Press Releases

Congresswoman Terri Sewell, a member of the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence, issued the following statement in support of the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCOPA) negotiated between Iran and the United States, Russia, China, the United Kingdom, France and Germany (“P5+1” )with respect to Iran’s nuclear capabilities.

“After several months of thorough deliberation, classified briefings with nuclear experts and military officials, and extensive conversations with numerous constituent groups and diplomats from our allied nations and partners, I have decided to support the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA). I did not come to this decision lightly, nor am I under any illusions that this agreement is not without its problems.  However, I believe this agreement is the best multilaterally negotiated agreement we will get, and thus represents the most viable diplomatic option moving forward.

“To be clear, my decision to support the JCPOA is not based on a belief in Iran’s intentions but rather in the power of the international community to collectively enforce a nuclear-free Iran. As a Member of the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence, I have a unique understanding of our intelligence capabilities and of our capacity to monitor Iran’s compliance with the JCPOA. Moreover, all of the options available to the United States—including the use of military force—will remain available throughout the life of the deal and beyond. Ultimately, I believe the JCPOA provides us with a diplomatic path forward and helps us further counter Iran’s destabilizing activities in the region.

“While I have no trust in Iran, I believe in the strength and commitment of our nation and its allied partners to prevent Iran from developing a nuclear bomb. We are strongest when the international community speaks with one voice.  Voting against this plan would embolden Iran to hasten its nuclear development which would ultimately increase the likelihood of war.

“This agreement gives international inspectors unprecedented access to Iran’s nuclear sites, and extensive monitoring of its uranium supply and centrifuge production chains to ensure its enrichment activities never rise to the level necessary to produce a nuclear weapon. This type of broad range access is necessary and would not have been possible without this agreement. Additionally, Iran will be required to redesign and rebuild their heavy-water reactor at Arak to eliminate its plutonium producing capabilities. The new reactor will be designed and constructed in accordance with plans approved by the United States and other allies, and will only be allowed to be used for civilian research purposes. If Iran cheats or fails to meet its commitments, the agreement’s “snap back” provision allows for the United States to reinstate multilateral sanctions that cannot be blocked by any other nation. Moreover, the U.S. and our European partners can snap back our own unilateral sanctions at any time if Iran fails to comply.

“Critics of the agreement have voiced valid concerns about the risks inherent in this deal and the fact that many of the key elements expire in a 10 to 15 year timeframe. While I share many of their concerns, I believe the knowledge we will have acquired during the period of the agreement –  combined with the remaining provisions of the deal and our ongoing intelligence operations in the region – is enough to prevent Iran from developing a nuclear capability. Even as we implement and enforce the JCPOA, we must also continue to pursue strong and robust foreign policy initiatives to stabilize the region, and to protect Israel. These efforts must include upholding remaining arms embargoes, reinforcing alliances in the Gulf States, and renewing our commitment to Israel’s Qualitative Military Edge.

“I recently had the opportunity to travel to Ebril and Baghdad in Iraq and meet some of the brave men and women in uniform who play an integral role in our efforts in the Middle East, and in the continued security and safety our nation. I was reminded that one of my most sacred duties is to ensure that every vote I make supports and advances our national security, as well as the security of our allies around the world. Since taking office, my commitment to the safety and security of Israel has – and always will – remain steadfast and unwavering.

“These types of tough diplomatic decisions will invariably invoke differing, and passionate opinions between friends who ultimately share a common goal. Let me be clear, my support in no way undermines those shared goals or the sacrosanct relationship that exists between the U.S. and Israel. There are no perfect or easy solutions to the challenges we face in the Middle East and this decision is truly reflective of that. I look forward to continuing to work with my colleagues in the House and Senate, the Obama Administration, and our allies to ensure a nuclear-free Iran, a secure Israel, and peace in the Middle East.”