U.S. official: IAEA, Iran nuclear deal doesn´t spell end of American pressure (HA´ARETZ NEWS) By Natasha Mozgovaya and Chemi Shalev 05/23/12)
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In a first official reaction to the emerging deal between Iran and
the United Nations´ nuclear watchdog, U.S. officials made it clear
Tuesday that while the reported agreement was a positive sign, it did
not mean Washington intended to let up its pressure on the Islamic
Republic over its continued nuclear program.
Referring to the reported IAEA-Iran deal, U.S. State Department
spokeswoman Victoria Nuland said, "Obviously, we fully support IAEA
efforts to try to resolve the outstanding issues," adding that the
administration´s "understanding is that they are still working on the
However, Nuland made it clear that "the announcement of the deal is
one thing, but the implementation is what we´re going to be looking
for, for Iran to truly follow through and provide the access to all
of the locations, the documents and the personnel that the IAEA
requires in order to determine whether Iran´s program is exclusively
for peaceful purposes."
She added that the U.S. was "looking for Iran to demonstrate
unequivocally that its program is peaceful. There are separate but
linked tracks for doing that."
"One is to do what the IAEA needs, to demonstrate it has seen all the
locations and all of the documents. The other is to work with the EU
three plus three on concrete steps to give more reassurance of the
kind that we´re seeking," Nuland added.
Nuland said that she didn’t think "we see them as part and parcel of
the effort that we´re looking for on the part of Iran," adding that
the Iranian regime needs to provide results on both the IAEA track
and the Baghdad talks.
Honing in on the emerging deal, Nuland said that what "the IAEA is
involved in is verifying, on behalf of the international community,
that the things that Iran is saying are true, are actually true. So
in the context of any kind of an understanding that might be reached
in the EU three plus three context, you would still want the IAEA to
be able to verify the implementation of all of those things."
Also Tuesday, White House spokesman Jay Carney called the IAEA
agreement with Iran "a step in the right direction," but said the
U.S. would "make judgments about Iran´s behavior based on actions,
not just promises or agreements."
He added that the U.S. would continue to put pressure on Iran and
planned to move ahead with sanctions. "We´re not at the stage of
negotiating what Iran would get in return for fulfillment of its
obligations, beyond the general principle, which is they would be
able to rejoin the community of nations," he said.
Also commenting on news of an upcoming deal, U.S. President Barack
Obama´s former senior advisor Dennis Ross, currently a fellow at the
Washington Institute for Near East Policy, indicated that the
negotiations taking place are designed to maintain pressure on the
Iranians, as opposed to letting it up.
"It sends them a message that they can´t play for time - the Iranians
shouldn´t have any illusions they can do minimum and get maximum in
return," he said, adding however that he didn´t believe talks in
Baghdad mark a "make or break" moment.
"It´s unrealistic to see a breakthrough at this point after only two
rounds of talks, the process has to be much more continuous", he
said, adding, "There has to be an indication on substance or the
nature of the process. Since the window of opportunity won´t be open
forever, the sooner we understand what kind of process we are in, the
"Suspension of enrichment is something that stops the clock and
provides space and time to tackle the issue of the nuclear program.
Another track could be changing the character of the program - having
nuclear civil power will require firewalls that will ensure it cannot
be translated to nuclear weapons capability."
Ross said the Obama administration´s position is not to accept
limited enrichment - but he also rejected the notion of the need to
provide a clear red line. "One has to be careful about the red lines -
because historically others think everything is allowed up to the
red line," he said.
He added that the U.S. administration stays in close contact with the
Israeli leadership on this matter. "It´s no coincidence [Israel´s
Defense Minister Ehud] Barak came to visit Washington last week. I am
sure the goal of this visit was to be a part of this discussion.
Israeli positions have some impact on ours and there is no intention
Also on Tuesday, Chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee
Ileana Ros-Lehtinen commended the Senate´s approval of Iran sanctions
on Monday, echoing the skepticism expressed by the Israeli leadership
ahead of the Baghdad meeting.
"I am deeply concerned that the so-called agreement reached between
Iran and the IAEA will only be used as yet another stalling tactic to
afford the Iranian regime greater time to acquire nuclear weapons
capabilities", she said, adding, "It´s deja vu all over again."
Ros-Lehtinen said that it had been "ten years since Iran´s covert
nuclear program was discovered by the IAEA, after decades had gone by
when the regime successfully hid its nuclear activities from the
"It has been ten years of manipulation by Tehran of international
inspections. And for decades, the regime has ignored its
international obligations. Yet, the IAEA seems content to give Iran a
pass in exchange for yet more empty promises. Fortunately, Congress
has not bought into this dangerous and foolhardy approach. I am
gratified that the Senate finally passed its Iran sanctions
legislation, although I am concerned that the legislation is not
strong enough," she added.
U.S., Israel ´on same page´ ahead of talks
The Obama administration will dispatch a delegation of senior
officials to nuclear talks with Iran that are scheduled to resume on
Wednesday in Baghdad, according to well-placed sources in the U.S.
The delegation will coordinate U.S. positions with Israel in the
talks, and will also try to allay Israeli concerns about possible
compromises that the P5+1 group might be willing to make in the talks
with Tehran. This was also one of the objectives of the discussions
held Tuesday between a senior delegation of the Conference of
Presidents of Major Jewish Organizations and several high-ranking
administration officials, led by Vice President Joe Biden.
Biden and other officials told the delegation, led by Conference
Chairman Richard Stone and its CEO, Malcolm Hoenlein, that the U.S.
is in constant contact with its Israeli counterparts in the Defense
Ministry and in the Foreign Ministry, and that the U.S. is “on the
same page” with Israel concerning the demands from Tehran.
The Americans, led by Biden, reaffirmed the U.S. commitment to
prevent Tehran from “developing or purchasing” a nuclear weapons,
although they were vague on their position concerning the prevention
of Iranian “capability” to produce weapons, and they refrained from
getting into the details of the how much nuclear enrichment Iran
could continue and under what conditions.
Well-placed observers said the administration seeks to “lower the
volume” of Israeli criticism of the negotiations, especially as
these “haven’t moved anywhere yet.” The delegation and the messages
to the Conference delegation are meant to allay Israeli concerns, the
In addition to the vice president, the Conference delegates met with
Denis McDonough, Deputy National Security Advisor; Thomas Nides,
Deputy Secretary of State; Steven Simon, Senior Director for Middle
East and North Africa at the National Security Council; David Cohen,
Undersecretary of Treasury for Terrorism & Financial Intelligence;
John Cohen, Principal Deputy Coordinator for Counterterrorism,
Department of Homeland Security; and Jarrod Bernstein, White House
Director of Jewish Outreach. (© Copyright 2012 Ha´aretz 05/23/12)
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