Iran deal marks historic shift in hostilities with U.S
Iran Deal Marks Historic Shift in Hostilities with U.S.
By Michael Collins
November 24th, 2013 CDT
President Barack Obama made history this weekend by turning around the relationship between the United States and Iran. The deal on Iranian nuclear production reverses a decades-long period of mutual hostility. The apogee of irrationality was reached during the term of former President George W. Bush who sought military action against Iran, only to have his own top military commander, General Peter Pace, sink the effort
Neo-conservatives exerted maximum pressure on President Obama to join with Israel in an attack on Iran’s nuclear facilities. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Saudi power broker Prince Bandar Bin Sultan formed an alliance of desperation to prevent the successful conclusion of negotiations.
The president gave his final and definitive answer this weekend. The greater interests of the United States prevailed over the demands, threats, and tantrums from the Israeli right and Saudi war mongers. At moments like this, for great powers, larger objectives and greater rewards always trump alliances with lesser states when there is a direct conflict.
A military confrontation with Iran posed the risk of: closing down the Persian Gulf and region to oil production and transit; creating military action between Iran and Israel for an extended period; and, threatening the worlds economy by disrupting critical oil supplies. All of those results would be in addition to the tens or hundreds of thousands of dead or injured people as a result of an unanticipated or an unannounced but planned attack on Iran.
President Obama and his supporters in the corporate sector obviously chose peace over madness. The carping and tornadoes of hot air from the AIPAC franchise in the bought-and-paid-for U.S.Congress should mean little. This opportunity is above their pay grade and ability to comprehend. For once, the United States, Russia, EU powers, and Iran acted in concert in the very best interests of peace and, as a result, to the benefit of people everywhere. War is no longer tolerable. We need worldwide action to meet the challenge of world threatening eco-disasters on the horizon.
In a nationally televised address, Obama said the deal was an “initial, six-month” agreement that includes “substantial limitations.”
The first step allows for “time and space” for more talks and the deal represents “a new path toward a world that is more secure,” Obama said late Saturday in Washington.
“I have a profound responsibility to try to resolve our differences peacefully, rather than rush towards conflict,” he added.
A statement released by the White House also said Iran agreed to provide “increased transparency and intrusive monitoring of its nuclear program.”
Obama made the comments after Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif said the deal on Tehran’s nuclear energy program was reached after days of intense talks in Geneva.
Catherine Ashton, the EU’s foreign policy chief, said the deal is a first step requiring actions by both sides, which have “a strong commitment to negotiate a final comprehensive solution.”
The deal was announced on Sunday morning following the talks between Iran and the five permanent members of the UN Security Council — the US, Britain, China, France, Russia — plus Germany.
A recent poll showed a majority of Americans support a diplomatic agreement between Iran and the six world powers.
The survey conducted by ABC News/Washington Post found out that 64 percent of respondents back a deal that will ease sanctions in exchange for Iran restricting its nuclear program.
Statement by President Barack Obama, White House, Nov 23
THE WHITE HOUSE Office of the Press Secretary
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE November 23, 2013 Remarks As Prepared for Delivery by President Barack Obama First Step Agreement on Iran’s Nuclear Program Saturday, November 23, 2013
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 have made clear my determination to prevent Iran from obtaining a nuclear weapon. As I have said many times, my strong preference is to resolve this issue peacefully, and we have 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 U.N. 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+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 stockpile. 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 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 until everything is agreed to. The burden is on Iran to prove to the world that its nuclear program will be for exclusively 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. But if 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 – 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 commitment 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. However, 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 have taken today marks the most significant and tangible progress that we have made with Iran since I took office. 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. 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.
Also published at Agonist.org - Iran Deal Marks Historic Shift in Hostilities with U.S.