Amid Praise, Iran Deal Hit With Skepticism

Nov 24, 2013
Originally published on December 1, 2013 7:41 am
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It's ALL THINGS CONSIDERED from NPR West. I'm Arun Rath.

It was around 3 o'clock this morning in Geneva when the U.S. and international allies signed a deal with Iran. Iran will suspend key parts of its nuclear program for six months while the international community gives that country a bit of relief from sanctions. In the meantime, the two sides will try to work out a more ambitious deal. In a moment, we'll talk with Robin Wright about what the agreement means for U.S. relations with Iran.

But first, for the Obama administration, the agreement represents a historic breakthrough. But critics here at home say it simply rewards a country that has yet to prove itself trustworthy. NPR's Ari Shapiro reports.

ARI SHAPIRO, BYLINE: Since Barack Obama's first presidential campaign, he has argued that engagement with Iran is the best way to avoid war and keep that country from getting nuclear weapons. At last, he says, that engagement along with sanctions has paid off.

PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA: Today, that diplomacy opened up a new path toward a world that is more secure, a future in which we can verify that Iran's nuclear program is peaceful and that it cannot build a nuclear weapon.

SHAPIRO: The president spoke in the White House State Dining Room late Saturday night. He called the deal with Iran just a first step.

OBAMA: In these negotiations, nothing will be agreed to unless everything is agreed to. The burden is on Iran to prove to the world that its nuclear program will be exclusively for peaceful purposes.

SHAPIRO: Obama has been urging Congress not to impose tougher sanctions on Iran during this process, but his words did not seem to reassure doubters at home or abroad.


SENATOR BOB CORKER: Look. I think we all greet it with skepticism.

SHAPIRO: Senator Bob Corker of Tennessee is the top Republican on the Foreign Relations Committee. He spoke on "Fox News Sunday."


CORKER: I think you're going to see on Capitol Hill again a bipartisan effort to try to make sure that this is not the final agreement because people know this administration is strong on announcements - long on announcements but very short on follow-through.

SHAPIRO: Overseas, an Israeli cabinet minister called this a deal based on deceit. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu blasted the agreement.

PRIME MINISTER BENJAMIN NETANYAHU: What was concluded in the Geneva last night is not a historic agreement. It's a historic mistake.

SHAPIRO: But Secretary of State John Kerry told CBS' "Face the Nation," any long-term deal will require Iran to fully show its cards.


SECRETARY JOHN KERRY: So there's nothing built on trust. We're not sitting here pretending that Iran is going to suddenly turn over a new leaf. We have to prove it. And our structure in this agreement, I believe, will adequately prove it.

SHAPIRO: If not, then six months from now, the two sides could be back where they began. Ari Shapiro, NPR News, Washington. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.