thoughtful tax reform proposals as part of his broader efforts to reform Federal tax policy. Rep. Devin Nunes (R-CA) offered his variation on tax reform, differing from but along the same broad lines as the Ryan proposal. Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL) also introduced a major, comprehensive tax reform proposal with his own interpretations, and then released subsequent iterations as comments and critiques soon followed. In these years, though President Obama continued to block tax reform’s path, the debate remained alive and well.

In 2014, former Ways and Means Committee Chairman David Camp (R-MI) introduced a detailed tax reform proposal. As tax reform would originate in this committee, Camp’s proposal took on greater significance than most. The Camp proposal was intended to serve as a prototype for tax legislation and so offered much more detail and, in some cases, specific options for resolving some of the nagging technical issues in adopting a territorial tax system, for example. However, in the face of President Obama’s determined disinterest, few were willing to contemplate seriously the hard choices the Camp plan laid out and so, again, tax reform was left to simmer on the back burner.

Tax reform played a limited role in the 2016 presidential campaign, with the Democratic nominee, Hillary Clinton, largely continuing the defense of the status quo established by President Obama. Meanwhile, the Republican nominee, Donald Trump, suggested a bold change of direction; though, he accompanied it by very few details. Trump’s election, combined with the strong Republican interest in tax reform, quickly moved the issue to the front burner.

The focus on growth

Tax reform today, like its 1986 predecessor, has a long history of debate, evolution, and refinement. TRA86 and the current effort also share an intense focus on improving economic growth, but with one important difference: TRA86 largely responded to a sense borne of the previous, deep recession that the economy needed to be both stronger and more resilient, and that sound tax policy could help. Tax reform was seen as something Congress and the president could and should accomplish.

Tax reform today shares a similar motivation, but with far greater urgency. Just as no business can compete for long if its cost structure substantially exceeds those of its competitors, American businesses cannot continue to compete effectively at home or abroad facing high tax rates, an inadequate capital cost recovery system, and an international tax system long abandoned by competing companies.

American companies are managing to compete successfully today but with ever greater difficulty under the federal tax system. Failure to reform the tax system would not result overnight in significant decline in Americans’ long-run economic prospects. But it would most assuredly do so over the next few years as both financial and human capital is driven overseas.

Tax reform is one task Congress and the president simply have to get right if America is to prosper.

https://www.uschamber.com/above-the-fold/tax-reform-under-history-s-light

What History Teaches Us About Tax Reform


Senior Vice President, Economic Policy Division, and Chief Economist
023275_taxreform_atf_08_22_reagan_getty471341025.jpg

[This is part of an ongoing series entitled “The Case for Tax Reform,” which examines the importance of reforming the outdated tax code, and how achieving that goal will advance economic growth, jobs, and prosperity.]

An underperforming economy and mounting international competition have propelled tax reform from topic of discussion to front-burner issue. There is no change in federal policy that offers greater potential to strengthen employment and increase wages for American workers than sound, comprehensive tax reform.

Reviewing and respecting the lessons from the last major tax reform over thirty years ago illuminates the road ahead, and provides lessons for how to raise our odds of success. Time provides a dimension worth exploring for similarities and contrasts between 1986 and today. Specifically, the time leading up to the effort, and the time needed for Congress to act.

The Historical On Ramp to Tax Reform

President John F. Kennedy understood the dampening economic effects of high tax rates. Though he died before seeing his program enacted, his successor, President Lyndon B. Johnson pushed the program through Congress and thus the 1964 tax bill is commonly referred to as the “Kennedy tax cuts.” The 1964 bill centered on significant tax rate reductions to achieve a substantially stronger economy.

Thereafter, budget pressures from the Vietnam War and Great Society programs reoriented tax policy once again toward ever-higher tax rates accompanied by a steady accretion of deductions and credits to blunt the effects of higher rates on politically favored constituencies. This process continued unabated into President Jimmy Carter’s administration and not surprisingly coinciding with a languishing economy.

Even as tax rates climbed and new distortions filled the tax code, a countermovement arose. In the final moments of the Ford Administration, Secretary William E. Simon released a landmark Treasury report directed by one of the era’s great economists, David Bradford, called “Blueprints for Basic Tax Reform,” guiding concepts of sound tax policy for years to come.

As the economy struggled and President Carter stood by, Congress took the initiative. With strong, bipartisan support over Carter’s objections, Congress substantially cut the capital gains tax rate as part of the 1978 Revenue Act, marking the first step in a change in tax philosophy culminating in the 1986 Tax Reform Act (TRA86).

Senator Bill Roth (R-DE) and Congressman Jack Kemp (R-NY) then picked up tax reform’s guidon, leading the charge for lower tax rates. At the same time, a second dimension in tax policy gained steam – the need for a less punitive capital cost recovery system. This debate was led largely outside Congress by the likes of Charls Walker and Ernie Christian, former Ford Administration Treasury hands, and Norman B. Ture, later Treasury undersecretary under Ronald Reagan.

Spurred by a recession wrought by a disinflationary monetary policy, the tax debate quickly came to a head in the 1981 “Reagan tax cuts.” The 1981 bill cut tax rates and instituted a vastly superior capital cost recovery system among other reforms. In the process, the bill cut revenues far more than Reagan proposed.

Though the 1981 bill was championed by a Republican president, it enjoyed widespread Democratic support. Rep. Dan Rostenkowski (D-IL), Chairman of the House Committee on Ways and Means introduced and pushed the legislation to passage, joined by almost half the House Democrats and almost a third of Senate Democrats.

The magnitude of the 1981 tax cuts proved politically unsustainable and were quickly followed by a series of tax hikes reversing some of the 1981 revenue reductions. Having settled the issue of how much to tax, the stage was now set for the 1986 reform and deciding who and how to tax.

Building Toward the 1986 Tax Reform Act

At about this time a fundamentally different approach to tax policy appeared: the Hall-Rabushka Flat Tax. The Flat Tax’s popularity often associates with the simplicity of imposing a single tax rate. However, the real revolution it offered was not the single tax rate,but  what is subject to tax. Despite appearing as a traditional income tax, the Flat Tax was something quite new as it explicitly eliminated tax on investment income and imposed a simple cash flow tax on all businesses, thus adopting the principle of expensing, or allowing a full and immediate deduction for capital purchases.

The Flat Tax was too radical to gain wide acceptance in the early 1980s, but a vigorous bipartisan debate harkening back to Bradford’s 1976 “Blueprints” continued nonetheless. The 1981 tax cuts worked as intended to launch a powerful economic recovery, but memories of poor economic performance under Carter still lingered. A broad, bipartisan consensus championed faster economic growth by reforming the tax code to reduce the distortions to economic decision making it caused and the resulting misallocation of basic resources.

The basic strategy was to lower rates as in the 1981 Act, only further, and to implement a sound cost recovery system as in the 1981 Act. In contrast to 1981, however, the new strategy included a determined effort to “broaden the tax base” by eliminating distorting loopholes and tax credits, thereby intending the overall bill to be revenue neutral. .

The Treasury Department under Secretary Don Regan took the first big step in 1984 with the release of a densely packed 275 page proposal for comprehensive tax reform, dubbed “Treasury I”. While many aspects were well-received, as with most prototypes, Treasury I contained flaws, some of which Treasury addressed in 1985 with “Treasury II”.

