Ga.'s Sam Nunn: Nuke Deal Prevents Iran From Getting Weapon

Jul 24, 2015

Former Georgia Democratic U.S. Sen. Sam Nunn, center, has been monitoring global nuclear issues, risks and threats for years through his nonprofit Nuclear Threat Initiative. He supports the new nuclear deal with Iran.
Credit Katie King / for WABE
Secretary of State John Kerry testifies along with Secretary of Energy Ernest Moniz, right, and Secretary of Treasury Jack Lew, not shown, at a Senate Foreign Relations Committee hearing on Capitol Hill, in Washington, Thursday to review the Iran nuclear agreement. In his testimony, Kerry sought to parry Republican criticisms, at one point reading aloud from statements by past Israeli intelligence officials who praised the agreement.
Credit Andrew Harnik / Associated Press

Congress has convened hearings this week into the new nuclear agreement reached between the United States and five other countries hammered out with Iran. The deal includes restrictions on Iran’s nuclear program in exchange for an end to some of the toughest sanctions against the country.

Republicans, including both of Georgia's U.S. senators, have expressed either serious doubts or outright opposition to the agreement, and Israel's government has called it a historic mistake. 

During Thursday’s hearing on the pact, Secretary of State John Kerry said,  "The choice we face is between a deal that will ensure Iran's nuclear program is limited, rigorously scrutinized and wholly peaceful, or no deal at all," according to NPR.

Former Georgia Democratic U.S. Sen. Sam Nunn agreed with Kerry’s assessment on “A Closer Look.”

Nunn has been monitoring global nuclear weapons dangers, risks and threats for years. He and media mogul Ted Turner co-founded the Nuclear Threat Initiative, a nonprofit with a mission to reduce the risk of nuclear, biological and chemical weapon use.

Nunn said the intelligence community has estimated it would take a month or two for Iran to make a nuclear weapon.

Former U.S. Sen. Sam Nunn spoke about the Iran nuclear deal on “A Closer Look.”
Credit Alison Guillory / WABE

“One of the goals of this set of discussions and agreement is to stretch that time so that they could not achieve a real weapon within that period of time, but to go to a year, at least,” Nunn said.

“Sometimes we get so involved in the details, we lose sight of what we’re really trying to achieve, and what we’re really trying to achieve is basically preventing the Iranians from getting a bomb,” he said.

The question is whether this agreement makes that more likely or less likely.

“I think when you read all of it, not withstanding, it’s far from a perfect document, it’s pretty clear that the answer to that is, it’s going to be a lot harder for the Iranians to get a nuclear bomb over the next 10 or 15 years,” Nunn said.

And the Obama administration has said, in fact, that the new deal with Iran insures the Middle Eastern nation won’t be able to develop a nuclear weapon for at least 10 years.

The problem is that the knowledge and technology used in peaceful nuclear purposes is also used in making nuclear bombs, Nunn said.

Nunn said ultimately there are two objectives when it comes to Iran. To prevent the nation from getting a nuclear bomb and to do it without a war.

Congress has 60 days to review the new agreement. It then must decide whether to respond. President Obama has promised to veto any resolution opposing the deal.

WABE's Denis O'Hayer and Jim Burress contributed to this report.