US official: Many concerns about Iran deal based on ‘myth’

Barack Obama (right) speaking to advisers Tony Blinken (foreground), and Ben Rhodes (background), regarding the Iran nuclear deal, on Sunday, November 24, 2013. (Pete Souza/White House)
Antony Blinken warns against keeping interim arrangement with Tehran as alternative to comprehensive agreement

By Rebecca Shimoni Stoil|The Times of Israel

Deputy Secretary of State Antony Blinken heralded the “unprecedented inspections” currently underway in Iran under the interim nuclear agreement, and challenged opponents of a nuclear deal to come up with a better alternative to any comprehensive agreement reached by the P5+1 member states during a Friday afternoon keynote speech.

“We have negotiated, of course, an interim agreement with Iran that froze and in some places rolled back its nuclear program with unprecedented inspections, with the possibility of a comprehensive solution now before us,” Blinken told the audience at the Center for New American Security’s annual conference.

Blinken, who served as the administration’s point man for Iran talks before a number of Congressional hearings, gave a broad overview of the US’s positions and challenges worldwide, ranging from the world’s growing refugee population to the administration’s efforts to pivot foreign policy towards east Asia.

Less than a week before the deadline to reach a comprehensive agreement, Blinken also sought to calm concerns regarding key aspects of the impending deal.

Blinken reiterated administration assertions that “the deal we’re working towards will close each of Iran’s four pathways toward fissile material” – the uranium enrichment at Natanz and Fordo, the plutonium plant at Arak, and any covert path that Tehran could pursue toward acquiring fissile material.

Arguing that “many [concerns about the deal] are based much more on myth than on fact,” Blinken said that the US demands that a deal “must include monitoring and intrusive transparency measures.”

He dismissed warnings that the deal contains a sunset clause – that Iran will be free to pursue a full-scale industrial uranium enrichment program after a decade of intense monitoring.

“The deal will not expire,” he said, reiterating a point he made in early June during the annual meeting of the American Jewish Committee. “There will not be a so-called sunset.” Blinken cited as proof the fact that even after the most stringent terms of a deal expire, Iran will still be required to meet the obligations of the NPT and other anti-proliferation regimes.

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