American Jewish leaders reacted with deep skepticism on Sunday to details of a deal reached overnight between Iran and world powers in Geneva. The deal calls for Iran to halt key parts of its nuclear program in exchange for sanctions relief of approximately $7 billion dollars. But the interim agreement allows Iran to retain its nuclear production line, against the wishes of many Jewish groups who sought the dismantling of the Islamic Republic’s nuclear program.
“Iran must be judged by its actions, not its words and promises, because they are not worth the paper they are written on,” World Jewish Congress President Ronald S. Lauder told The Algemeiner. “Nothing in the deceptive behavior of Iran and its leaders in recent years should make the world believe that they will honor this agreement.”
Those thoughts were shared by the leadership of Jewish human rights group the Simon Wiesenthal Center: “The sanctions had the Ayatollahs on the ropes and the U.S. and West let them win the round and perhaps the match,” Rabbi Marvin Hier and Rabbi Abraham Cooper told The Algemeiner.
“Iran has taken a page from their North Korean friends whose negotiations with the United States did nothing to stop Pyongyang from breaking out as a nuclear power when it suited them. Tehran has not been forced to destroy a single centrifuge,” the rabbis said.
Daniel S. Mariaschin, Executive Vice President of the B’nai B’rith, said, “The deal signed in Geneva does not go far enough in reversing Iran’s ability to produce a nuclear weapon,” in an email to The Algemeiner. “The high speed centrifuges will still remain in place, and it remains unclear whether Tehran will permit full or only ‘managed’ access to all of its nuclear facilities. Its long history of deception on inspections is cause for much skepticism on this point.”
The Anti-Defamation League sounded a more forward looking tone, while expressing “deep concern” about “flaws” in the nuclear accord: “Now that the agreement has been achieved, all parties must work to uphold and rigorously enforce the existing sanctions regime,” Barry Curtiss-Lusher, ADL National Chair, and Abraham H. Foxman, ADL National Director, said in a statement. “Iran’s record of non-compliance makes us skeptical of providing sanctions relief before Iran has taken tangible steps to dismantle its nuclear program.”
“Instead, this interim agreement allows them to continue enrichment and maintain a breakout capability. Iran has not earned these concessions and has, in the past, used respites from international pressure to surreptitiously make progress in its nuclear program,” Foxman and Curtiss-Lusher said.
American Jewish Committee chief, David Harris, published a list of questions about the provisions of the deal. But, he said, “Ultimately, the true test of this agreement will be the ability of the world powers and UN agencies to verify Iranian compliance, including openness to, and full cooperation with, regular, intrusive inspections of all of its nuclear facilities.”
“Meanwhile, we believe that existing sanctions should remain in place and new sanctions, whose trigger date would not necessarily be immediate, should be pursued to underscore the seriousness of America’s determination — and the consequences of an Iranian failure to act in good faith,” Harris said, opposing calls by President Obama to refrain from passing new sanctions legislation until this weekend’s agreement is given time to prove its worth.
The WJC’s Lauder said that the organization “welcomes the preparedness of Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid and other leaders of the U.S. Congress to support a strengthening of Iran sanctions.”
“Additional pressure will undoubtedly be needed to force the Iranians to abandon their nuclear weapons program,” Mariaschin of B’nai B’rith agreed.
“Iran is already boasting that it has now achieved international recognition of its legal right to enrich uranium — which it will surely use to undermine the remaining ‘core’ sanctions against it,” he said.
United Against a Nuclear Iran CEO Ambassador Mark D. Wallace said that the agreement would do little to “roll back” Iran’s nuclear program, while its impact on Iran’s flailing economy would be significant. “By not agreeing to dismantle a single centrifuge, Iran has not rolled back its nuclear infrastructure and with the many centrifuges that it is currently operating, Iran retains the ability to breakout and produce enough weapons-grade uranium for a nuclear weapon in as little as 2 months,” Wallace said.
“It is unrealistic to characterize sanctions as a spigot that can be turned off and back on,” Wallace said. “Six months from now we believe that the Iranian rial will have regained significant lost value and there will be far less economic pressure on the Iranian economy. And accordingly there will be far less pressure for Iran to actually dismantle a material number of centrifuges.”
“Those touting this agreement do not appear to understand the fragility of sanctions, or the dangers of rolling them back and easing the economic pressure on Iran.”