Earlier this week, technical experts from Iran and the P5+1 countries met in Vienna to hammer out details for implementing the first step accord over Iran’s nuclear program which the two sides agreed to in November.
That accord is for a six-month period and halts progress on Iran’s nuclear activity, while negotiations toward a comprehensive agreement that addresses international concerns with Iran’s nuclear program is worked out. Over the six months, the P5+1, including the United States, will provide Iran with certain limited, targeted and reversible relief.
During a recent appearance at the annual Saban Forum in Washington, President Barack Obama emphasized that the fundamental architecture of the sanctions on Iran remains in place during the negotiations:
“We do not loosen any of the core sanctions; we provide a small window through which they can access some revenue, but we can control it and it is reversible. And during the course of these six months, if and when Iran shows itself not to be abiding by this agreement, not to be negotiating in good faith, we can reverse them and tighten them even further.”
The best way for us to prevent Iran from getting a nuclear weapon is for a comprehensive, verifiable, diplomatic resolution."
Mr. Obama repeated his goal to prevent Iran from getting a nuclear weapon:
“But what I’ve also said is the best way for us to prevent Iran from getting a nuclear weapon is for a comprehensive, verifiable, diplomatic resolution, without taking any other options off the table if we fail to achieve that.”
President Obama said that his own preference for a diplomatic option would be one in which “Iran eliminated every single nut and bolt of their nuclear program, and foreswore the possibility of ever having a nuclear program, and for that matter got rid of all its military capabilities.” But, he said, “that particular option is not available:”
“And so as a consequence, what we have to do is make a decision…given the options available, what is the best way for us to assure that Iran does not get a nuclear weapon.”
We need “to test this diplomatic path, understanding that it’s not based on trust; it’s based on what we can verify,” said President Obama. And “if…we’re able to get this deal done, then what we can achieve through a diplomatic resolution…is, frankly, greater than what we could achieve with the other options that are available to us.”