Tax reform was off and running in Congress with the release of Treasury II, but the road  was by no means easy. Time and again Reagan had to give Congress another not-always-gentle push. The greatest peril demanding Reagan’s firm hand came when Senate Finance Committee Chairman Bob Packwood (R-OR) realized he couldn’t pass tax reform on the path it was on. Ironically, the man who had repeatedly saved tax reform, President Reagan, was also now tax reform’s biggest obstacle.

The Price for Overcoming the Greatest Hurdle

Reagan was forced into pushing for the most rate reduction possible. Initially he drew the line at 25 percent for individuals and he held firm for much of the debate. Like most policy, tax reform involves trade-offs and Packwood just couldn’t find enough obvious base broadeners he could economically or politically trade off to hit a 25 percent rate.

Something had to give. At first the rate crept up to 26 and then to 28 percent. But at 28 percent, Reagan would go no further.

As Reagan urged Packwood to press on, Packwood had to get creative. He took fairly innocuous existing individual and corporate minimum taxes and expanded them into full-fledged parallel tax systems; voila, massive back-door base broadening. Packwood’s new Alternative Minimum Tax (AMT), while a superb example of terrible tax policy, had as its one redeeming feature: it raised enough money in a sufficiently confusing manner to hit the 28 percent rate without creating too many political problems, at least not for the duration of the debate. Three months later, the final bill passed the Senate.

Packwood’s AMT offers an important lesson for tax reform today. As important as low tax rates are for economic growth, policy makers and the public need to be honest about the tradeoffs involved. The broadest possible tax base capable of garnering sufficient political support can only raise so much revenue at a targeted tax rate. Demand an even lower tax rate and something (or someone) else will have to give and very likely pro-growth tax policy will suffer as a consequence.

Back to the Present

With respect to time, the current tax reform debate parallels that of 1986 closely. TRA86 concluded a lengthy, evolutionary process regarding accepted beliefs about sound, pro-growth tax policy. That process distilled to the lowest possible rates and applied to a simple, broad tax base, while allowing for a depreciation system for capital costs minimizing the anti-investment aspects of an income tax.

Tax reform today shares these traits, both with respect to the substance of reform – low rates, broad base, and today, expensing – and with respect to time. Like the 1986 episode, tax reform today reflects the product of many years of debate regarding the design of pro-growth tax policy, an evolution that began in 1986.

In one other critical respect regarding time, TRA86 and the current effort offer stark contrasts. Where the legislative starting gun on TRA86 went off in 1984 and the effort then proceeded for over two years, Congress in 2017 will have only a handful of months from introduction to tax reform’s final passage. This difference in time will have significant implications for how Congress defines “comprehensive” as they work toward pro-growth tax reform.

Read Part 2: Tax Reform Under History’s Light

https://www.uschamber.com/above-the-fold/what-history-teaches-us-about-tax-reform

 

Story 3: Defeating The Islamic State in Iraq and Syria By Bombing Them To Death — ISIS Free? — Videos

ISIS defeated in Iraq, officials say

Eric Shawn reports: ISIS defeated, but will it last?

Iraq celebrates ISIS defeat, US claims fight isn’t over

 

Total victory over ISIS in Syria

ISIS Breaking news: No Islamic State has been defeated- BBC news Nov 2017

Iraqi military take part in spectacular parade celebrating victory over ISIS

Report: ISIS militants moving to remote deserts

Ralph Peters on the fight against ISIS and Iran’s influence

Trump WH announces shift in strategy to defeat ISIS

ISIS Surrounded: Trump’s Plan to ‘Annihilate’ the Islamic Caliphate

This Iran-backed militia helped save Iraq from ISIS. Now Washington wants them to disband

Iraqi Christian on life after ISIS destroyed his church

Trump WH announces shift in strategy to defeat ISIS

Peters: Fall of ISIS in Iraq is imminent, but what’s next?

Tillerson: ISIS will be defeated

Trump, Mattis turn military loose on ISIS, leaving terror caliphate in tatters

Hundreds of ISIS fighters had just been chased out of a northern Syrian city and were fleeing through the desert in long convoys, presenting an easy target to U.S. A-10 “warthogs.”

But the orders to bomb the black-clad jihadists never came, and the terrorists melted into their caliphate — living to fight another day. The events came in August 2016, even as then-Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump was vowing on the campaign trail to let generals in his administration crush the organization that, under President Obama, had grown from the “jayvee team” to the world’s most feared terrorist organization.

OIR_CROFT

U.S. Air Force Brig. Gen. Andrew Croft said the Trump administration has put a strong leadership team in place  (U.S. Army photo by Sgt. Tracy McKithern)

“I will…quickly and decisively bomb the hell out of ISIS,” Trump, who would name legendary Marine Corps Gen. James Mattis as secretary of defense, promised. “We will not have to listen to the politicians who are losing the war on terrorism.”

ISIS CURSED, MOCKED IN MOSUL, WHERE OLD CITY REMAINS A HAUNTED WASTELAND

Just over a year later, ISIS has been routed from Iraq and Syria with an ease and speed that’s surprised even the men and women who carried out the mission. Experts say it’s a prime example of a campaign promise kept. President Trump scrapped his predecessor’s rules of engagement, which critics say hamstrung the military, and let battlefield decisions be made by the generals in the theater, and not bureaucrats in Washington.

“I felt quite liberated because we had a clear mandate and there was no questioning that.”

– U.S. Marine Col. Seth Folsom

At its peak, ISIS held land in Iraq and Syria that equaled the size of West Virginia, ruled over as many as 8 million people, controlled oilfields and refineries, agriculture, smuggling routes and vast arsenals. It ran a brutal, oppressive government, even printing its own currency.

OIR_FOLSOM

Lt. Col. Seth Folsom credits the cooperation between Iraqi Security Forces and the U.S-led coalition for the military defeat of ISIS in Iraq.  (Courtesy U.S Army)

The terror organization now controls just 3 percent of Iraq and less than 5 percent of Syria. Its self-styled “caliph,” Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, is believed to be injured and holed up somewhere along the lawless border of Syria and Iraq.

ISIS remains a danger, as members who once ruled cities and villages like a quasi-government now live secretly among civilian populations in the region, in Europe and possibly in the U.S. These cells will likely present a terrorist threat for years. In addition, the terrorist organization is attempting to regroup in places such as the Philippines, Libya and the Sinai Peninsula.

But the military’s job — to take back the land ISIS claimed as its caliphate and liberate cities like Mosul, in Iraq, and Raqqa, in Syria, as well as countless smaller cities and villages, is largely done. And it has taken less than a year.

Defense Secretary Jim Mattis waits to greet Polish Defense Minister Antoni Macierewicz, upon his arrival at the Pentagon, Thursday, Sept. 21, 2017, in Washington. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon)

Mattis, a US Marine Corps general, said there would be no White House micromanaging on his watch  (Associated Press)

“The leadership team that is in place right now has certainly enabled us to succeed,” Brig. Gen. Andrew Croft, the ranking U.S. Air Force officer in Iraq, told Fox News. “I couldn’t ask for a better leadership team to work for, to enable the military to do what it does best.”

