Nuclear deal a chance for Obama to seize Iran moment

  • Yashwant Raj, Hindustan Times, Washington
  • Updated: Nov 26, 2013 00:28 IST

With the euphoria over the interim Iran deal settling down, western leaders and allies are confronting challenges that lay on the path to a comprehensive solution six months from now.

Hours after the signing of the Iran deal, US President Barack Obama was on phone on Sunday trying to sell it to its harshest critic abroad, Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

To lawmakers at home, who had responded with alarm cutting across party lines, the president urged not to press for additional sanctions saying they would wreck the deal.

The accord freezes Iran’s nuclear plan — caps enrichment to a point well below weapon-grade and stops work on its plutonium reactor — in return for a minor relief from sanctions.

A comprehensive solution will be discussed and finalised by Iran and the P5+1 nations — US, France, China, France, Russia and Germany — over the next six months. If it ends well, it would be a fitting outcome for Obama, may even be his signature foreign policy legacy, having invested early in his presidency in a peaceful solution.

Critics of the deal, such as Netanyahu, however, don’t share Obama’s optimism. Suspicious of Teheran’s intentions, he has called the accord a “historic mistake”.

Saudi Arabia has also reacted warily saying the agreement could lead to a comprehensive solution “if there are good intentions (on Iran’s side)”.

Most worrying for the president, are critics at home. Both Democrats and Republicans have attacked the accord, saying they were determined to keep Iran on the hook.

“The disproportionality of this agreement makes it more likely that Democrats and Republicans will join together and pass additional sanctions,” said Senator Charles Schumer, a Democrat.

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