President Obama has defended the interim nuclear deal with Iran while pledging to step up sanctions or even accept a military strike if Tehran does not live up to the agreement.
Speaking at Washington’s Saban Center, Obama referred to “my friend Bibi” — Israeli leader Benjamin Netanyahu — and said, “There are times where I, as President of the United States, am going to have different tactical perspectives than the Prime Minister of Israel.”
The President said the interim agreement, reached on November 24, provided space for a comprehensive settlement because Iran had suspended its enrichment of 20% uranium.
He estimated the chance of a satisfactory “end state” as 50/50. He said he had not recognized Iran’s right to enrich, but said the end state may not include a complete dismantling of Tehran’s nuclear program:
One can envision an ideal world in which Iran said, “We’ll destroy every element and facility and you name it, it’s all gone.” I can envision a world which Congress passed every one of my bills that I put forward. I mean, there are a lot of things that I can envision that would be wonderful.
But precisely because we don’t trust the nature of the Iranian regime, I think that we have to be more realistic and ask ourselves: What puts us in a strong position to assure ourselves that Iran’s not having a nuclear weapon….What is required to accomplish that and how does that compare to other options that we might take?
He continued with the caution to Iran — and the gesture to Israel and critics of the deal in the US:
If we cannot get the kind of comprehensive end state that satisfies us and the world community…then the pressure that we’ve been applying on them and the options that I have made clear I can avail myself of, including a military option, is one that we would consider and prepare for.
Rouhani Submits Draft Budget to Parliament
President Rouhani has formally submitted the Government budget for 2014/15 to Parliament for consideration.
Rouhani has pledged to reduce the large deficit in budgets of the Ahmadinejad years while providing better management of the country’s economy:
Israel President Peres: I Would Meet Rouhani
Israeli President Shimon Peres, speaking at the Globes Israel Business Conference in Tel Aviv, has saidthat he would have no problem meeting President Rouhani.
“Why not?” he replied to the question, saying that Israel and Iran are not enemies and comparing the situation to West Jerusalem’s decision in the 1990s to negotiate with Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat.
Peres said the important issue is not Rouhani, but his policies, and the goal was to turn enemies into friends. Peres compared the decision to Israel’s choice to meet with Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat ahead of the Oslo Peace agreements.
The Israeli President was cautious, however, about success. He said that he doubted whether Rouhani could follow through on his promises of moderation given the political climate in Iran and the strength of hardliners like the Revolutionary Guards.
IAEA Visits Tehran, Gets Data on New Nuclear Centrifuges
The International Atomic Energy Agency began a two-day visit to Iran on Saturday, receiving latest information about Tehran’s new centrifuges for enrichment of uranium.
“The AEOI [Atomic Energy Organization of Iran] has provided the Agency with necessary information about the research being carried out on the country’s peaceful activities on time and within the framework of the Safeguards Agreement,” AEOI spokesman Behrouz Kamalvandi said.
Iran began introducing the IR-2M centrifuges, to replace the 40-year-old IR-1s at the Natanz enrichment plant, earlier this year. However, amid discussions to limit its nuclear program, Tehran has refrained from putting any of the IR-2Ms into operation.
The IAEA inspectors will tour Iran’s Arak heavy-water nuclear facility on Sunday.
Tehran has accepted the inspection after critics said that Iran would use plutonium by-product from the Arak reactor, due on-line in late 2014, for a militarized nuclear program.
In November, just before the interim nuclear agreement with the 5+1 Powers, Iran and the IAEA agreed to a six-point plan including inspection of Arak and the Gachin uranium mine.
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