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Iranian president vows to hold up Tehran's end of deal

"Nuclear-related technologies are only aimed at Iran's development and will not be used against any other countries." - Iran President Hassan Rouhani

By
Ed Adamczyk and Doug G. Ware
Iranian President Hassan Rouhnai on April 2, 2015 said his government will fully cooperate and follow through with terms of a deal with Western powers over Tehran's nuclear program and the lifting of crippling economic sanctions. Photo: UPI
Iranian President Hassan Rouhnai on April 2, 2015 said his government will fully cooperate and follow through with terms of a deal with Western powers over Tehran's nuclear program and the lifting of crippling economic sanctions. Photo: UPI | License Photo

TEHRAN, April 3 (UPI) -- Iranian president Hassan Rouhani expressed stern optimism Friday for the nuclear agreement that's being advanced by Tehran and Western powers.

Iran and the 5+1 group reached an agreement this week regarding the framework of a deal to bring the country's nuclear program into a peaceful compliance and lift economic sanctions against Tehran. Although full details and ratification of the deal are still needed by the end of June, many diplomats have praised the agreement as a major step forward.

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"I hereby declare in a straightforward manner now that enrichment and all nuclear-related technologies are only aimed at Iran's development and will not be used against any other countries," Rouhani said. "The world has acknowledged very well ... that Iran is seeking peaceful purposes."

What has been agreed to so far is the full repurposing of Iran's nuclear program, complete with regular inspections, for a period of ten years. However, not everyone is happy with the current state of negotiations.

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Israeli leaders have been highly critical, with some even threatening military action against Iran.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said of Thursday's announcement, "This deal would legitimize Iran's nuclear program, bolster Iran's economy, and increase Iran's aggression and terror throughout the Middle East and beyond. Such a deal would not block Iran's path to the bomb. It would pave it. It would increase the risks of nuclear proliferation in the region and the risks of a horrific war."

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An Israeli official close to Netanyahu later reiterated the points, saying the agreement reached in Lausanne, Switzerland, offered "no demand that Iran stop its aggression in the region, its terrorism around the world or its threats to destroy Israel, which it has repeated again over the past several days," Time reported. The official was referring to comments Tuesday by Iranian Revolutionary guard leader Mohammad Reza Naqdi, who said that "erasing Israel off the map" was a "non-negotiable" goal.

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A political opponent of Netanyahu's in Israel, Omer Bar-Lev, said one point in the agreement, a one-year "breakout time" in which Iran could weaponize its nuclear capabilities should the agreement collapse, was not enough to calm Israel.

"If we can convince them [the Western negotiators] to work on these small details, maybe we can get to a point where there will be an expansion of that time period, and perhaps we can get something that is less bad than what we're seeing here," Bar-Lev said.

Israeli Intelligence Minister Yuval Steinitz said the agreement was "disconnected from the sad reality" of the continued violence in the Middle East. When asked by Israeli Radio if he would support a military strike on Iran, he added, "If we have no choice, we have no choice. I don't want to talk about a military option, other than to say it exists."

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In 1981, Israel attacked and destroyed an nuclear reactor under construction in Iran.

Despite the skepticism, Rouhani pledged his support in Friday's speech to what he called an "historic" agreement.

"Some think we should either fight with the world or give in to the global powers," Rouhani said. "However, we believe none of that. There is a third path. We can cooperate with the world."

Tehran's full cooperation and verification by inspectors that the nation is indeed holding up its end of the deal will almost certainly be a prerequisite for the lifting of any sanctions. The deal agreed to this week must be fully approved and ratified by June 30.

Some experts monitoring the deal, however, say Iran and the 5+1 may be getting ahead of themselves due to a lack of certain details in the agreement -- which might be sending a mixed message.

One detail experts are concerned is lacking is which sanctions will eventually be lifted and when. It appears the 5+1 expects the sanctions to be eased in two or three years, after Western powers have verified Tehran's compliance. However, Iran may be expecting the sanctions to be eliminated sooner.

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Also of concern is evidence that Iran attempted to produce nuclear weapons in the past -- times during which Tehran denied doing so.

Concerned experts fear the lack of such details in Thursday's framework agreement, and possible misinterpretations between the two sides, might possibly become an obstacle in getting a deal completed.

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