Iran Nuclear Deal: Mission Accomplished or Mistake?

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A White House spokesman says President Barack Obama called Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to discuss the tentative deal his administration and other world diplomats made with Iran over its nuclear program.

Josh Earnest told reporter, traveling with Mr. Obama to the west coast Sunday, that although the White House understands Israel's skepticism about Iran's intentions - the U.S. "looks forward to consulting with its ally Israel on international negotiations with Tehran.

The deal came after four days of talks and three rounds of meetings, the P5+1 (the U.S., Russia, China, Great Britain, France and Germany), along with the European Union, struck an historic deal early Sunday morning in Geneva with the Islamic Republic of Iran.  While the details of the agreement have not been released, here are the main points:

  • It allows Iran to enrich uranium up to 5 percent. 
  • It requires Iran to stop expanding its enrichment capacity.
  • It further requires Iran to allow more IAEA inspections, especially to Iran's nuclear facilities at Natanz and Fordo.
  • In return, Iran would receive about $7 billion dollars' worth of sanctions relief.
  • The P5+1 agree to impose no new sanctions for six months. 

Obama Administration, Iran Pleased

Obama lauded the agreement: "Today that diplomacy opened up a new path toward a world that is more secure, a future in which we can verify that Iran's nuclear program is peaceful and that it cannot build a nuclear weapon. While today's announcement is just a first step, it achieves a great deal."

Meanwhile, Iranian leaders appear delighted with the deal.

President Hassan Rouhani said the decision affirms Iran's "right to enrichment."

"No matter what interpretations are given, Iran's right to enrichment has been recognized," he said.

Rouhani said Iran never had and never would seek nuclear arms, calling such accusations an "historical joke" and praising both Supreme Leader Ayatollah Khamenei's instructions to the negotiating team and the negotiating team itself.  

Following his remarks, Rouhani posed for photos with families of nuclear scientists Iran says Israeli agents assassinated.

However, Republican leaders aren't optimistic about the agreement.

Sen. Marco Rubio, (R) Fla., says it "makes a nuclear Iran more likely" because it doesn't require the Islamic nation to suspend all enrichment work.

Rep. Ed Royce, (R) Cal., agrees and says the agreement lets Iran keep important parts of its nuclear weapon-making capability while the US.is "doing the dismantling" by easing sanctions.

Meanwhile, Iran's negotiators arrived home to Tehran greeted by cheering supporters. The crowd, mostly young students, called them ambassadors of peace.

Iran's Foreign Minister Mohammed Javad Zarif told state television at the airport that the country is prepared for a quick follow-up talks to keep the deal on track.
 
Both Iran's Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, who has final say on all state matters, and moderate President Hassan Rouhani supported the deal.
 

Netanyahu: an 'Historic Mistake'
 
US Secretary of State John Kerry said the agreement would make the region safer for its allies, including Israel, but the Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu told his cabinet it was an "historic mistake" and that his country reserved the right to defend itself.

"Today the world became a much more dangerous place because the most dangerous regime in the world made a significant step in obtaining the most dangerous weapons in the world," he said. "What was achieved last night in Geneva is not an historic agreement; it is an historic mistake."

"For the first time, the world's leading powers have agreed to uranium enrichment in Iran while ignoring the UN Security Council decisions that they themselves led." he continued. "Sanctions that required many years to put in place contain the best chance for a peaceful solution. These sanctions have been given up in exchange for cosmetic Iranian concessions that can be cancelled in weeks."

"This agreement and what it means endanger many countries including, of course, Israel. Israel is not bound by this agreement. The Iranian regime is committed to the destruction of Israel and Israel has the right and the obligation to defend itself, by itself, against any threat. As prime minister of Israel, I would like to make it clear: Israel will not allow Iran to develop a military nuclear capability," he concluded.

Israeli Minister: a 'New Reality'

Newly reinstated Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman said the decision brings the Middle East to a "new reality."

"This brings us to a new reality in the Middle East, including the Saudis," Lieberman told Israel Radio. "This isn't just our worry. We've found ourselves in a completely new situation," he said, which would require Israel to make "different decisions."

Finance Minister Yuval Steinitz called the deal 'delusional," comparing it to negotiations with North Korea on its nuclear program.

"Just like the failed deal with North Korea, the current deal can actually bring Iran close to the bomb," Steinitz said, adding that it's based on "Iranian deception and [Western] self-delusion."

Economics Minister Naftali Bennett, who has been in the U.S. lobbying against reaching a deal with the Iranians, called it a "new reality" and a "very bad deal."

"This bad deal gives Iran exactly what it wanted: a significant easing of the sanctions while retaining the most significant parts of its nuclear program."

"If a nuclear suitcase blows up five years from now in New York or Madrid, it will be because of the deal that was signed this morning," Naftali wrote. "There is still a long campaign ahead of us and we will continue to act in every possible way."

Finance Minister Yair Lapid called it a "bad deal that does not bring even one centrifuge to a halt," adding that he's not only worried about the deal but also that Israel had "lost the world's attention."

The question for the world now is whether the 2013 Geneva deal is reminiscent of the 1938 Munich deal. That agreement between Western powers and Nazi Germany appeased Adolf Hitler and allowed him to take over Czechoslovakia and sowed the seeds of World War II. 

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