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Geneva Deal II: President Obama on Merits of Talks

             On November 23, President Barack Obama welcomed the agreement on Iran’s nuclear program as an important first step that would cut off Tehran’s most likely paths to a bomb while creating time and space for more negotiations. “Iran, like any nation, should be able to access peaceful nuclear energy,” he said. “But because of its record of violating its obligations, Iran must accept strict limitations on its nuclear program that make it impossible to develop a nuclear weapon.” Obama also warned that the United States would “ratchet up the pressure” on Iran if it does not meet its commitments within six months. The following is the full text of the president’s statement and excerpts from a background briefing by senior administration officials.

 
THE PRESIDENT:  Good evening.  Today, the United States -- together with our close allies and partners -- took an important first step toward a comprehensive solution that addresses our concerns with the Islamic Republic of Iran’s nuclear program.   
            Since I took office, I’ve made clear my determination to prevent Iran from obtaining a nuclear weapon.  As I’ve said many times, my strong preference is to resolve this issue peacefully, and we’ve extended the hand of diplomacy.  Yet for many years, Iran has been unwilling to meet its obligations to the international community.  So my administration worked with Congress, the United Nations Security Council and countries around the world to impose unprecedented sanctions on the Iranian government.
            These sanctions have had a substantial impact on the Iranian economy, and with the election of a new Iranian President earlier this year, an opening for diplomacy emerged.  I spoke personally with President Rouhani of Iran earlier this fall.  Secretary Kerry has met multiple times with Iran’s Foreign Minister.  And we have pursued intensive diplomacy -- bilaterally with the Iranians, and together with our P5-plus-1 partners -- the United Kingdom, France, Germany, Russia, and China, as well as the European Union.
            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.  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.  Iran cannot use its next-generation centrifuges, which are used for enriching uranium.  Iran cannot install or start up new centrifuges, and its production of centrifuges will be limited.  Iran will halt work at its plutonium reactor.  And new inspections will provide extensive access to Iran’s nuclear facilities and allow the international community to verify whether Iran is keeping its commitments.
            These are substantial limitations which will help prevent Iran from building a nuclear weapon.  Simply put, they cut off Iran’s most likely paths to a bomb.  Meanwhile, this first step will create time and space over the next six months for more negotiations to fully address our comprehensive concerns about the Iranian program.  And because of this agreement, Iran cannot use negotiations as cover to advance its program.
            On our side, 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.
            Over the next six months, we will work to negotiate a comprehensive solution.  We approach these negotiations with a basic understanding:  Iran, like any nation, should be able to access peaceful nuclear energy.  But because of its record of violating its obligations, Iran must accept strict limitations on its nuclear program that make it impossible to develop a nuclear weapon. 
            In these negotiations, nothing will be agreed to unless everything is agreed to.  The burden is on Iran to prove to the world that its nuclear program will be exclusively for peaceful purposes.
            If Iran seizes this opportunity, the Iranian people will benefit from rejoining the international community, and we can begin to chip away at the mistrust between our two nations.  This would provide Iran with a dignified path to forge a new beginning with the wider world based on mutual respect.  If, on the other hand, Iran refuses, it will face growing pressure and isolation.
            Over the last few years, Congress has been a key partner in imposing sanctions on the Iranian government, and that bipartisan effort made possible the progress that was achieved today.  Going forward, we will continue to work closely with Congress.  However, now is not the time to move forward on new sanctions -– because doing so would derail this promising first step, alienate us from our allies and risk unraveling the coalition that enabled our sanctions to be enforced in the first place. 
            That international unity is on display today.  The world is united in support of our determination to prevent Iran from developing a nuclear weapon.  Iran must know that security and prosperity will never come through the pursuit of nuclear weapons -- it must be reached through fully verifiable agreements that make Iran’s pursuit of nuclear weapons impossible.
            As we go forward, the resolve of the United States will remain firm, as will our commitments to our friends and allies –- particularly Israel and our Gulf partners, who have good reason to be skeptical about Iran’s intentions. 
            Ultimately, only diplomacy can bring about a durable solution to the challenge posed by Iran’s nuclear program.  As President and Commander-in-Chief, I will do what is necessary to prevent Iran from obtaining a nuclear weapon.  But I have a profound responsibility to try to resolve our differences peacefully, rather than rush towards conflict.  Today, we have a real opportunity to achieve a comprehensive, peaceful settlement, and I believe we must test it.
            The first step that we’ve taken today marks the most significant and tangible progress that we’ve made with Iran since I took office.  And now we must use the months ahead to pursue a lasting and comprehensive settlement that would resolve an issue that has threatened our security -- and the security of our allies -- for decades.  It won’t be easy, and huge challenges remain ahead.  But through strong and principled diplomacy, the United States of America will do our part on behalf of a world of greater peace, security, and cooperation among nations.
            Thank you very much.
 
BACKGROUND BRIEFING BY SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIALS
ON THE FIRST STEP AGREEMENT ON IRAN’S NUCLEAR PROGRAM
 
