Another bold move by Obama
Herb Boyd | 11/28/2013, 6 a.m.
Last Saturday evening, President Barack Obama explained yet another bold move by his administration, and like his other moves, the interim peace deal with Iran has come with its own measure of dissent and push back.
“While today’s announcement is just a first step,” the president said, after placing the deal in a historical perspective, “it achieves a great deal. For the first time in nearly a decade, we have halted the progress of the Iranian nuclear program, and key parts of the program will be rolled back. Iran has committed to halting certain levels of enrichment and neutralizing part of its stockpiles.”
He went on to add that Iran is forbidden to use “next generation centrifuges, which are used for enriching uranium.” It cannot install or start up new centrifuges, and its production of centrifuges will be limited.
There are several conditional words and terms in the deal, none more troubling for Israel and Saudi Arabia than “interim,” “certain levels of enrichment” and “limited.”
Perhaps anticipating the uneasiness from some of his longstanding allies, the president said that new inspections will provide extensive access to Iran’s nuclear facilities and allow the international community to verify whether Iran is living up to its commitment. Those U.N. inspections include daily visits.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu was livid in his comments about the deal, calling it a “historical mistake.”
“What was concluded in Geneva … is not a historic agreement, it’s a historic mistake,” the prime minister told the press. “It’s not made the world a safer place. Like the agreement with North Korea in 2005, this agreement has made the world a much more dangerous place.”
Aiming to ease the tensions, Obama immediately called Netanyahu, and for 30 minutes, according to White House spokesperson Josh Earnest, the two leaders talked. “The president underscored that the United States will remain firm in our commitment to Israel, which has good reason to be skeptical about Iran’s intentions,” a White House press statement indicated.
“Skeptical” is a mild way to put it when compared to Netanyahu’s further comment. He said, “[Iran] is dedicated to destroying Israel, and Israel has the right and obligation to defend itself with its own forces against every threat. I want to make clear as the prime minister of Israel: Israel will not let Iran develop a nuclear military capability.”
“On our side,” Obama stressed before hearing Netanyahu’s rebuke, “the United States and our friends and allies have agreed to provide Iran with modest relief while continuing to apply our toughest sanctions. We will refrain from imposing new sanctions, and we will allow the Iranian government access to a portion of the revenue that they have been denied through sanctions. But the broader architecture of sanctions will remain in place, and we will continue to enforce them vigorously. And if Iran does not fully meet its commitments during this six-month phase, we will turn off the relief and ratchet up the pressure.”
In effect, two provisions are on the table, and they are connected—will Iran keep its promise, and will the U.S. reimpose stricter sanctions if they don’t?