“This has been a long time coming,” President Obama just said in the Rose Garden in celebrating a “historic” deal between world powers and Iran that will make the United States and the world safer.
“Today after many months of tough, principled diplomacy, we have achieved the framework of an agreement. And it is a good deal,” the president said, saying that the deal precludes war.
“The issues are bigger than politics. These are matters of war and peace,” the president declared. “If Congress kills this deal.. then it’s the United States that will be blamed for the failure of diplomacy.”
His comments follow the announcement today by the EU and Iran of a historic agreement on principles to allow a civilian Iranian nuclear program and the lifting of sanctions against the country. At a triumphant news announcement in Lausanne, the Iranian Foreign Minister and EU High Commissioner said that the United Nations would end sanctions against Iran and the U.S. will lift secondary sanctions immediately. As the action moves to Congress.
Obama said that the scrutiny of Iran’s program is unprecedented for any country undertaking nuclear enrichment.
“If we can get this done,” the president said, “we will be able to resolve one of the greatest threats to our security and we will do so peacefully.”
“Through dialogue and engagement with dignity,” an enthusiastic Iran’s FM Javad Zarif said, the parameters have been worked out, and Iran will continue a civilian nuclear program.
US cable commentators are impressed by the details announced in the agreement, which will be spelled out in specifics in the next three months. “Remarkably detailed,” Jim Sciutto of CNN says. Iranian actions will precede the lifting of sanctions, including destruction of the core of the reactor at Arak… Inspection protocol for the next 25 years, surpassing the expectations. “Nothing with the level of detail announced today,” Hala Gorani of CNN says.
Obama slammed “the inevitable critics” who want another war in the Middle East. The Israel lobby in the U.S. is digging in to fight, scoffing at the deal. Iranian reporters applauded the announcement. Everyone is looking at the American hardliners. Gloria Borger of CNN avers that the American people don’t trust Obama to cut a deal on his own. Jake Tapper on CNN warns that Chuck Schumer has been skeptical of the deal, but Bob Menendez has been taken out of the picture. “There is a lot of celebration going on” among world leaders, he says.
Obama reached out to the Iranian people in his speech today, looking forward to Iran fully rejoining the community of nations. He also confronted Israeli PM Benjamin Netanyahu. “It’s no secret that the Israeli Prime Minister and I disagree.” He said he will call Netanyahu later today. But he already spoke to the King of Saudi Arabia.
John Kerry spoke in Switzerland, and championed the details of the agreement:
We… have arrived at a consensus on the key parameters of an arrangement that once implemented will give the international community confidence that Iran’s nuclear program will remain exclusively peaceful… There will be no sunset to the deal we are working to finalize.
Iran’s nuclear stockpile will be reduced by 98 percent for 15 years, Kerry said. It will cut the number of its centrifuges by 2/3 for 10 years.
“[Obama] is going to have to sell it to the Israeli government, to the Saudis, to the Emiratis… It’s a major diplomatic push,” Wolf Blitzer says.
“This is big,” Christiane Amanpour says of the deal; saying there are real concessions for real relief.
Israeli intelligence minister Yuval Steinitz condemned the deal. “The celebrants in Iran are disconnected from reality, in which Iran refuses to make concessions…. We will continue our efforts to explain and convince the world [that] it’s a bad deal.”
Trita Parsi of the National Iranian American Council is jubilant and warns of the battle ahead:
“I cannot describe to you how happy I am! I – like you – have waited for this moment very long. In fact, for too long….
As experts hammer out the details of this agreement over the next couple of months, Netanyahu, AIPAC, and Congressional hawks are going to throw everything they have at defeating the President and killing this agreement.
In 12 days, the Senate Foreign Relations Committee is expected to pass outrageous new legislation that would give Congress the power to abort a comprehensive deal by preventing the President from suspending sanctions.”
Reports out of Lausanne are that the P5+1 are inching toward a purposely-vague statement of agreement. Tass says today’s deadline for the talks has been extended another 24 hours. Jim Sciutto of CNN says that the talks are likely to produce only a pledge to negotiate details over the next three months.
