U.S. Official: Deal with Iran is ‘Close’

November 15, 2013  

The United States and other countries are “getting close” to an interim deal with Iran that would prevent its nuclear program “from advancing, and roll it back” in key areas, a senior administration official said Friday, according to CNN.

The official was quoted as having told reporters that such a deal would “extend the breakout time” that Iran would need to achieve a nuclear weapon and “shorten the time to notice if they tried.”

The proposed deal covers every aspect of Iran’s nuclear program, including uranium enrichment, uranium stockpiles and all nuclear facilities including military ones, the official added.

The United States, along with the four other permanent members of the UN Security Council and Germany, came close to a deal during talks with Iran in Geneva last week.

The talks ended with both sides blaming each other for the lack of an agreement, but another round is set for November 20.

Under Secretary of State Wendy Sherman is scheduled to lead the American delegation at the next round of talks next week in Geneva, reported CNN.

Senators have been pushing for a speedy escalation of sanctions against the Islamic Republic, while the Obama administration has been placing heavy pressure on Congress not to slap new sanctions on Iran.

On Thursday, President Obama warned Congress that military action, if diplomacy fails, would have dangerous effects and only fuel an Iranian desire for nuclear weapons.

“What we have done is seen the possibility of an agreement in which Iran would halt advances on its program,” Obama told a news conference.

“We can buy some additional months in terms of their breakout capacity. Let’s test how willing they are to actually resolve this diplomatically and peacefully,” he added.

The president noted that his intention “always was to bring the Iranians to the table so we could resolve this issue peacefully.”

The comments came as another report indicated that Obama has been easing sanctions on Iran for the past five months without Congressional approval.

Sources in Congress revealed that Obama’s administration has been suspending or lifting many sanctions without informing Congress since Iranian President Hassan Rouhani was elected in June, reports the World Tribune.

Israel has repeatedly warned that the deal being offered to Iran is a dangerous one and would allow it to continue its nuclear program.

On Thursday, Economics Minister Naftali Bennett delivered a speech at the Brookings Institution in Washington in which he warned against lifting the sanctions on Iran.

In his speech, Bennett said no country wants a deal with Iran that would end its nuclear weapons program more than Israel, and added that “if Iran achieves a nuclear weapon we will be their first target, but make no mistake, we will not be their last target.”

He stressed that Israel opposes any deal that does not dismantle Iran’s nuclear program.

Sanctions have made a great impact, said Bennett, and they must continue until Iran is forced to choose between having a nuclear weapon or having an economy.

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