As Iran and the P5+1 nations work feverishly to finalize a nuclear agreement, Prime Minister Netanyahu continues to warn against a bad and dangerous deal.
With the extended deadline for the nuclear talks between the P5+1 Powers and Iran, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu warned that with each day that passes, the West caves further to Iranian demands, giving more concessions.
“It seems that the nuclear talks in Iran have yielded a breakdown, not a breakthrough,” Netanyahu said at the beginning of the weekly cabinet meeting on Sunday.
“The major powers’ concessions are increasing. The deal being formulated will pave Iran’s path to the production of very many atomic bombs and it will also channel to Iran hundreds of billions of dollars that will serve its aggression and terrorism campaigns in our region and around the world. This is a bad deal. It is not less bad – in my opinion, it is worse – than the deal with North Korea that led to a nuclear arsenal in North Korea. But this is both a non-conventional threat, and a very large conventional threat, against Israel, the countries of the region and the world.”
Agreement with Iran Will ‘Not Cure All’
Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton expressed reservations about the nuclear deal on Saturday.
“I’m hoping it’s a strong, verifiable deal that will put the lid on Iran’s nuclear weapons ambitions,” Clinton said. “Even if we are successful, however, Iran’s aggressiveness will not end.”
In her previous position as secretary of state, Clinton helped set in motion the talks that are nearing completion in Vienna. The proposal has been assailed by Republican presidential candidates, who say it does not go far enough to prevent Iran from obtaining nuclear weapons.
Clinton said that Iran ramped up its nuclear capabilities during former US President George W. Bush’s two terms, building covert facilities and intimidating its neighbors. “The Bush administration’s response through diplomacy was somewhat half-hearted,” she said, adding that the “only response” was leveling punitive sanctions on Iran.
Once President Barack Obama entered the White House, “we inherited an Iranian nuclear weapons program and we had to figure out what we were going to do about it,” Clinton claimed. An agreement, however, would not be a cure-all, she said.
“Just because we get the nuclear deal, if we can get it done, doesn’t mean we’re going to be able to be breathing a big sigh of relief,” Clinton stated.
Progress Made, Much Work Needed
In the meantime, the latest news emanating from the talks in Vienna indicate that the six world powers and Iran have drawn up a draft document on the pace and timing of sanctions relief for the Islamic Republic in exchange for curbs on Iran’s nuclear program, advancing on one of the most contentious issues at their negotiations.
The document must be approved by senior officials of each of the seven nations at the table.
The development indicates that the sides are moving closer to a comprehensive accord that would set a decade of restrictions on Tehran’s nuclear program in exchange for tens of billions of dollars in economic benefits for the Iranians.
Officials have described sanctions relief as one of the thorniest disagreements between Iran and the United States, which had led the campaign of international pressure against Iran’s economy.
A senior US official said that much work must be done before the issue could be described as finalized. Beyond a political agreement still in the draft stage, details also need to be finalized on other tough issues. They include inspection guidelines, rules governing Iran’s research and development of advanced nuclear technology, and the nuts and bolts of reducing the size and output of Iran’s uranium enrichment program.
As part of a deal, the Obama administration also wants Iran to fully cooperate with the investigation by the UN’s International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) of allegations that Tehran has worked secretly on developing nuclear arms — something Iran vehemently denies. Chances of progress on that issue appear to be dimming.
In a statement similar to previous ones from his agency, IAEA chief Yukiya Amano told reporters on Saturday that “more work will be needed” to advance the probe, which has struggled for nearly a decade to resolve concerns.
While saying he could wrap up his investigation by the end of the year, Amano said he needs Tehran’s cooperation to do so. Iranian President Hassan Rouhani said after Thursday’s meeting in Tehran with Amano that the agency now understands that the “pointless allegations” are “baseless.”
Iranian officials, including Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, have made repeated demands for economic penalties to be lifted shortly after a deal is reached. Washington and its partners have said they would take action after Iran verifiably complies with restrictions on enrichment and other elements of the nuclear program.
Much of the negotiations on the matter concerns sequencing, so that both sides can legitimately claim to have gotten their way.
However, a source close to the Iranian team said Saturday that some major sticking points still remain between Iran and its negotiating partners over the issue of sanctions relief. The source said that reports about having achieved a resolution to the sanctions issue were “fundamentally baseless.”
American officials also have been struggling to separate the “nuclear-related” sanctions that it would be prepared to suspend from those they wish to keep, including measures designed to counteract Iranian ballistic missile efforts, human rights violations and support for US-designated terrorist organizations.
To keep pressure on Iran, world powers had been hoping to finalize a system for snapping suspended sanctions back into force if Iran cheats on the accord. Russia has traditionally opposed any plan that would see them lose their UN veto power, and a senior Russian negotiator said only this week that his government rejected any automatic “snapback” of sanctions.
By: United with Israel Staff and AP
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