Head of US treasury defends Iran nuclear deal

US Treasury Secretary Jacob Lew defends Iran in front of pro-Israel audience

Photo by: Reuters
Photo by: Reuters

Updated Jul 28, 2015

The United States Treasury Secretary Jacob Lew defended Iran for compromising for a nuclear deal during boos from a speech in front of a pro-Israel audience on Sunday.

Lew was heckled throughout the speech on a number of occasions at the annual New York conference sponsored by the Jerusalem Post as he explained Iran’s nuclear negotiations with the West. "A diplomatic solution is the best, most enduring path to achieve our goal of keeping Iran from obtaining a nuclear weapon," he said.

"But we have also been clear, we remain steadfast in our determination to take any steps necessary to prevent Iran from obtaining nuclear weapons. That is not just important to Israel's security but America's security," he added.

He rejected claims that Iran had increased its uranium stocks throughout the 18-month negotiation period, and said an interim agreement has been agreed upon that ceased Iran’s nuclear programme.

"Iran has halted and scaled back key elements of its nuclear programme. And we have gained unprecedented insight into Iran's nuclear activities," Lew said.

"Even though Iran's stockpile of uranium has gone up and down at various times over the past 18 months, this was something we anticipated and at each of the deadlines that have been set, Iran's uranium stockpile levels have been within the levels that were agreed to," he added

The New York Times reported an increase in Iran’s nuclear stocks by 20 percent on June 1. The report detailed international inspectors as noting the growth over 18 months.

Negotiators representing the US government have till the end of the month to agree on Iran’s nuclear programme. Tehran is adamantly defending the programme as peaceful but the West is reluctant to believe Iran and sees the potential of the creation of nuclear weapons.

Israel's Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has become the most sceptical of the agreement, cautioning against a "bad deal that paves the way for a bomb."

Lew, who is faithful in orthodox Judaism said the US is "not operating on an assumption that Iran will act in good faith. This deal will only be finalised if the connective tissue of the agreement meets a tough standard of intense verification and scrutiny."

"If we reach an agreement and Iran ends up flouting its obligations, we will know, and we will have preserved all our options - including economic and military measures - to make sure that Iran can never acquire a nuclear weapon," he added.

Lew said, sanctions have resulted in Iran losing over $160 billion in oil revenues since 2012 and also the shrinkage of Iran’s economy by 9 percent since 2012.


TRTWorld and agencies