President Trump gave a free hand to Mattis, who in May stressed military commanders were no longer being slowed by Washington “decision cycles,” or by the White House micromanaging that existed President Obama. As a result of the new approach, the fall of ISIS in Iraq came even more swiftly than hardened U.S. military leaders expected.

“It moved more quickly than at least I had anticipated,” Croft said. “We and the Iraqi Security Forces were able to hunt down and target ISIS leadership, target their command and control.”

OIR_SOFGE1

U.S. Marine Corps Brig. Gen. Robert Sofge said the military now has a clear mandate  (U.S. Army photo by Spc. Cole Erickson)

IRAQI KURDS STILL LOVE US DESPITE ITS OPPOSITION TO KURDISH INDEPENDENCE, SAYS KURDISH LEADER

After the battle to liberate Mosul – ISIS’ Iraqi headquarters – was completed in July — the U.S.-led coalition retook Tel Afar in August, Hawija in early October and Rawa in Anbar province in November.

Marine Col. Seth Folsom, who oversaw fighting in Al Qaim near the Syrian border, agreed. He wasn’t expecting his part of the campaign against ISIS to get going until next spring and figured even then, it would then “take six months or more.”

Instead, ISIS was routed in Al Qaim in just a few days.

mosul

Mosul, and several other cities liberated by ISIS, were largely destroyed in the fighting.  (Fox News/Hollie McKay)

“We really had one mandate and that was enable the Iraqi Security Forces to defeat ISIS militarily here in Anbar. I feel that we have achieved that mission,” Folsom said. “I never felt constrained. In a lot of ways, I felt quite liberated because we had a clear mandate and there was no questioning that.”

Brig. Gen. Robert “G-Man” Sofge, the top U.S. Marine in Iraq, told Fox News his commanders have “enjoyed not having to deal with too many distractions and there was no question about what the mission here in Iraq was.”

OIR_

Iraqi Brig. Gen. Yahya Rasool was skeptical of Trump at first, but says success on the ground has been swift  (Fox News/Hollie McKay )

“We were able to focus on what our job was without distraction and I think that goes a long way in what we are trying to accomplish here,” he said.

Sofge said criticism that loosening rules of engagement put civilians at risk is “absolutely not true.”

OIR_dillon

Col. Ryan Dillon. Combined Joint Task Force – Inherent Resolve Spokesman  (Photo by CJTFOIR)

“We used precision strikes, and completely in accordance with international standards,” he said. “We didn’t lower that standard, not one little bit. But we were able to exercise that precision capability without distraction and I think the results speak for themselves.”

The U.S.-led coalition said this week the Coalition Civilian Casualty Assessment Team has added 30 new staffers to travel throughout the region. It said military leaders continue to “hold themselves accountable for actions that may have caused unintentional injury or death to civilians.”

The coalition also said dozens of reports of civilian casualties have been determined to be “non-credible,” and just .35 percent of the almost 57,000 separate engagement carried out between August 2014 and October 2017 resulted in a credible report of a civilian casualty.

In addition to air support, the U.S.-led strategy also includes training and equipping Iraqi troops on the ground.

While the Trump administration’s success is often underplayed in the U.S. media, it is obvious on the ground in Iraq, according to a spokesman for Iraq’s Ministry of Defense, Yahya Rasool.

“I was not optimistic when Trump first came to the office,” Rasool said. “But after a while I started to see a new approach, the way the U.S. was dealing with arming and training. I saw how the coalition forces were all moving faster to help the Iraq side more than before. There seemed to be a lot of support, under Obama we did not get this.”

FILE - This file image made from video posted on a militant website July 5, 2014, purports to show the leader of the Islamic State group, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, delivering a sermon at a mosque in Iraq during his first public appearance. Islamic State group leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi appears to be still alive, a top U.S. military commander said Thursday, Aug. 31, 2017, contradicting Russia’s claims that it probably killed the top counterterror target months ago.(Militant video via AP, File)

Al-Baghdadi, who once ruled a caliphate the size of California, is now inn hiding and likely badly injured

Despite the victories on the battlefield, U.S. officials cautioned much work remains to be done.

“ISIS is very adaptive,” noted Col. Ryan Dillon, the U.S.-led coalition spokesman. “We are already seeing smaller cells and pockets that take more of an insurgent guerrilla type approach as opposed to an Islamic army or conventional type force. So we have got to be prepared for that.”

He said as a result the coalition is “adjusting some training efforts” so the Iraqi forces — upwards of 150,000 have already undergone training — are equipped to address such threats and ensure long-term stability.

Folsom said “the worst thing we could do” is not finish the job.

“If a country becomes a failed state, if it becomes a lawless region, you begin to set the conditions for what happened in the years before 9/11,” he said. “In those ungoverned spaces where we don’t know what is going on, that is where those seeds of extremism begin to blossom.”

 

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The Pronk Pops Show 914, June 19, 2017, Story 1: Otto Warmbier Died After Being Released From North Korea in A Coma — Videos — Story 2: Time For Strategic Patience Is Over — Take Out The Korean Dictator, Missiles, Nuclear Bomb Facilities, Artillery and Rocket Launchers In Range of South Korea — Regularly Planned and Scheduled War — Videos — Story 3: U.S. Navy F-18 Fighter Shoots Down Syrian SU -22 Fighter Over Raqqa, Syria After U.S. Allies On Ground Bombed– Russia Warns U.S. Planes Will Be Considered Targets — Videos — Story 4: Interventionist Foreign Policy of Progressive Democrats and Republicans (Neocons) Projecting Power of American Empire — No War Ever Declared Or American People Consulted — Videos

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The Pronk Pops Show Podcasts

Pronk Pops Show 914,  June 19, 2017

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Pronk Pops Show 911,  June 14, 2017

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Pronk Pops Show 909,  June 12, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 908,  June 9, 2017

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Pronk Pops Show 906,  June 7, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 905,  June 6, 2017

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Story 1: Otto Warmbier Died After Being Released From North Korea in A Coma — Videos

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Otto Warmbier has died, hospital says

CINCINNATI — Otto Warmbier has died, University of Cincinnati Medical Center announced Monday.

Warmbier died at 2:20 p.m. Monday, days after he was released from captivity in North Korea.

In a statement, family members said Warmbier had been unable to speak, see or react to verbal commands since his return to Cincinnati June 13.

“He looked very uncomfortable – almost anguished,” family members said. “Although we would never hear his voice again, within a day the countenance of his face changed – he was at peace. He was home and we believe he could sense that.”

Family members thanked the hospital’s staff for the care they provided Warmbier but said ” the awful torturous mistreatment our son received at the hands of the North Koreans ensured that no other outcome was possible beyond the sad one we experienced today.”

“It would be easy at a moment like this to focus on all that we lost – future time that won’t be spent with a warm, engaging, brilliant young man whose curiosity and enthusiasm for life knew no bounds,” the family said. “But we choose to focus on the time we were given to be with this remarkable person. You can tell from the outpouring of emotion from the communities that he touched – Wyoming, Ohio and the University of Virginia to name just two – that the love for Otto went well beyond his immediate family.”

Check back for more on this breaking story.

