“I think we let Iran off the hook,” said City Councilman-Elect Rory Lancman, echoing similar reactions other Jewish leaders representing Queens had about the new nuclear agreement between the United States and Iran.
On Saturday, President Obama announced the Joint Plan of Action a deal reached between Iran and the P5+1 (the United States, United Kingdom, Germany, France, Russia and China) to greatly reduce Iran’s nuclear activity for the next six months. Iran will have to permit inspectors daily access to its facilities while the P5+1 countries will curtail its sanctions in certain areas including the auto industry, oil and gold exports.
In response to the Joint Plan of Action, Lancman, of Flushing, said that the United States might have missed its opportunity to peacefully force Iran to reliniquish its nuclear program. “Their goal was to break the pressure and momentum that was gripping them.”
Assemblyman David Weprin (D-Fresh Meadows) saw the pressure on Iran with the tough sanctions as working toward the U.S. goal of disarmament.
“I don’t know what the U.S. is getting out of it,” he said, remarking that Israel, which has called the plan “ a historic mistake,” is the only ally the United States has in the region.
The angering of an ally was a common concern of those interviewed, such as Barry Rachnowitz, executive director of the Howard Beach Judea Center, who said the plan would just appease the “rogue terrorist county” rather than deal with the problem.
Rep. Steve Israel (D-Suffolk, Nassau, Queens), who had previously told Foreign Policy magazine that he would find it “extremely difficult” for Congress to support decreasing sanctions, added in a statement, “I am deeply concerned that this is a timeout rather than a rollback of the nuclear program, and that it is not the kind of robust verification that is necessary with Iran.”
But, according to Professor Mark Rosenblum, director of the Jewish Studies Department at Queens College, the agreement will require Iran to rollback its nuclear program since it stipulates that its stockpiled 20 percent of uranium will either be diluted or converted to oxide, so it will be hard to use for military nuclear purposes in the future.
Rather than choose to side on the “romantic” view that a war has been prevented or the “extremely cynical” view that the “United States threw Israel under a bus,” Rosenblum, who has expertise in the Middle East, said that for now, the deal should be seen as “the best of a series of imperfect options.”
At the moment, he already sees Israel supporters accepting the deal and moving forward to make sure that the interim arrangment is honored.
As he sees it, Obama has made a significant diplomatic effort with a country that has had limited discourse with the United States over the past 30 years. He sees the chance to bring Iran “out of the cold” as a start to bring about new alliances in the Middle East.
Rosenblum recognizes the outrage Israelis might have about the plan, but as it’s already been made, to now intrude on this possibility for peace would be “foolhardy,” he said.