From Vienna, Flynt Leverett Analyzes the Iran Talks on DemocracyNow and, From Washington, Hillary Leverett on MSNBC


From Vienna, Flynt shared his take today with DemocracyNow, see here or click on the video above, on what President Obama has the chance to achieve with an Iran deal and the state of play at the talks.  From Washington, Hillary provided her analysis to MSNBC, see here or click on the video above.  A transcript of Flynt’s analysis follows:

AMY GOODMAN:…We go to Vienna, Austria, where we’re joined by Flynt Leverett, who’s there following the talks, author of Going to Tehran: Why America Must Accept the Islamic Republic of Iran. He’s a professor of international affairs at Penn State, served for over a decade in the U.S. government as a senior analyst at the CIA, a Middle East specialist for the State Department and as senior director for Middle East affairs at the National Security Council. Flynt Leverett, what is happening at this moment in Vienna?

FLYNT LEVERETT: I believe that a final agreement is going to be reached here. What we’re watching now is a very, very slow, excruciatingly slow, process. The negotiators here have basically finished their work. Texts have gone back to national capitals for final review. And especially on the U.S. side, this process of review within the Obama administration is moving along very, very slowly. To the best of my knowledge, the White House has not come back with specific concerns, specific points that it wants, in effect, to renegotiate, but it seems like the Obama administration is being very deliberate, to say the least, in reviewing the work that is done here. And that means—you know, if one of the parties is slow, it means it delays the time at which people can produce final text, text that can basically be released to the world when the parties are ready to announce. That’s what we’re watching right now. But I still think we’re going to get to a final agreement very soon.

AMY GOODMAN: Can you talk about the main issues that are in this agreement and those left to resolve?

FLYNT LEVERETT: Yes. The main issues, which, to the best of my understanding, have been resolved, are the nature of the limits on its nuclear activities that Iran will observe while an agreement is in place; the pace and scope of sanctions relief for Iran, sanctions lifting, has been worked out. Over the last few days, the main issues that needed to be worked through concern precise terms on specific parts of a new United Nations Security Council that will nullify previous resolutions related to the Iran nuclear issue, remove international sanctions against Iran authorized by the Security Council, including the arms embargo, and formally launch implementation of this agreement. To the best of my understanding, the negotiators here have basically reached an understanding about the terms of the Security Council resolution, but, as I said, it’s being reviewed in national capitals, and that review process is going especially slowly in Washington.

AMY GOODMAN: On Sunday, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu denounced the pending Iranian nuclear deal being sought by the international negotiators. This is what he said.

PRIME MINISTER BENJAMIN NETANYAHU: [translated] Iran does not hide its intention to continue its murderous aggression, even against those with which it is negotiating. Perhaps there is somebody among the powers who is willing to capitulate to the reality that Iran is dictating, which includes its repeated calls for the destruction of Israel. We will not accept this.

AMY GOODMAN: Flynt Leverett, your response?

FLYNT LEVERETT: Well, certainly no surprise that Prime Minister Netanyahu would say that. America’s traditional allies in the region—Israel and Saudi Arabia—both have been working to undermine a deal. Even if they are not able to stop a deal—and I don’t think they will be—they are working very hard to put as much pressure as possible on the United States so that a nuclear agreement doesn’t become a critical first step in a broader realignment of U.S.-Iranian relations.

My own view, my wife and I, both in government and in the years since we left government, have argued vociferously that, for its own interest, the United States desperately needs to come to terms with the Islamic Republic of Iran, this increasingly important power in the Middle East. It needs to balance its traditional, but increasingly dysfunctional, relationships with Israel and Saudi Arabia with strategically grounded engagement with Iran. This nuclear deal could be a critical first step in that direction. It’s one of the reasons that I’m here, to try and help make that argument.

But, you know, there are a lot of pressures on the Obama administration, and I’m not sure there’s a real consensus within the administration to use a nuclear agreement, which, as I said, I think we will get here within relatively short order—I don’t think there’s that kind of consensus within the administration to use a deal as the springboard for what I think is an imperative realignment of U.S. relations with Iran. The U.S. needs to revamp its approach to the Middle East. And a critical, essential step in that revamping will be realigning U.S. relations with Iran.

AMY GOODMAN: Speaking on Fox News Sunday, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell suggested the Obama administration will have a difficult time convincing Congress to approve a deal with Iran.

