Israel and Congressional Republicans criticized the historic nuclear deal announced Tuesday between Iran and six world powers, although many in the international community have welcomed it.
The accord was reached after 18 days of intensive negotiations between Iran and a group of countries known as the P5+1 (the US, Russia, Britain, China and France, plus Germany) and is intended to limit Tehran's nuclear ambitions in exchange for relief from crippling international sanctions.
Iran has long claimed its development of nuclear technology is peaceful, but it was widely suspected of pursuing weapons production. The terms will prevent it from producing enough material to do so for at least a decade, as well as mandate stricter inspections of its facilities.
But Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu slammed the accord, describing it as a "mistake of historic proportions" and stressing that Jerusalem would not be bound by the deal.
"Iran is going to receive a sure path to nuclear weapons. Many of the restrictions that were supposed to prevent it from getting there will be lifted," he told reporters in Jerusalem, according to Reuters.
Netanyahu, who has criticized the deal since a preliminary framework was agreed upon in April, added that the Islamic Republic would benefit from an influx of money due to the lifting of sanctions.
"This cash bonanza will fuel Iran's terrorism worldwide, its aggression in the region, and its efforts to destroy Israel, which are ongoing…" he said. "Iran will get a jackpot, a cash bonanza of hundreds of billions of dollars, which will enable it to continue to pursue its aggression and terror in the region and in the world."
"Iran will get a jackpot, a cash bonanza of hundreds of billions of dollars, which will enable it to continue to pursue its aggression and terror in the region and in the world."
Netanyahu's views are shared by many in the Israeli government who see the possibility of a nuclear-armed Iran as a grave existential threat and are firmly opposed to any deal seen as soft on Tehran.
Deputy Foreign Minister Tzipi Hotovely said this morning that the agreement was "a capitulation of historic proportions by the West to the Iran-led axis of evil," in a Twitter post.
In the US, some politicians also voiced strong opposition to the accord. Republican Senator John McCain, who has frequently criticized US President Barack Obama's dealings with Tehran, said it appeared to be "a bad deal" which would result in a far stronger Iran without curbing its nuclear activities.
"I fear this agreement could undermine the very goals we have maintained for 35 years - weakening the Islamic Republic, constraining its threatening influence, strengthening Israel and our Arab partners, lessening regional tensions, and preventing Iran from acquiring a nuclear weapons capability," he said in a Tuesday statement.
The Republican-held Congress has 60 days to review the deal before sanctions can be lifted and could potentially hold up things even longer.
Republican Senator Bob Corker, who chairs the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, said Congress would need to examine the deal to see if it was worth dismantling sanctions for.
"Throughout these negotiations, I have expressed significant concerns to the administration about the crossing of red line after red line as we have moved from a goal of dismantling Iran's nuclear capabilities to managing its proliferation," he said in a statement. "I want to read the agreement in detail and fully understand it, but I begin from a place of deep scepticism that the deal actually meets the goal of preventing Iran from obtaining a nuclear weapon... Iran continues to be the lead sponsor of terrorism in the world and relieving sanctions would make the Tehran regime flush with cash and could create a more dangerous threat to the United States and its allies."
Republican presidential candidate hopeful Mike Huckabee also criticized the deal with "evil" Iran in a Tweet Tuesday, going on to say that if he were elected he wouldn't rule out military action to topple the "terrorist Iranian regime".
US Vice President Joe Biden appeared to try to pre-empt inevitable GOP criticism by Tweeting that the deal completely blocked Iran from producing a nuclear weapon.
Many in the international community welcomed the deal. UK Foreign Secretary Philip Hammond applauded the deal as an "important agreement" but said British focus would now be on ensuring that development of nuclear weapons remained out of Iran's reach.
"After more than a decade of tough negotiations we have reached an historic agreement that will impose strict limits and inspections on Iran's nuclear programme," he said in a statement. "Under the agreement, Iran will grant the International Atomic Energy Agency access to verify adherence to the restrictions placed on its nuclear programme, giving the international community confidence that the programme is, and will remain, exclusively peaceful."
The Pope also views the agreement in "a positive light," according to a statement from his office which said it was "an important outcome of the negotiations carried out so far," but cautioned that "continued efforts and commitment on the part of all involved will be necessary in order for it to bear fruit."
Iranian Foreign Minister Javad Zarif told reporters in Vienna, where the talks have been taking place, that the accord was "a win-win solution" that could start "a new chapter of hope".
European Union (EU) negotiator Federica Mogherini, the High Representative of the EU for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, also welcomed the deal, which she described as "a shared commitment to peace and to join hands in order to make our world safer" that would "create the conditions for building trust and opening a new chapter in our relationship."
The text of the deal is yet to be officially released, but the two sides are reported to have agreed that the United Nations (UN) will be permitted access to military sites — a crucial sticking point — but that Iran will be able to challenge inspection and invoke an arbitration process.
Diplomats told the Associated Press that a UN arms embargo and restrictions on ballistic missile technology to Iran would last for up to five and eight years respectively.
Any violation of the deal on Iran's part would result in a "snapback" of sanctions within 65 days, according to Reuters.
Iran's Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei had previously said that access to military sites was a "red line" and would not be allowed.
Arms embargoes had also been a thorny issue, as Iran backs a number of anti-American regional proxies, including Lebanon's Hezbollah and the Houthi rebels in Yemen. It also wishes to buy arms from China and Russia.
Nuclear negotiations have been taking place for 10 largely fruitless years, but gathered momentum with the 2013 election of Iranian President Hassan Rouhani — a self-styled moderate keen on building international ties — and a subsequent thawing in American-Iranian relations. The latest round of talks overran three deadlines and saw both Zarif and key P5+1 negotiator US Secretary of State John Kerry threaten to walk out.
Even now, implementation of the agreement will take significant work amidst a continued climate of suspicion, including domestically. Rouhani faces opposition from hardliners at home, including in the mostly conservative parliament where some are opposed to any engagement at all on the issue. Khameni also toughened his position on nuclear negotiations in recent weeks, claiming the US wished to destroy Iran's entire nuclear infrastructure.
Separately, UN's International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) has agreed a roadmap to clarify possible m
IAEA Director general Yukiya Amano said Tuesday that the nuclear watchdog would provide a final report on the issue by December 15. The IAEA regularly monitors Iran's nuclear sites, but has repeatedly claimed to have been blocked from accessing certain facilities as well as equipment and personnel.
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