Sodium thiopental

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Sodium thiopental
Sodium thiopental.svg
Sodium-thiopental-3D-vdW-2.png
Clinical data
AHFS/Drugs.com Monograph
Routes of
administration
Intravenous (most common), oral or rectal
ATC code
Legal status
Legal status
Pharmacokinetic data
Biological half-life 5.5[1]-26 hours[2]
Identifiers
CAS Number
  • 71-73-8 Yes (sodium salt)
    76-75-5 (free acid)
PubChem CID
DrugBank
ChemSpider
UNII
KEGG
ChEBI
ChEMBL
ECHA InfoCard 100.000.896
Chemical and physical data
Formula C11H17N2NaO2S
Molar mass 264.32 g/mol
3D model (Jmol)
Chirality Racemic mixture
 Yes (what is this?)  (verify)

Sodium thiopental, also known as Sodium Pentothal (a trademark of Abbott Laboratories, not to be confused with pentobarbital), thiopental, thiopentone, or Trapanal (also a trademark), is a rapid-onset short-acting barbiturate general anesthetic that is an analogue of thiobarbital. Sodium thiopental was a core medicine in the World Health Organization‘s “Essential Drugs List“, which is a list of minimum medical needs for a basic healthcare system, but was supplanted by propofol.[3] It was previously the first of three drugs administered during most lethal injections in the United States, but the U.S. manufacturer Hospira stopped manufacturing the drug and the EU banned the export of the drug for this purpose.[4]

Uses

Anesthesia

Sodium thiopental is an ultra-short-acting barbiturate and has been used commonly in the induction phase of general anesthesia. Its use has been largely replaced with that of propofol, but retains popularity as an induction agent for rapid sequence intubation and in obstetrics.[citation needed] Following intravenous injection, the drug rapidly reaches the brain and causes unconsciousness within 30–45 seconds. At one minute, the drug attains a peak concentration of about 60% of the total dose in the brain. Thereafter, the drug distributes to the rest of the body, and in about 5–10 minutes the concentration is low enough in the brain that consciousness returns.[citation needed]

A normal dose of sodium thiopental (usually 4–6 mg/kg) given to a pregnant woman for operative delivery (caesarian section) rapidly makes her unconscious, but the baby in her uterus remains conscious. However, larger or repeated doses can depress the baby.[5]

Sodium thiopental is not used to maintain anesthesia in surgical procedures because, in infusion, it displays zero-order elimination kinetics, leading to a long period before consciousness is regained. Instead, anesthesia is usually maintained with an inhaled anesthetic (gas) agent. Inhaled anesthetics are eliminated relatively quickly, so that stopping the inhaled anesthetic will allow rapid return of consciousness. Sodium thiopental would have to be given in large amounts to maintain an anesthetic plane, and because of its 11.5- to 26-hour half-life, consciousness would take a long time to return.[6]

In veterinary medicine, sodium thiopental is used to induce anesthesia in animals. Since it is redistributed to fat, certain lean breeds of dogs such as sight hounds will have prolonged recoveries from sodium thiopental due to their lack of body fat and their lean body mass. Conversely, obese animals will have rapid recoveries, but it will be some time[vague] before it is entirely removed (metabolized) from their bodies. Sodium thiopental is always administered intravenously, as it can be fairly irritating; severe tissue necrosis and sloughing can occur if it is injected incorrectly into the tissue around a vein.[citation needed]

Sodium thiopental decreases the cardiac stroke volume, which results in a decrease in cardiac output. The decrease in cardiac output occurs in conjunction with a decrease in systemic vascular resistance, which results in hypotension. However, in comparison with propofol, the reflex tachycardia seen during states of hypotension is relatively spared (a bradycardia is common after administration of propofol) and therefore the observed fall in blood pressure is generally less severe.

Medically induced coma

In addition to anesthesia induction, sodium thiopental was historically used to induce medical comas.[7] It has now been superseded by drugs such as propofol because their effects wear off more quickly than thiopental. Patients with brain swelling, causing elevation of intracranial pressure, either secondary to trauma or following surgery, may benefit from this drug. Sodium thiopental, and the barbiturate class of drugs, decrease neuronal activity and therefore decrease the production of osmotically active metabolites, which in turn decreases swelling. Patients with significant swelling have improved outcomes following the induction of coma. Reportedly, thiopental has been shown to be superior to pentobarbital in reducing intracranial pressure.[8] This phenomenon is also called a reverse steal effect.[citation needed]

Status epilepticus

In refractory status epilepticus, thiopental may be used to terminate a seizure.

Euthanasia

Sodium thiopental is used intravenously for the purposes of euthanasia. In both Belgium and the Netherlands, where active euthanasia is allowed by law, the standard protocol recommends sodium thiopental as the ideal agent to induce coma, followed by pancuronium bromide.[9]

Intravenous administration is the most reliable and rapid way to accomplish euthanasia. A coma is first induced by intravenous administration of 20 mg/kg thiopental sodium (Nesdonal) in a small volume (10 ml physiological saline). Then, a triple dose of a non-depolarizing neuromuscular blocking drug is given, such as 20 mg pancuronium bromide (Pavulon) or 20 mg vecuronium bromide (Norcuron). The muscle relaxant should be given intravenously to ensure optimal availability but pancuronium bromide may be administered intramuscularly at an increased dosage level of 40 mg.[9]

Lethal injection

Along with pancuronium bromide and potassium chloride, thiopental is used in 34 states of the U.S. to execute prisoners by lethal injection. A very large dose is given to ensure rapid loss of consciousness. Although death usually occurs within ten minutes of the beginning of the injection process, some have been known to take longer.[10] The use of sodium thiopental in execution protocols was challenged in court after a study in the medical journal The Lancet reported autopsies of executed inmates showed the level of thiopental in their bloodstream was insufficient to cause unconsciousness.

On December 8, 2009, the State of Ohio became the first to use a single dose of sodium thiopental for its capital execution, following the failed use of the standard three-drug cocktail during a recent execution, due to inability to locate suitable veins. Kenneth Biros was executed using the single-drug method.[11]

The state of Washington is now the second state in the U.S. to use the single-dose sodium thiopental injections for death penalty executions. On September 10, 2010, Cal Coburn Brown was executed. This was the first execution in the state to use a single dose, single drug injection. His death was pronounced approximately one and a half minutes after the intravenous administration of five grams of the drug.[12]

After its use for execution of Jeffrey Landrigan in the U.S., the UK introduced a ban on the export of sodium thiopental in December 2010,[13] after it was established that no European supplies to the U.S. were being used for any other purpose.[14] The restrictions were based on “the European Union Torture Regulation (including licensing of drugs used in execution by lethal injection)”.[15] From 21 December 2011 the European Union extended trade restrictions to prevent the export of certain medicinal products for capital punishment, stating that “the Union disapproves of capital punishment in all circumstances and works towards its universal abolition”.[16]

Truth serum

Thiopental (Pentothal) is still used in some places as a truth serum to weaken the resolve of a subject and make them more compliant to pressure.[17] The barbiturates as a class decrease higher cortical brain functioning. Some psychiatrists hypothesize that because lying is more complex than telling the truth, suppression of the higher cortical functions may lead to the uncovering of the truth. The drug tends to make subjects loquacious and cooperative with interrogators; however, the reliability of confessions made under thiopental is questionable.[18] “Sodium pentathol” as a truth serum has become a trope in films, comics and literature, and even appears in popular music.[19]