November 23
 
            First of all, it’s important to understand that this builds on a several-year effort, one of the leading priorities for President Obama, which is to prevent Iran from getting a nuclear weapon.  And the P5-plus-1 is the forum through which we negotiate with the Iranians, and this, as the President said, is the most meaningful agreement we’ve reached with the Iranians since we took office.
            We have described this as a first step towards a comprehensive agreement, and it’s a first step in that it halts the progress of the Iranian program, rolls it back in some important respects, but then provides a six-month window for us to test whether we can reach a comprehensive agreement.
            Why a first step agreement?  We believe it’s very important that Iran not be able to make progress with its nuclear program during the course of the negotiation.  One of the concerns in the past has been that Iran would use the cover of a negotiation to advance its program, and indeed were we not to reach this type of agreement, six months from now Iran could make significant progress in increasing its stockpiles and selling advanced centrifuges, moving towards bringing their reactor in Arak online.  That is the outcome that we prevent with this agreement, by halting the progress of the program and rolling it back…
            First of all, Iran has committed to halt all enrichment above 5 percent and dismantle the technical connections required to enrich above 5 percent.  Iran has committed to neutralize its stockpile of near 20 percent uranium, and this is, of course, what has been of principal concern to us in terms of their stockpile.  It will dilute below 5 percent, or convert to a form that is not suitable for further enrichment, its entire stockpile of near 20-percent enriched uranium before the conclusion of this six-month phase.
            So just to go through those elements specifically:  Iran will also not install additional centrifuges of any type.  Iran will not install or use any next-generation centrifuges to enrich uranium.  Iran will leave inoperable roughly half of all centrifuges at Natanz and three-quarters of installed centrifuges at Fordo so they cannot be used to enrich uranium.  Iran will limit its centrifuge production to those needed to replace damaged machines so that Iran cannot use the six months to stockpile additional centrifuges.  And Iran will not construct additional enrichment facilities.
            Iran will also commit to halt progress on the growth of its 3.5 percent stockpile.  And this is an important point, because not only are they neutralizing the 20-percent stockpile, they, at the end of the six months, cannot have increased their stockpile of 3.5 percent.  So that allows for the rollback on the 20 percent and the halting of any increase in the 3.5 percent stockpile. 
Furthermore, Iran has committed to no further advances of its activities at Arak, and to halt progress on its plutonium track.  Specifically, Iran will not commission the Arak reactor. Iran will not fuel the Arak reactor. Iran will halt the production of fuel for the Arak reactor.  There will be no additional testing of fuel for the Arak reactor.  Iran will not install any additional reactor components at Arak.  Iran will not transfer fuel and heavy-water to the reactor site.  Iran will not construct a facility capable of reprocessing.  And without reprocessing, Iran cannot separate plutonium from spent fuel.
            So just to pause here, there are essentially three different pathways towards a bomb that have been of concern to us.  One is the 20 percent enrichment stockpile -- the 20 percent stockpile of enriched uranium.  That goes away with this agreement at the end of the six months.  The other is the combination of the 3.5 percent stockpile together with the advanced centrifuges that Iran has developed should they install them and move to break out.  That is halted with this agreement, because they can’t grow the 3.5 percent stockpile or install those advanced centrifuges.
            And then the third track that we were concerned about was the Arak reactor.  And this would give them a new pathway to having a heavy-water reactor, a plutonium track towards a weapon. That is halted.
            So these are very important concessions and the most significant progress that has been made in halting the progress of the uranium program in a decade.
            Along with those agreements come an unprecedented transparency and intrusive monitoring of the Iranian program.  Iran has committed to daily access by IAEA inspectors at Natanz and Fordo.  This daily access will permit inspectors to review surveillance camera footage to ensure comprehensive monitoring.  This access will provide even greater transparency into enrichment at these sites and, of course, shorten the detection time for any noncompliance, so, therefore, also, getting eyes into those facilities in a way that would immediately detect any effort to break out or, of course, violate the agreement.
            The IAEA will also have access to centrifuge assembly facilities, also, to centrifuge rotor component production and storage facilities, and also access to uranium mines and mills.  So, importantly, these are not just inspections and access to the nuclear facilities; we also have access to the production facilities, whether it’s a centrifuge production facility or even the raw materials at the uranium mines and mills.  This is much more extensive monitoring than we have today, and it is a significant portion of this agreement. 
            Furthermore, Iran has agreed to provide design information for the Arak reactor that we have sought for a long time.  This will give us insight into the reactor that that has not been previously available.  They will also provide more frequent inspector access to the Arak reactor, and they will provide certain key data and information that is called for in the additional protocol to Iran’s IAEA safeguard agreement and, in modified code, 3.1.
            So, again, taken together these verification steps will allow us, of course, to detect any Iranian noncompliance with the agreement, will allow us to have unprecedented access to their facilities, and frankly, will allow us to learn a lot more about the Iranian program and its various elements.
            The IAEA will perform many of these verification steps consistent with their role in Iran, but in addition, the P5-plus-1 in Iran have committed to establishing a joint commission that will work with the IAEA to monitor implementation and address issues that may arise.  So this joint commission will work with the IAEA to facilitate resolution of past and present concerns with respect to Iran’s nuclear program, including the possible military dimension of Iran’s nuclear program and Iran’s activities at Parchin.  So, importantly, over this course of several months, we will be getting together those questions that we have about any potential military dimension associated with Iran’s activities…
            I want to describe the contours of the limited relief in this deal, which we assess is worth at most about $6-7 billion.
            The components are as follows:  We will pause efforts to further reduce Iran’s crude oil sales.  This means Iran’s oil exports will remain steady at their current level of around 1 million barrels per day, which is down 60 percent since our oil sanctions took effect in late 2011.  And with one exception, the revenue that Iran earns from these sales over the next six months will continue to be restricted by our sanctions, meaning that those funds will not be available to Iran for repatriation or cross-border transfer.
            The one exception is that we will allow Iran to transfer $4.2 billion in revenue from these sales in installments over the six-month period. 
            We will suspend U.S. sanctions on Iran’s petrochemical exports.  This could allow Iran to generate some revenue, which we estimate to be a maximum of a billion dollars in new revenue over the six-month period.  We will suspend U.S. sanctions on Iran’s trade in gold and precious metals.  There is no economic value to Iran from this provision because Iran will have to spend its limited unrestricted foreign currency for any gold purchases. Iran cannot use restricted oil earnings to buy gold.
            We will suspend U.S. sanctions on exports to Iran’s auto industry.  This could provide Iran some marginal benefit on the order of about $500 million if Iran is able to resume its prior levels of production and revitalizes its auto exports.  However, Iran’s auto industry suffers from many problems beyond sanctions, many of which would have to be solved for Iran to benefit from this provision.  Moreover, Iran would need to use some of its limited foreign currency to pay for car kits it would import from abroad.
            We will allow $400 million in governmental tuition assistance to be transferred from restricted Iranian funds overseas directly to recognized educational institutions in third countries to defray the tuition costs of Iranian students.  We will license safety-related repairs and inspections inside Iran for certain Iranian airlines, and we will establish a financial channel to facilitate humanitarian trade in food, agricultural commodities, medicines, and medical devices for Iran’s domestic needs.  Humanitarian transactions have been explicitly exempted from sanctions by Congress, so this channel will not provide Iran access to any new source of funds.
            Finally, to the extent permissible within our political system, we have committed to refrain from imposing new nuclear-related sanctions.  That does not prevent us from implementing and enforcing our existing nuclear-related sanctions, which, of course, we will do, or from imposing new sanctions targeting Iran’s sponsorship of terrorism or its abysmal human rights record.
            Let me just make a few additional comments.  First and most importantly, this relief is limited, temporary, targeted, and reversible.  It is designed so that the core of our sanctions, the sanctions that have had a tremendous bite -- the oil, banking and financial sanctions -- all remain in place.  So in that very important respect, this deal is limited. 
            It is temporary in that the relief automatically expires at the end of six months.  It is targeted in that it allows Iran access to a set amount of funds in a controlled and controllable manner, and to permit specific additional commercial activity with quite limited upsides to the Iranians.  It does not allow any open-ended financial or economic activity.
            And it is reversible.  If Iran fails to fulfill its commitments, the financial component, which is doled out in increments, can be turned off, and the sanctions that have been suspended can be put right back in place.
            Second, the relief that Iran gets under this agreement is insignificant economically.  The total maximum value of this deal, as I said, is about $6 billion to $7 billion.  Compare that to the economic distress that Iran currently faces.  Over the past year, Iran’s economy has contracted by more than 5 percent. It’s currency, the rial, has lost around 60 percent of its value against the dollar since 2011.  Inflation is about 40 percent.  Iran is in a deep recession.  Because of our banking sanctions most of Iran’s major banks, including its central bank, are unable to transact internationally.  And because of our financial sanctions, the vast majority of Iran’s $100 billion in foreign exchange holdings are restricted or inaccessible. 
            Iran’s oil exports currently average only around 1 million barrels per day.  That, as I’ve noted before, is down 60 percent, from an average of about 2.5 million per day in 2011, and is costing Iran today about $5 billion per month in lost sales.  In fact, over the past two years, Iran has lost about $100 billion in oil revenue due to sales it has not been able to make.  That is lost revenue that Iran will never recoup. 
            None of this changes with this deal.  In fact, looking ahead during the six-month duration of this first step deal, our oil sanctions alone will cost Iran around $30 billion in lost revenues, or close to $5 billion per month.  And as for the oil revenue that Iran will earn during this time, those funds will continue to be restricted in overseas accounts due to our existing sanctions. 
So just looking at oil revenue alone, Iran will actually be worse off at the end of this six-month deal than it is today.  Its restricted foreign reserves will continue to grow and its budget gap -- estimated to be about $36 billion -- will not be closed.  What’s more, the relief I just described is the sum total of the relief.  All the rest of our sanctions remain in place and will be zealously enforced. 
            So, in addition to the sanctions that limit how much oil Iran can sell, our sanctions against the central bank of Iran and approximately two dozen other major Iranian banks and financial actors remain in place.  Those banks will continue to be de-SWIFTED -- that is unable to access the SWIFT international financial messaging service. 
            Our key secondary sanctions that threaten to cut off from the U.S. any bank that does business with designated banks, individuals and entities in Iran remains in place.  Sanctions on the over 600 individuals and entities targeted for supporting Iran’s nuclear or ballistic missile program remain in effect.  Sanctions on several sectors of Iran’s economy, including shipping and shipbuilding, remain in effect.  Sanctions on long-term investments in or providing technical services to Iran’s energy sector remain in effect. 
            The longstanding and broad U.S. restrictions on trade with Iran remain in effect, depriving Iran of access to virtually all dealings with the world’s biggest economy.  All U.N. Security Council and EU sanctions remain in effect.  And all of our targeted sanctions related to Iran’s state sponsorship of terrorism, its destabilizing role in the Syrian conflict, and its abysmal human rights record, among other concerns, remain in effect.
            And one final point.  We will in utmost good faith work to deliver our commitment under this agreement.  If Iran lives up to its obligations and commitments, it will get the benefit of its bargain.  But at the same time, we will not turn a blind eye to sanctions evasion, circumvention, or any other attempts to take advantage of this situation by anyone or any person or any entity anywhere.
            As I just described, the vast bulk of our sanctions remain in place.  And as the President said just this evening, you can be sure that we will enforce those sanctions vigorously.
SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL:  Great.  I’ll just say a couple of comments quickly about the comprehensive piece, and then I know we’ll want to get to questions.
So, first of all, essentially what happens now is we have with this framework in place six months to see if we can negotiate a comprehensive resolution.  It’s an important point that this is an agreement that will have a duration of six months, and it would only be continued if it was mutually agreed upon.  So there is an expiration date as it relates to the terms of the first step, unless there is either a comprehensive resolution agreed to or there is a mutually agreed decision to continue.
            In terms of the end state, we do not recognize a right for Iran to enrich uranium.  That is a specific issue that has, of course, at stake in the negotiation.  What we are going to explore with the Iranians and our P5-plus-1 partners over the next six months is whether there can be an agreed upon comprehensive solution that assures us that the Iranian program is peaceful. 
And with respect to that end state, there are many issues that will have to be addressed.  I would note that in the agreement it is made clear that Iran will have to address the outstanding U.N. Security Council resolutions in which they have previously claimed to be illegal throughout the course of that negotiation.  So there is not an end state that can be arrived at unless we address those U.N. Security Council resolutions.
            Moreover, nothing is agreed to with respect to the end state until everything is agreed to.  So when it comes to the various components of an end state, including those alluded to in the document today, which we can discuss, those are not agreed to unless we actually reach an comprehensive resolution that, again, gives us that assurance that the Iranian program is peaceful.
            However, we have an opportunity here, as the President said -- our goal has always been to resolve this issue peacefully through a diplomatic resolution, both because we believe that that is the more durable way of solving the problem, because diplomacy allows you the assurance that you have an agreement that is verifiable and puts limits and constraints on the Iranian program that can be checked over time; and similarly, because, of course, the enormous costs and consequences that would come with any potential military action were it to come to conflict.
            So this is an opportunity that we aim to seize, but we have no illusions that it will be easy to do.  These are going to be tough negotiations, but we're going to give it our very best shot… 
 