MAJORITY LEADER MITCH McCONNELL: Well, look, we already know that it’s going to leave Iran as a threshold nuclear state. We know that. It appears as if the administration’s approach to this was to reach whatever agreement the Iranians are willing to enter into. So I think it’s going to be a very hard sell, if it’s completed, in Congress.

AMY GOODMAN: The Republican majority is expected to vote against the deal and to try to convince at least 12 Democrats to join their ranks in an attempt to defeat a presidential veto. Flynt Leverett, explain what has to happen in the United States for the U.S. to approve this. What is the voting that will take place?

FLYNT LEVERETT: Both houses of Congress will have 60 days to review the agreement once it’s finalized. I think it is quite possible, if not likely, that a simple majority of members in each house will vote a so-called resolution of disapproval in regard to the agreement. At that point, President Obama has said that he would veto those resolutions of disapproval. And at this point, the White House seems pretty confident that they have the votes, at least in the Senate, and perhaps in the House, as well, to sustain President Obama’s veto. So, they are confident that if you can get to an agreement here in Vienna, that it will ultimately get through the congressional review process and will go into effect.

But obviously, during the next—you know, the 60 days following a conclusion of an agreement, the Israelis, the Saudis, their friends and allies in the American political system, others who don’t want to see this agreement go forward are going to be working very hard, trying to turn public opinion against the deal and trying to build congressional support to maximize the vote against the deal.

Public opinion polls would show that Americans are open to supporting this deal, but one of the things I really worry about is that President Obama himself has not really made the strategic case for why doing this deal and for why building a different kind of relationship with Iran is so strongly in America’s interest. He either talks about this as a kind of narrow arms control agreement, but Iran is still this very bad actor, or he talks about it in terms of it being an opportunity for Iran to rejoin the international community, as he puts it. This is not the way to sell this deal to Americans. Americans understand that what the United States has been doing in the Middle East for the last decade and a half has actually been profoundly against American interests. It’s also been very damaging to Middle Easterners. But it has been profoundly damaging to America’s position in this critical part of the world and globally. President Obama has a chance here to begin to turn that around and put U.S. policy toward the Middle East on a more different and more productive trajectory, but he is going to have to make the strategic case and spend the political capital necessary to make the strategic case.

AMY GOODMAN: We’re going to have to leave it there, but we’ll continue to follow this, of course.


17 Responses to “From Vienna, Flynt Leverett Analyzes the Iran Talks on DemocracyNow and, From Washington, Hillary Leverett on MSNBC”

  1. Kooshy says:


    Thank toy for continued update and as usual great debate and analysis from Vienna. Also saw you live on Press TV’ debate program today. So far sounds like your 10 years work on recommending a new approach to US’ ME policy is almost +or – half way done.

  2. Fiorangela says:

    Hillary You Go Girl!

  3. Fiorangela says:

    Dr. Salehi looks very frail.

    What a hero.

  4. masoud says:

    Lol. For some reason Hillary was introduced as a ‘hostage negotiator for Iran’ the look on her face when she heard that was priceless.

    On the other hand this is the nth time in the past several weeks Hillary has been given time to make her point on American TV without having to deal and spit time with someone ‘from the other side’, which is a huge development. I’d also like to add that she was entirely screwed over by BBC in that house of Saud debate. She was given less time to speak then some of the people asking questions! It really was quite shameful. But in any case let’s wait and see what we get tommorow.

  5. Smith says:

    The deal has been reached. Now let’s hope US keeps its side of the bargain.

  6. Smith says:

    ‘We ain’t found shit’
    Scott Ritter explains why Iran shouldn’t accept ‘no notice’ inspections of its nuclear sites

  7. M. Ali says:

    So far it seems all our red lines have been crossed.

    “A landmark Iran nuclear agreement was reached Tuesday after clearing final obstacles, and a senior diplomat said it included a compromise between Washington and Tehran that would allow U.N. inspectors to press for visits to Iranian military sites as part of their monitoring duties.

    But access at will to any site would not necessarily be granted and even if so, could be delayed, a condition that critics of the deal are sure to seize on as possibly giving Tehran time to cover any sign of non-compliance with its commitments.

    Under the deal, Tehran would have the right to challenge the U.N request and an arbitration board composed of Iran and the six world powers that negotiated with it would have to decide on the issue.”

    So, basically, all Iran can do is to challenge the UN request and an arbitration board consisting of the same guys who put sanctions on Iran will decide fairly?