Psychiatry

Psychiatrists have used thiopental to desensitize patients with phobias,[20] and to “facilitate the recall of painful repressed memories.”[21] One psychiatrist who worked with thiopental is the Dutch Professor Jan Bastiaans, who used this procedure to help relieve trauma in surviving victims of the Holocaust.[22]

Mechanism of action

Sodium thiopental is a member of the barbiturate class of drugs, which are relatively non-selective compounds that bind to an entire superfamily of ligand-gated ion channels, of which the GABAA receptor channel is one of several representatives. This superfamily of ion channels includes the neuronal nAChR channel, the 5HT3R channel, the GlyR channel and others. Surprisingly, while GABAA receptor currents are increased by barbiturates (and other general anesthetics), ligand-gated ion channels that are predominantly permeable for cationic ions are blocked by these compounds. For example, neuronal nAChR channels are blocked by clinically relevant anesthetic concentrations of both sodium thiopental and pentobarbital.[23] Such findings implicate (non-GABA-ergic) ligand-gated ion channels, e.g. the neuronal nAChR channel, in mediating some of the (side) effects of barbiturates.[24]The GABAA receptor is an inhibitory channel that decreases neuronal activity, and barbiturates enhance the inhibitory action of the GABAA receptor.[25]

Controversies

Following a shortage that led a court to delay an execution in California, a company spokesman for Hospira, the sole American manufacturer of the drug, objected to the use of thiopental in lethal injection. “Hospira manufactures this product because it improves or saves lives, and the company markets it solely for use as indicated on the product labeling. The drug is not indicated for capital punishment and Hospira does not support its use in this procedure.”[26] On January 21, 2011, the company announced that it would stop production of sodium thiopental from its plant in Italy because Italian authorities couldn’t guarantee that exported quantities of the drug would not be used in executions. Italy was the only viable place where the company could produce sodium thiopental, leaving the United States without a supplier.[27]

Metabolism

Thiopental rapidly and easily crosses the blood brain barrier as it is a lipophilic molecule. As with all lipid-soluble anaesthetic drugs, the short duration of action of sodium thiopental is due almost entirely to its redistribution away from central circulation towards muscle and fat tissue, due to its very high fat:water partition coefficient (aprx 10), leading to sequestration in fat tissue. Once redistributed, the free fraction in the blood is metabolized in the liver. Sodium thiopental is mainly metabolized to pentobarbital,[28] 5-ethyl-5-(1′-methyl-3′-hydroxybutyl)-2-thiobarbituric acid, and 5-ethyl-5-(1′-methyl-3′-carboxypropyl)-2-thiobarbituric acid.[29]

Dosage

The usual dose range for induction of anesthesia using thiopental is from 3 to 6 mg/kg; however, there are many factors that can alter this. Premedication with sedatives such as benzodiazepines or clonidine will reduce requirements, as do specific disease states and other patient factors. Among patient factors are: age, sex, and lean body mass. Specific disease conditions that can alter the dose requirements of thiopentone and for that matter any other intravenous anaesthetic are: hypovolemia, burns, azotemia, hepatic failure, hypoproteinemia, etc.[citation needed]

Side effects

As with nearly all anesthetic drugs, thiopental causes cardiovascular and respiratory depression resulting in hypotension, apnea and airway obstruction. For these reasons, only suitably trained medical personnel should give thiopental in an environment suitably equipped to deal with these effects. Side effects include headache, agitated emergence, prolonged somnolence, and nausea. Intravenous administration of sodium thiopental is followed instantly by an odor and/or taste sensation, sometimes described as being similar to rotting onions, or to garlic. The hangover from the side effects may last up to 36 hours.

Although individual molecules of thiopental contain one sulfur atom, it is not a sulfonamide, and does not show allergic reactions of sulfa/sulpha drugs.

Contraindications

Thiopental should be used with caution in cases of liver disease, Addison’s disease, myxedema, severe heart disease, severe hypotension, a severe breathing disorder, or a family history of porphyria.[30][31]

Co-administration of pentoxifylline and thiopental causes death by acute pulmonary edema in rats. This pulmonary edema was not mediated by cardiac failure or by pulmonary hypertension but was due to increased pulmonary vascular permeability.[32]

History

Sodium thiopental was discovered in the early 1930s by Ernest H. Volwiler and Donalee L. Tabern, working for Abbott Laboratories. It was first used in human beings on March 8, 1934, by Dr. Ralph M. Waters[33] in an investigation of its properties, which were short-term anesthesia and surprisingly little analgesia.[34] Three months later,[35] Dr. John S. Lundy started a clinical trial of thiopental at the Mayo Clinic at the request of Abbott.[36]Abbott continued to make the drug until 2004, when it spun off its hospital-products division as Hospira.

Thiopental is famously associated with a number of anesthetic deaths in victims of the attack on Pearl Harbor. These deaths, relatively soon after the drug’s introduction, were said to be due to excessive doses given to shocked trauma patients. However, recent evidence available through freedom of information legislation was reviewed in the British Journal of Anaesthesia,[37] which has suggested that this story was grossly exaggerated. Of the 344 wounded that were admitted to the Tripler Army Hospital only 13 did not survive and it is unlikely that thiopentone overdose was responsible for more than a few of these.

Thiopental is still rarely used as a recreational drug, usually stolen from veterinarians or other legitimate users of the drug; however, more common sedatives such as benzodiazepines are usually preferred as recreational drugs, and abuse of thiopental tends to be uncommon and opportunistic.[citation needed]

See also

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sodium_thiopental

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Communication channel between Washington and Moscow to be suspended immediately

Russia has said it will treat US warplanes operating in parts of Syria where its air forces are also present as “targets” amid a diplomatic row caused by the downing of a Syrian jet.

The country’s defence ministry said it would track US-led coalition aircraft with missile systems and military aircraft, but stopped short of saying it would shoot them down.

A hotline set up between Russia and the US to prevent mid-air collisions will also be suspended.

“All kinds of airborne vehicles, including aircraft and UAVs of the international coalition detected to the west of the Euphrates River will be tracked by the Russian SAM systems as air targets,” the Russian Defence Ministry said in a statement.

The warning comes after a US F-18 Super Hornet shot down a Syrian army SU-22 jet on Sunday in the countryside southwest of Raqqa – the first such downing of a Syrian jet by the US since the start of the country’s civil war in 2011.

Washington said the jet had dropped bombs near US-backed forces but Damascus said the plane was downed while flying a mission against Isis militants.

Russia’s defence ministry said the suspension of its communication line with the Americans would begin immediately.

The US did not use its hotline with Russia ahead of the downing of the Syrian government warplane, said the ministry, which accused the US of a “deliberate failure to make good on its commitments” under the deconfliction deal.

“The shooting down of a Syrian Air Force jet in Syria’s airspace is a cynical violation of Syria’s sovereignty,” the ministry said.

“The US’ repeated combat operations under the guise of ‘combating terrorism’ against the legitimate armed forces of a UN member-country are a flagrant violation of international law and an actual military aggression against the Syrian Arab Republic.”

Theresa May appealed to Russia to continue the use of “deconfliction” measures over the skies of Syria to reduce the risk of misunderstandings in what is a crowded airspace.

