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Iran: Criticisms of Nuclear Talks from Israel, Elsewhere

Israel has been critical of the nuclear negotiations from the start. CBS News’s coverage of the Obama-Netanyahu meeting includes several recent remarks by the Israeli Prime Minister comparing Iran to ISIS and characterizing the former as the “world’s most dangerous regime in the world’s most dangerous region.”

Meanwhile, the Associated Press quotes Netanyahu as warning Obama: “Iran seeks a deal that would lift the tough sanctions that you worked so hard to put in place and leave it as a threshold nuclear power.”

But of course some analysts and politicians are concerned that excessive distrust and excessive demands placed upon Iran will make a deal impossible in the less than two months until the deadline, ultimately leading Iran to further develop its nuclear program. An article by ex-CIA analyst Paul R. Pillar in Consortium News expresses this concern, but without letting Iran off the hook for illicit nuclear ambitions.

The article criticizes the most hardline anti-Iran positions, including that of Benjamin Netanyahu, as placing too much emphasis on the desire to expose the past military dimensions of Iran’s nuclear program. Pillar argues that this is simply an unobtainable demand, and that some of the people making it are aware of that fact, but they insist upon it explicitly for the purpose of scuttling any nuclear deal.

Pillar goes on to argue that the more important aspect of the negotiating process involves convincing Iran to accept the Additional Protocol to the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, so that the international community can inspect Iranian sites and recognize new work, as opposed to focusing on old nuclear weapons research that Iran would be unlikely to repeat anyway.

But this may be a moot point, seeing as many other commentators believe that the US has missed any opportunity it might have had to obtain a favorable deal that would seriously constrain and inspect the Iranian nuclear program. NewsMax reports that Charles Krauthammer, in an interview on Fox News’s The O’Reilly Factor, accused President Obama of effectively surrendering to Iran and allowing it to continue with nuclear weapons development. He suggested that any final deal at this point would leave Iran only months away from a nuclear bomb, at best, and with sanctions so weakened that they will fall apart as European businesses seek to enter the Iranian market.

This is certainly something that Iran has been encouraging. The latest indication of that comes from Ireland, where the speaker of the parliament has arranged to visit with a number of Iranian officials. Sean Barret is currently visiting Tehran, according to Zawya, and has already met with Iranian Parliament Speaker Ali Larijani, reportedly to discuss the nuclear issue, the conflict with the Islamic State, and economic ties between the two states.

Each sign of Western economic interest in Iran has the potential to further erode international support for sanctions, which American officials would certainly want to return to full force if nuclear talks break down. If that international support is sufficiently weakened, the possibility might exist for Iran to abandon nuclear negotiations and resume nuclear weapons research and development, virtually without consequences.

Charles Krauthammer anticipates that main obstacle that remains for this outcome is the likelihood of an Israeli attack. But he adds that it is unclear whether such an attack will be feasible or effective.