Only three days have passed since the United States and five other world powers reached the beginning framework of an historic agreement with Iran over its controversial nuclear program that has stirred conflict for over a decade and, despite the optimism, conservatives in the United States and Iran remain critical of the deal along with Israeli PM Benjamin Netanyahu who is leading the chorus to kill it.
The nuclear agreement is still not officially a sealed deal and remains under review and in transition until June 30th when the two sides of the conflict are faced with a final deadline to implement the provisions of the nuclear deal that aims to diminish Iran’s pathway to develop a bomb with enriched uranium while rewarding Iran by unwinding the international sanctions that have eroded Iran’s oil dependent economy.
Israeli PM Benjamin Netanyahu described the international agreement as a “bad deal” during NBC’s Meet the Press aired today.
“I’m not trying to kill any deal. I’m trying to kill a bad deal” Netanyahu said on NBC.
“Not a single facility, including underground facilities nuclear facilities, is being shut down. This is a deal that leaves Iran with the capacity to produce the material for many, many nuclear bombs, and it does so by lifting the sanctions pretty much up front” Netanyahu added.
When questioned about the possibility of launching an airstrike on Iran’s nuclear facilities, Netanyahu said that he prefers a “good diplomatic solution” that rolls back Iran’s nuclear infrastructure and one that ties the final lifting of sanctions on Iran’s nuclear program with a change of Iran’s behavior.
Netanyahu admitted that he would like the United States and five other world powers, known as p5+1, to get a better deal and to “ratchet up the sanctions” and not make any concessions at all.
The Obama administration and five other world powers believe that Iran has already displayed a change in behavior and support a lifting sanctions on Iran as long as they abide by the terms of the newly reached agreement, while citing Iran’s compliance with intrusive international inspections that would continue under the new nuclear deal reached on Thursday.
“It’s a good deal…. a deal that meets our core objectives, including strict limitations on Iran’s program and cutting off every pathway that Iran could take to develop a nuclear weapon” Obama said in his weekly address on April 4th.
Obama explained that if Iran violates the deal, sanctions can be snapped back into place.
Obama pointed out that “if Iran cheats, the world will know it” and under the new guidelines “international inspectors will have unprecedented access to Iran’s nuclear program because Iran will face more international inspections than any other country in the world.”
“If we see something suspicious, we will inspect it. So this deal is not based on trust, it’s based on unprecedented verification” Obama emphasized.
Obama said that the nuclear agreement denies Iran the plutonium necessary to build a bomb and shuts down Iran’s path to a bomb using enriched uranium.
Under the terms of the deal, Iran is forbidden from enriching uranium at its Fordow facility for 15 years and has agreed to not conduct research and development associated with uranium enrichment at Fordow for 15 years or have fissile material there for the same time period.
Iran has agreed to redesign and rebuild a heavy water research reactor in Arak, based on a design that is agreed to by the p5+1, which will not produce weapons grade plutonium and support peaceful nuclear research and radioisotope research.
Iran’s breakout timeline to acquire enough fissile material for one weapon, is currently assessed to be 2 to 3 months, but will be extended at least one year, for a duration of at least 10 years under the current framework.
Senator John McCain (R-Arizona), Chairman of the Armed Services Committee, released a statement following the complex nuclear agreement, thanking Secretary Kerry and the negotiating team but also wrote that the agreement still raises serious questions and concerns.
Some of the concerns that McCain highlighted relate to Iran not being required to ship its stockpile of enriched uranium out of the country as previously demanded, close its nuclear facility at Fordow, or allow international inspectors “to go anywhere in Iran at anytime” to monitor Iran’s compliance.
McCain also said that there is no process yet for resolving the possible military dimensions of Iran’s nuclear program and explained that the agreement contains a “sunset”, after which Iran will be allowed to maintain and possibly expand an industrial-sized enrichment program.
McCain believes that Congress must be actively involved in reviewing and ultimately approving a nuclear agreement with Iran, a process that has already sparked heated debate in Washington and remains a thorn in President Obama’s side as he seeks to show foreign policy leadership dealing with Iran, one of the powerhouses in the Middle East, that poses a threat to Israel and the United States’ Arab partners in the region.
“We cannot, and should not, divorce our nuclear diplomacy with Iran from the larger strategic challenge that Iran poses” McCain wrote in his statement.
Senator Chris Murphy (D-Connecticut), a member of the Senate’s Foreign Relations Committee, who has been supportive of the nuclear deal, threw cold water on Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu’s idea about stepping up sanctions on Iran when he spoke on NBC’s Meet the Press.
“The idea that we should just go back to the negotiating table and put back sanctions in place, I think doesn’t understand the reality, which is that with this deal on the table, it would’ve been hard to get our partners, especially China and Russia, to go back to sanctions when most of our objections have been met at the negotiating table” Murphy said.
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