By John Kerry, Former U.S. Secretary of State
Today marks the two-year anniversary of a remarkable diplomatic achievement — one that unequivocally made the world a safer place — the Iran Deal. Two years later, there’s proof, not just promise — diplomacy works.
I’m proud of many things that we accomplished together during my four years as President Obama’s Secretary of State — from the Paris Agreement on climate change to finding the path for a unity government in Afghanistan to raising the American flag over our embassy in Havana for the first time in six decades — but I don’t think anything looms larger than reaching the historic deal that has prevented Iran from obtaining a nuclear weapon. In that case, diplomacy was a fancy word for avoiding a war — and this week 38 retired Generals and Admirals reminded us that it’s working, and that “the only good wars are the ones you don’t have to fight.”
Getting to the Iran nuclear agreement wasn’t easy. It required steadfast faith in the power of determined diplomacy, when many dismissed it or denied it or were ready to give up.We had to start with no trust — from the trip in 2011 when President Obama sent me to Muscat as Chairman of the Foreign Relations Committee, to 2013’s first face to face meeting between an American Secretary of State and an Iranian Foreign Minister since before the 1979 Revolution. We spent long hours at the negotiating table over years to find the path to get everyone to agree to a tough and fair deal. We had to bring the international community together.
And then, of course, we had to convince Congress that the deal passed muster — something we couldn’t have done without grassroots support from people like you who made your voices heard.
Now, consider the progress we’ve made. When the deal was struck, Iran had a big enough stockpile to build several nuclear bombs. Their nuclear weapons program had been racing forward for over a decade. Through this deal, we compelled them to reverse course altogether. We demanded that Iran meet tough, verifiable obligations, and they are complying — as even the new administration, as well as the International Atomic Energy Agency has acknowledged. They’ve shipped out more than 98% of their enriched uranium, shut down two-thirds of their centrifuges, permanently disabled their heavy water reactor, and abided by unprecedented verification procedures.
Simply put, we’ve successfully blocked every pathway Iran had to a nuclear weapon.
So, I hope you will feel proud on this anniversary — but I also hope you’ll be filled with purpose.
To protect what we all did with President Obama.
To remember that as tough as it may feel today, we’ve all got to keep speaking out.
I know I am — and I know you will.
Voices like yours helped us reach this historic diplomatic achievement — let’s make it stick, and let’s stick with principled diplomacy. Onwards!
Originally published at www.ofa.us.