Tuesday, March 3, 2015

Fwd: not a viable negotiating position

'Susan Rice, the face of the Obama administration, in a fierce debate with Israel's Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu over nuclear negotiations with Iran, broadly defended US President Barack Obama's approach on Monday night.

Speaking to thousands of gathered delegates at the American Israel Public Affairs Committee's policy conference in Washington, Rice, the president's national security advisor, repeatedly underscored Obama's commitment to Israel's security.

But on Netanyahu, who is in Washington without a single meeting on his schedule with administration officials, Rice chose fighting words to address both the politics of the moment surrounding his highly anticipated address to Congress on Tuesday, as well as the substantive differences separating their governments concerning Iran.

"The question now is whether we can achieve a comprehensive deal – a good deal," Rice stated. "We cannot let a totally unachievable ideal stand in the way of a good deal."

A good deal, according to the White House, will expand Iran's breakout capacity – the amount of time required to acquire the necessary materials and assemble a nuclear weapon – for a decade or more.

They seek a comprehensive agreement by the end of June, and a political framework agreement by the end of this month that "cuts off every single pathway" Iran may have towards adequate fissile material, she told the crowd of roughly 16,000 gathered.

The US also seeks to trace the entire supply chain of Iran's program, starting with the mining of raw materials, in order to best ensure visibility into possible covert activity through the syphoning of that material.

"We cannot let a totally unachievable ideal stand in the way of a good deal," Rice stated.

"I know that some of you will be urging Congress to insist that Iran forego its domestic enrichment capacity entirely. But as desirable as that would be," she said to dissenting applause, "it is neither realistic nor achievable. Even our closest international partners in the P5+1 do not support denying Iran the ability ever to pursue peaceful nuclear energy – if that is our goal, our partners will abandon us."

"Simply put, that is not a viable negotiating position," she continued. "Nor is it even attainable. The plain fact is, no one can make Iran unlearn the scientific and nuclear expertise it already possesses."

Rice said the US stands behind Israel come hell or high water. But doing so, she said, means supporting a good deal, as currently defined by the administration.

A collapse in the talks, she warned, would likely lead Tehran to rapidly ramp its nuclear program back up.

"Soundbites won't stop Iran from obtaining a nuclear weapon," Rice continued, in an apparent swipe at Netanyahu's pending address. "Strong diplomacy backed by pressure can."

From the start, Israel has argued that more pressure during the negotiations may have resulted in greater concessions from Tehran. Netanyahu says a nuclear-threshold Iran is a threat to the very survival of the Jewish state.'




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