            QUESTION: What is your response to the arguments from the Israelis -- and you’ll hear from the Prime Minister tomorrow, I’m sure -- that this actually weakens our leverage because the sanctions were working, were getting Iran to be so serious, and now Iran knows and other countries know, and businesses around the world will know that Iran is going to be back in business and that they can start finding ways around the sanctions that have been so successful, that you’ll see this -- you’ll see a big change in rial and you’ll see a lot more flexibility for Iran.
 
            SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL: First of all, just to step back, we believe that this agreement aims to address a number of concerns that Israel has expressed over the years.  First of all, Israel has expressed concern that Iran could use the cover of negotiations to advance their program.  We are halting their program in its tracks and rolling back elements of the program while we test whether we can reach an agreement.
            The Prime Minister has raised concerns in the past about the growing stockpile of 20 percent enriched uranium.  This would neutralize that stockpile, eliminating one of the most important paths that Iran could have towards a breakout to a bomb.
            We and the Israelis were concerned about the Arak reactor coming online or a variety of reasons, including the fact that it would give them a plutonium track towards a weapon.  And we believe that this halts Arak in its tracks for the first time while we have the space to negotiate.We had a tactical difference on this question of a first step or an end state agreement.
            We, frankly, again, just believe that you weren’t going to get to an end state from a standing start, so we needed to put this in place to halt the progress of the Iranians while we negotiate that final step.  And we’ll consult with the Israelis.  And after every one of these negotiations, we brief our Israeli friends and I can tell you that Israel has been briefed by the United States on the elements of this agreement.
            I’ll just say one comment on the sanctions before going to my colleague.  My quick comment would simply be I don't think that this limited and reversible agreement suddenly makes Iran a good bet for businesses to invest.  The sanctions are still in place and the sanctions are still going to be enforced.  And even in the categories where there are these limited suspensions for a time-bound period of six months, that's not exactly a fruitful climate for investment.  But I’ll turn to my colleague on that.
 
            SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL:  I’d make two points, picking up on the last one there.  Iran is not back in business and anyone who makes the mistake of thinking so I think will be met with some serious consequences. 
            The deal that was struck is very limited in terms of the additional business that Iran can engage in.  It’s able to sell petrochemicals and able to sell/export automobiles.  That's it; full stop.  There’s no other business activity that is permitted under this first step deal with Iran.  And anyone who thinks they can now go in to develop Iran’s oil fields, go into shipbuilding, shipping with Iran, any of the other sectors that are subject to sanctions will I think swiftly come to realize that we are quite serious about maintaining -- and robustly maintaining -- the sanctions that are in place.
            Secondly, with respect to the impact of this deal on Iran’s economy, as I noted before, we do not judge this to be economically significant.  The $6 billion to $7 billion maximum value of this deal -- which I think probably overstates its actual commercial value -- will be realized over the course of six months.  And in comparison to the hole that Iran’s in, its foreign exchange needs, which are more than 10 times that amount, its budget deficit, which is in the order of about $35 billion, this very limited package of relief will not move the needle economically for Iran.
 
            QUESTION: I want to clarify the right to enrich piece.  The Secretary said earlier that there is no right to enrich in the document.  But we’ve heard that some of the Iranian officials are claiming there is if not an explicit right to enrich, then an implicit right to enrich.  Can you tell me exactly what the document says or doesn't say?  And is it an issue for the next round of negotiations if the P5 is claiming there isn’t a right to enrich and the Iranians are claiming there is a right?
 
            SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL:  Yes, that's a good question, Mark.  The Iranians have asserted this, as you know, for some time.  And it is just the fact that as a matter of policy, the United States has not recognized a right to enrich for the Iranian government, nor do we intend to.  The document does not say anything about recognizing a right to enrich uranium. 
            In terms of the end state, what essentially the next six months will determine is whether there can be an agreement that deals with the Iranian program and gives us an assurance that the Iranian program is peaceful; an agreement that puts limits and constraints on the Iranian program and that has strict verification measures so that we have a certainty that Iran cannot use that program to develop a nuclear weapon.

            We would have to negotiate over the course of those six months whether that can be achieved with some type of limited enrichment capability for the Iranians.  But the point is that nothing is agreed to until everything is agreed to.  So there is nothing in this agreement that gives Iran something in terms of the end state that they can hold onto unless all of our concerns are met, with Arak, with Fordo, with Natanz, with strict limitations and constraints on the type of program that the Iranians have and with verification measures.
            So that's what the next six months are going to be about:  Can we define what an end state is that is mutually agreeable to the P5-plus-1 and the Iranian government.  That won’t involve a recognition of a right to enrich from us because we just simply do not recognize that there is a right to enrich for Iran under the NPT. 
            So that's what will have to be explored over the next six months of negotiations.  We’ve also -- just to make a couple of points I referenced earlier -- made clear that the U.N. Security Council resolutions must still be addressed and that is something that Iran will have to deal with over the course of the next six months; and similarly, that Iran must come into compliance with its obligations under the NPT and its obligations to the IAEA.  So those aspects of Iran’s commitments to the international community hold and will have to be addressed...

