‘No Iranian nuclear deal unless US sanctions lifted’

U.S. President Barack Obama (Reuters / Kevin Lamarque)
The US cannot continue waging economic war against Iran, otherwise we’re not going to see any kind of an agreement over Iran's nuclear program, geopolitical analyst Eric Draitser told RT.

US President Barack Obama has reportedly raised concerns over the deal with Iran speaking to senators at a White House gathering. According to a senator who attended the meeting, Obama said that the chance of reaching a deal is less than 50 percent.

RT:What does Barack Obama's reported statement mean for the Iranian Nuclear deal?

Eric Draitser: I don’t know that necessarily changes in any substantive way the actual meat of this deal, or whether or not it’s going to get done. What I do think it indicates though is the conflicting interest and the conflicting basis to which Obama and his administration have to play. On the one hand, the elephant in the room remains as it always is - the Israel lobby in Washington, which is very powerful in a bipartisan way. AIPAC and some of the other key lobbying groups, they have tremendous sway particularly now that you have elections coming up in a relatively short time. So there are a lot of Democrats who are certainly concerned about whether or not their campaigns are going to be funded, whether or not they are going to be able to rely on that massive political and financial support from the Israel lobby, from some of the other key interested players.

On the other hand, the Obama administration really wants to maintain what they could call a position of strength in these negotiations. They want to be able to present themselves as being able to dictate to Iran whether or not this deal is going to happen, the specifics of the deal and so forth. But sources that are close to this negotiation process say that is actually far from reality; that to a large extent the Washington team as well as the team from Teheran have a lot of points of agreement.

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So in reality that what we were looking at is that Washington is essentially trying to posture as if it’s dealing from a position of strength, while in fact in many ways they are dealing from a position weakness. Obama has made it quite clear that he is trying to push this deal for his own personal legacy rather than solely from a programmatic and a policy perspective. That is really how it needs to be understood. And then conversely, the Iranians have key economic interests, number one at the top of the list is the lifting of sanctions. The arms embargo is really a propaganda ploy from the Washington side. It is the question of sanctions. Whether or not sanctions will be permanently lifted so the Iranian economy can get back on its feet.

RT:This statement goes in contrast with what President Obama said back in April when the preliminary deal was signed. Why is that?

ED: Because what he is trying to do, is trying to play both sides. He is trying to present himself as going against this narrative that the Republicans and the hardcore pro-Israel fraction has said that Obama is weak, that he is caving to the Iranians, that he is willing to accept a bad deal. So in that regard he is trying to flex some kind of diplomatic or political muscle.

On the other hand he is trying to essentially position himself as being in favor of creating some kind of a political settlement. To a large extent this shows not only the divide that exists in Washington, it shows the weakness of Washington’s position. The reality is, and I think that really keen political observers and analysts have noted this a number of times, is that Washington is desperate for some kind of a deal. Not only do they have key corporations, energy corporations, and others in the West who want to be able to get into the more or less untapped Iranian market. They want to make sure that Iran doesn’t become a pivot for Russia and China in the growing Eurasian integration project.

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There is a very important geostrategic imperative for the US to get this deal done while they still have a window, because depending upon whether or not Hilary Clinton wins the election, or a Republican wins the election, I think that the climate is going to be much less conducive for some kind of a political settlement after the 2016 election. Obama is on a very limited time scale here and he wants to get this done. The rhetoric that you’re hearing from Obama is really political posturing, more than it is anything else.

RT:What do you think will happen in the next few days in Vienna?

ED: Ultimately you’re going to end up with some kind of preliminary framework, whether or not it’s going to be officially called a deal, or whether or not they are going to have to meet again, there is going to be some kind of a framework, as we’ve heard before. But again, Russia and some of the other key players are already signaling that they are willing to get behind a substantive deal. When we say a substantive deal, that means the key sticking point for the Iranians, and they’ve maintained this all throughout this negotiation process, is that the sanctions have to be lifted. The US cannot be allowed to continue to wage economic war against Iran. If they are to continue to do so, or if the US tries to dictate the terms of this agreement to the Iranians or to anybody else, you’re not going to see any kind of an agreement. I think that that is really what it has come down to: The US needs to let go of this notion that it’s going to dictate to Iran and to the rest of the world how this agreement is going to be reached.

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The statements, views and opinions expressed in this column are solely those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of RT.