The pushback against a nuclear deal between the six powers and Iran in Geneva Friday, Nov. 8 had many partners. Europe, Saudi Arabia, the Arab Emirates and Israel have bonded together against the Obama administration’s plans to mend US fences with Tehran in general and leave Iran with its nuclear components intact.
Secretary of State John Kerry landed in the United Arab Emirate Monday, Nov. 11, for an effort to break up that bond and split up the broad opposition to Barack Obama’s policy. “President Obama is a man of his word,” Kerry declared. “He said in a speech before the UN that the US will not allow Iran to have a nuclear weapon and this is our policy to which we are committed. “
His assurance reminded his skeptical listeners of the credibility gap between Obama’s red line against Bashar Assad’s use of chemical weapons and his withdrawal from making good on that commitment by substituting a questionable deal with Moscow for military action.
They are also familiar with the terms of the US-Iranian nuclear deal and reject it out of hand.
Holding Binyamin Netanyahu, France and Saudi Arabia responsible for stalling the deal as the only “culprits” served two US administration purposes:
1. Rather than taking on a broad international front, the administration found it more convenient to focus on one of its members, Israel and its prime minister, as the responsible party for holding up the first concrete deal ever negotiated with Iran on its nuclear program.
2. Presenting Netanyahu as the party in the wrong and the cause of Israel’s isolation gave his political opponents ammunition for clobbering him.
Still, President Barack Obama and Secretary of State John Kerry show no inclination to meet America’s allies’ widespread demands to tone down their proposal, which essentially permits Iran to retain all the components for assembling a nuclear bomb, while enjoying a generous reward in sanctions relief for a six-month freeze.
debkafile’s political sources report that in opposing this lopsided deal in Geneva, Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius spoke on behalf of the other European powers present, Germany and Britain.
Even Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov presented an unusually low profile in Geneva, abstaining from words of support for the American position. Speaking on condition of anonymity, members of the Russian delegation agreed that the deal on the table was a bad one.
The front lining up against Obama’s bid for reconciliation with Iran, including a nuclear deal, also includes Saudi Arabia and the Arab Emirates, especially the UAE which has grown into a major economic and financial power.
Sunday, Netanyahu hit back at his misrepresentation as the lone spoiler by revealing his contacts with the European powers represented in Geneva and his close cooperation with the Arabian Gulf, including Saudi Arabia.
“The world should pay heed when Israel and the Arabs speak with one voice. It doesn’t happen that often,” he said.
debkafile’s Washington sources admit that the group effort by Jerusalem, Paris and Riyadh to defeat the Obama administration’s Iran policy was a groundbreaker. One source noted that it had attained the unheard-of level of coordinated Israeli-Arab-European teamwork for mobilizing individual US congressmen and senators against the deal with Iran and in favor of tighter sanctions.
Those sources also contradicted the administration’s claim that the Iranians backed away first from the draft accord prepared for the Geneva conference. They say the veto was ultimately slapped down by Kerry.
In urgent discussions in Washington on ways to salvage the nuclear negotiations from the Geneva flop – while keeping Iran in play – fingers were pointing at Undersecretary of State Wendy Sherman and EU foreign executive Catherine Ashton, who chaired the meeting.
According to those sources, the two diplomats put the draft before Iranian Foreign Minister Javad Zarif and allowed him to insert amendments. When that was done, they called the foreign ministers of the six powers and invited them to attend the signing ceremony.
Sherman and Ashton are quoted as telling them, “The cake is ready for putting in the oven to bake.”
Upon hearing this, the Secretary of State interrupted his talks in Israel Friday, Nov. 8, and took off for Geneva, certain that the deal with Iran was in the bag and would be signed that day.
He was aghast when he was shown the amended draft and understood that there was no way to sell this deal to the Europeans, the Arabs or Israel. He therefore applied the brakes to preparations for the signing ceremony and ordered a return to the table.
Meanwhile, the Iranians are moving on, certain that a deal with the powers is in the works. The UN nuclear watchdog (IAEA) director Yukiya Amano Monday, Nov. 11, announced the signing of a joint statement with Tehran. It opens the way for IAEA inspectors to visit the Arak construction site of Iran’s controversial heavy water reactor and the Gachin uranium mine. "The practical measures will be implemented in the next three months, starting from today," Amano told a news conference in Tehran, broadcast on state television.
This monitoring agreement was designed as a clause in the preliminary accord that was stalled before it was signed in Geneva last Friday.