WATCH: Susan Rice tells AIPAC zero enrichment deal with Iran ‘simply unattainable’

Robert Menendez derides accord that leaves Iran a threshold nuclear power; Obama’s security adviser promises: There’ll be no bad deal

US National Security Adviser Susan Rice addresses the AIPAC conference, March 2, 2015 (screen capture: AIPAC)
US National Security Adviser Susan Rice addresses the AIPAC conference, March 2, 2015 (screen capture: AIPAC)

American National Security Adviser Susan Rice told the AIPAC conference Monday night that the US has Israel’s back “come hell or high water” but that the terms Israel would like to impose in a deal with Iran are not attainable.

Senator Robert Menendez followed Rice to the stage. He said he would be proud to escort Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu into Congress on Tuesday and set out his concerns about the emerging deal with Iran.

There would be no bad deal with Iran, Rice said, and set out the essential components of a good deal, while stressing she did not know whether it could be achieved.

Rice told the 16,000 delegates that “a bad deal is worse than no deal” on Iran, and “if that is the choice there will be no deal.”

Robert Menendez speaks to AIPAC on March 2 (AIPAC screenshot)
Robert Menendez speaks to AIPAC on March 2 (AIPAC screenshot)

Rice said President Barack Obama was committed to “ensuring that Iran does not get a nuclear weapon.”

She said the US was “keeping all options on the table to prevent Iran developing a nuclear weapon.”

Apparently referring to Netanyahu’s speech Tuesday in Congress, she “sensitive details” of the ongoing negotiations with Iran should not “be discussed in public.”

Rice said it remained to be seen whether a good, long-term comprehensive deal could be achieved, and listed the components of such a deal, including: that it would verifiably cut off every path for Iran to produce enough fissile material to produce a single nuclear weapon; prevent Iran producing weapons grade plutonium; prevent it enriching uranium at its facility at Fordow; and increase the time it takes Iran to reach break out capacity from today’s 2-3 months to at least a year.

A good deal would also counter possible military dimensions of Iran’s nuclear program, she said, and provide ongoing access to ensure its nuclear program is peaceful. A deal must also last more than a decade, she said, with additional provisions ensuring greater transparency for an even longer time.

Clearly criticizing Netanyahu’s approach, she said, “We cannot let a totally unachievable ideal stand in the way of a good deal.”

The demand that Iran halt enrichment entirely, she said, “as desirable as that would be,” was “neither realistic nor achievable… Our closest partners in the P5+1 don’t support it. If that is our goal,” she said, the US’s closest partners “will abandon us” and undermine the sanctions already imposed. “Simply put, that is not a viable negotiating position… nor is it even attainable.”

Iran would walk away, Rice warned, and install advanced centrifuges, seek to fuel its reactor in Arak, and replenish its uranium stockpile. And “we’d lose the transparency we have today.”

The bottom line, said Rice: “We have Israel’s back, come hell or high water.”

Menendez, in his address, said no good deal could leave Iran as a threshold nuclear power. He warned that the P5+1 may have gone “too far” toward Iran’s positions — “from no right to enrichment, to getting an alarm system.”

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