NBCNews.com’s Daniel Arkin: “The announcement this weekend that the United States and five other world powers had struck a deal with Iran that curtails its contentious nuclear program in exchange for limited relief from painful economic sanctions marks the most significant accord between Washington and Tehran in more than a quarter-century. It also caps off nearly three months of whirlwind diplomacy — as swift as it was unprecedented — following a decade-long global nuclear standoff with Iran and an extended history of failed negotiations.”
What’s in the deal? “According to the White House, the deal stipulates that Iran will commit to halt uranium enrichment above 5 percent and also to neutralize its stockpile of near-20 percent enriched uranium. The Islamic Republic has also committed to halt progress on its enrichment capacity. Iran will also halt work at its plutonium reactor and provide access to nuclear inspectors. … In exchange, the United States and its allies have agreed to offer Iran "modest relief" from economic sanctions and access to a portion of the revenue that the country has been denied through these sanctions.”
Dafna Linzer: 10 wasted years before one big day.
New York Times: "For President Obama, whose popularity and second-term agenda have been ravaged by the chaotic rollout of the health care law, the preliminary nuclear deal reached with Iran on Sunday is more than a welcome change of subject. It is also a seminal moment — one that thrusts foreign policy to the forefront in a White House preoccupied by domestic woes, and one that presents Mr. Obama with the chance to chart a new American course in the Middle East for the first time in more than three decades."
Washington Post: "The euphoria over the signing of a historic nuclear agreement with Iran gave way to sober reality Sunday as the parties clashed over a key element of the deal and congressional skeptics threatened to thwart it. The Obama administration moved quickly to sell the agreement to nervous U.S. allies, particularly Israel, and to persuade lawmakers not to push ahead with new economic sanctions that could prompt Iran to abandon the six-month freeze on its nuclear program set under the accord. In interviews, Secretary of State John F. Kerry defended the deal, saying that the United States and its allies believe that the agreement ensures Iran will either abide by the terms or face the reinstatement of measures that have crippled the country’s economy."
Richard Haas, the president of the Council on Foreign Relations says the Iran deal “is a significant accomplishment by any measure.” He says it shows Rouhani’s willingness to compromise and, “The accord, better understood as a ceiling than a freeze, also establishes a level of inspections that is far more intrusive than what has existed. The net result will be to slow the pace of Iran's progress towards putting into place the many elements of a nuclear weapons capability, in the process increasing the time and warning the world would have between any Iranian decision to produce one or more nuclear weapons and when it would actually achieve that goal.”
More: “What the interim agreement does not do is dismantle important aspects of Iran's nuclear capacity or potential. This is an agreement that does limited things for a limited time, no more and no less. Those who are opposing the interim accord for what it does not do are asking too much. The measure of any diplomatic agreement cannot be the possible versus the ideal but rather the possible versus the realistic alternatives, in this case either living with an Iranian nuclear weapons capability that would lead others in the already unstable Middle East to follow suit or launching a preventive military strike without knowing in advance what it would accomplish or set in motion. This interim pact is far preferable to either alternative.”
Trita Parsi, president of the National Iranian American Council, also says it’s a good deal. Trita Parsi said the “victory for the West was that Iran finally agreed to limit the scope of its centrifuge program,” per Deutsche Welle. "This is not just a first step. It's a first step plus an agreement on what the end stage should be. And this is essential,” Parsi said.
He noted what could get in the way are Israel, Saudi Arabia and other critics. "Either the US manages to calm the critics down or the critics will sabotage this and the likely outcome will be a military confrontation down the road,” he said.
And for all those decrying this as a bad deal, the New York Times calls it “largely a holding action, meant to keep the Iranian nuclear program in check for six months while negotiators pursue a far tougher and more lasting agreement.”
Speaking of those decrying the agreement, here’s the Jerusalem Post: “A lawmaker from Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu's ruling Likud faction told an Israeli television station on Monday that the premier rebuked US President Barack Obama over the interim agreement agreed upon by the Western powers and Iran on Sunday. ‘The prime minister made it clear to the most powerful man on earth that if he intends to stay the most powerful man on earth, it's important to make a change in American policy because the practical result of his current policy is liable to lead him to the same failure that the Americans absorbed in North Korea and Pakistan, and Iran could be next in line,’ Likud Beytenu MK Tzachi Hanegbi told the Knesset Channel.”
In Israel, there is skepticism… here’s the logic, from The Jerusalem Post, which actually says on the surface the “deal appears to carry some welcome amendments”:
The West might not reinstitute the sanctions if Iran fails to live up to its end of the deal…: “If the next round of diplomacy hits an impasse, it is far from certain that the international community or the US will rush to recognize the failure, or respond by adding more sanctions against Iran.”
…Because Iran will try to divide the shaky coalition that agreed to this and try to “whet the appetite” of Western businesses: “The biting sanctions that pushed Iranians to vote for President Hassan Rouhani, and which convinced Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei to negotiate more seriously, rest on an international coalition, itself made up of a wide range of countries that have diverging strategic, political and economic interests. Iran can be expected to spend the next six months trying to divide this shaky coalition, and, aided by the lifting of some sanctions, will seek to whet the appetite of firms from around the world, to lure them back to do valuable business with it in the future.”
USA Today: “Oil prices traded sharply lower Monday after a weekend breakthrough over Iran's nuclear program put the commodity back in the spotlight.”
Check this out… the federal government made $41.3 billion in profit on student loans, “a higher profit level than all but two companies in the world: Exxon Mobil cleared $44.9 billion in 2012, and Apple cleared $41.7 billion,” USA Today notes.
National Journal: "With the administration's deadline to fix the Obamacare website less than a week away, one question is bound to weigh heavily on the debate over the system: How well does it have to operate to be considered "fixed"? The truth is, the system is getting stronger as it recovers from its disastrous launch, but experts say it still has a long way to go. The problems that continue to plague it could continue the torrent of criticism, making it tougher for the administration to rehabilitate the image of its signature law."
“National Security Adviser Susan Rice is in Afghanistan, meeting U.S. troops and helping plan for the end of combat operations after 2014,” USA Today notes. “It is Rice's first foreign trip since becoming President Obama's national security adviser earlier this year. Rice is scheduled to meet with Afghanistan President Hamid Karzai, who has delayed signing a post-2014 security agreement with the United States.”
After announcing the Iran deal, President Obama shot some hoops at the FBI building Sunday morning.
First published November 25 2013, 6:10 AM