The United States and Iran had vastly different objectives in their nuclear talks. The Americans wanted to block Iran from building a nuclear bomb, and Iran wanted an end to punishing economic sanctions.
When the leaders of each country emerged to sell the framework of a deal to their people, their pitches were just as different.
Get off our backs: Iran insists that its nuclear ambitions are peaceful, a claim that the West treats with skepticism. President Hassan Rouhani suggested in an address to his country on Friday that the country was tired of being antagonized. “We will carry on enriching uranium on our own soil without being threatened anymore,” he said.
Enough with the sanctions already: Iran and the United States offered divergent assessments of how economic sanctions, which have crippled Iran’s economy, factor into the deal. The United States stressed that they could “snap back” at a moment’s notice if Iran failed to live up to the deal. Iran suggested that the sanctions would be repealed entirely, and that it was the humane thing to do.
We’re not being hoodwinked here:
We still have issues: The United States still has concerns about Iranian ties to terrorism and its geopolitical goals in the Middle East. The Iranian foreign minister, Mohammad Javad Zarif, acknowledged that divisions remain but suggested the nuclear deal would be a step forward. “We have serious differences with the United States,” he said. “What I hope is that through courageous implementation of this some of that trust could be remedied. But that is for us all to wait and see.”
Would you rather have another war? Obama said that there only were two other options for dealing with Iranian nukes. One was to continue sanctions and hope for the best. The other, as he sketched it, was much darker: “We can bomb Iran’s nuclear facilities, thereby starting another war in the Middle East and setting back Iran’s program by a few years. In other words, setting it back by a fraction of the time that this deal will set it back. Meanwhile, we’d ensure that Iran would race ahead to try and build a bomb.”
Get real, people: Secretary of State John Kerry credited the tireless work of American diplomats and lashed out at critics who wanted tougher curbs on Iranian nuclear activity. “Simply demanding that Iran capitulate makes a nice soundbite,” he said, “but it is not a policy. It is not a realistic plan.”
We’re not being hoodwinked here: Obama has been confronted with skepticism and hostility by Republicans in Congress who say that he’s being conned by Iran. But he pointed to inspections — the toughest in history, he said — built into the deal: “If Iran cheats, the world will know it. If we see something suspicious, we will inspect it,” he said. “So this will be a long-term deal that addresses each path to a potential Iranian nuclear bomb.”
We still have issues: Obama called the deal historic, but he said that even if it goes through, deep differences will remain between the United States and Iran. “Our concerns will remain with respect to Iranian behavior so long as Iran continues its sponsorship of terrorism, its support for proxies who destabilize the Middle East, its threats against America’s friends and allies, like Israel,” Obama said. “So make no mistake, we will remain vigilant in countering those actions and standing with our allies.”