Thirty-seven top US scientists, including some of the world’s leading experts in the fields of nuclear science and arms control, have written to President-elect Donald Trump, calling on him to abide by the nuclear agreement with Iran when he takes office on January 20.
“We urge you to preserve this critical US strategic asset,” reads the letter, which was sent to Trump on Monday, according to The New York Times.
The signatories included Nobel laureates, original designers of nuclear weapons, former White House science advisers, and the chief executive of the world’s largest general society of scientists.
The body of the letter praises the technical features of the Iran accord, and asks Trump to abide by it.
The scientists said in the letter that their objective was to “provide our assessment of the current status" of the deal which they argued provided a safeguard against Iran’s possible future attempts to build a nuclear bomb.
Iran and the P5+1 group – the US, Britain, France, China, Russia and Germany – reached the agreement, known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), in July 2015.
The scientists underscored that Iran has remained fully committed to its obligations under the JCPOA, including the cessation of enrichment activities and the export of enriched uranium, and concluded that the country would now need “many months” instead of “just a few weeks” to enrich uranium to produce weapons.
The letter stipulated that the JCPOA also “lowered the pressure felt by Iran’s neighbors to develop their own nuclear weapons options.”
Iran has all along highlighted the peaceful nature of its nuclear program, saying it has never had any intention to use it for military purposes. Also, Iran says it is forbidden to use weapons of mass destruction from a religious standpoint, as highlighted on many occasions by the country’s spiritual leaders.
Under the deal, Tehran agreed to limit some aspects of its nuclear program in exchange for the removal of all nuclear-related sanctions.
But during his campaign prior to the November 8 presidential election, Trump promised to annul the deal.
He called the pact a "disaster" and "the worst deal ever negotiated." He also said that the agreement could lead to a "nuclear holocaust."
In a speech to the main Israeli lobbying group in the US, AIPAC, Trump declared that his “No. 1 priority is to dismantle the disastrous deal” and argued that Iran had outmaneuvered the US in winning concessions.
The three-page letter was organized by Richard L. Garwin, a physicist who helped design the world’s first hydrogen bomb and has long advised US governments on arms control.
Most of the 37 scientists who signed the letter are physicists, including Richard L. Garwin, IBM Fellow Emeritus; Robert J. Goldston, Princeton University; Siegfried S. Hecker, Stanford University; Martin Hellman, Stanford University; Rush D. Holt, American Association for the Advancement of Science; R. Scott Kemp, Massachusetts Institute of Technology; and Frank von Hippel, Princeton University.
The United States, Israel, and some of their allies accuse Iran of pursuing military objectives in its nuclear program.
Iran rejects the allegation, arguing that as a committed signatory to the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) and a member of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), it has the right to use nuclear technology for peaceful purposes.