Sherman points out facts of agreement with Iran

Wendy Sherman, the U.S. State Department's under secretary for political affairs, testified on Thursday on the merits of the Joint Plan of Action with Iran before a Senate committee.

During her testimony before the Senate Committee on Banking, Housing and Urban Affairs, Sherman said she would provide the facts about what was agreed to in Geneva, allowing the committee to judge the merits of the agreement on its own. She said the six-month agreement is designed to block Iran's pathways to a nuclear weapon, while allowing for long-term negotiations.

"The goal of that comprehensive solution is to resolve the international community's concerns with Iran's nuclear program," Sherman said. "What this initial plan does is help ensure that Iran's nuclear program cannot advance while negotiations towards that solution proceed."

Sherman explained the technical details of the agreement, which eliminates Iran's stockpile of 20 percent enriched uranium, stops the installation of additional centrifuges, freezes the accumulation of 3.5 percent enriched uranium and makes sure the Arak reactor stays offline.

In return for Iran's concessions, the P5+1 will provide limited amounts of sanctions relief.

"There have been some that have incorrectly represented the limited relief as being far more," Sherman said. "So, let me reiterate. The total relief envisioned in the JPA amounts to between $6-7 billion - nowhere near the $20 or $40 billion that some have reported. The total relief for Iran envisioned in the JPA would be a modest fraction of the approximately $100 billion in foreign exchange holdings that are inaccessible or restricted because of our ongoing sanctions pressure."

Sherman said that without the JPA, Iran could have doubled its enrichment capacity, grown its stockpile of enriched uranium and made progress on starting up its Arak reactor. She noted the JPA and its implementation represents the first step in the process.

"There are still many issues related to Iran's nuclear program that must be addressed, and in the process, Iran must work with the (International Atomic Energy Agency) to resolve all past and present issues of concern," Sherman said. "That is why our ultimate aim is a comprehensive agreement that fully addresses all of our longstanding concerns."