AIPAC Holds Fire on Iran Nuclear Deal — Calls for Tougher Future Stance

Pro-Israel Group Hedges Push for New Sanctions

By Nathan Guttman

Published November 26, 2013.
  • Print
  • Share Share

In a carefully worded statement awaited by many observers, the main pro-Israel lobby focused more on pushing for a tough final agreement with Iran on its nuclear program than on blasting the United States and several other countries for signing an interim agreement with Iran that Israel has denounced.

Even on the question of the final agreement, which is to be negotiated over the next six months, the American Israel Public Affairs Committee took a nuanced approach on the question of further sanctions against Iran and on the contentious issue of Iran’s enrichment of uranium under a hoped-for final agreement.

Among other things, the statement, issued November 25, does not explicitly demand that Iran be required to accept “zero enrichment” of uranium in the final agreement, as Israel has demanded.

The statement alludes to its concern on this count, noting as one of its “serious concerns” what it sees as the agreement’s implicit willingness to allow Iran to continue with some enrichment activity.

“American officials deny that they recognized any Iranian ‘right’ to enrich, but appear to have conceded as a practical matter that Iran will be allowed some enrichment capacity,” AIPAC states.

But the lobby formulates its own red line in the statement differently than Israel: It demands instead that any final deal “deny Tehran a nuclear weapons capability,” a term whose conditions the statement does not specifically define.

The statement appears to reflect a careful balancing act, and an effort to ensure that it does not paint itself into a corner by setting extreme starting positions. The pro-Israel lobby even approvingly notes several provisions of the interim agreement that will limit or roll back certain aspects of Iran’s nuclear program before delineating “elements of this agreement [that] raise serious concerns for a final accord.”

Iran claims its nuclear program is for peaceful purposes only, but many experts say it appears to be designed to develop nuclear weapons, or to enable Iran to do so quickly, if it wishes to in the future. Several U.N. Security Council resolutions have in particular called on Iran to suspend its enrichment of uranium — a key step for developing nuclear weapons.

The AIPAC statement notes that the interim agreement will allow Iran to continue uranium enrichment “in violation of U.N. Security Council resolutions — while gaining some sanctions relief.” But it notes also that the agreement will require Iran to dial back its uranium enrichment from 20% to 5%, a level that makes it harder to move quickly to nuclear weapons level enrichment of 90%. AIPAC also notes that the uranium Iran has already enriched to 20% will be converted under the agreement into forms that make this material difficult to convert back to use for weapons.

On the issue of further sanctions against Iran, which has put the pro-Israel lobby at odds with the administration, AIPAC is now taking a more careful approach. The group is stressing the need for further sanction legislation in Congress in order to increase pressure on Iran, but it is no longer calling for immediate sanctions. Instead, it seems to have adopted the approach, detailed by several key senators over the weekend, which advocates the passage of new sanctions legislation, while ensuring the legislation is only implemented if Iran does not live up to its commitments under the interim agreement.

“Congress should establish clear consequences — by legislating additional sanctions — should Iran violate this agreement or fail to agree to an acceptable final deal,” the AIPAC statement reads.

The lobby ends its statement with a series of quotes of congressional leaders, carefully selected to reflect both sides of the isle, expressing their skepticism about the deal and calling for tougher measures against Iran.


The Jewish Daily Forward welcomes reader comments in order to promote thoughtful discussion on issues of importance to the Jewish community. In the interest of maintaining a civil forum, The Jewish Daily Forwardrequires that all commenters be appropriately respectful toward our writers, other commenters and the subjects of the articles. Vigorous debate and reasoned critique are welcome; name-calling and personal invective are not. While we generally do not seek to edit or actively moderate comments, our spam filter prevents most links and certain key words from being posted and The Jewish Daily Forward reserves the right to remove comments for any reason.





Find us on Facebook!
  • What's it like to be Chagall's granddaughter?
  • Is pot kosher for Passover. The rabbis say no, especially for Ashkenazi Jews. And it doesn't matter if its the unofficial Pot Day of April 20.
  • A Ukrainian rabbi says he thinks the leaflets ordering Jews in restive Donetsk to 'register' were a hoax. But the disturbing story still won't die.
  • Some snacks to help you get through the second half of Passover.
  • You wouldn't think that a Soviet-Jewish immigrant would find much in common with Gabriel Garcia Marquez. But the famed novelist once helped one man find his first love. http://jd.fo/f3JiS
  • Can you relate?
  • The Forverts' "Bintel Brief" advice column ran for more than 65 years. Now it's getting a second life — as a cartoon.
  • Half of this Hillel's members believe Jesus was the Messiah.
  • Vinyl isn't just for hipsters and hippies. Israeli photographer Eilan Paz documents the most astonishing record collections from around the world:http://jd.fo/g3IyM
  • Could Spider-Man be Jewish? Andrew Garfield thinks so.
  • Most tasteless video ever? A new video shows Jesus Christ dying at Auschwitz.
  • "It’s the smell that hits me first — musty, almost sweet, emanating from the green felt that cradles each piece of silver cutlery in its own place." Only one week left to submit! Tell us the story of your family's Jewish heirloom.
  • Mazel tov to Chelsea Clinton and Marc Mezvinsky!
  • If it's true, it's pretty terrifying news.
  • from-cache

Would you like to receive updates about new stories?




















We will not share your e-mail address or other personal information.

Already subscribed? Manage your subscription.