The framework nuclear agreement reached with Iran leaves many questions unanswered that must be addressed.
Who to trust and what happens next? Those are among the many questions causing angst in our community as we follow the fallout from the framework agreement reached with Iran on its nuclear program last week.
Our first instinct is alarm, as we hear the critics — including, but certainly not limited to, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu — make convincing arguments that the deal, if implemented as is, would leave the rogue state with too much nuclear capability and not enough verifiable oversight. Also significant is the vagueness — and apparently differing interpretations among those negotiating the deal — about when and how the all-important sanctions would be lifted, bolstering Iran’s ability to pursue its march across the Middle East and its deadly support for terrorism.
The alarm is only exacerbated by the comments of a top Iranian official, just days before the framework agreement was concluded, reiterating the leadership’s view that “the destruction of Israel is non-negotiable.”
Despite all of President Barack Obama’s efforts to reassure Israel, Congress and the American people that this is a “once-in-a-lifetime” opportunity to open a new chapter with Iran, we are deeply troubled by what has been given up for the sake of an agreement.
Still, what comes next is critical. Both Israel and the pro-Israel community have to use their leverage wisely, in Congress and through diplomatic channels, to work to defuse a situation that has become untenable — namely, turning support or criticism of the deal, and by extension, support for Israel, into a partisan issue.
Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) who is expected to take over as Senate minority leader at the end of the year, has taken an important step in breaking that dangerous trajectory by signing on to Republican-sponsored legislation that would require Congress to review any final deal with Iran. It’s too important an issue, he rightly said, not to merit serious congressional debate.
Support for that legislation, combined with cool and rational efforts to influence the final parameters of the deal, is where our focus should be.
Israel’s minister of strategic affairs, Yuval Steinitz, presented a list of modifications that seemed more than reasonable, including closing the underground nuclear facility at Fordo, requiring that uranium stockpiles be shipped out of the country and a more robust inspections regime that would provide unfettered access.
It is not too late to help influence the deal. Both Congress and Israel — and/or its intermediaries in the Jewish diplomatic world — have a role to play. Now is the time.