A Washington DC-based advocacy group said that President Obama’s comments on Friday regarding Iranian Supreme Leader Khamenei’s insistence on the immediate lifting of sanctions in a nuclear deal, indicated that the White House was actually prepared to accept the demand.
“The administration appears to be conceding to the new demands,” The Israel Project said in an email to reporters.
Khamenei’s demand, along with a statement that Iran wouldn’t allow inspections of atomic work on its military sites, was made in a speech last week soon after the framework nuclear agreement was announced between Iran and world powers. His remarks directly contradicted a factsheet on the agreement released by the Administration.
Khamenei’s speech prompted “a firestorm of criticism,” The Israel Project said. “If his interpretation was correct, the US would have no ability, first, to detect, and second, to respond, to Iranian cheating.”
The White House “responded by telling lawmakers and journalists that the factsheet was accurate and that Khamenei’s speech was just for domestic consumption.” But, The Israel Project said, “Critics responded that the issue wasn’t about who was lying. Instead the concern was that the Americans would fail to stand up to the Iranians, even at the expense of contradicting the White House’s original (maybe originally accurate) factsheet. The Iranians, after all, have 100% record of ‘winning’ factsheet disputes with the Obama administration.”
On Friday, Obama was asked directly if he would rule out lifting the sanctions at time of a final nuclear deal. The President pointedly refused, instead calling for “creative negotiations” to reach an understanding with the Islamic Republic.
“With respect to the issue of sanctions coming down – I don’t want to get out ahead of John Kerry and my negotiators in terms how to craft this,” the President said. “I would just make a general observation and that is that how sanctions are lessened, how we snap back sanctions if there’s a violation – there are a lot of different mechanisms and ways to do that.”
Obama said that, “Part of John’s [Kerry] job and part of the Iranian negotiators’ job and part of the P5+1′s job is to sometimes find formulas that get to our main concerns while allowing the other side to make a presentation to their body politic that is more acceptable.”
The “main concern” of the US “is making sure that if Iran doesn’t abide by its agreement that we don’t have to jump through a whole bunch of hoops in order to reinstate sanctions,” Obama continued. “And I think that goal, of having, in reserve, the possibility of putting back and applying forceful sanctions, in the event of a violation, that goal can be met. And it will require some creative negotiations by John Kerry and others, and I’m confident that we’ll be successful.”
Obama’s failure to rule out the immediate lifting of sanctions means “the critics appear to have been justified in their concerns,” The Israel project concluded.
Since its announcement, the Administration has been engaged in aggressive outreach to win support for the framework nuclear agreement reached with Iranian negotiators in Switzerland. Critics of the deal say the White House has made far too many concessions in the talks. The agreement’s most vocal opponent, Israel’s Prime Minister Netanyahu, has said that it paves Iran’s path to nuclear armament and leaves Israel vulnerable. Israel has long called for the removal of Iran’s nuclear infrastructure as well as the cessation of uranium enrichment.