Road to an Iran Nuke Deal Is Paved With Obstacles

Obama ready to work with Khamenei, but others wary of deal, including Israel, GOP
By Jenn Gidman,  Newser Staff
Posted Nov 17, 2014 2:00 PM CST
In this photo released by the official website of the Iranian supreme leader's office, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei waves during a meeting in Tehran, Iran, on Sept. 7, 2014.   (AP Photo/Office of the Supreme Leader)

(Newser) – Foreign diplomats begin the tough work in Vienna tomorrow of negotiating with Iran on an agreement about its nuclear weapons program, possibly even bringing it to a grinding halt, the Guardian reports. But while the Obama administration has been working to jump-start the process—the president wrote a private letter to Iran's Ayatollah Khamenei last month—he's got a queue of people who aren't sure if a deal should be pushed through, if at all, the New York Times reports. On Obama's side: the US, UK, Germany, Russia, and China, the Guardian notes. Decidedly less in favor of a deal: Israel's PM Benjamin Netanyahu—who has called Iran an "existential threat" and said that "it's an enemy of America"—France (which has set itself apart from other European nations by lobbying for stiffer negotiation terms), and even the GOP, the Times notes.

Sen. Lindsay Graham, for instance, announced that the Senate would fight a "bad deal" with Iran, reports. Obama officials counter that by arguing he would never greenlight a deal that would put Iran within a year of being able to make a bomb. Also in opposition are the Saudis, who fear a deal could switch up American allegiances in the region to focus more on Shiite Iranians than on Sunni Saudis. The odds of reaching a deal are so-so: Senior White House officials put the chances of an agreement this time around at 40% to 50%, notes the Times. Some fear the results of failed negotiations, as Israel has threatened military action if diplomacy fails, the Guardian notes. "In the words of the negotiators themselves: failure is not an option," says a former State Department official. (John Kerry says such deals aren't based on trust but on verification.)

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