 

Remarks by President Obama in San Francisco on Nov. 25, 2013

            This weekend, together with our allies and our partners, the United States reached an agreement with Iran -- (applause) -- on a first step towards resolving our concerns over its nuclear program. 
            Now, some of you may recall that when I first ran for President, I said it was time for a new era of American leadership in the world -- one that turned the page on a decade of war, and began a new era of our engagement with the world.  And as President and as Commander-in-Chief, I’ve done what I said.  We ended the war in Iraq; we brought our troops home.  Osama bin Laden met justice; the war in Afghanistan will end next year. 
And as the strongest, most powerful nation on the face of the Earth, we’ve engaged in clear-eyed and principled diplomacy  -- even with our adversaries -- in order to begin to destroy Syria’s chemical weapons and to place the first real constraints in a decade on Iran’s nuclear program.  Because I firmly believe in what President Kennedy once said:  He said, “Let us never negotiate out of fear, but let us never fear to negotiate.”  I believe that.  And this diplomacy, backed by the unprecedented sanctions we brought on Iran, has brought us the progress that was achieved this weekend. 
            For the first time in a decade, we’ve halted the progress on Iran’s nuclear program.  Key parts of the program will be rolled back.  (Applause.)  International inspectors will have unprecedented access to Iran’s nuclear-related facilities.  So this will help Iran from building a nuclear weapon.  And over the coming months, we’re going to continue our diplomacy, with the goal of achieving a comprehensive solution that deals with the threat of Iran’s nuclear program once and for all. 
            And if Iran seizes this opportunity and chooses to join the global community, then we can begin to chip away at the mistrust that’s existed for many, many years between our two nations.
            None of that is going to be easy.  Huge challenges remain.  But we cannot close the door on diplomacy.  And we cannot rule out peaceful solutions to the world’s problems.  We cannot commit ourselves to an endless cycle of conflict.  And tough talk and bluster may be the easy thing to do politically, but it’s not the right thing for our security.  It is not the right thing for our security.  (Applause.) 
            Now, this progress, and the potential it offers, reminds us of what is possible when the United States has the courage to lead -- not just with the force of arms, but with the strength of our diplomacy and our commitment to peace.  That’s what keeps us strong.  That’s what makes us a beacon to the world.  That’s how I’ll continue to lead so long as I’m President of the United States.
 

Geneva Deal III: Iranian Reaction

            Iran’s leaders have hailed the interim agreement as a victory and start of a new era for Tehran and its relations with the outside world. In a televised statement, President Hassan Rouhani called the nuclear deal an important “first step” toward solving an “unnecessary crisis” and opening “new horizons.” The successful talks “showed that the big powers can be urged to respect Iran’s rights,” Rouhani wrote in a letter to Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei.
            After four days of grueling talks, Zarif announced the deal in a tweet at 3:03 AM on November 24. The foreign minister was so excited about the outcome that he hugged his French counterpart, Laurent Fabius, even though additional demands from Paris reportedly blocked a deal earlier in November. “I believe it [the deal] was a victory for everybody… [but] I think the West,  particularly the U.S., needs to do a lot to at least partially restore confidence,” Zarif told NBC shortly after the talks. He also warned that the deal would fall apart if new sanctions are imposed.

            But Iranian leaders interpreted the deal somewhat differently than their Western counterparts.  “Let anyone make his own reading, but this right [to enrich uranium] is clearly stated in the text of the agreement… and I announce to our people that our enrichment activities will continue as before,” Rouhani said in a televised statement. Secretary of State John Kerry, however,  emphasized that “no inherent right to enrich” was included in the agreement. The following are excerpted remarks by Iran’s top leaders.
 
President Hassan Rouhani
 
      “Iran's right to uranium enrichment on its soil was accepted in this nuclear deal by world powers… Let anyone make his own reading, but this right is clearly stated in the text of the agreement that Iran can continue its enrichment, and I announce to our people that our enrichment activities will continue as before.
      “The sanctions regime will begin to shatter with the [implementation] of this agreement.
      “The administration of hope and prudence seeks to create an atmosphere of trust between the Islamic Republic and countries that are interested in having friendly relations with this great nation.”
            Nov. 24, 2013 in a televised statement

           Rouhani also commented on the deal in several tweets.

           
          “The successful nuclear talks highlighted the fact that it is possible to offer views of the Iranian nation to the world public opinion in a logical and reasonable manner and with respect to the country’s red lines, in a way which will make the big powers to respect the rights of the nation... This agreement benefits all regional countries and global peace.”
          Nov. 24, 2013 in a letter to Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei
 
Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif
 
            “It is important that we all of us see the opportunity to end an unnecessary crisis and open new horizons based on respect, based on the rights of the Iranian people and removing any doubts about the exclusively peaceful nature of Iran’s nuclear program. This is a process of attempting to restore confidence.”
            The agreement “covers several important domains, the most important of which is the recognition of the right to enrichment…an inalienable right.”
            The deal is an “important achievement” and a “first step” toward resolving an “unnecessary crisis” and working together based on an “equal footing, mutual respect and common benefits.”
            “The Iranian people demand respect for their rights but demand respect for their dignity [too] and it is important to restore their confidence, and I hope this process can do that.
            “We believe that the current agreement ... has a very clear reference to the fact that [the] Iranian enrichment program will continue and will be part of any agreement now and in the future.”
            Nov. 24, 2013 to reporters in Geneva
 
            “If there are new sanctions, then there is no deal. It’s very clear. End of the deal. Because of the inability of one party to maintain their side of the bargain.
            “It was important for everybody to use the opportunity, we all knew that this was a small window that had to used, otherwise it would be shut. What I hope is important is that we will all work to a final resolution of this issue. Now we are just taking a first step, the difficult work is ahead of us.
            “It [the agreement] says that Iran has a an enrichment program and a right to nuclear technology for peaceful purposes. For me the right to nuclear for peaceful  purposes incorporates the right to enrichment.
            “I believe it was a victory for everybody, that they are moving from confrontation to the recognition of the realities on the ground… I think the West,  particularly the U.S., needs to do a lot to at least partially restore confidence — the confidence of the Iranian people.”
            Nov. 24, 2013 in an interview with NBC
 
Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei
 
Dear Mr. President [Rouhani],
      The achievement of what you have described deserves appreciation and [I send my] gratitude to the nuclear negotiating team and other contributors. [This agreement] can be a basis for further intelligent actions. Undoubtedly, the grace of God and the prayers and support of the Iranian nation have been and will continue to be a factor for in this achievement, God willing. Resistance against excessive demands should be the criteria for [nuclear] officials, and God willing this will be the case.
            Nov. 24, 2013 in a letter to President Rouhani

 

 

Geneva Deal IV: Congressional Reaction

              U.S. lawmakers issued wide-ranging reactions to the news of the interim agreement on Iran’s controversial nuclear program. Many senators and representatives were skeptical about Tehran’s intentions. “Apparently, America has not learned its lesson from 1994 when North Korea fooled the world [and continued its nuclear weapons program],” said Representative Buck McKeon. Representative Tom Cotton claimed the United States "suffered an unmitigated, humiliating defeat" while Iran won a "total victory."
     
Several members urged their colleagues to support new sanctions if Iran does not honor its commitments. Senator Richard Blumenthal pledged to work “on a bipartisan bill that tightens trade and currency restrictions along with other sanctions if this interim agreement produces no progress.”
      Other members of Congress, however, welcomed the deal as the first step towards a comprehensive agreement. “I support the interim deal with Iran. It is a realistic, practical way to freeze Iran's nuclear program for six months while we seek a long-range diplomatic end to Iran's nuclear weapon ambition,” said Senator Carl Levin. Senator Dianne Feinstein argued that the deal would clarify Iran’s intentions.  “If Iran violates this agreement, it ends and we will know diplomacy is no longer an option. But if the terms are upheld, we will know that Iran is serious about reaching a final agreement,” she said. The following are excerpted remarks by lawmakers on the nuclear deal.   

