Despite last minute hitches and haggling in the talks between Iran and the P5+1, and notwithstanding objections from the Europeans, the nuclear deal with Iran has been agreed – and Israel is furious:
The United States, Iran and five other world powers on Thursday announced an understanding outlining limits on Iran’s nuclear program intended to ensure it cannot attain atomic weapons, directing negotiators toward achieving a comprehensive agreement within three months.…
In Jerusalem, officials slammed the framework as “a capitulation to Iranian dictates.” The officials, speaking on condition of anonymity, called it “a bad framework that will lead to a bad and dangerous agreement. If finalized, it would make the world “far more dangerous.”The agreement constitutes “international legitimization of Iran’s nuclear program” whose “only purpose is to build nuclear weapons.”
Obama vowed that “there will be no daylight, there is no daylight” between the US and Israel on security, and said the US would continue to stand with Israel in the face of Iran’s destabilizing policies and threats.
Obama, whose remarks were broadcast live in Iranian state TV, said he would be calling Netanyahu Thursday evening to update him on the framework agreement.
Today “we have achieved the framework” for a long-term deal, a framework “that would cut off every path” that Iran could take to the bomb, including the toughest inspections “ever negotiated,” he said.
He said the terms of the deal, first, closed off Iran’s plutonium route to the bomb. The core of the Arak reactor will be dismantled, he said.
Second, the uranium route would be closed, with two-thirds of Iran’s centrifuges no longer to be used, no enrichment at the Fordow facility, and no use of advanced centrifuges “for at least 10 years.” Most of Iran’s existing stocks of enriched uranium would be “neutralized.”
Third, as the best defense against a covert Iranian bid for the bomb, it would be subjected to unprecedented inspection. “If Iran cheats, the world will know it,” Obama said. “If we see something suspicious, we will inspect it.”
If it fully complies with the deal, Iran could “rejoin the family of nations,” the president said, stressing again that the deal had yet to be finalized.
Obama reiterated that, “Iran will never be permitted to develop a nuclear weapon.”
He said the deal provides for phased sanctions relief, but that if Iran violates the deal, “sanctions can be snapped back into place.”
“The issues at stake here are bigger than politics,” Obama said during remarks in the White House Rose Garden. “These are matters of war and peace, and they should be evaluated based on the facts.”
The president called the agreement “a good deal, a deal that meets our core objectives.”
One of Obama’s toughest challenges will be convincing lawmakers to hold off on legislation that would authorize new sanctions on Iran. He warned anew Thursday that approving new sanctions in the midst of the delicate diplomacy could scuttle the talks.
Obama needs understand that if the talks were not so inimical to Western interests, US lawmakers wouldn’t feel so obliged to approve new sanctions.
In Lausanne, speaking simultaneously, US Secretary of State John Kerry said the deal, contrary to reports, had “no sunset clause.” Some of its components would in force for 10 years, others for 15, and still others for indefinite periods. If implemented, Kerry added, Iran’s current two-month potential breakout time, he said, would be at least six times longer.
So there’s no sunset clause, but there is one. Kerry is doing his usual shtick of saying two contradictory things at the same time. And a 2 month breakout time multiplied by 6 is still only one year to breakout time. What kind of deal is that??!
In an apparent dig at Netanyahu, Kerry added: “Simply demanding that Iran capitulate makes a nice soundbite, but it’s not a policy.”
The Iranians are not playing nice along with the Americans. In fact they seem out to embarrass them:
Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif followed with the same statement in Farsi. He called the deal a “win-win” agreement.
He later said the deal was designed to reassure “anybody who had concerns that our program is anything but] exclusively peaceful.
Still, he stressed, Iran would not be closing “any of our facilities” — something the “proud” Iranian people would not have accepted — would “continue enriching,” and would continue R&D.
According to European officials quoted by the New York Times, under the terms of the deal “roughly 5,000 centrifuges will remain spinning enriched uranium at the main nuclear site at Natanz, about half the number currently running. The giant underground enrichment site at Fordo – which Israeli and some American officials fear is impervious to bombing – will be partly converted to advanced nuclear research and the production of medical isotopes… A major reactor at Arak, which officials feared could produce plutonium, would operate on a limited basis that would not provide enough fuel for a bomb.”
The thousands of Iranian centrifuges that are not to be used will be placed into IAEA-supervised storage, US officials said, to be available only as spare parts.
