If Congress rejects the new P5+1 Iranian nuclear deal or refuses to lift sanctions on Iran if it meets conditions outlined in the agreement, these events would almost certainly result in a “nightmare scenario,” a senior advisor to the White House who helped craft the accord said Aug. 13 at a forum hosted by the Center for Strategic and International Studies. Right now, Iran’s “breakout capacity”—that is, the time it would take to produce enough highly enriched uranium for a nuclear weapon—is two to three months, said Colin Kahl, deputy assistant to the President and Vice President Joe Biden’s national security advisor. But Iran could shorten this timeline to a month if they abandoned the tenants of the agreement, Kahl added. And, he said, even if Iran decided to stick with the deal after a rejection by Congress, it would weaken the US position internationally and put other countries in a terrible position. “There’s no way we could get a better deal” if Congress refused to lift the sanctions, he said. Under the agreement, Iran’s breakout capacity would be increased to a year, he said. Senior Administration officials, including Secretary of Defense Ash Carter, have reached out to allies in the Middle East recently to urge support for the deal, while some in Congress have voiced skepticism.
The U.S. supports “a stronger and more capable” European defense, Defense Secretary Lloyd J. Austin III said during an Oct. 22 press conference in Brussels—but that defense should not duplicate the functions and capabilities of the NATO alliance.