 

Senate
Kelly Ayotte (R-NH)
            "Skeptical of Iran deal bc once some sanctions lifted 2 hard 2 go back-need 2 see details on plut react, enrichment-will they stop terrorism?"
            Nov. 23, 2013 in a statement on Twitter
 
Richard Blumenthal (D-CT)
            "Although I commend and appreciate the administration's hard work and perseverance to achieve this interim temporary agreement, the real test is whether a final permanent agreement rolling back Iran's nuclear capability can be achieved during this brief, six-month negotiated pause. Past Iranian conduct gives little cause for hope. Without strong sanctions, tough enforcement and vigilant monitoring and inspection, my fear is that even this interim agreement may encourage or embolden countries or companies that seek to exploit loopholes or weaknesses in the existing sanctions, and that is why renewed resolve is critically important to enhance enforcement. Sanctions brought the Iranians to the table. Strengthening sanctions and enforcement of them is vital to create incentives and increase pressure if this interim step is unsuccessful. I believe there is a continued need for the Senate to pass even tougher sanctions. I will work with colleagues on a bipartisan bill that tightens trade and currency restrictions along with other sanctions if this interim agreement produces no progress."
            Nov. 24, 2013 in a statement
 
Barbara Boxer (D-CA), senior member of the Foreign Relations Committee
            “The comprehensive sanctions put in place by Congress and the Obama Administration helped lay the groundwork for this interim agreement, which essentially freezes Iran’s nuclear weapons program in place in exchange for limited sanctions relief—relief that could and should immediately be withdrawn if Iran fails to live up to its end of the bargain.
             “I am deeply disappointed by the negative reactions we have been hearing from some of my colleagues to the preliminary agreement. No one should underestimate the enormity of this breakthrough, which provides for daily inspections at Iranian nuclear facilities.
             “The Administration has left every option on the table should this agreement falter, but we should work as hard as possible across party lines to support a diplomatic solution.”
           Nov. 25, 2013 in a statement
 
Ben Cardin (D-MD)
            "Progress must be made during the next six months to have a more permanent elimination of Iran's capacity to produce a nuclear weapon. If not, the sanctions are re-imposed. And I think Congress will be watching this very closely…. We will not stand by and just let this be the final deal."
            Nov. 24, 2013 as reported by NBC News
 
Saxby Chambliss (R-GA)
            "Instead of easing them, now is the time to tighten those sanctions and let's get a long term deal to prevent them from developing a weapon. I think you're going to see a strong movement in the United States Senate to move ahead to tighten sanctions. Now, they'll have to be a time frame in there. They've done this deal and this can be done without the approval of Congress so for the next six months, it looks like this deal is going to be in place. It may be that we have to pass a resolution that put sanctions on effective 3 months, 4 months, 6 months, whatever it might be. But now is just not the time to ease sanctions when they're working.”
             Nov. 24, 2013 to ABC
 
Bob Corker (R- TN)
            "It looks like we've tacitly agreed that they will be enriching [uranium] for commercial purposes down the road. So I think you're going to see on Capitol Hill … a bipartisan effort to try to make sure that this is not the final agreement... This administration is big on announcements, very short on substance. We see that time and time again.
            "I think there are going to be some people that want to impose additional sanctions, that's another effort that we may well take part in."
            Nov. 24, 2013 according to NBC News and The Guardian
 
Dick Durbin (D-IL)
            "Let’s go forward with the negotiation with our eyes wide open, but with inspectors on the ground we’ll be able to tell whether they’re in fact doing what they say they’re going to do."
            Nov. 29, 2013 to WBGZ radio
 
Dianne Feinstein (D-CA)
            "I support the agreement reached today between the P5+1 countries and Iran, which I believe is a significant step toward solving one of the most difficult security challenges facing the world today.
            "The six-month agreement puts in place strict controls on Iran’s nuclear program. Iran must halt uranium enrichment above 5%, neutralize its stockpile of near-20% uranium (by either reducing to 3.5% or converting to uranium oxide), halt the installation of any additional centrifuges of any type, freeze the size of its 3.5% stockpile at current levels (converting any newly enriched 3.5% to uranium oxide), halt production and testing of fuel for the Arak heavy-water reactor, halt installation of any components for the reactor, not transfer fuel or heavy water to the site, share the reactor's technical design with P5+1 countries and dramatically increase international inspections of all nuclear sites.
            "In return, the sanctions relief for Iran is limited, estimated not to exceed $7 billion, which leaves more than $100 billion frozen.
            "If Iran violates this agreement, it ends and we will know diplomacy is no longer an option. But if the terms are upheld, we will know that Iran is serious about reaching a final agreement.
            "By any standard, this agreement is a giant step forward and should not be undermined by additional sanctions at this time."
            Nov. 24, 2013 in a statement
 
Lindsey Graham (R-SC)
            "Unless the agreement requires dismantling of the Iranian centrifuges, we really haven't gained anything."
            Nov. 23, 2013 in a statement on Twitter
 
Martin Heinrich (D-NM)
            "The agreement reached today is a positive first step to limit Iran's nuclear program. The United States, United Kingdom, Germany, France, Russia, China, and the European Union have all worked to negotiate strict oversight, enforcement mechanisms, and daily inspections that are critical to overseeing this agreement. While I welcome this important first step, I realize that challenges lie ahead. In the coming months Iran must show that it is sincere and that it will abide by the commitments it made to the international community. Should it violate the terms of the agreement, I stand ready to support additional sanctions in Congress. I have long supported tough sanctions in hopes of bringing Iran to the table to reach a diplomatic solution, and I am pleased to know they have helped create the conditions for today's agreement and perhaps a more comprehensive deal."
            Nov. 24, 2013 in a statement
 
Tim Kaine (D-VA)
            "This deal could bring us closer to a world less threatened by weapons of mass destruction. We should now press forward to do even more in pursuit of peace."
            Nov. 24, 2013 in a statement
 
Mark Kirk (R-IL)
            "Senate must enact bipartisan legislation to impose new sanctions if #Iran undermines deal or dismantlement of nuke pgm not underway in 6 mo."
            Nov. 23, 2013 in a statement on Twitter
 
Carl Levin (D-MI)
            "There is no harm in testing Iran's willingness because a freeze and a partial roll-back of Iran's nuclear energy activities is a bigger plus for us and the world than the release of $7 billion to Iran from its own assets, particularly since twice that amount of Iran's oil revenue will be added to Iran's frozen asset pile.
            "I support the interim deal with Iran. It is a realistic, practical way to freeze Iran's nuclear program for six months while we seek a long-range diplomatic end to Iran's nuclear weapon ambition. And it is another example of the value of tough sanctions backed by a broad international coalition...If there is no final deal at the end of six months, the interim deal will expire because it is not by its terms a final deal. And if Iran does not consent to a comprehensive agreement that ensures it cannot acquire a nuclear weapon, there is a broad consensus in Congress to impose even tougher sanctions."
            Nov. 24, 2013 in a statement
 

John McCain (R-AZ)

            "While I am seeking more information on this interim agreement, it does appear that, if implemented, this agreement could modestly slow Iran's nuclear ambitions during the next six months. I am, however, concerned by particular elements of this agreement and some other elements that are left out. For example, this agreement does not require Iran to resolve some of the outstanding concerns of the IAEA, which has rigorously documented Iran's pattern of lies and deceptions regarding its nuclear program. Iran also would not have to stop building completely its Arak nuclear facility and may never have to destroy it altogether... Problems and omissions such as these are compounded by an easing of sanctions that could make it harder to sustain the international will and cooperation to continue enforcing existing sanctions. The bigger problem, however, is that the ‘comprehensive’ agreement envisioned in this accord would have an expiration date, beyond which Iran would be allowed to retain a large-scale domestic enrichment program. In other words, what is envisioned does not appear to be a final settlement that could eliminate fully Iran's capability to develop nuclear weapons. That is problematic, because when this ‘comprehensive’ agreement expires, it is highly unlikely that the Iranian regime will have given up its support of terrorism and the many other malign activities that currently threaten our friends and allies in the Middle East and our own national security interests. I am concerned this agreement could be a dangerous step that degrades our pressure on the Iranian regime without demonstrable actions on Iran's part to end its pursuit of a nuclear weapons capability – a situation that would be reminiscent of our experience over two decades with North Korea. For this reason, I will continue working with my colleagues in Congress to keep the pressure on the Iranian regime, including by action on additional sanctions."
            Nov. 24, 2013 in a statement

Joe Manchin (D-WV)
            "I have always said that being a superpower means more than super military might; it means super diplomacy and super restraint...When a possibility for peace presents itself, no matter how distant or unlikely, we have an obligation to pursue it."

