WASHINGTON – Negotiations with Iran over its nuclear program will result in a good deal for the world or no deal at all, senior US and French officials assured separate American Jewish audiences in Washington.
President Barack Obama is prepared to do what is necessary to prevent a “nuclear- armed” Iran, US National Security Adviser Susan Rice said on Monday, a phrase used often by the Obama administration, which reserves flexibility in US policy to recognize limited peaceful nuclear work in Iran, should a deal be reached.
She spoke, flanked by flanked by Ambassador to the US Ron Dermer and Intelligence Minister Yuval Steinitz, at a gala in honor of Israel’s Independence Day.
Iran and world powers – the US, France, United Kingdom, Russia, China and Germany, known collectively as the P5+1 – began drafting a comprehensive solution to the longstanding crisis in Vienna on Monday.
“We all have a responsibility to give diplomacy a chance to succeed,” Rice told the crowd. “But America won’t be satisfied by mere words. We will only be satisfied by verifiable action from Iran.
“Put simply,” she added, “if we are not, there will be no deal. And as these negotiations progress, we continue to consult closely with Israel every step of the way.”
Across town, French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius told the American Jewish Committee’s annual Global Forum that unity among international powers would be essential in clinching a deal.
“France wants an agreement, but it is clear that we shall not allow Iran to obtain nuclear weapons,” he said.
French “firmness,” he asserted, led to an interim deal last fall in Geneva that temporarily froze the crisis, granting the parties six months to negotiate a final settlement.
“It doesn’t mean, obviously, that we are ready to accept any solution,” Fabius continued. “In fact, our position is clear, I will sum it up in two sentences: As far as Iran is concerned, yes to civilian nuclear power, no to atomic bomb.”
Fabius suggested this position unified the P5+1.
Prime Minister Benyamin Netanyahu has voiced concerns with granting Iran the right to produce enriched uranium, and has called for a full dismantlement of the Iranian program.
Sen. John McCain (R-Arizona), a vocal critic of the Obama administration’s foreign policy from Iran to Ukraine, also addressed the AJC on Monday.
“No responsible person is opposed to a diplomatic solution,” McCain said of the Vienna negotiations. But it would be disastrous, he asserted, to get a “bad deal” that leaves Tehran with nuclear capacity.
“I fear that is where we are headed,” he said.