The nuclear framework agreement announced last week between Iran and the so-called P5+1 group, the permanent members of the UN. Security Council (the United States, United Kingdom, France, Russia and China) plus Germany, embodies the most important foreign policy initiative of the Obama Administration. An agreement based on the framework is clearly in the national interest, and final negotiations should be allowed to go forward. This process must not be jeopardized by the disingenuous attacks of certain members of Congress and Israel’s prime minister, Benjamin Netanyahu.
It should be noted the outrageous letter of Sen. Tom Cotton and his 46 Republican colleagues to the Iranian leaders totally failed in its objective to kill the negotiations.
The framework (Google: State P5+1) would place substantial limitations on Iran’s capability to produce weapons grade uranium and provides for extensive inspection of its nuclear facilities. These restrictions would last for 10 to 25 years and some indefinitely. In return, economic sanctions previously imposed on Iran would be suspended after it has taken “all of its key nuclear-related steps.” Throughout the term of the final agreement, if reached, the economic sanctions would “snap back” if Iran fails to fulfill its obligations.
Admittedly, the Iranian and U.S. descriptions of these parameters vary, and difficult negotiations remain to finalize all the details and draft a definitive agreement. But this diplomatic approach should be continued, during which Iran’s cessation of enrichment, under inspection, will remain in place.
Typical of Republican reactions to the framework are those of House Speaker John Boehner, who said the parameters “represent an alarming departure from the White House’s initial goals,” and Sen. Marco Rubio who called the framework “just the latest example of this administration’s farcical approach to Iran.”
Those unfounded and unconstructive statements are not based on sound analysis of the framework parameters and seem to reflect only a partisan agenda.
Mr. Netanyahu continues to repeat his sound bite the framework paves the way for an Iranian nuclear weapon, without any substantive argument on its technical terms. In addition to his call for new sanctions and to begin the negotiations anew, he now demands Iran must cease sponsoring terrorism, stop its Middle East aggression and recognize Israel’s right to exist. Although worthy goals, those are unrealistic conditions in the context of the existing negotiations and their pursuit would only kill the diplomatic effort to rein in Iran’s nuclear program.
In an interview with Thomas Freidman of The New York Times Saturday, President Barack Obama gave a clear, lucid and convincing argument in support of the Iranian negotiations. In speaking of America’s strong and unrelenting support of Israel and the Jewish people, Mr. Obama summed up the compelling reasons to support the proposed agreement with Iran, stating: “What I would say to the Israeli people is ... that there is no formula, there is no option, to prevent Iran from getting a nuclear weapon that will be more effective than the diplomatic initiative and framework that we put forward — and that’s demonstrable.”
In a broader context, Mr. Obama articulated a realistic and sound foreign policy all Americans should see or read (Google: Freidman column Obama). Obama-doubters should think “Eisenhower” or “Reagan” or “Bush” (either one) instead of “Obama,” and your views on this issue just may change.
Bo Statham is a retired lawyer, congressional aid and businessman. he livs in Gardnerville and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.