US President Barack Obama said that he and other world leaders have offered Iran an “extraordinarily reasonable deal” that will test whether the leadership of the Islamic nation is serious about at last resolving the dispute over its nuclear program.
Even as negotiators appear close to an agreement, Obama highlighted the challenge of what comes next: ensuring that any pact forged in Geneva can pass muster in Tehran, where Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, Iran’s supreme leader, has expressed deep skepticism about a settlement with the outside world.
“We have made progress in narrowing the gaps, but those gaps still exist,” Obama said in an interview with CBS News that aired on Sunday on Face the Nation. “And I would say that over the next month or so, we’re going to be able to determine whether or not their system is able to accept what would be an extraordinarily reasonable deal, if in fact, as they say, they are only interested in peaceful nuclear programs.”
With a potential deal in sight, US Secretary of State John Kerry spent much of the past week consulting with allies and reassuring those nervous about the prospect. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu addressed Congress to warn that the terms as publicly reported would make it a “bad deal,” which would still leave Iran with a nuclear infrastructure that it could use to eventually make bombs.
Many Republicans and some Democrats share Netanyahu’s concerns and have been drafting legislation intended to give Congress a say in whether an agreement would be satisfactory. At the insistence of Democrats, Senate Republicans agreed to hold off advancing such legislation for a few more weeks.
On the same program on Sunday, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, a Republican, made clear that he intends to pursue the matter eventually.
“Obviously, the president doesn’t want us involved in this,” he said. “But he’s going to need us if he’s going to lift any of the existing sanctions. And so I think he cannot work around Congress forever.”
Negotiators from the US, Britain, France, Germany, China, Russia and Iran have until later this month to develop the outline of a deal, under a preliminary agreement that has limited Iran’s nuclear program in the meantime. If they succeed, they will have until June to translate that into a detailed document.
The negotiators have been talking about an agreement that would limit Iran’s capacity to enrich uranium to the point that, in theory, it would take it a year to “break out” and create enough fuel for a bomb if it violated the terms, to be verified by international inspectors. In exchange, the world powers would ease the sanctions that have strangled Iran’s economy.
The deal would last at least 10 years but then expire.
Asked if a deal was imminent, Obama seemed to suggest it may be.
“I think it is fair to say that there is an urgency because we now have been negotiating for well over a year,” he said.
He said Iran must decide whether it is willing to open up in the way such an agreement would require.
“If we are able to verify that in fact they are not developing weapons systems, then there’s a deal to be had,” Obama said. “But that’s going to require them to accept the kind of verification and constraints on their program that so far, at least, they have not been willing to say yes to.”
Obama said he would not accept a bad deal.
“If there’s no deal, then we walk away,” he said.
Netanyahu on Sunday said that he opposed the deal as it seemed to be emerging, but acknowledged that in his speech to Congress he effectively backed off from his past insistence on leaving Iran with zero capacity to enrich uranium, even at lower grades for civilian fuel.
FRENCH AID: Paris has sent a navy ship and aircraft from Reunion Island with some pollution control equipment, but rough seas are spreading the oil spill The operator of a Japanese bulk carrier which ran aground off Mauritius in the Indian Ocean yesterday apologized for a major oil spill, which officials and environmentalists say is creating an ecological disaster, as police prepared to board the ship. The MV Wakashio, operated by Mitsui OSK Lines, struck the reef on Mauritius’ southeast coast on July 25. “We apologize profusely and deeply for the great trouble we have caused,” Mitsui OSK Lines executive vice president Akihiko Ono said at a news conference in Tokyo. The company would “do everything in their power to resolve the issue,” he said. At least 1,000 tonnes of
Three Micronesian sailors stranded on a remote Pacific island have been found alive and well after a rescue team spotted their giant SOS message written into the sand on a beach. Australian and US military aircraft found the three men on tiny Pikelot island, nearly 200km west of where they had set off. Rescuers said that the men were “in good condition” with no significant injuries. The men had been missing for three days after their 7m skiff ran out of fuel and strayed off course. Authorities in the US territory of Guam raised the alarm on Saturday after the men failed to complete
A cat that went missing on a family holiday on the shores of Loch Lomond, Scotland, has been identified 12 years later. Tortoiseshell-and-white Georgie spent October half term in 2008 with her owners at the Rowardennan campsite, but vanished as they were due to return home to Greater Manchester, England. After a search of the site the Davies family departed without Georgie, hoping the three-year-old microchipped feline would be located by someone. Over the intervening 12 years, she remained close to the Queen Elizabeth Forest Park site, being fed and cared for by campsite staff and holidaymakers. After the COVID-19 pandemic hit and lockdown
LIFELONG LOSS: Jiro Hamasumi, who was not quite born when an atomic bomb hit Hiroshima, lost his father and other relatives, but said he thinks about his father daily As Japan marks 75 years since the devastating attacks on Hiroshima and Nagasaki, the last generation of nuclear bomb survivors is working to ensure their message lives on after them. The “hibakusha” — literally “person affected by the bomb” — have for decades been a powerful voice calling for the abolition of nuclear weapons. There are an estimated 136,700 left, many of whom were infants or soon to be born at the time of the attacks. The average age of a survivor now is a little over 83, according to the Japanese Ministry of Health, lending an urgency as they share their testimonies