Netanyahu Expresses Relief at Failure of ‘Terrible’ Iran Nuclear Deal, as Tehran Hints at ‘Plan B’
As today’s deadline for a deal between Iran and the international community over Tehran’s nuclear program passed without an agreement being reached, Israel Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu urged international powers to pursue “the right deal… to dismantle Iran’s capacity to make atomic bombs,” while expressing relief that “the terrible deal that Iran was pushing for” was not agreed upon.
But as negotiators departed Vienna, where the talks have been taking place, they pledged to extend the talks deep into next year.
Interviewed by the BBC, Netanyahu declared: “No deal is better than a bad deal. The deal that Iran was pushing for was terrible. The deal would have left Iran with the ability to enrich uranium for an atom bomb while removing the sanctions. The right deal that is needed is to dismantle Iran’s capacity to make atomic bombs and only then dismantle the sanctions. Since that’s not in the offing, this result is better, a lot better.”
Netanyahu underlined his view that Iran has “no right to enrich” uranium.
“What do you need to enrich uranium for if you’re not developing an atomic bomb? They are,” Netanyahu said. “How do we know that? Because they’re developing intercontinental ballistic missiles. What do you do with such missiles? The only reason you build ICBMs is to launch a nuclear warhead. So Iran, I think everybody understands, is unabashedly seeking to develop atomic bombs and I think they shouldn’t have the capacity either to enrich uranium or to deliver nuclear warheads. And I think that’s the position that the P5+1, the leading powers of the world, should take.”
Western officials said they were aiming to secure an agreement on the substance of a final accord by March, but that more time would be needed to reach a consensus on the all-important technical details, Reuters reported.
“We have had to conclude it is not possible to get to an agreement by the deadline that was set for today and therefore we will extend the JPOA to June 30, 2015,” British Foreign Secretary Philip Hammond told reporters at the end of the talks.
Hammond was referring to the so-called Joint Plan of Action, an interim deal agreed between the five permanent members of the Security Council along with Germany and Iran a year ago in Geneva, under which Tehran halted higher level uranium enrichment in exchange for a limited easing of sanctions, including access to some frozen oil revenues abroad.
The Iranian regime is already hinting that it will not be bound by the negotiating framework created last year.
“Of course we have a plan B,” said a senior Iranian official quoted by the official Fars news agency. “I cannot reveal more details but we have always had good relations with Russia and China. Naturally, if the nuclear talks fail, we will increase our cooperation with our friends and will provide them more opportunities in Iran’s high-potential market.”
The failure to reach an agreement by the November 24 deadline does not bode well for the future of the talks. With the Republican Party set to take control over the Senate in January, along with growing fears that Iran’s nuclear activities will encourage proliferation elsewhere in the region, a final deal by the summer of next year will be even harder to achieve than this time around.
Key outstanding issues in the talks include Iran’s continued insistence on enriching uranium, the timing of sanctions relief, and the fate of the heavy-water plutonium reactor at Arak.
Additionally, Iran’s refusal to reveal and explain undeclared activities has increased international unease. Speaking at a seminar at Washington, DC think-tank The Hudson Institute last week, David Albright, a nuclear expert and former consultant to the International Atomic Energy (IAEA,) spoke of a “clamor” among Obama Administration officials “saying the past doesn’t matter, all we have to do is have good verification from here on out.”
Added Albright: “I can tell you the IAEA learned that’s a big mistake and a recipe for failure.”