Feb. 4 - The chief U.S. negotiator says the interim deal to curb Iran's nuclear program is not a perfect diplomatic agreement but buys time. Rough Cut (no reporter narration).
ROUGH CUT - NO REPORTER NARRATION An initial nuclear deal with Iran is "not perfect" because of limited time but it gives negotiating powers time to work out a comprehensive deal with Tehran, a senior State Department official said on Tuesday (February 04). Major world powers struck an agreement with Iran on November 24 to offer it an estimated $7 billion in sanctions relief in return for steps to restrain Iranian atomic activities. The deal called for negotiation of a full agreement within a year. "We are not blind, however, to the more than 30 years of difficult history between the United States and Iran or Iran's past actions and past behavior, as well as its current behavior. But it is crucial that we give diplomacy a chance to succeed," Wendy Sherman, Under Secretary of State for Political Affairs and the lead U.S. negotiator with Iran, told lawmakers. "This is not perfect but this does freeze and roll back their program in significant ways and give us time on the clock to, in fact, negotiate that comprehensive agreement," Sherman told the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. U.S. lawmakers have some influence over Iran policy because of their ability to pass legislation imposing fresh sanctions on Iran, something U.S. President Barack Obama has opposed during the current negotiations and has threatened to veto. Senator Robert Menendez, a Democrat who chairs the Senate Foreign Relations Committee and also serves on the Senate Banking Committee that has primary jurisdiction on sanctions, made clear that he was not satisfied by the initial agreement. "If all we achieve is the essence of an early-warning system of Iran's future breakout ability, and the sanctions regime has collapsed, and the only options for this or any future president will be to accept a nuclear-armed Iran or a military option, in my view, that is not in the national security interest of the United States," Menendez said. "I know that's not anyone's goal or plan, but I also think we need to guard against wanting a deal so much that we concede more than we gain."