Russia, which has been providing air cover for Syria’s President, Bashar al-Assad, since 2015, has an agreement with the US aimed at preventing incidents involving either country’s warplanes engaged in operations in Syria.

Downing the jet was akin to “helping the terrorists that the US is fighting against”, Sergei Ryabkov, Russia’s deputy foreign minister, said.

A statement released by US Central Command on Sunday said the Syrian jet was “immediately shot down… in accordance with rules of engagement and in collective self-defence of Coalition partnered forces”.

“The Coalition’s mission is to defeat Isis in Iraq and Syria. The Coalition does not seek to fight Syrian regime, Russian, or pro-regime forces partnered with them, but will not hesitate to defend Coalition or partner forces from any threat,” it added.

“The Coalition presence in Syria addresses the imminent threat Isis in Syria poses globally. The demonstrated hostile intent and actions of pro-regime forces toward Coalition and partner forces in Syria conducting legitimate counter-Isis operations will not be tolerated.”

Tensions rise in Syria as Russia, Iran send US warnings

By BASSEM MROUE and NATALIYA VASILYEVA, Associated PressTHE ASSOCIATED PRESS STATEMENT OF NEWS VALUES AND PRINCIPLES

(AP) — Russia on Monday threatened aircraft from the U.S.-led coalition in Syrian-controlled airspace and suspended a hotline intended to avoid collisions in retaliation for the U.S. military shooting down a Syrian warplane.

The U.S. said it had downed the Syrian jet a day earlier after it dropped bombs near the U.S.-backed Syrian Democratic Forces conducting operations against the Islamic State group, adding that was something it would not tolerate.

The downing of the warplane — the first time in the six-year conflict that the U.S. has shot down a Syrian jet — came amid another first: Iran fired several ballistic missiles Sunday night at IS positions in eastern Syria in what it said was a message to archrival Saudi Arabia and the United States.

The developments added to already-soaring regional tensions and reflect the intensifying rivalry among the major players in Syria’s civil war that could spiral out of control just as the fight against the Islamic State group in its stronghold of Raqqa is gaining ground.

Russia, a key ally of Syrian President Bashar Assad, called on the U.S. military to provide a full accounting as to why it decided to shoot down the Syrian Su-22 bomber.

The U.S. military confirmed that one of its F-18 Super Hornets shot down a Syrian jet that had dropped bombs near the U.S. partner forces SDF. Those forces, which are aligned with the U.S. in the campaign against the Islamic State group, warned Syrian government troops to stop their attacks or face retaliation.

The Russian Defense Ministry said in a statement that as of Monday, all coalition jets and drones flying west of the Euphrates River will be tracked as potential targets.

Areas of northern Syria west of the Euphrates were controlled by IS before Syrian government forces captured most of them in recent months. The Russians, who have been providing air cover for Assad’s forces since 2015, appear to want to avoid further U.S. targeting of Syrian warplanes or ground troops that have come under U.S. attack in eastern Syria recently.

It was the second time Russia suspended a hotline intended to minimize incidents with the U.S. in Syrian airspace. In April, Russia briefly suspended cooperation after the U.S. military fired 59 missiles at a Syrian air base following a chemical weapons attack that Washington blamed on the Assad government.

Gen. Joseph Dunford, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, said Washington is working to re-establish communications aimed at avoiding mishaps involving U.S. and Russian air operations in Syria.

Speaking in Washington, the top U.S. military officer said the two sides were in delicate discussions to lower tensions.

“The worst thing any of us could do right now is address this with hyperbole,” Dunford said.

Viktor Ozerov, chairman of the defense and security committee at the upper chamber of Russian parliament, described his Defense Ministry’s statement as a warning.

“I’m sure that because of this, neither the U.S. nor anyone else will take any actions to threaten our aircraft,” he told the state-owned RIA Novosti news agency. “That’s why there’s no threat of direct confrontation between Russia and American aircraft.”

Ozerov insisted that Russia will be tracking the coalition’s jets, not shooting them down, but he added that “a threat for those jets may appear only if they take action that pose a threat to Russian aircraft.”

Iran said the missile strike by its powerful Revolutionary Guard hit Syria’s eastern city of Deir el-Zour on Sunday night and was in retaliation for two attacks in Tehran earlier this month that killed 17 people and were claimed by the Islamic State group.

It appeared to be Iran’s first missile attack abroad in over 15 years and its first in the Syrian conflict, in which it has provided crucial support to Assad. The muscle-flexing comes amid the worsening of a long-running feud between Shiite powerhouse Iran and Saudi Arabia, with supports Syrian rebels and has led recent efforts to isolate the Gulf nation of Qatar.

“The Saudis and Americans are especially receivers of this message,” Gen. Ramazan Sharif of the Revolutionary Guard told Iranian state TV in an interview.

It also raised questions about how U.S. President Donald Trump’s administration, which had previously put Iran “on notice” for its ballistic missile tests, will respond. Israel also is concerned about Iran’s missiles and has deployed a multilayered missile-defense system.

The missile attack came amid recent confrontations in Syria between U.S.-backed forces and Iranian-backed pro-government factions. The U.S. recently deployed a truck-mounted missile system in Syria as Iranian-backed forces cut off the advance of the U.S.-supported rebels along the Iraqi border.

Iranian officials threatened more strikes. Former Guard chief Gen. Mohsen Rezai wrote on Twitter: “The bigger slap is yet to come.”

U.S.-backed opposition fighters said Assad’s forces have been attacking them in the northern province of Raqqa and warned that if such attacks continue, the fighters will take action.

Clashes between Syrian troops and the SDF would escalate tensions and open a new front line in the many complex battlefields of the civil war, now in its seventh year. Clashes between the Kurdish-led SDF and Syrian forces have been rare and some rebel groups have even accused them of coordinating on the battlefield.

Both sides are battling the Islamic State group, with SDF fighters focusing on their march into the northern city of Raqqa, which the extremist group has declared to be its capital.

Syrian government forces have also been attacking IS in northern, central and southern parts of the country, seizing 25,000 square kilometers (9,600 square miles) and reaching the Iraqi border for the first time in years.

SDF spokesman Talal Sillo said the government wants to thwart the SDF offensive to capture Raqqa. He said government forces began attacking the SDF on Saturday, using warplanes, artillery and tanks in areas that SDF had liberated from IS.

Sillo also warned that if “the regime continues in its offensive against our positions in Raqqa province, this will force us to retaliate with force.”

The Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, which tracks Syria’s war, said government forces expanded their presence in Raqqa province by capturing from IS the town of Rasafa.

