Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu slammed an anticipated interim deal between the United States and its allies and Iran which will grant the Islamic Republic relief from crippling global economic sanctions.
No such relief should be offered without Iran dismantling the elements of its nuclear weapons program, Netanyahu said after meeting Secretary of State John Kerry. Netanyahu said he stressed to Kerry that "no deal is better than a bad deal. And the deal that is being discussed in Geneva right now is a bad deal. Iran is not required to take apart even one centrifuge. But the international community is relieving sanctions on Iran for the first time after many years."
According to London's Telegraph, which cited an anonymous Senate aide privy to White House and State Department briefings, Iran would freeze its nuclear program for six months, cease enriching uranium to near-weapons grade 20 percent levels and "turn its existing stockpile of this material into harmless oxide." Iran could still enrich uranium to 3.5 percent for use in nuclear power plants. In exchange, some sanctions would be eased and some frozen assets released.
U.S. officials say those concessions could be reversed if Iran failed to live up to its commitments.
An unnamed senior administration official told CNN that the package is "limited, targeted and reversible," acknowledging that, "Sanctions have been instrumental on Iran coming to the table, to change the strategic calculus of Iran."
To Netanyahu, any easing of those sanctions must be exchanged for actions which inhibit Iran's ability to build nuclear weapons. He called the current proposal "a mistake of historic proportions" which "must be rejected outright."
But according to a report Friday in the Daily Beast, the Obama administration actually began easing its enforcement of some sanctions months ago, in hopes of creating a diplomatic opening. Since Hassan Rouhani's June election as Iran's president, the United States "has all but stopped the financial blacklisting of entities and people that help Iran evade international sanctions," write reporters Eli Lake and Josh Rogin.
The sanctions have cut Iran's oil exports from about 2.5 million barrels per day to about 1 million barrels per day. Using front companies, Iran is selling another 150-200,000 barrels per day on the black market through front companies, Mark Dubowitz, executive director of the Foundation for the Defense of Democracies, told the Daily Beast. That's 35 million barrels since Rouhani was elected.
"There's no earthly reason to do this," Netanyahu told the Washington Post. "Not only the force of the existing sanctions but the threat of the future sanctions was the great impetus on [Iranian leadership], and now they could just take that away."