             Nov. 28, 2013 to the Charleston Gazette

Chris Murphy (D-CT)
            "The deal struck this morning between the United States, our allies, and Iran is a wise and necessary first step toward resolving the decades-long standoff over Iran's nuclear program."
            Nov. 24, 2013 in a statement
 
Bill Nelson (D-FL)
            "It is a choice between a pause or imminent war. I choose a verifiable pause."

             Nov. 24, 2013 according to The Wall Street Journal
 

Jay Rockefeller (D-WV)
            "The agreement reached on Iran’s nuclear program is an important first step toward preventing Iran from developing a nuclear weapon, which is critical to the security of the U.S. and its allies. This agreement was possible because the powerful sanctions that we put in place, designed to force Iran to the negotiating table, have done precisely that. I urge all of my colleagues to come together in support of the agreement.
            "Holding Iran to this agreement stops progress on its nuclear program. It neutralizes Iran’s most dangerous stockpile of nuclear material – 20 percent enriched uranium – and it establishes significant monitoring mechanisms that enable inspectors to verify that Iran is in compliance with its commitments.
            "This deal maintains the powerful sanctions regime that has been built over the past years, and leaves the heaviest sanctions fully in place. If Iran does not execute on the commitments it made under the agreement, the relief stops, and the sanctions will be intensified.
           "As we move forward, there should not be any illusions about the difficulty of dealing with Iran. This agreement does not magically change the past nor does it ignore Iran’s current state sponsorship of terrorism. There will be real challenges in the months ahead in negotiating a long-term comprehensive agreement.
            "Nevertheless, I have always supported doing everything possible to achieve a peaceful path forward with Iran, and I believe this agreement is a significant step in the right direction. Introducing additional sanctions at this point could jeopardize the important progress that this agreement makes.
            "The bottom line is that this deal is the best path forward to prevent Iran from developing a nuclear weapon without the use of military force, and I fully support it."
            Nov. 26, 2013 in a statemen

Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI)
            "This agreement has the potential to change the trajectory of events in the Middle East. It is only an opening step, as two sides begin to emerge from decades of enmity. Ultimately the Iranian nuclear weapons program must be fully shut down, and blind trust on our part would not be wise. With proper follow-up, however, this could mark an historic turning point toward a more peaceful world. I commend Secretary Kerry and the President."
            Nov. 24, 2013 in a statement
 
House of Representatives
 
House Speaker John Boehner (R-OH)
            “The interim deal has been and will continue to be met with healthy skepticism and hard questions, not just of the Iranians, but of ourselves and our allies involved in the negotiations. Iran has a history of obfuscation that demands verification of its activities and places the burden on the regime to prove it is upholding its obligations in good faith while a final deal is pursued.
            “The Administration and its negotiating partners claim that a final deal can be completed that affirms Iran does not have a right to enrich and permanently and irreversibly dismantles the infrastructure of its uranium and plutonium nuclear programs. That is a goal the House shares. The lingering question, however, is whether the negotiating partners will work equally hard to preserve the strong international sanctions regime until that goal is achieved. Otherwise, we will look back on the interim deal as a remarkably clever Iranian move to dismantle the international sanctions regime while maintaining its infrastructure and material to pursue a break-out nuclear capability.”
            Nov. 24, 2013 in a statement
 
Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-VA)
            “While I await specific details of the interim agreement, I remain concerned that this deal does not adequately halt Iran's enrichment capabilities. Numerous U.N. Security Council resolutions have called for the full suspension of Iran's nuclear activities, so it is troubling that this agreement still permits the Iranians to continue enriching. It is critical that distrust but verify be the guiding principle with which we approach this agreement.
            “Iran's long history of noncompliance with the U.N. Security Council is well known, as is its use of secret facilities to pursue its nuclear program. Iran remains the world's most active state sponsor of terrorism and the most destabilizing force in the Middle East.
            “As this deal goes into effect, the United States must remain vigilant and respond immediately and severely to any cheating or wrongdoing by Iran. And we must rebuild our alliances in the region and stand firmly with our closest partners against Iranian aggression.”
            Nov. 24, 2013 in a statement
 
David Cicilline (D-RI)
           "This tentative agreement with Iran, reached in Geneva, is a positive step towards halting Iran's nuclear program. This interim agreement allows the international community to continue to work to ensure that no further progress is made toward Iran's nuclear capability and that Iran reverses some past actions that have enhanced this capability. After years of tension between our two countries, this appears to be a step in the right direction and I am hopeful and even cautiously optimistic that Iran will fully comply with the requirements of this interim agreement."

            Nov. 24, 2013 in a statement
 

Tom Cotton (R-AR)
            "With this agreement, the United States has suffered an unmitigated, humiliating defeat and Iran has won a total victory.  The United States will ease sanctions and give the mullahs billions of dollars in return for their empty promises.  Iran will keep enriching uranium, keep its stockpiles of highly enriched uranium, keep its plutonium-producing reactor, and keep its missile program..."
            Nov. 24, 2013 in a statement
 
Ted Deutch (D-FL)
            “This partial deal is only the beginning, but we must be clear that the end result of this process is Iran verifiably and completely ending its nuclear weapons program and dangerous enrichment activities. Before any final deal can be reached, Iran must come clean about its entire nuclear program once and for all. This means addressing all outstanding claims by the IAEA of possible military aspects, dismantling the Arak reactor, halting centrifuge manufacturing, and granting inspectors full access to Parchin and all other sites. Iran must understand that all options remain until its nuclear program is no longer a threat to U.S. and international security.”
            Nov. 23, 2013 in a statement
 
Eliot Engel (D-NY), House Foreign Affairs Committee member
            "It’s difficult for the Senate to do sanctions now. It’s disappointing to me that
Iran is still going to be allowed to enrich [uranium)] while they’re talking. I would have thought that that should be a prerequisite to any kind of talks. [But] The agreement is here and we have to make it work."
            Nov. 24, 2013 to CNN
 
Scott Garrett (R-NJ)
            "President Obama's 'deal' with Iran is no deal for the United States or our ally, Israel.  Rather, it continues this administration's pattern of negotiation, where the United States gives but receives nothing in return.
            "I am deeply dismayed that we are so quick to free up billions of dollars in assets and revenue streams that Iran can use to further finance international terror or restart its nuclear program.  If, months from now, Iran wants to renege on this 'deal' and resume its pursuit of nuclear weapons, it won't be any further from developing a bomb than it is today.
            "Once again, President Obama's foreign policy 'win' weakens America, her allies, and our position in the world."
            Nov. 25, 2013 in a statement
 
Raul Grijalva (D-AZ)
            "Congratulations to President Obama, Secretary Kerry and everyone involved in the successful Iranian nuclear negotiations. Diplomacy, not invasion - that's what real leadership is about."
            Nov. 23, 2013 on Facebook
 
