American Jewish umbrella group skeptical over nuclear deal

American Jewish umbrella group skeptical over nuclear deal

Jewish Federations of North America warns ‘a weak agreement presents a clear and present danger to all nations’

Jerry Silverman, CEO of the Jewish Federations of North America, at the 2012 General Assembly in Baltimore, Maryland (photo credit: JFNA/JTA)
Jerry Silverman, CEO of the Jewish Federations of North America, at the 2012 General Assembly in Baltimore, Maryland (photo credit: JFNA/JTA)

The American Jewish umbrella group, Jewish Federations of North America, said Thursday that the nuclear deal between Iran and world powers “leaves vital issues woefully unresolved.

“The agreement provides scant detail on how the phased sanction relief will be implemented. It contains insufficient clarity on how Iranian adherence to the agreement will be verified. And it is ambiguous on what penalties will be imposed if Iran fails to fulfill its commitments,” according to a statement from the organization, which represents the Jewish communal federations across North America.

“The [Obama] Administration has repeatedly reaffirmed that ‘it is unacceptable for Iran to have a nuclear weapon.’ Even during the current negotiations, the White House has often said, ‘a bad deal is worse than no deal,'” the statement notes.

“We appreciate the good faith efforts made by the Administration and the other members of the P5+1 [group of world powers]. We all hope that a diplomatic solution to stop Iran from acquiring a nuclear weapon is possible,” the group affirmed.

But it warned that “a weak agreement presents a clear and present danger to all nations. It is also likely to lead other countries in the region to seek their own nuclear capabilities, resulting in a proliferation of nuclear weapons in a part of the world already destabilized by Iranian proxies spreading terrorism and fomenting extremism.”

And, it added, “a nuclear Iran, a regime which declares its intention to wipe Israel from the map, represents an existential threat to the Jewish State.”

The statement was careful not to criticize the Obama administration that has pushed the deal. “We are heartened by the President’s statement that he will engage Congress as the US continues the negotiation process. We urge the Administration to present any agreement to Congress for review.”

The statement was the latest in a series of rapid responses from American Jewish groups expressing skepticism over the deal.

Earlier Thursday, the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations called for “safeguards” to ensure Iran’s compliance with the nuclear deal, highlighting Iran’s “past record” of “obfuscation and evasion.”

In a statement, the Conference of Presidents warned that the agreement “leaves many questions and issues unresolved.

“The value, viability and sustainability” of a final accord, “particularly in view of Iran’s past history of obfuscation and evasion, will depend on the following questions, among others:

“What research and development activities will be permitted under the R&D plan submitted to the IAEA [International Atomic Energy Agency] and the JCPOA [Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action]?

“Will IAEA inspectors be able to visit Iranian facilities without advanced notice?

“How quickly will Iran’s Arak facility be modified so as to prevent any production of plutonium which has no use other than for military purposes?

“How will the possible military dimensions (PMD) of Iran’s nuclear program be addressed?

“What are the details of the phased sanctions relief that is to be provided and what are the mechanics of the snap-back of those sanctions in the event of non-compliance?

“What are the specifics of the provisions relating to the expiration of restrictions to be imposed on Iran?”

The leaders said they “strongly believe that Congress must have an active role and be given the opportunity to review any potential final agreement. We also urge the Administration to work with Congress in agreeing on and preparing for immediate implementation of legislation which would impose new and severe sanctions in the event that a detailed accord cannot be reached or that Iran violates the terms of any accord.”

Issued by Conference Chairman Robert Sugarman and CEO Malcolm Hoenlein, the statement added: “We are very troubled by Iran’s continuing activity as the leading global state sponsor of terror and its constant threats to destroy the State of Israel. For example, Iran has just announced that it will provide Hezbollah with advanced warheads with highly accurate guidance systems. Iran has also confirmed its additional shipment of significant military equipment to the Houthis. We call on the Administration to take decisive action, together with our allies in the Middle East, to confront and curb Iran’s support of terror groups like Hezbollah, Hamas, and the Houthis, as well as its support for the Assad regime, and to speak out whenever officials in Iran make threats against Israel.”

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