Obama and Khamenei.
(photo credit: REUTERS)
A former aide to President Barack Obama told Israeli television on Friday that the United States would be able to detect any Iranian effort to "sprint" toward an atomic weapon as part of the emerging nuclear agreement in the P5+1 talks.
Dennis Ross, the former Mideast peace envoy, told Channel 2 on Friday that the agreement being discussed would enable Western officials to perform "anytime, anywhere inspections of declared and undeclared sites" for a period of up to 10 years.
Ross said that while there is an obvious need to see what the final agreement would look like, he said that he has received indications that the Americans will insist on a deal that will include "verifiable mechanisms for detection."
"It would take a year's time if [the Iranians] were making a determination they wanted to move towards a nuclear weapon - and they would have to move quickly," Ross told Channel 2. "That would be something that would be detectable. So you'd have a time frame if they were making a decision to move quickly to detect what they were doing and do something about it."
Ross said that the Obama administration is aiming for a deal that offers "transparency."
"I think the presumption has to be that anything the Iranians can do they might try to do, so the question is can you detect it and I think the measure will be what the verification mechanisms look like," Ross said.
"If [the mechanisms] are what they should be and there are consequences - and the Iranians know what hose consequences are, including the use of force - then I think you could have a higher level of confidence [in the agreement], particularly given what the alternatives will be."
Ross' comments seem to contradict Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's contention that the agreement being discussed is a "bad deal" that would allow Iran to maintain its status as a nuclear threshold state with a "breakout period" of a few months before obtaining the bomb.