House Democratic Whip Steny Hoyer (MD)
            "Our policy is that Iran should not have a nuclear arms capability. That continues to be our policy and the military option, as Secretary Kerry just said, is still on the table and it needs to be on the table. We need to make sure that Iran does not move forward. I think this is a marginal improvement. It does freeze some of their activity in place and it continues the major sanctions in place. It's going to be costly on a continuing basis to them. I think that the Senate has a sanction bill that increases sanctions which we passed in the House in July. I think moving forward with that, but not implementing it for six months assuming that the Iranians do in fact what they say they're going to do, [is the right thing to do]. I think the Secretary of State is absolutely correct, verification is the key here. We don't trust Iran, we need to verify that in fact they're going to do what they say they’re going to do and will move towards final agreement which will ultimately dismantle and eliminate their ability to have nuclear weapon."
            Nov. 24, 2013 to CBS
 
Dan Kildee (D-MI)
           "Today’s agreement with Iran regarding its nuclear program, albeit short-term, is potential progress. This development represents an opportunity for Iran as it seeks to rejoin the global community. However, questions still rightfully remain about Iran after decades of distrust that cannot be repaired overnight. Releasing Amir Hekmati, my constituent who continues to be imprisoned in Iran, would be a tangible demonstration that it is serious about ongoing diplomacy."
            Nov. 23, 2013 in a statement

Barbara Lee (D-CA)
            "On tonight's announcement from President Obama on the deal with Iran regarding their nuclear program, we must note the significance, but also recognize that there are challenges ahead. This is indeed a triumph for diplomacy, and I'm pleased that President Obama reasserted Congress' role in these negotiations. It is my hope that this deal is a step towards a more peaceful and secure world."
            Nov. 23, 2013 in a press release
 
Buck McKeon (R-CA)
            "Iran hasn't given the world reason to be anything but deeply skeptical of any agreement that leaves their capacity to build nuclear weapons intact. The President sees wisdom in placing trust, however limited, in a regime that has repeatedly violated international norms and put America's security at risk. Apparently, America has not learned its lesson from 1994 when North Korea fooled the world. I am skeptical that this agreement will end differently."
            Nov. 24, 2013 according to FOX
 
Gregory Meeks (D-NY)
            "The agreement addresses the most pressing areas of immediate concern and will verifiably freeze Iran's nuclear program, diminish its capabilities, increase transparency, and allow daily access and increased monitoring by the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA).  It is reasonable that in exchange for this modest breakthrough to limit and curb Iran's program there will be modest and reversible sanctions relief.
            "This historic understanding is a diplomatic breakthrough that enhances the value of multilateral cooperation, and directly advances the security interests of the United States and our allies."
             Nov. 24, 2013 in a statement
 

Robert Menendez (D-NJ), chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee

            "I expect that the forthcoming sanctions legislation to be considered by the Senate will provide for a six month window to reach a final agreement before imposing new sanctions on Iran, but will at the same time be immediately available should the talks falter or Iran fail to implement or breach the interim agreement."
            Nov. 24, 2013 in a statement
 
Luke Messer (R-IN)
            "We all want a world free from a nuclear Iran. Unfortunately, the deal announced yesterday may make that less likely. The deal provides billions of dollars of sanctions relief to the Iranian regime while requiring only cosmetic changes in their nuclear program. A smarter course would be to strengthen sanctions until Iran agrees to give up its nuclear ambitions."
            Nov. 23, 2013 in a statement
 
Nancy Pelosi (D-CA)
            "Last night's agreement is an essential step toward meeting our ultimate objective: to prevent Iran from obtaining a nuclear weapon. President Obama, Secretary Kerry, their team, and our allies are to be commended for their successful efforts to hash out a deal that advances national, regional, and global security....This announcement marks a necessary bridge to further negotiations on a lasting, long-term, and comprehensive agreement. Through diplomacy, engagement, and unity among our allies, we must continue acting to end Iran's nuclear weapons program once and for all."
            Nov. 24, 2013 in a statement
 
Mike Pompeo (R-KS)
            "The negotiated deal with Iran, which allows Iran to keep developing nuclear materials, is a major step backwards for America’s national security and the safety of the American people. Iran now has more time to enrich its uranium stockpiles, as well as researching weaponization and fabrication, which are not covered under this deal. Iran has also gained legitimacy, despite bankrolling international terrorism and proliferating nuclear weapons. And Iran has also gained at least $7 billion thanks to the easing of sanctions that were intended as punishment for violating the regime’s nuclear pledges in the first place. Promising the Iranians that they can keep their nuclear weapons is not a foreign policy. It’s surrender."
            Nov. 24, 2013 in a statement
 
Mike Rogers (R-MI)
            "We may -- we may have just encouraged more violence in the future than we have stopped. That's why I hope we reconsider where we're at, certainly in six months. You have now given them a permission slip to continue enrichment. That's what the whole world was trying to stop them from doing."
            Nov. 24, 2013 on CNN
 
Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-FL)
            "I’m disappointed that the agreement reached with Iran leaves unfulfilled our ultimate objective: a complete dismantling of Iran’s nuclear program and related activities. In offering to ease sanctions in return for a six-month halt in the nuclear program, the agreement accepted by the Administration simply does not go far enough to ensure our national security interests and those of our allies, like the democratic Jewish State of Israel. I’m particularly troubled by this agreement’s failure to force Tehran to completely stop uranium enrichment and dismantle its existing centrifuges, whose operation can be resumed quickly, allowing Iran to potentially reach nuclear capacity in a brief amount of time...This deal falls short of our primary national security objectives, and it puts into unnecessary danger the security of our friends and allies."
            Nov. 24, 2013 in a statement
 
Ed Royce (R-CA)
            "I have serious concerns that this agreement does not meet the standards necessary to protect the United States and our allies. Instead of rolling back Iran’s program, Tehran would be able to keep the key elements of its nuclear weapons-making capability. Yet we are the ones doing the dismantling – relieving Iran of the sanctions pressure built up over years. This sanctions relief is more lifeline than ‘modest.’ Secretary Kerry should soon come before the Foreign Affairs Committee to address the many concerns with this agreement."
            Nov. 23, 2013 in a statement
 
Jan Schakowsky (D-IL)
            "Yesterday’s deal is an important step toward preventing Iran from developing nuclear weapons capability, and a major win for U.S. national security. The agreement freezes Iran’s nuclear program for six months, and rolls back certain parts of the program. As the President said last night, the agreement cuts off the Iranians’ most likely paths to a bomb. It ensures that inspectors will have robust and daily access to Iran’s nuclear facilities, so we will know faster than ever if Tehran attempts to cheat on the deal. It was achieved through strong U.S. leadership and coordination with our international partners, bolstering our international standing and credibility. And, perhaps most importantly, it grants Iran only modest relief, leaving the strong sanctions passed by Congress in place, ensuring that we maintain our leverage. Iran must not be allowed to develop nuclear weapons capability...”
            Nov. 24, 2013 in a statement

Adam Schiff (D-CA)
            "I have little trust in the Iranian regime, and we will need to scrutinize Iranian behavior to ensure they do not cheat. If they do, or if at the end of six months they fail to agree on a final resolution, we must freeze all Iranian assets and ramp up even more punitive sanctions. Iran must not mistake our resolve that it never be permitted to obtain the bomb, threaten the U.S. and Israel, and touch off a regional nuclear arms race. At the same time, if Iran’s new President can make good on his stated intention, the next six months could mark a turning point in our relations with Iran of historic significance."
            Nov. 24, 2013 according to Politico
 
Charles Schumer (D-NY)
            "As for additional sanctions, this disproportionality of this agreement makes it more likely that Democrats and Republicans will join together and pass additional sanctions when we return in December. I intend to discuss that possibility with my colleagues."
            Nov. 24, 2013 in a statement
 
Adam Smith (D-WA)
            "The deal is a "positive step in the right direction. The deal also puts in place an improved inspection, monitoring, and verification regime. This preliminary step should serve as a bridge to a long-term deal. This interim agreement gives us the chance to make significant progress towards the goal we and our allies seek: preventing Iran from obtaining a nuclear weapon."
            Nov. 24, 2013 as reported by Politico.
 
