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Susan Rice: There's a Deal, Iran Rejected It

National Security Adviser reveals some of the details of the deal offered to Iran, says there's no tension with Israel over the issue.
By Elad Benari
First Publish: 11/14/2013, 5:45 AM

Susan Rice
Susan Rice
AFP photo

U.S. National Security Adviser Susan Rice said Wednesday that some of the reporting on negotiations with Iran have been incorrect, and in fact there is a deal on the table agreed to by all the nations involved except Iran.

Rice, who spoke at The Atlantic and Aspen Institute’s Washington Ideas Week and was quoted by Politico, also revealed some of the details of the deal - Iran scaling back its nuclear program and receiving some sanctions relief in return.

“The French are fully on board,” so some of the reporting on this has been wrong, Rice said, referring to some reports this past week that it was French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius who prevented a deal with Iran during talks in Geneva last week.

Rice said negotiations between the so-called P5+1 group - the U.S., Britain, Russia, China, France and Germany - and Iran has produced a possible deal, but Iran has not yet agreed.

“The negotiations have led us to a point where there is a prospective deal on the table which would occur in two phases if it is agreed,” Rice said, according to Politico.

“The Iranians were not able to take it last weekend. … There are elements of this that clearly the Iranians don’t feel is sufficient,” she added.

Rice indicated that the first phase of the plan would involve six months of halting progress on Iran’s nuclear program and beginning to roll it back, while the U.S. would offer “limited, temporary and reversible economic relief” that leaves the “architecture of sanctions wholly in place.”

“There are outlines on the table, but the deal, if it is reached, will be for this first phase. And then there will be time and space to negotiate a comprehensive solution that we can all be satisfied that Iran will never acquire a nuclear weapon,” Rice said.

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry, who attended the talks last week, has also indicated, like Rice, that Iran turned down the deal that was offered to it.

Kerry said this week that "the P5+1 was unified on Saturday when we presented our proposal to the Iranians... But Iran couldn't take it, at that particular moment they weren't able to accept."

These comments were rejected by Iran’s Foreign Minister, Mohammad Javad Zarif, who hit back at Kerry saying that it was the U.S. that delayed a deal.

In her comments, Rice also dismissed reports that the talks with Iran have strained U.S. relations with Israel, saying the two countries’ relationship was stronger than ever.

She added that any criticism of the possible deal with Iran from Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu was premature.

“It’s not done, so by definition it’s premature to judge it, because the outlines have yet to be finalized,” Rice said, saying the U.S.’s goal is the same as its partners: that Iran never acquire a nuclear weapon.