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"Our work is not yet done and success is not guaranteed. But we have a historic opportunity to prevent the spread of nuclear weapons in Iran and to do so peacefully, with the international community firmly behind us. We should seize that chance."
— President Obama, in remarks welcoming the framework nuclear agreement with Iran
After days of round-the-clock negotiations between the P5+1 and Iran in Lausanne, Switzerland, U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry, EU High Representative for Foreign Affairs Federica Mogherini, and Iranian Foreign Minister Javad Zarif announced that a framework agreement has been reached, but that the details would have to be worked out over the next two months. On Thursday, AJC released a statement responding to the news and laying out our questions and concerns about the framework deal, which would put in place an inspections regime, remove all nuclear-related sanctions, and allow Iran to continue many of its nuclear enrichment and development activities.
An Argument for the Deal
The New York Times / 5-minute read
William Burns, a former Deputy Secretary of State, who engaged in back-channel bilateral talks with Iranian leaders in the ongoing effort toward this framework agreement, argues that—our more muscular dreams notwithstanding—it's impossible to "bomb away the basic know-how and enrichment capability that Iran has developed." Thus, he argues, the inspections regime put in place by this deal is the world's best hope against an Iranian bomb. The main hurdles now are to actually get the Iranians to sign this deal (and not a watered-down version), to reassure U.S. allies in the region (most notably Israel), and to make clear to the entire world where the lines are between nuclear power and nuclear weaponization. Read more
...And One Against
Politico / 5-minute read
Ari Shavit isn't buying it. In a poignant piece, Shavit compares this "terrible historic mistake" to the one the U.S. made in 2003 in starting the Iraq War. For Shavit, there are two main issues. First, he does not believe that it is possible to trust Iran's leaders. He views it as inevitable that they will cheat, and he worries that they will succeed. And he is worried about the large-scale nuclear proliferation (among state and non-state actors alike) an Iranian bomb would forebode for the rest of the region. Read more
Missing the Big Picture
Vox / 6-minute read
Once, the goal of nuclear talks with Iran was to end the Islamic Republic's nuclear program, but negotiators ultimately focused on limiting its ability to build nuclear weapons. Prominent nuclear expert Jeffrey Lewis suggests that the way the media has represented the West's approach missed the big picture. Before yesterday's announcement, Lewis said that instead of counting centrifuges and focusing on extending the time it would take Iran to "break out" to a bomb using the facilities we know about, Western negotiators should be working to install a firm inspections regime to limit Iran's ability to create new secret facilities—in other words, guarding against a "sneak out." This, Lewis argues, would be much more likely to keep Iran from going nuclear. There are signs in yesterday's framework agreement that the Western negotiators agree with Lewis and are working toward this goal. Read more
Good to know
Should They Stay or Should They Go?
The Atlantic / 6-minute read
Updating his terrific—and terrifying—cover story from this month's issue of The Atlantic, Jeffrey Goldberg interviewed Simone Rodan-Benzaquen, Director of AJC Paris, to get her perspective on the situation on the ground for European Jews. Simone pointed to the "everyday acts of courage" that have become commonplace for them: going to a synagogue, dropping kids off at a Jewish school, or wearing anything—a kippa or Star of David, for example—that might identify one as Jewish. She declined to tell other European Jews whether to stay or go, but drove home the importance of AJC's work: "to get the government, civil society, the media, and policymakers to understand that we are going through a crucial moment in history, where the destiny... of Europe and liberal democracies worldwide" will be decided. Read more
Tragedy in Kenya
The New York Times / 6-minute read
Terrorists from the radical Islamic Al Shabab group attacked Garissa University in Kenya on Thursday and killed nearly 150 people. The attackers from the Al Qaeda affiliated group are said to have specifically targeted Christian students. Al Shabab, based in Somalia, said that it carried out the attack because "the Christian government of Kenya has invaded our country." Read more
The UN's War on Israel
The New York Times / 3-minute read
In a scathing critique of the body in which he sits, Israeli Ambassador to the United Nations Ron Prosor lamented the extent to which the UN has lost its way. Envisioned as a "temple of peace," Prosor notes that the "once great global body has been overrun by the repressive regimes that violate human rights and undermine international security." Indeed, the UN has a singular focus on possible Israeli wrongdoing, to the exclusion of all other countries. In March, the Commission on the Status of Women condemned only Israel, out of all the countries in the world. And, according to Prosor, that's only the beginning of the problems with this once-august organization. Read more
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I agree with @AJCGlobal: Any final deal with Iran should be subject to Congressional engagement and approval. bit.ly/1BSnK8E