Letter to Congressional Leadership from Former Under Secretaries

of State and former American Ambassadors to Israel on the Joint
Comprehensive Plan of Action
July 27, 2015

Dear Speaker Boehner and Minority Leader Pelosi:
As former United States ambassadors to Israel and former Under Secretaries of State, we have
worked throughout our careers to strengthen and deepen the bonds between the United States and
Israel. Our firm instructions in every administration we served, reflecting American national
interests and values, were to help assure Israel’s well-being and safety.
It is our commitment to this enduring objective of American policy that motivates us now to write
in support of the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) reached by the five permanent
United Nations Security Council members plus Germany (P5+1). 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.
We acknowledge that the JCPOA does not achieve all of the goals its current detractors have set for
it. But it does meet all of the key goals required for high confidence that, should Iran violate it and
move toward building a nuclear weapon, the international intelligence community and the IAEA will
discover Iran’s actions early and in sufficient time for strong countermeasures to be taken to stop
Iran’s activities. No agreement between multiple parties can be perfect or without risks. We believe
that without this agreement, however, the risks will be much higher for the United States and Israel.
We see no fatal flaws that should call for the rejection of this agreement and have not heard any
viable alternatives from those who oppose the implementation of the JCPOA.
Those who advocate rejection of the JCPOA should assess carefully the value and feasibility of any
alternative strategy to meet the goal of better protecting the security of the U.S. and Israel and more
effectively prevent Iran from acquiring a nuclear weapon. The consequences of rejection are grave:
U.S. responsibility for the collapse of the agreement; the inability to hold the P5+1 together for the
essential international sanctions regime and such other action that may be required against Iran; and
the real possibility that Iran will decide to build a nuclear weapon under significantly reduced or no
inspections. The rejection of this agreement could lead to the U.S. having to use military force
without the support of other allies and without the understanding of the international community.

Because there is so little trust that Iran will remain in full compliance with the agreement, the U.S.
must remain alert and continue to monitor Iran’s actions carefully. The President and Secretary
Kerry have made clear that the U.S. and others will take all steps necessary to assure that Iran does
not violate its commitments including to enrich enough highly enriched uranium to build a nuclear
weapon. If the extensive monitoring and verification system in the JCPOA is carried out faithfully,
then a greatly restrained Iran will be unable to pose a credible military threat to Israel. Additionally,
decades of constant American support of Israel’s security requirements now assure that Israel’s wellknown and fully understood strategic military capabilities are far superior to those of Iran. This
should remain the case in the future.
The Administration must make clear that it will remain the firm policy of the United States during
the agreement and beyond, to prevent Iran from acquiring a nuclear weapon by all necessary means.
During the implementation period of the JCPOA, it is essential that Israel remain assured by the
Administration of the enduring and unequivocal American commitment to its security and wellbeing. The prevention of a nuclear-armed Iran must remain a highest priority of U.S. policy in the
Middle East.
R. Nicholas Burns, former Under Secretary of State for Political Affairs and Ambassador to NATO
James Cunningham, former Ambassador to Israel
William Harrop, former Ambassador to Israel
Daniel Kurtzer, former Ambassador to Israel
Thomas R. Pickering, former Under Secretary of State for Political Affairs and former Ambassador
to Israel
Edward S. Walker Jr., former Ambassador to Israel
Frank G. Wisner, former Under Secretary of State for International Security Affairs and Under
Secretary of Defense for Policy