Secretary Moniz addresses the Iran nuclear deal, non-proliferation, and global nuclear security.
That’s a wrap – thanks for reading!
Q: Do you think that all clean energy technologies should get a fair chance, or should we prefer one of them? Are there ways the DoE can influence/open up more local and state level support opportunities?
Q: Curious as to what your personal goals are for the future.
Q: Is international collaboration or national dependence/security more effective?
Q: Spoke a lot about future prospects of a non-proliferation treaty but also about non-state actors. Challenges that we face with those groups?
Q: Mentioned isolated neutron sources. Only proper use for that is in detonating an atomic bomb. Was there any point at which you needed to use your scientific nose and say something isn’t right?
Q: Future of the deal in 15-25 years as the provisions expire?
Q: Geopolitical context behind nuclear safety. Why do you think that Iran is sanctioned and persecuted for proliferating weapons when Israel has a history of bombing innocents and is not sanctioned?
Q: You spoke of meetings with Netanyahu, rifts over the JCPOA. What does relationship with Israel look like presently from your perspective?
Transition to question and answer period.
EM: Diplomacy is generally thought of as the negotiation of agreements between states. That’s important, but I want to re-emphasize the other definition: promotion of good relationships between countries.
EM: It’s encouraging to see the incredible interest among so many students.
EM: Nuclear security will remain an issue. It will go past my generation. We have to sustain a focus and a discussion, invest resources to prevent the worst outcome we can imagine.
EM: The deal stands on its own. About nuclear weapons, verification. We all hope that there will be a change in the overall regional engagement of Iran.
EM: I feel that good sense will prevail, issue will be to maintain our vigilance, sustain our effort. It won’t be easy.
EM: US and Russia aren’t on the best of terms, but on this issue there was complete commitment to the same objective.
EM: We hear a lot about US unilateral withdrawal in 2017. This is an excellent “worst of both worlds” option.
EM: What would 15 years from now look like without the agreement? Iran would have a struggling economy, 100,000 centrifuges, a reactor producing a lot of plutonium. Hard to understand why that’s a better picture.
EM: Only critique that pertains to the agreement per se is about the length of the agreement’s provisions.
EM: This was about a verifiable agreement to take the nuclear issue off the table.
EM: Critiques about the JCPOA are mostly not of the agreement but of what the agreement is not. It is not an agreement on ballistic missiles, Hezbollah, Houthis. All areas of great concern to us.
EM: Iran beat my expectations in terms of implementation.
EM: This agreement was to address the existential issue of a nuclear weapon. We feel extremely confident in its provisions.
EM: What no other country has done until now that Iran has done is forego research on certain areas. Major step.
EM: 29 scientists signed letter to the President when these conditions were put forward saying that this was the most stringent non-proliferation agreement ever negotiated.
EM: Additional protocol now has 14 days as maximum timeline for IAEA access. Closed a major loophole.
EM: Verification. Procurement channel to make sure that material is going to appropriate end use. Additional protocol: basis of the IAEA inspectors’ ability to access suspicious sites.
EM: Iran retains capability in each area, but with 15 years of strong constraints.
EM: All that uranium has gone to Russia, getting back natural, non-enriched uranium.
EM: They have retained 1/3 of centrifuges, only the most elementary one (IR1). They are constrained to having no more than 300kg of low enriched uranium, brought down from 10 tons.
EM: Commitment on Iran’s part to send spent fuel from plutonium out of the country, have a limit on their heavy water inventories.
EM: Core elements. Only a few years ago, plutonium reactor seen as highest risk. It’s now had cement poured into it. P5+1 has committed to working to help redesign a new reactor that will have comparable performance without as much plutonium.
EM: Emerged with a basic structure of significant constraints on the Iranian program for 15 years plus the strong verification, and the nuclear sanctions are rolled back. Not all sanctions rolled back.
EM: Pretty easy to see that these elements are not mutually exclusive. Solution was possible.
EM: Iranian side needed some level of activity going on in all elements of program, possibly greatly reduced, and not give up prerogatives of peaceful nuclear program.
EM: There would have to be a very strong verification regime.
EM: President made it clear that we needed a one year breakout time (time to reach enough nuclear material for a first explosive in a “sprint”)
EM: We could very rapidly find out what each others’ absolute core objectives were.
EM: We had the very active and clear guidance of the President. Understood that we had flexibility to achieve objectives as long as we met them.
EM: What really helped was that we got into a negotiation where we both had scientist worldviews. That led to a very different negotiating style.
EM: MIT connection with Salehi helped to build trust.
EM: Interesting negotiation with Sec’y Kerry, Foreign Minister Javad Zarif.
EM: It’s very hard to have a major rollback of a program built over many years.
EM: When analyzing the deal we should always remember that you have to compare to what it would otherwise be like. It would not be a pretty picture
EM: Iran had a rapidly expanding nuclear program. Up to nearly 20,000 centrifuges, well along in building a plutonium reactor.
EM: P5+1 had been negotiating with Iran for years. Highly successful sanctions regime also in place, worked because many countries participated.
EM: JCPOA represented an unusual intersection of science and diplomacy. My personal engagement should not hide the fact that our laboratories/expertise was part of the negotiation all the time.
EM: JCPOA. It’s been great to learn about the nuclear crisis simulation in the political science class here.
EM: We have a legitimate glass-half-full, glass-half-empty situation because the work isn’t done until we get all the remaining materials under control.
EM: During the nuclear summit process, Japan announced that they are sending high-enriched uranium to the United States for disposal. We’ve formed regional partnerships on nuclear security.
EM: All high-enriched uranium gone from South America, other regions on track to do the same.
EM: Real diplomacy is not just negotiating a piece of paper.
EM: Negotiations tend to be points where everybody pays attention, but we have responsibility for scientist interactions, weapon scientist interactions as well.
EM: My own engagement in nuclear security goes back to 1978, working on a report on nuclear fuel cycles.
EM: Risk of increased terrorism/organized crime throughout the world.
EM: It’s been terrific to be Secretary of Energy at a time when there’s a president who put both of the issues on the front burner.
EM: We also have a big nuclear energy program. Not nuclear security per se, but has very strong intersections. 2/3 of our budget in the nuclear realm.
EM: We have responsibilities in securing and eliminating nuclear weapons.
EM: Turning to nuclear security. Department has very broad responsibilities in this area. Nuclear deterrent: we’ve succeeded in shrinking it and avoiding any need for nuclear tests.
EM: We’ve had great success in many technologies over the last few years.
EM: In the process leading to Paris, innovation was finally placed squarely on the front burner as a critical element in addressing our climate challenges.
EM: I want to re-emphasize that the Department of Energy is engaged in two international issues: nuclear security, climate and clean energy.
EM: Acknowledges innovation going on on campus.
EM: Addressing the energy issue required reaching across all disciplines.
EM: I appreciate being added to the distinguished list of Ogden Lecturers.
RL: Moniz has earned a reputation as a smart, direct leader. “Arguably Obama’s best cabinet appointment.”
RL: Moniz served as a key negotiator of the Iran deal alongside Secretary Kerry.
RL: It came as no surprise to MIT colleagues when then-Professor Moniz was called upon to serve in the federal government.
RL: Ogden Lecture one of Brown’s oldest, most distinguished lectures.
Provost Locke welcomes the audience and introduces Secretary Moniz.