To the editor: The Times Editorial Board's endorsement of a U.S. return to the Iran nuclear deal is justified with qualification.
First, Iran must resolve what the International Atomic Energy Agency calls in its February evaluation the regime's "unsatisfactory" and "not technically credible" explanations of "uranium conversion activities," as well as "undeclared nuclear material and nuclear-related activities" at three locations that the regime has attempted to "sanitize."
In other words, Iran must reveal and eliminate all suspect activity.
Second, any renewal of the nuclear deal must eliminate the sunset clause that allows Iran to resume enrichment beyond the 3.67% uranium-235 purity threshold beginning January 2031. Failure to do so would permit Iran to approach a weapons material breakout capacity.
Bennett Ramberg, Los Angeles
The writer was a foreign affairs officer in the State Department Bureau of Politico-Military Affairs in the George H.W. Bush administration.
To the editor: Thank you for the excellent editorial. I would like to add one clarification.
The editorial correctly states that after former President Trump withdrew the United States from the nuclear deal, Iran began pulling out of its commitments. However, Iran maintained its compliance for a full year after Trump pulled out.
When the Iranians began to gradually exceed the uranium enrichment beyond the agreed limit, they said the purpose was to put pressure on Europe to find ways around Trump's embargo. Iran also said the moves could easily be reversed.
Nevertheless, the longer it takes to return to the agreement, the more difficult that reversal will probably become. Both sides need to move quickly to full compliance.
Patrick Bonner, South Gate
To the editor: I find it stunning that day-after-day articles about the Biden administration's negotiations with Iran regarding reviving the Obama-era nuclear deal fail to mention, let alone give primacy to, the regional actor whose very existence is most impacted by Iran's nuclear ambitions — Israel.
Reading through the articles suggest that these deliberations are yet one more of an endless string of thorny geopolitical quagmires, but lacking any particular urgency. Nothing could be further from the truth. Iran's nuclear ambitions are not vague; they are targeted specifically at Israel, a country that Iran's mullahs continue to proclaim is worthy of annihilation.
In Israel, a country where no two citizens agree on just about anything, there was near unanimity that former President Obama's deal with Iran was a dangerous betrayal, and the near-same unanimity exists now regarding the resumption of said negotiations.
For the world powers involved, these negotiations are complex and filled with nuance. For Israel, a potential nuclear Iran is an existential issue. At the very least, your reporting should include this critical angle.
Adam Kligfeld, Los Angeles
This story originally appeared in Los Angeles Times.