Mogherini said the seven nations would now start writing the text of a final accord. She cited several agreed-upon restrictions on Iran’s enrichment of material that can be used either for energy production or in nuclear warheads. She said Iran won’t produce weapons-grade plutonium.
Crucially for the Iranians, economic sanctions related to its nuclear programs are to be rolled back after the U.N. nuclear agency confirms compliance.
Israel’s Channel 2 news reported “dancing in the streets” of Iran at the news that the sanctions would ultimately be lifted.
The full text of the agreement is here. I have not read it yet myself since it is erev Pesach (the eve of Passover) and preparations are at their maddest height. I shall rely instead on an Israeli spokesman’s assessment that the deal is a capitulation which will allow Iran to achieve a military nuclear option:
An Israeli official late Thursday castigated the nuclear deal struck between Iran and world powers earlier in the evening as a dangerous capitulation to Tehran which would result in the Islamic republic’s nuclear armament.
The official, speaking on condition of anonymity, railed furiously against the framework agreement shortly after it was hailed by US President Barack Obama as a “historic agreement.”
“This is a bad framework that will lead to a bad and dangerous deal,” he said. “If an agreement is reached based on the guidelines of this framework, that would be an historic mistake which will transform the world into a much more dangerous place.”
Obama promised that he would speak to Netanyahu later Thursday, … telling Netanyahu that the new deal was “the most effective” and “best option.”
The Jerusalem source strongly disagreed. “The framework gives Iran’s nuclear program, the sole purpose of which is to produce nuclear bombs, international legitimacy,” the Israeli official said.
“Iran will still have extensive nuclear capabilities. It will continue to enrich uranium. It will continue its centrifuge research and development. It will not close even one of its nuclear facilities, including the underground facility at Fordo. This and more.
“The bottom line,” the official warned, “is that this deal ensures the full removal of the sanctions against Iran’s nuclear program while assuring that it will keep its nuclear capabilities.
“There is no demand that Iran stop its aggression in the region, its terrorism around the world or its threats to destroy Israel, which it has repeated again over the past several days,” the official complained.
“This deal kowtows to Iranian dictates and it will not lead to a nuclear program for peaceful purposes, but rather to a military nuclear program.”
Zionist Union leader Isaac Herzog said in a statement published on Facebook that the crux of the understandings reached between Iran and world powers was still to be finalized, and that “we must ensure that the final agreement which will be formulated now will roll back Iran’s nuclear program in a manner which prevents them from [obtaining] a nuclear weapon, and will protect the security interests of Israel.”
Centrist Yesh Atid leader Yair Lapid noted: “On the Iranian nuclear issue there is no opposition and coalition. We are all concerned that the Iranians will circumvent the deal and Israel must protect its own security interests. The ayatollah’s regime has been peddling fraud and deception for years and progressing with its nuclear program. They will try, from day one, to cheat the international community as they have done in the past.”
For those wondering whether Israel will now take the decision to strike Iran, there are some who say that this option is now lost:
Meanwhile, an Israeli commentator concluded that the deal takes Israel’s military option off the table.
“If there was a possibility of an Israeli military strike” to thwart Iran prior to this point, said Channel 2’s diplomatic correspondent Udi Segal as the deal was announced, “it is now off the table.
The notion of Israel taking military action now, Segal added, would be beyond “irresponsible and foolish.”
I’m sure there are those that would disagree.
The only small comfort to be derived from this fiasco is that the deal is to yet finalised, and there is a still a small chance to amend this agreement. From the first ToI article:
Intelligence Minister Yuval Steinitz, who oversees the monitoring of the nuclear program, said the deal was “disconnected from the sad reality” of the region.
Following Thursday’s announcement, Iran and the world powers are expected to work out the details of a final deal by the end of June.
“Since the declaration is far from being a real agreement, we will continue in our efforts to explain and persuade the world in the hope of preventing a bad agreement, or at least to insert corrections and improvements,” Steinitz said.
A much clearer overview of the danger of this nuclear deal can be seen at Legal Insurrection where Prof. Jacobson has collected a series of tweets showing us that Iran got the nuclear deal it wanted. Here is a small selection of these tweets. Go to LI and read the rest – and weep.
The timing of this deal, on the eve of Passover, the “time of our redemption” seems significant to me. I hope I’m not being too optimistic. But tomorrow night as we sit down to our Pesach Seder, we will recite the ancient verses:
“in every generation they rise up to destroy us, but the Almighty G-d saves us from their hand”.
May we too merit to be saved from the hands of the tyrants of the modern day.