Rowhani: Deal seals ‘nuclear right’

Rowhani reiterated his statement that Iran would “never” seek atomic weapons, something the West accuses Iran of seeking

Saffiya Ansari
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Iranian President Rowhani has said that the deal reached between Tehran and world powers on Sunday seals Tehran’s “nuclear rights.”

The remarks come just hours after Iranian envoys and world powers reached a first-step accord in Geneva aimed at easing Western concerns that Tehran could one day seek nuclear weapons.

Speaking at a nationally broadcast news conference, Rowhani added that the success of talks so far was due to “guidelines offered” by Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei and added that talks on a comprehensive agreement will start immediately.

Meanwhile, Khamenei has hailed the nuclear deal, according to Agence France-Presse.

“The nuclear negotiating team should be thanked and appreciated for this achievement. God’s grace and the support of the Iranian nation were the reasons behind this success,” he said, quoted by Fars news agency.

Rowhani reiterated his statement that Iran would “never” seek atomic weapons, something the West and Israel accuse Iran of gearing its nuclear program towards.

What’s the big deal?

His statements were made after Iran and six world powers reached a deal which will curb Tehran’s nuclear program in exchange for limited sanctions relief.

Iran has committed to halt uranium enrichment above purities of five percent in exchange for some $7 billion in sanctions relief. This would keep Iran’s enrichment level well below the threshold needed for weapons-grade material, which is more than 90 percent enrichment.

The Islamic Republic has also agreed to refrain from building new centrifuges, however, the country is allowed to keep its two main enrichment facilities in operation.

“It is a good step forward exemplifying a win-win situation for both sides,” said Dr. Arshin Adib-Moghaddam, author of “On the Arab Revolts and the Iranian Revolution: Power and resistance today” and director of the London-based Center for Iranian Studies.

“The United States and its allies managed to limit Iran’s sensitive enrichment activity and enhance access to the country’s sprawling nuclear infrastructure. Iran, on the other side, will benefit from sanctions relief, in particular with regard to its petrochemical and car industry,” Adib-Moghaddam told Al Arabiya News.

“Several factors played role in reaching this deal,” added Majid Rafizadeh, president of the International American Council, to Al Arabiya News.

Firstly, “the Obama administration’s political anxiety, apprehension and reluctance to consider the alternatives, including a tougher position on Iran with a military option before Iran becomes a nuclear power possibly within the year.”

Coupled with Iran’s staggering economy, a deal was ripe for the picking, according to Rafizadeh.

Israel responds

Israel has responded by labeling the agreement a “bad deal.”

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s office said Sunday: “This is a bad agreement that gives Iran what it wanted: The partial lifting of sanctions while maintaining an essential part of its nuclear program,” according to AFP.

“Iran is threatening Israel and Israel has the right to defend itself,” added Israel’s Economy Minister Naftali Bennet to a military radio station, in comments carried by AFP.

“Israeli leaders believe that the deal has granted the Iranian authorities the required time to achieve the nuclear breakaway capacity and bomb-grade nuclear materials,” commented Rafizadeh.

“It is also believed that Iranian leaders will view this deal as a free hand and green light to pursue their hegemonic agenda and ambitions in the region as well as to consolidate their power and influence in Syria, Lebanon, and Iraq, and be further capable of militarily and economically funding their proxies including Hezbollah,” he added.

For the U.S.’s part, Secretary of State John Kerry preempted Israeli concerns by saying the agreement will help “make Israel safer.”

“This first step, I want to emphasize, actually rolls back the program from where it is today, enlarges the breakout time, which would not have occurred unless this agreement existed. It will make our partners in the region safer. It will make our ally Israel safer,” Kerry was quoted as saying by AFP.

Kerry also said Netanyahu - “a friend of mine” - had been kept well-informed of the talks, which kicked off on Wednesday.

“I talk to him several times a week,” he said. “I talked to him in the last day about this very issue.”

Any differences between the United States and Israel on the issue were simply a matter of “judgment” and “calculation,” Kerry insisted.

“There is no difference whatsoever between the U.S. and Israel of what the end goal is - that Iran will not have a nuclear weapon,” he added.

The possibility of Iran acquiring such a capability forms the basis of Israeli concern on Tehran’s nuclear program.

Israel has long insisted on the need for a convincing military threat and setting clear lines beyond which Iran’s nuclear activity should not advance.

In July, Netanyahu said: “I think it’s important to note that we (Israel) can’t allow it to happen. Our clocks are ticking at a different pace. We’re closer than the United States, we’re more vulnerable, and therefore we’ll have to address this question of whether to stop Iran before the United States does,” in comments carried by Reuters.

“Since its inception in 1948, the idea of Israel has been heavily imbued with angst and a sense of insecurity,” said Adib- Moghaddam, referring to Israel’s sour response to the news of the deal.

“Iran is merely a chapter in this long history of regional confrontation.”

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