U.S. and Iranian officials have described last week’s framework for a deal to slow Iran’s nuclear weapons program with disturbingly different details. According to a Times of Israel report Tuesday, the U.S. account also differs significantly with a key ally – France.
The proposed deal lets Iran continue to develop use advanced centrifuges which could allow for uranium enrichment as much as 20 times faster than the Islamic Republic’s current technology. After 12 years, Iran can actually resume enriching uranium, which the newspaper reported “would enable Iran to more rapidly accumulate the highly enriched uranium needed to build nuclear weapons, accelerating its breakout time to the bomb.” The source is an internal French government fact-sheet which the newspaper was able to review, but which has not been released publicly.
That timeline, however, dovetails with an acknowledgment President Obama made this week in an interview with National Public Radio. Iran’s “break-out” time to make a bomb could shrink “almost down to zero” by year 13 after any final deal is negotiated, Obama said.
It’s a concern shared by Olli Heinonen, a former senior nuclear proliferation watchdog for the International Atomic Energy Agency. Iran has yet to fully acknowledge the depth of its nuclear weapons program, Heinonen told the Times of Israel. The proposed agreement leaves Iran “a threshold breakout nuclear state for the next 10 years.”
That, he predicted, would trigger a regional nuclear arms race that the agreement was supposed to help avoid.
U.S. and Iranian negotiators have until the end of June to hammer out a final agreement.
Israeli analyst Ehud Yaari identified six terms in the proposed agreement in which the United States and Iran have offered different assessments. Among them: Iran believes it stands to secure immediate relief from crippling economic sanctions, while the U.S. says that relief comes in phases as various commitments are met. In addition, Iran believes it can continue to use the Fordo underground uranium enrichment plant for developing centrifuges, while the U.S. says no enrichment could take place there for 15 years.
Israeli Strategic Affairs Minister Yuval Steinitz briefed reporters Monday on recommendations which could lead to “a more reasonable agreement.” The Fordow plant must be shut down entirely, inspectors must be able to make unannounced visits “anywhere, anytime” and development of new centrifuges must be prohibited, he said.
U.S. officials expressed little interest in pushing for those recommendations. “We believe that this is the best deal that can emerge from these negotiations,” Ben Rhodes, deputy national security adviser for strategic communications, told Israeli television.
Read the full interview in which Olli Heinonen details his concerns here.
Not just America and Israel, but now even France is beginning to question the ties between Obama and Iran. That America would turn one hundred and eighty degrees in its foreign policy toward a nation full of hate and hostility to her is one of those questions that many don’t even want to consider. But now that France is having second thoughts on the speed toward which Obama seeks a nuclear agreement with such an adversary, weaknesses in Obama’s goal is opening chinks in his armor.
It is said that when Lord Cornwallis’ Army surrendered at Yorktown in 1781, giving America her independence, the British band played “The World Turned Upside Down.” Now, some two hundred and thirty-four years later, it appears that we are approaching an agreement that just might truly turn today’s world upside down. And now even retired General David Petraeus, who was silent due to pending charges which have since been resolved with his guilty plea, has come forward to the Washington Post to say the obvious: Iran is a very dangerous adversary which should never possess nuclear weapons.
When Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu of Israel was invited to America by House Speaker John Boehner, Obama was relentless in his attempts to force the Israeli leader to cancel. Bibi Netanyahu even asked Boehner if he should cancel, but when told no he courageously came and presented his case against Iran before a Joint Session of Congress and the American people. And America responded with cheers and admiration, many even openly saying he was the kind of leader that we needed today and calling him today’s leader of the Free World.
LAUSANNE, Switzerland—Efforts by the Obama administration to stem criticism of its diplomacy with Iran have included threats to nations involved in the talks, including U.S. allies, according to Western sources familiar with White House efforts to quell fears it will permit Iran to retain aspects of its nuclear weapons program.
A series of conversations between top American and French officials, including between President Obama and French President Francois Hollande, have seen Americans engage in behavior described as bullying by sources who spoke to the Washington Free Beacon.
The disagreement over France’s cautious position in regard to Iran threatens to erode U.S. relations with Paris, sources said.
Retired Air Force Gen. Michael Hayden was among many slamming the Obama administration’s framework for a nuclear deal with Iran on Thursday, telling Newsmax that it turns Tehran into an “industrial-strength nuclear state” that could have its own weapon within a year.
“It took us 18 months to get to the outline of a framework and now we’re going to get to the fine print in what, three months?” asked Hayden, who led both the CIA and the National Security Agency. “That shows you how difficult this is.
“We have just agreed that Iran will be an industrial-strength nuclear state and that it will never be any more than one year away from having a nuclear weapon,” he said.
The United States and other world powers reached a framework with Iran on Thursday that seeks to curb Tehran’s nuclear program for at least a decade. The plan comes after eight days of marathon talks in Switzerland and is incumbent on a final deal being reached by June 30.
All sanctions against Iran would remain in place pending a final deal. They would only be suspended by the U.S., the United Nations, and the European Union after the International Atomic Energy Agency confirmed Iran’s compliance.
In a Rose Garden speech at the White House, President Barack Obama hailed the outline as “a good deal, a deal that meets our core objectives.”