As the clock ticks down to Tuesday’s midnight deadline for Iranian and western diplomats negotiating to reach an agreement to limit Iran’s nuclear program, the major players in the United States and Israel are flinging their final words at each other.
On CNN’s “State of the Union” Sunday, House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) said he had ”serious doubts” about the current negotiations. “Frankly, we should have kept the sanctions in place so that we could have gotten to a real agreement,” he said. Boehner promised new sanctions on Iran should the Obama administration fail to secure a deal, stating, “The sanctions are going to come, and they’re going to come quick.”
The speaker also blasted President Obama for his treatment of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu – who has strongly opposed the deal – saying, “I think the animosity exhibited by our administration toward the prime minister of Israel is reprehensible.”
Meanwhile on ABC’s “This Week,” White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest pushed back at Boehner’s criticisms, saying, “If John Boehner thinks … that the United States should bomb Iran to keep them from having a nuclear weapon – if he feels that way, he should have the courage of his convictions to say so.”
Earnest also defended Obama and the administration’s foreign policy team, saying that a deal is still possible before the deadline but that Iranian cooperation would be key. “It’s time for the Iranians to send a clear signal to the international community about whether or not they are willing to make the serious commitments required, and basically live up to their rhetoric, that they are not trying to acquire a nuclear weapon.”
According to a senior U.S. official who spoke to reporters, Iran and six world powers have reached a tentative agreement on crucial parts of a deal sharply limiting Tehran’s nuclear program, though Western diplomats cautioned that the pact is by no means done. The agreement would reportedly force Iran to slash the number of its centrifuge machines by more than two-thirds and to ship abroad most of its stockpile of nuclear material. Secretary of State John Kerry is representing the United States in the ongoing negotiations in Lausanne, Switzerland.
Netanyahu, during remarks to his cabinet Sunday, slammed the emerging framework, saying it “confirms all of our concerns and even more so” and warning of an “Iran-Lausanne-Yemen axis” that is “very dangerous for humanity.”