Rep. Chris Van Hollen (D-MD)
            "This is a very important first step toward the goal of preventing Iran from acquiring a nuclear weapon."
            Nov. 24, 2013 according to McClatchy
 
Rep. Ted Yoho (R-FL)
            "I welcome the opportunity for diplomacy, it is always preferable to sending our sons and daughters into harm's way. Let it never be forgotten that military action has its costs, certainly on the American taxpayer, but most importantly on the lives and families of the brave men and women we send into the battlefield. For that reason I am hopeful for peace, however President Rouhani's past actions and statements require a skeptical eye. Iran remains the world's leading state sponsor of terror. In this deal, the devil is truly in the details. The verify part needs to come before the trust."
            Nov. 25, 2013 in a press release
 
 

Geneva Deal V: Israel and the Gulf Reaction

            On November 24, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu blasted the interim agreement on Tehran’s nuclear program, calling it a “historic mistake.” He argued that sanctions “have been given up in exchange for cosmetic Iranian concessions.” President Shimon Peres directed his softer reaction to the Iranian people. “You [Iranians] are not our enemies and we [Israelis] are not yours,” he said. But Peres also warned that “if the diplomatic path fails, the nuclear option will be prevented by other means.”
            The Gulf states, which were also skeptical about talks between Iran and the world’s six major powers, issued reserved reactions to the deal. Saudi Arabia, Qatar and the United Arab Emirates cautiously hoped the agreement would eventually lead to the broader removal of weapons of mass destruction from the region.

            But one Saudi official candidly expressed his fears about the deal. Abdullah al Askar, chairman of the Shura Council’s foreign affairs committee, said that he worried “about giving Iran more space or a freer hand in the region.” Tehran “has proven that it has an ugly agenda in the region,” he said. The following are excerpted remarks from Israel and the Gulf sheikhdoms.

 
Israel
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu
 
            “What was achieved last night in Geneva is not an historic agreement; it is an historic mistake. Today the world has become a much more dangerous place because the most dangerous regime in the world has taken a significant step toward attaining the most dangerous weapon in the world. For the first time, the world’s leading powers have agreed to uranium enrichment in Iran while ignoring the U.N. Security Council decisions that they themselves led. 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.”
            Nov. 24, 2013 in remarks at a cabinet meeting
 
            On November 25, Netanyahu tweeted that the deal was better than what was “originally planned” but “still a bad deal.”
 
President Shimon Peres
            “Last night a deal was signed between the P5+1 and Iran. This is an interim deal. The success or failure of the deal will be judged by results, not by words. I would like to say to the Iranian people: You are not our enemies and we are not yours. There is a possibility to solve this issue diplomatically. It is in your hands. Reject terrorism. Stop the nuclear program. Stop the development of long-range missiles. Israel like others in the international community prefers a diplomatic solution. But I want to remind everyone of what President Obama said, and what I have personally heard from other leaders. The international community will not tolerate a nuclear Iran. And if the diplomatic path fails, the nuclear option will be prevented by other means. The alternative is far worse.”
            Nov. 24, 2013 in a statement
 
Yitzhak Herzog, Labor party chairman and parliament's opposition leader
            “The agreement that was signed tonight between the powers and Iran is a fait accompli, and Israel must adjust itself to the new situation. A question mark remains regarding the end of the process and on this matter the Israeli concern is justified. Accordingly, Netanyahu must do everything in his power to fix the damage caused by the public clash with the United States and to return to an intimate relationship with President Obama and other world leaders.”
            Nov. 25, 2013 in an interview with Channel 10 television
Saudi Arabia
            “If there is goodwill, then this agreement could be an initial step toward reaching a comprehensive solution for Iran's nuclear program if that leads to the removal of weapons of mass destruction, especially nuclear weapons, from the Middle East and Arab Gulf.”
Nov. 25, 2013 in a cabinet statement
 
Abdullah al Askar, chairman of the Shura Council’s foreign affairs committee
            “I am afraid Iran will give up something on [its nuclear program] to get something else from the big powers in terms of regional politics. And I’m worrying about giving Iran more space or a freer hand in the region. The government of Iran, month after month, has proven that it has an ugly agenda in the region, and in this regard no one in the region will sleep and assume things are going smoothly.”
            Nov. 24, 2013 according to Reuters
 
Qatar
            The agreement is “an important step towards safeguarding peace and stability in the region… The State of Qatar calls for making the Middle East a nuclear weapon-free zone.”
            Nov. 24, 2013 in a foreign ministry statement
 
The United Arab Emirates
            “The cabinet hopes this would represent a step towards a permanent agreement that preserves the stability of the region and shield it from tension and the danger of nuclear proliferation.”
            Nov. 24, 2013 in a cabinet statement published by state media
 
 

Kuwait

Foreign Ministry Undersecretary Khaled al Jarallah

            I hope the deal “would pave the way for a permanent accord that would defuse tension, and preserves the stability and security of the region.”
            Nov. 24, 2013 in a statement
 
Bahrain
Foreign Minister  Sheikh Khalid bin Ahmed al Khalifa
            “The agreement removes fears from us, whether from Iran or any other state.”
            Nov. 25, 2013 according to The National
 
 

Geneva Deal VI: Experts on Terms

            The following briefs analyze the terms of the interim deal on Iran’s controversial nuclear program.
 
International Crisis Group
The Iran Nuclear Accord: First Step in a Long Journey
 
            The International Crisis Group strongly welcomes the 24 November agreement between Iran and the P5+1 (five permanent members of the UN Security Council plus Germany). The accord – the principal thrust of which Crisis Group for some time has been calling for – is a testament to the effectiveness of diplomacy when conducted in a positive atmosphere.
            Although only a first step, the agreement has important implications. In particular, it freezes essential aspects of Iran’s nuclear activities – its stockpile of low enriched uranium; number of operational centrifuges; and work at the Arak heavy-water facility; rolls back Tehran's enrichment at higher concentration levels; and puts in place intrusive inspection mechanisms.
            The net result is to virtually eliminate the possibility of an undetected dash towards militarisation. For its part, Iran has gained tangible economic and humanitarian sanctions relief, a commitment that it will not be subjected to additional punitive measures at this time and implicit acceptance of a constrained and transparent uranium enrichment program on its soil…
 
Click here for the full text.
 
The Middle East Institute
The Iran Nuclear Deal: Risks and Opportunities for the Region
Paul Salem
            The nuclear deal with Iran, though still temporary and tentative, is ushering in a historic shift in the patterns of power, conflict, and diplomacy in the region. Like all historic shifts, it is laden with uncertainty and risk of new conflicts, but also carries with it potential opportunities for further diplomacy and finding common ground. Given the precedent of conflict and mistrust in the region, it is no surprise that the deal has raised concerns among many of America’s allies…
            The careening of U.S. policy from threats of war to sudden deals has left the region reeling. What has been achieved is potentially promising and very important. But the United States needs to move urgently, not only to reassure its allies about the nuclear issue, but also to discuss with them ways to build on the remaining sanctions and negotiations to move Iran toward positions that can provide a basis for regional stability and prosperity that would be in everyone’s interest.
 
Click here for the full text.
 
Center for Strategic & International Studies
The Best Deal with Iran That We Can Get
Anthony Cordesman
            One needs to be very careful about the deal the P5+1 has reached with Iran. It is still not clear that the Supreme Leader will accept it or that Iran will put it into practice. It is a preliminary agreement that must be followed up by lasting Iranian compliance, acceptance by the U.S. and other nations, and must be maintained indefinitely into the future.
            Making the agreement work requires a delicate balancing act by the U.S. and other members of the P5+1. The P5+1 must make it clear to Iran that any failure to honor the agreement will lead to even more stringent sanctions and that the risk of preventive strikes, extended deterrence, missile developments and a massive military build up in the Gulf remains real, all the while showing Iran that a real opening to the U.S. and the world offers it security and significant new opportunities for economic development...
 
Click here for the full text.
 

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