US Energy Secretary Ernest Moniz on the Iran deal

In the wake of the Iran nuclear deal announced last month, US Energy Secretary Ernest Moniz has become a prominent figure in the Obama administration's wide-ranging efforts to convince Congress and the American people to support the deal. In the process, the physicist and longtime MIT professor—who was a key advisor on the US team during negotiations with Iran—has been praised for his ability to translate complex science into language accessible to laymen (and lay-congressmen) and has at the same time become something of a media favorite.

John Mecklin in Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists:

ScreenHunter_1314 Aug. 15 19.07Bulletin: I’ll get right to it because I know you’re busy, and we have a short time window here. You and other administration officials have been on kind of a road show lately, explaining the Iran deal to a lot of different groups and people. Have you learned anything from doing that? Have any of the reactions surprised you?

Moniz: No, I don’t think so surprised. What I’m finding is, I think, that when all is said and done, the strengths of the nuclear dimensions of the agreement are being quite well appreciated. The two major issues that I think are on people’s minds are, number one, this idea that—of course it was part of the construct of the negotiation following the President’s strategic choice years ago—that the agreement is focused specifically on the nuclear weapons issue in Iran and is not, at the same time, addressing other regional issues that we have with Iran. But again, that was a choice made years ago.

Secondly, while the agreement very clearly is very restrictive on Iran’s nuclear program, say for 15 years, there’s a concern that okay, after 15 years they become a threshold state. But of course, we point out that they are today a threshold state. The difference is whether one is going to be confronted with a very large Iranian nuclear program essentially tomorrow, with little verification and, if the agreement is undermined, very little international unity, versus an Iran that could rebuild a substantial program after 15 years, but with considerable enhanced verification and international unity. So that’s kind of the reality.

More here.