___

Vasilyeva reported from Moscow. Associated Press writers Nasser Karimi in Tehran and Jon Gambrell in Dubai, United Arab Emirates, contributed.

http://hosted2.ap.org/APDefault/*/Article_2017-06-19-Syria/id-371357b2c20e4aaa982d07da071a7f7a

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The Pronk Pops Show 874, April 16, 2017, Story 1: Turkey Votes To Change From Parliamentary to Presidential System of Government — Erdogan Expands Powers and Control — Moving Toward Dictatorship! — Videos — Story 2: Coalition Against Islamic State in Syria — What is Next: Wrath of Euphrates: The Battle for Raqqa: Isolate and Assault — Take No Prisoners — Videos

Posted on April 17, 2017. Filed under: American History, Blogroll, Bombs, Breaking News, Communications, Constitutional Law, Countries, Cruise Missiles, Culture, Donald J. Trump, Donald Trump, Drones, Economics, Education, Egypt, Empires, Energy, European History, Federal Government, Fiscal Policy, Foreign Policy, France, Germany, Government, Government Spending, Great Britain, History, Human, Iraq, Islam, Islamic Republic of Iran, Islamic State, Law, Libya, Life, Media, Middle East, MIssiles, National Interest, Natural Gas, Natural Gas, Networking, News, Obama, Oil, Oil, Philosophy, Photos, Politics, President Barack Obama, President Trump, Radio, Raymond Thomas Pronk, Religion, Resources, Rifles, Rule of Law, Russia, Scandals, Syria, Technology, Terror, Terrorism, Trade Policy, Turkey, United Kingdom, United States Constitution, United States of America, Videos, Violence, War, Wealth, Weapons, Weather, Wisdom | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , |

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The Pronk Pops Show Podcasts

Pronk Pops Show 874: April 17, 2017

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Pronk Pops Show 872: April 12, 2017

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Pronk Pops Show 818: January 17, 2017

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Story 1: Turkey Votes To Change From Parliamentary to Presidential System of Government —  Videos —

Image result for turkey referendum 2017 result 51.4%Image result for cartoons erdogan

Where’s Turkey headed after its referendum? – Inside Story

Turkey Referendum: Erdogan’s new grip on power

Dispute over Turkey’s referendum results continues

Is Turkey Becoming a Dictatorship?: Erdogan Claims Victory in Vote to Give President Sweeping Powers

Turkey’s Choice: Nation deciding on changing political system

The Truth about Turkeys failed Coup (CIA designed Civil War)

Lionel on the Alex Jones Show: Syria False Flags, North Korea Lies, French Elections & Media Lies

The Idiot’s Guide to Turkey, Erdogan and the Phony Coup

Turkish Referendum Erdogan Wins ! | The Millennial Revolt

Published on Apr 16, 2017

Turkey’s President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has claimed victory in a referendum granting him sweeping new powers, hailing the result as an “historic decision”. The leader called on the international community to respect the result and discouraged his critics from “belittling” the outcome, saying they “shouldn’t try, it will be in vain”. The state-run Anadolu news agency claimed that 51 per cent per cent of voters had sided with the “Yes” campaign, ushering in the most radical change to the country’s political system in modern time.

But the main opposition the Republican People’s Party (CHP) said they would demand a recount of up to 40 per cent of the vote, saying that “illegal acts” occurred during the vote and that there were up to 2.5m “problematic ballots”. The pro-Kurdish People’s Democratic Party (HDP) also claimed they had information that voter fraud was implicated in up to four per cent of the ballots. Both parties said they would appeal the results. CLICK LINKS FOR SOURCES

Story 2: Coalition Against Islamic State in Syria — What is Next: Wrath of Euphrates: The Battle for Raqqa: Isolate and Assault  — Take No Prisoners — Videos 

Image result for cartoons islamic state trump bomb the shit Image result for coalition to defeat isis list of 68 countries
Image result for coalition to defeat isis list of 68 countries
Image result for map of raqqaImage result for March 2017 map of syria kurds and islamic state controlledImage result for map of raqqa cityImage result for map of syria islamic state control 2017

Image result for 2017 map of syria kurds and islamic state controlled

Image result for map showing where there are kurds

Image result for map showing where there are kurds

Image result for map showing religous sect by area in syria, iraq, iran, turkey

Image result for map showing religous sect by area in syria, iraq, iran, turkey

Image result for coalition to defeat isis list of 68 countries

US eyes assault on ISIS stronghold

CNN’s Nick Paton Walsh talks to Lt. Gen. Stephen Townsend near Mosul, Iraq, where coalition forces hope to make a push toward Raqqa, ISIS’ center of control in Syria.

U.S.-Led Coalition Has ‘Made Adjustments’ In Syria To Account For ‘Tensions’

Wrath of Euphrates Op: US troops spotted near Raqqa frontline (EXCLUSIVE)

400 US troops deployed outside ISIS capital Raqqa

Ministers of the Global Coalition on the Defeat of ISIS

Raqqa Battle Phase 3 outcome

Beginning of a new phase to free Raqqa

Battle for Raqqa. First phase of Wrath of Euphrates Initiative ends successfully.

Published on Nov 12, 2016

12 Nov 2016 Syria. Raqqa.
SDF, YPG, YPJ and International Brigade fighters had began to advance from Siluk and Eyn İsa southwards from two directions on November 5.

The Siluk branch has cleared an area of 30 kms and the Ayn İsa branch has cleared an area of 15 kms from ISIS gangs. Yesterday, the two branches united along the Beliz creek.

After the liberation of Xınıse and the unification of the two branches of fighters, the first phase of the initiative ended successfully.

Civilians flee Raqqa as Syrian forces advance

More U.S. Troops heading to Raqqa, Syria to fight ISIS

18 Allied Fighters Killed In US Led Syria Strike

100s killed following US-led airstrike in Syria

Assad: No one invited US to Manbij, all foreign troops in Syria without permission are ‘invaders’

U.S. military says misdirected airstrike in northern Syria killed 18 allied fighters

U.S.-led Coalition Accidentally Bomb Syrian Allies, Killing 18 | True News

Syria: Kurdish fighters make gains against IS behind enemy lines

Ross Kemp The Fight Against Isis

Turkey and Russia join forces against Islamic State

US Joins Ground Forces with Kurds, Syrian, & Russian Fighters Against ISIS in Syria

Targeting the High Value Terrorists

On The Road To Raqqa – Heavy Clashes Between Kurdish Forces And ISIS During The Battle Of Raqqa

US soldiers help Iraqi troops secure Mosul

Satellite Imagery: The Cutting of Mosul’s Bridges

Satellite Imagery: The Islamic State’s Mosul Defenses

Satellite Images: The Islamic State’s Scorched Earth Tactics

Why Did the Iraq War Start? The Untold Story – Seymour Hersh – Reasons, Justification (2005)

The Breathtaking Incoherence of American Foreign Policy as to North Korea and Syria

‘Defeating ISIS No.1 US goal’: Tillerson at coalition summit coinciding with London attack

Trump Gives Generals More Freedom on ISIS Fight

Pentagon brass take lead on decisions that were made by White House under Obama; ‘I authorize my military,’ Trump says

U.S. Army trainers watch as an Iraqi recruit fires at a military base in Iraq.
U.S. Army trainers watch as an Iraqi recruit fires at a military base in Iraq. PHOTO: JOHN MOORE/GETTY IMAGES

U.S. military commanders are stepping up their fight against Islamist extremism as President Donald Trump’s administration urges them to make more battlefield decisions on their own.

As the White House works on a broad strategy, America’s top military commanders are implementing the vision articulated by Defense Secretary Jim Mattis: Decimate Islamic State’s Middle East strongholds and ensure that the militants don’t establish new beachheads in places such as Afghanistan.