David Sanger of the NYT said this morning on WNYC that the likely deal will be “vague” and lacking in detail, putting John Kerry in a difficult position visavis the Congress in weeks to come.
Josh Block of the rightwing Israel Project also says that the talks are going to produce a “press statement” without filling in the details. From the other side, the site Iran Nuclear Energy agrees that we will see a press statement:
DFM [Deputy Foreign Minister Abbas] Araghchi: Drafting has begun and working documents exist. However, no annexes will be released with press statement.
On MSNBC Andrea Mitchell says the likely-classified elements of the deal will permit its critics to “distort” and “cherrypick” details; and Rep. Adam Schiff promptly fills such a role, complaining that ten years is not long enough for such a deal.
There is obviously plenty of support for a deal round the world: “We love you John” — in Lausanne today. While reporters complain about the endless wait; Lausanne is in “deep ambiguity;” and photographers stalk the grounds for any sign of Kerry’s white coif. And the State Department briefing won’t be happening this afternoon in D.C.
Trita Parsi says the deal is inevitable and the next step is Congress:
Looking forward to details of the agreement. Next step: Defend it against warmongers in Congress. This is just the beginning
On Democracy Now, Parsi said the Senate will start marking up any deal, in an effort to interfere in the negotiations,
it seems they are going to be able to walk away with something that would enable the U.S. team to come back and resist the pressures from Congress. The next step then would be to continue the negotiations and work out a real framework, a real final deal with a deadline of June 30…on April 14, it is scheduled to be marked up in the Senate. This is what is called an oversight bill, but in reality it contains measures that is more of an interference in the negotiations than mere oversight.
John Hudson of Foreign Policy also says the ball is about to land in Congress’s court:
[email protected] [of Brookings]: The unity of the P5+1 is “remarkable” and “a-historical in many respects.” Congress doesn’t “appreciate” this
Parsi says on Democracy Now that Israel’s machinations have backfired:
The Israelis have put on an enormous amount of pressure from the very first minute that President Obama came into office and declared that he wanted to pursue diplomacy, but I would, frankly, say that the Israelis have less influence right now than they could have had had they played their cards differently. The very, very aggressive tone of Prime Minister Netanyahu, this very clear cut attempt to try to sabotage the talks, has actually pushed Netanyahu further to the margins, and has given him less opportunities to be able to sabotage it. But, make no mistake, the Israelis are very much against this deal and are trying to do everything they can do to stop it, but there is an air of inevitability, right here in Lausanne, that something is going to come out of these talks.
Netanyahu came out against the talks again this morning with yet another statement professing knowledge of what is being discussed in Switzerland:
“a bad deal that would endanger Israel, the Middle East, and the peace of the world… Iran is accelerating its campaign of terror, subjugation and conquest.”
Senator Chuck Schumer, the likely new minority leader of the Senate, is also positioning himself against the deal. He signed on to that congressional bill to review the deal, which the Obama administration opposes. Hardball focused on Schumer last night; Politico reports on Schumer’s balancing act:
Sen. Mark Kirk (R-Ill.) said Schumer is “in a tough spot” on Iran.
“New York is the mother ship of the American Jewish community,” said Kirk, a lead sponsor of another bill to impose new sanctions on Iran.
Schumer is also close with the American Israel Public Affairs Committee, the powerful pro-Israel lobby that has raised serious concerns about the emerging deal with Iran and six world powers, including the United States.
Jonathan Tobin at Commentary says that Schumer will back Obama and the deal over the Israel lobby:
All the news stories about Schumer having “very, very heated” conversations with White House officials on Iran and Israel won’t mean a thing if, when the president requires him to produce the votes he needs on these issues, Schumer complies, as he almost certainly will do. Any Senate leader must watch the back of his president. Though he will claim he can go on dancing at two weddings, the odds of him choosing support for Israel over the political necessity to back Obama are slim.