In November the world was told that the P5+1 countries with Iran had entered into an agreement known as the Geneva Interim Agreement.
On Sunday, Jan. 12, U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry announced that the Interim Agreement announced nearly two months ago will finally become effective on Jan. 20.
Kerry said that for the next six months Iran will be taking steps to live up to “its commitments,” including “rendering the entire stockpile of its 20% enriched uranium unusable for further enrichment.”
Kerry said that the United States and its P5+1 partners will exercise “extraordinary vigilance” in ensuring that Iran lives up to those commitments as it monitors Iran’s activities along with the members of the International Atomic Energy Agency.
In exchange for Iran fulfilling its commitments, “limited and targeted relief” will be made to Iran.
“The $4.2 billion in restricted Iranian assets that Iran will gain access to as part of the agreement will be released in regular installments throughout the six months. The final installment will not be available to Iran until the very last day,” Kerry explained.
No details about the timetable for those relief installments was revealed.
Okay, now that we finally know, sort of, what the Interim Agreement is about and when it will begin, a question arises.
What did the previous announcement mean if the details and even the date of implementation had not yet been worked out? Maybe that one was the Almost Interim Agreement and now we are finally scheduled to soon activate the Interim Agreement.
But next up for these hardy negotiators is what even the eternal optimist Kerry describes as a much harder task: “negotiating a comprehensive agreement that resolves outstanding concerns about the peaceful nature of Iran’s nuclear program.”
Yeah, that one is going to be tough. Because many people paying attention to this issue do not believe that Iran’s nuclear program has anything peaceful about it. In fact, even Iran’s usual allies, Russia and China, agreed to sanctions against Iran that were sufficiently painful they induced Iran to come to the negotiating table.
But just as the sanctions became sufficiently severe as to gain the attention of the Mullahs in Iran, the Obama administration is now adamantly opposed to even holding out the threat of reimposing sanctions.
This, despite Team Obama’s constant touting throughout the last presidential campaign its strength by having imposed “biting sanctions” against Iran.
The administration is now warning congress not even to pass an “Interim Agreement” to impose sanctions should Iran not comply with its commitments under the Interim Geneva Agreement.
Kerry warned in his public statement on Sunday:
We now have an obligation to give our diplomats and experts every chance to succeed in these difficult negotiations. I very much appreciate Congress’ critical role in imposing the sanctions that brought Iran to the table, but I feel just as strongly that now is not the time to impose additional sanctions that could threaten the entire negotiating process. Now is not the time for politics. Now is the time for statesmanship, for the good of our country, the region, and the world.
Opponents of the view that Iran does not need to have the threat of renewed and robust sanctions landing on it within nanoseconds of a verified lapse in its commitments under the Interim or any other Agreement, not surprisingly, nodded politely and did the opposite.
Within hours of Kerry’s announcement of the impending implementation of the Interim Agreement allegedly made two months ago, Senator Mark Kirk (R-IL) issued a statement of his own.
In his statement, Kirk reminded Americans that the Nuclear Weapon Free Iran Act is the bipartisan product of a majority of the U.S. Senate. Those senators believe it is absolutely essential for there to be a metaphorical weapon drawn, but with the safety catch firmly on, aimed at Iran.
The renewed sanctions would be imposed should Iran fail to abide by the commitments it has made under the Interim Agreement, or “plan or conduct a terrorist attack against the U.S. or launch a long-range ballistic missile during negotiations.”
Beginning January 20th, the administration will give the world’s leading state sponsor of terrorism billions of dollars while allowing the mullahs to keep their illicit nuclear infrastructure in place. I am worried the administration’s policies will either lead to Iranian nuclear weapons or Israeli air strikes. It’s time for the United States Senate to pass common-sense bipartisan legislation, now cosponsored by 59 senators, to ensure this process leads to the peaceful dismantlement of Iran’s nuclear program.
The bill would also allow Congress to reject any final agreement between the P5+1 and Iran if the agreement does not specifically bar Iran from having the ability to produce nuclear weapons in the future.
Note: P5+1 P5 refers to the five permanent members of the UN Security Council, the United States, the United Kingdom, France, Russia and China. +1 means plus Germany.
About the Author: Lori Lowenthal Marcus is the US correspondent for The Jewish Press. She is a recovered lawyer who previously practiced First Amendment law and taught in Philadelphia-area graduate and law schools.
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