“There’s nothing formal, but it is beginning to take shape,” a senior U.S. defense official said Friday. “There is a sense among these commanders that they are able to do a bit more—and so they are.”

While military commanders complained about White House micromanagement under former President Barack Obama, they are now being told they have more freedom to make decisions without consulting Mr. Trump. Military commanders around the world are being encouraged to stretch the limits of their existing authorities when needed, but to think seriously about the consequences of their decisions.

The more muscular military approach is expanding as the Trump administration debates a comprehensive new strategy to defeat Islamic State. Mr. Mattis has sketched out such a global plan, but the administration has yet to agree on it. While the political debate continues, the military is being encouraged to take more aggressive steps against Islamic extremists around the world.

The firmer military stance has fueled growing concerns among State Department officials working on Middle East policy that the Trump administration is giving short shrift to the diplomatic tools the Obama administration favored. Removing the carrot from the traditional carrot-and-stick approach, some State Department officials warn, could hamper the pursuit of long-term strategies needed to prevent volatile conflicts from reigniting once the shooting stops.

The new approach was on display this week in Afghanistan, where Gen. John Nicholson, head of the U.S.-led coalition there, decided to use one of the military’s biggest nonnuclear bombs—a Massive Ordnance Air Blast bomb, or MOAB—to hit a remote Islamic State underground network of tunnels and caves.

Gen. Nicholson said Friday it was too early to say how many militants had been killed in the previous day’s bombing. The Afghan Defense Ministry retracted an earlier statement that the strike had killed 36 militants, saying it was unable to provide precise figures yet.

A military official for the coalition who viewed footage of the bombing said it was difficult to make out details of its effects beyond a “mushroom cloud” of smoke rising into the sky. He added that a second MOAB was available for use in the country, but no decision had been made on whether it should be deployed.

Islamic State’s Amaq news agency posted a statement on Friday saying none of its fighters were killed or wounded in the strike, which took place in Nangarhar province, along the country’s mountainous border with Pakistan.

Gen. Nicholson indicated that he—not the White House—decided to drop the bomb. “The ammunition we used last night is designed to destroy caves and tunnels. This was the right weapon against the right target,” he told reporters Friday. “I am fortunate that my chain of command allows me the latitude to make assessments on the ground.”

A senior administration official said Mr. Trump didn’t know about the weapon’s use until it had been dropped.

Mr. Mattis “is telling them, ‘It’s not the same as it was, you don’t have to ask us before you drop a MOAB,’” the senior defense official said. “Technically there’s no piece of paper that says you have to ask the president to drop a MOAB. But last year this time, the way [things were] meant, ‘I’m going to drop a MOAB, better let the White House know.’”

Indeed, on Thursday Mr. Trump himself emphasized the free rein he gives the Pentagon. “I authorize my military,” Mr. Trump said. “We have given them total authorization.”

On Friday, the U.S. military said it has sent dozens of soldiers to Somalia, where Mr. Trump recently gave the head of the U.S. Africa Command more leeway to carry out counterterrorism operations against al-Shabaab, the al Qaeda affiliate in the area.

The more aggressive military approach comes as the long slog against Islamic State is bearing fruit. The group is on the back foot in its Iraqi stronghold, Mosul, and is facing a hard battle to defend its de facto Syrian capital, Raqqa.

The U.S. has sent more forces into Iraq and Syria, stepped up support for Saudi Arabia’s fight against Houthi militants in Yemen, and dispatched an aircraft carrier to the Korean Peninsula amid growing evidence that North Korea is preparing for a new nuclear test.

Loren DeJonge Schulman, who served as senior adviser to Mr. Obama’s national security adviser, said a more assertive military campaign is destined to fail unless it is part of a broader strategy against Islamic State, also known by the acronyms ISIS and ISIL.

“It’s crazy that the Trump administration thinks that ‘taking the gloves off’ is either a winning strategy against ISIL or a useful narrative for the White House or the military,” said Ms. Schulman, now a senior fellow at the Center for a New American Security.

Derek Chollet, a former assistant secretary of defense for international security affairs in the Obama administration, said giving the Pentagon more freedom is one of the most significant things Mr. Trump has done.

“It’s not clear to me that he’s making any tough decisions,” said Mr. Chollet, now executive vice president at the German Marshall Fund of the United States. “All that he’s essentially done is ceded decision authority down to protect himself from making tough calls.”

The flip side of the Trump administration’s emphasis on a more-free-wheeling military approach to Islamic State is an apparent reduction of the use of soft-power tools—economic development, diplomacy and democracy-building—favored by the Obama White House.

Some State Department officials describe being cut out from the White House’s counterterrorism strategy in the Mideast, with efforts to nurture democratic governments and push for more secular education systems carrying less weight in the White House’s evolving approach.

“State is being systematically sidelined,” said a State Department official who has worked on counterterrorism issues in Washington and abroad.

The official said the White House strategy of prioritizing military might over diplomacy makes it hard to persuade Mideast allies to relax their grip on power. Many of Washington’s closest Arab allies are autocratic regimes guilty of human-rights abuses that critics say fuel terrorism.

“The problem there is that in many of the places where you need carrots, those carrots are often seen as threats to local governments,” the official said, referring to democracy and society-building programs the State Department funds across the Mideast.

Egypt offers a prime example of the Trump administration’s leanings. When Egyptian President Abdel Fattah Al Sisi, a military strongman, visited the White House earlier this month, Mr. Trump gave him a warm welcome. Mr. Obama had refused to meet him because of his regime’s alleged human-rights abuses.

U.S. officials in the Mideast say a counterterror approach that focuses solely on military might without programs to fight the causes that feed extremism could backfire, leading groups like Islamic State to go underground and wait for future opportunities to re-emerge. They are particularly concerned about Raqqa, where a U.S.-led military coalition is closing in around the city but post-liberation stabilization plans aren’t finalized as State Department officials wait for White House guidance.

Write to Dion Nissenbaum at dion.nissenbaum@wsj.com and Maria Abi-Habib at maria.habib@wsj.com

Appeared in the Apr. 15, 2017, print edition as ‘Military Takes Lead on ISIS.’

https://www.wsj.com/articles/trump-gives-generals-free-rein-on-isis-fight-1492218994

Raqqa campaign (2016–present)

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
  (Redirected from Raqqa offensive (2016–present))
Raqqa campaign (2016–present)
Part of the Syrian Civil War,
the Syrian Kurdish–Islamist conflict (2013–present), and
the American-led intervention in Syria
Northern Raqqa Offensive (November 2016).svgBattle of Raqqa2.svg
Top: Map showing the SDF advances; Bottom: A map of the situation in Raqqa itself
Date 6 November 2016 – present
(5 months, 1 week and 4 days)
Location Raqqa Governorate, Deir ez-Zor Governorate, Syria
35.9500°N 39.0167°ECoordinates: 35.9500°N 39.0167°E
Status Ongoing

  • The SDF captures more than 236 villages, hamlets and strategic hills, two water and power stations,[10][11] Al-Tabqa Airbase,[12][13]and reportedly Tabqa Dam[14][15][16]
  • The SDF, after latest advances, are now at a distance of 5 km from the ISIL capital city of Ar-Raqqah[17]
  • The SDF and allies cut off all main roads out of Raqqa (minus Baath Dam)[18]
</