U.S. now indicates Iran interim deal wasn’t quite finalized: “Technical details have yet to be worked out, State Department says, meaning six-month countdown to permanent deal hasn’t started and Iran isn’t bound by any new terms.”

US Secretary of State John Kerry, center, embraces EU foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton, during a ceremony at the United Nations after an agreement was reached on Iran's nuclear program, in Geneva, Switzerland, Sunday, Nov. 24, 2013. (Photo credit: AP Photo/Keystone, Martial Trezzini/Times of Israel)

US Secretary of State John Kerry, center, embraces EU foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton, during a ceremony at the United Nations after an agreement was reached on Iran’s nuclear program, in Geneva, Switzerland, Sunday, Nov. 24, 2013. (Photo credit: AP Photo/Keystone, Martial Trezzini/Times of Israel)

(Washington, D.C.) — “Iran is currently enjoying a ‘window’ of time before the six-month deal signed in Geneva early Sunday goes into effect, during which it is not bound to take any credible steps toward disabling its ability to produce a nuclear weapon, the State Department acknowledged Tuesday,” reported the Times of Israel. “State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki said that the six-month interim period, during which Iran would take steps to rein in its nuclear program in exchange for sanctions relief, has not yet begun. Furthermore, there are still a number of details to be worked out, she said, without specifying what points had yet to be finalized.”

“Her comments created confusion as to whether the much-touted interim deal, supposedly reached by P5+1 powers and Iran in Geneva in the early hours of Sunday morning, had actually been completed as claimed,” noted the Times. “Iran on Tuesday accused the US of publishing an inaccurate account of what had been agreed. And its Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif said in an address to the Iranian parliament Wednesday that Iran would continue construction on the Arak heavy water plant, in an apparent breach of the ostensibly agreed terms.”

“The next step here is a continuation of technical discussions at a working level so that we can essentially tee up the implementation of the agreement,” Psaki told reporters Tuesday. “Obviously, once that’s — those technical discussions are worked through, I guess the clock would start. Obviously, there’ll also be a reconvening of the political track with the P5+1, which Under Secretary Sherman will continue to be our lead negotiator on.”

“Psaki said that she did not ‘have a specific timeline’ for how long the window would be in place before the six-month period began, nor did there seem to be any mechanism in place to prevent Iran from stepping up nuclear production before the scale-down went into effect,” reported the Times. “In terms of what the Iranians are or aren’t doing, obviously our hope would be, given we are respecting the spirit of the agreement in pressing for sanctions not to be put in place and beginning the process of figuring out how to deliver on our end of the bargain, that the same would be coming from their end in the spirit of the agreement.”

“Similarly, she did not know what the timetable would be on sanctions relief, saying that there would still ‘be technical discussions,’” noted the Times. “It’s also not a all-at-one-time or a spigot that’s turned all the way on. So it would be a slow process that obviously we control, and some of those details are still being worked out.”

The Times added that “another field in which the deal seems not to be solidified yet is the question of how sanctions relief would be framed in response to nuclear slow-down on the part of the Iranians. Psaki said that the deal would not require Iran to complete all steps before sanctions relief is granted, nor would it grant the entire relief package — valued at between $ 4 and $ 7 billion — before Iran initiates a nuclear slow-down.”

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Joel C. Rosenberg’s Blog

Israel capable of setting back Iran’s nuclear program, ex-air force chief indicates

Former Israeli Air Force chief of staff Ido Nehushtan (right).

Former Israeli Air Force chief of staff Ido Nehushtan (right).

“Sanctions alone are not sufficient to pressure Iran to abandon its nuclear program, former Israeli Air Force commander Ido Nehushtan said on Saturday morning, and he indicated that the Israel Air Force was capable of setting back the Iranian nuclear program if ordered to do so,” reports the Times of Israel. “Advocating a carrot-and-stick approach, Nehushtan said the option of a military strike on Iran, which claims its nuclear program is peaceful but has refused to honor international resolutions aimed to prevent it attaining nuclear weapons capability, must remain on the table.”

“Nehushtan stressed Tehran must realize that Israel is prepared to use the military option ‘as a means to an end,’” the Times noted. “He was adamant that Israel did retain the capability to realize a viable military option.”

“It is possible to delay the Iranian nuclear program by hitting its facilities,” he said. “I wouldn’t underestimate the capacity of the Israeli Air Force to fulfill the missions it is ordered to carry out. And I think I’ve said enough.”

“Still, in the event that Iran did get to the bomb, Nehushtan said he believed not all would be lost,” the Times reported.

“If we’ve reached a point where Iran has nuclear weapons and we’re too late, that doesn’t mean it’ll stay that way forever. We’re not there yet,” he said at a cultural event in Beersheba.


Joel C. Rosenberg’s Blog