Israel: Iran’s latest demands prove nuke deal unworkable

After Khamenei, Rouhani insist sanctions be lifted immediately, in breach of US-claimed understandings, Jerusalem derides notion of ‘deal based on trust with regime that can’t be trusted’

Iran's Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei delivers a speech in Tehran (AP/Office of the Iranian Supreme Leader/File)
Iran's Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei delivers a speech in Tehran (AP/Office of the Iranian Supreme Leader/File)

The demand by Iran’s leaders for the immediate lifting of all sanctions on the day a deal on its nuclear program takes effect represents proof that the US-led powers are adopting an unworkable approach to thwarting Iran’s push to the bomb, Israeli sources said Friday.

A day after Iran’s Supreme Leader Ail Khamenei and President Hassan Rouhani insisted that there would be no deal unless sanctions were lifted on the day it went into effect — contradicting what the US says were understandings reached in a framework agreement last week in Lausanne — Channel 2 News said Israel regards the Iranian leaders’ declarations “as proof of its central argument” against the emerging accord: “You can’t make a deal based on trust with a regime that can’t be trusted.”

Despite its relentless objections to the deal, which is supposed to be finalized by June 30, Israel actually believes that Iran will take it, the Channel 2 report said, because the deal as it stands is good for Iran and will pave its path to bomb. Strategic Affairs Minister Yuval Steinitz told the TV station that Israel would spend the coming weeks “trying to get some of the loopholes” in the agreement closed. In a Times of Israel interview on Wednesday Steinitz complained that the deal, which he called “a big mistake,” neither full freezes nor fully inspects the Iranian program.

No written text was agreed and signed in Lausanne, but the State Department insisted Thursday that it had been decided between the parties that any sanctions relief for Iran would only come once curbs on its enrichment were verified, and when Iran’s potential breakout time to the bomb had been extended to a year or more.

“Sanctions will be suspended in a phased manner upon verification that Iran has met specific commitments under a finalized joint comprehensive plan of action,” State Department spokesman Jeff Rathke told reporters in Washington. “The process of sanctions suspension or relief will only begin after Iran has completed its major nuclear steps and the breakout time has been increased to at least a year… That’s consistent with what we said over the last week or so, and that was agreed upon by all the parties in Lausanne,” Rathke added.

On Thursday, Rouhani demanded that world powers lift sanctions the day a final accord is signed, indicating the issue could be a deal breaker. “We will not sign any agreement unless all economic sanctions are totally lifted on the first day of the implementation of the deal,” Rouhani said.

And Khamenei said the punitive “sanctions should be lifted completely, on the very day of the deal.”

The unnamed Israeli sources Friday also highlighted other remarks made by Khamenei Thursday, in what were his first comments on the Lausanne framework, in which he said nothing was finalized so far in the talks and referred to the US as “a stubborn, cheating, bad-dealing party who is used to stabbing from behind.”

It was simply not possible, Israel argues, to talk credibly about having reached “understandings” with a regime that immediately levels accusations of cheating, Channel 2 reported.

In remarks Thursday, President Barack Obama said the Iran deal “is not done until it’s done. And the next two to three months in negotiations are going to be absolutely critical for making sure that we are memorializing an agreement that gives us confidence and gives the world confidence that Iran, in fact, is not pursuing a nuclear weapon.”

Obama added: “Ultimately, what we want to see is prosperity for the Iranian people, but we also want to make sure that our allies in the region have confidence that they’re not going to be threatened by the looming cloud of a nuclear Iran. And we’re going to make sure that that happens, hopefully, through diplomatic means.”

“In return for Iran’s future cooperation, we and our international partners will provide relief in phases from the sanctions that have impacted Iran’s economy,” Secretary of State John Kerry said last week.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s office tweeted a series of graphics over the past few days outlining Israel’s main questions regarding the deal. One of those was: “Are sanctions being removed in phases, as the P5+1 claims, or all at once, as Iran claims?”

French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius said Khamenei’s comments proved that there was still a large amount of work before the sides come together.

“Subjects still remain that we aren’t agreed on, notably on economic sanctions, and the supreme leader has made statements that show there is still a lot of work to be done,” Fabius told lawmakers, according to Reuters.

AP and AFP contributed to this report

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