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In the News: Tentative Iran Nuclear Agreement Announced

Yesterday, a tentative agreement regarding Iran’s nuclear program was announced.

NPR: Deal Reached To Limit Iran’s Nuclear Program

Iran and six world powers have reached a preliminary agreement in Geneva on curbing Tehran’s nuclear program in exchange for some sanctions relief.

In a late-night statement from the White House, President Obama called the breakthrough “the most significant and tangible progress” with Iran since he took office. It calls for specific actions over the next six months, while negotations continue on a longer-term deal.

President Obama:

Statement By The President On First Step Agreement On Iran’s Nuclear Program

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.

(Rest of remarks below the fold)

Full Transcript

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.


  1. But I do know that talking is better than not talking. And if the sanctions are so onerous that Iran is willing to discuss its nuclear program at all, that means that the sanctions are working.

    Perhaps a taste of being part of the world community again will encourage Iran to want to be a permanent member in good standing of that community.

  2. creamer

      The price dropped 2 bucks a barrel today. If Iran follows through and the sanctions come off, the price will drop a lot.

     This is, in my mind, the single biggest reason the Saudi’s are opposed. One might wonder how much money this will cost the Koch brothers. Maybe the saber rattlers are more concerned with their handlers profits than they are Israel’s security.

  3. The Long Shadow Of Iran Contra

    Years ago, I made it a policy of mine that I would approve of any deal with Iran so long as it didn’t involve selling missiles to the mullahs. I developed this policy in January of 1981, when I was in Washington covering the inauguration of President Ronald Reagan, and the Iranians, in one last attempt to stick it to Jimmy Carter, refused to release the remaining American hostages until Reagan had taken office. Almost immediately, the propagandists in the employ of the new president started floating to a credulous media that the Iranians had done so because they were terrified of the awesome awesomeness of Ronald Reagan. Turns out, of course, that they did it in exchange for Reagan’s unfreezing their American assets and also because Reagan’s people opened up a yard sale at the Pentagon where the Iranians could get good deals on TOW missiles.

    His describes in great detail the role of Iran in bogeyman-making and the genesis of the Bush State Department and concludes with this:

    To me, the unsatisfactory denouement to Iran-Contra remains the great lost opportunity a) to rein in the executive branch’s ability to conduct off-the-books imperial adventurism, and b) to break the power of the neoconservative intelligentsia in matters of foreign policy, especially in west Asia. A few criminal complaints that stuck — and an impeachment inquiry into both the president and vice-president — would have done the job nicely. Alas, the very serious people of the day assumed we were all made of spun sugar and far too delicate to know precisely how criminal our leaders had become. This treaty represents a new paradigm, a rejection of what had become the old norms, some of which were downright idiotic. It is possible that this treaty, and what may or may not come after it, signals an end to that long era of covert adventurism and criminal mischief. If that is the case, then this deal is more than worth the inevitable caterwauling that already has erupted.

  4. Something they should have done before they rattled their sabers at the president …

    As Obama Chides Critics, Senate Signals Flexibility On Iran Nuclear Deal

    President Barack Obama on Monday swiped critics of the interim agreement struck between six world powers to halt Iran’s nuclear program.

    “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. Tough talk and bluster may be the easy thing to do politically, but it’s not the right thing for our security,” he said in a speech in San Francisco

    The deal has faced criticism in Congress, including from Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-NY), usually a strong Obama ally, who called it disproportional. But there appears to be an appetite in the Senate to give it some breathing room. One option being considered is to pass legislation that allows the deal to work while triggering new sanctions if Iran violates the terms.

    “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,” Senate Foreign Relations Chair Bob Menendez (D-NJ) said after the deal was announced.

  5. The Benefits of a Deal

    So what did Kerry do in Geneva? He won an agreement that not only freezes Iran’s nuclear-enrichment program for six months but actually rolls it back; that prevents new nuclear facilities from coming online; and that provides for unprecedented daily inspections to ensure that Iran is living up to it commitments.

    Let me restate that to make it clearer: In May of next year, Iran will be further away from being able to build a bomb than it is today.

    And this achievement is being attacked with the word “appeasement” and references to Munich? Give me a break.

    He likens it to the skeptics looking at rapprochement with China back in Nixon’s day:

    It may be that Iran is incapable of becoming a responsible actor on the world stage as long as it is led by the mullahs. But there was a time when it was hard to imagine China being anything but a pariah as long as it was led by the Maoists — yet now, Beijing is the capital of one of the world’s economic superpowers, with Mao’s picture still watching over Tiananmen Square.

    Regimes do evolve, sometimes in ways that make the world a safer place. Obama is boldly asking this question: Can it happen in Iran?

    Six months is not a long time to wait for the answer.

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