    And apparently, they can even interview scientists.

    If we wanted to do this, why even stretch it for two years?

    I like how some idiots are claiming that Zarif could do this, while Ahmadenijad couldn’t negotiate with the west. Well, if Ahmednijad accepted additional protocols, stopping enrichment, giving access to military sites, he would have “succeeded” too.

  8. M. Ali says:

    And apparently, after two years of intense negotiations we have move from,
    JPOA (Joint Plan of Action)
    JCPOA (Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action)

    Whats the next phase? JVCOA (Joint Very Comprehensive Plan of Action)?

  9. Smith says:

    It is a good enough deal for Iran if US keeps its word. With Iran’s shamble of science and technology capability insufficient to take care of national needs, this is the best that could be done. Now, Iranians can sit back and watch Obama fight for them in congress and in media against Israeli machinations. This is the power of Iranian manipulative diplomacy at its finest.

    Here is the entire deal document (159 pages):

    Dr Ahmadinejad so much wanted to do the same.

  10. Smith says:

    Fiorangela says:
    July 13, 2015 at 9:11 pm

    Recently, his colonoscopy was botched which caused him to have laparotomy. He will live.

  11. Smith says:

    It is good to see what Leveretts’ have been saying with regard to Israel is coming true. Israel is now self-isolating itself with its actions and statements over the deal. It is as if, they are sanctioning themselves (what an irony).

    It is too soon to say if the deal goes through the congress. The real test for America will be the vote in congress. For Americans the historical implications are going to be much bigger than whether Iran will be a nuclear armed state or a threshold nuclear state. It will be America’s test in sovereignty and independence. If Americans win their independence (again, this time from Israel), they should declare it a national holiday and celebrate it as such every year.

    And if deal goes through congress, then Israel’s isolation is going to be even worse than Iran’s isolation. Israel’s situation will be the classic case of the ancient advice, “never put all your eggs in one basket”.

  12. M.Ali says:

    I’ve been going through the text. Here’s my initial thought. The wording is made to make Iran feel good about itself. But remove all the fluff, and you realize all the extra wording is useless.

    For example, appendix on Access:

    “Q. ACCESS

    74. Requests for access pursuant to provisions of this JCPOA will be made in good faith, with due observance of the sovereign rights of Iran, and kept to the minimum necessary to effectively implement the verification responsibilities under this JCPOA. In line with normal international safeguards practice, such requests will not be aimed at interfering with Iranian military or other national security activities, but will be exclusively for resolving concerns regarding fulfilment of the JCPOA commitments and Iran’s other non-proliferation and safeguards obligations. The following procedures are for the purpose of JCPOA implementation between the E3/EU+3 and Iran and are without prejudice to the safeguards agreement and the Additional Protocol thereto. In implementing this procedure as well as other transparency measures, the IAEA will be requested to take every precaution to protect commercial, technological and industrial secrets as well as other confidential information coming to its knowledge.

    75. In furtherance of implementation of the JCPOA, if the IAEA has concerns regarding undeclared nuclear materials or activities, or activities inconsistent with the JCPOA, at locations that have not been declared under the comprehensive safeguards agreement or Additional Protocol, the IAEA will provide Iran the basis for such concerns and request clarification.

    76. If Iran’s explanations do not resolve the IAEA’s concerns, the Agency may request access to such locations for the sole reason to verify the absence of undeclared nuclear materials and activities or activities inconsistent with the JCPOA at such locations. The IAEA will provide Iran the reasons for access in writing and will make available relevant information.

    77. Iran may propose to the IAEA alternative means of resolving the IAEA’s concerns that enable the IAEA to verify the absence of undeclared nuclear materials and activities or activities inconsistent with the JCPOA at the location in question, which should be given due and prompt consideration.

    78. If the absence of undeclared nuclear materials and activities or activities inconsistent with the JCPOA cannot be verified after the implementation of the alternative arrangements agreed by Iran and the IAEA, or if the two sides are unable to reach satisfactory arrangements to verify the absence of undeclared nuclear materials and activities or activities inconsistent with the JCPOA at the specified locations within 14 days of the IAEA’s original request for access, Iran, in consultation with the members of the Joint Commission, would resolve the IAEA’s concerns through necessary means agreed between Iran and the IAEA. In the absence of an agreement, the members of the Joint Commission, by consensus or by a vote of 5 or more of its 8 members, would advise on the necessary means to resolve the IAEA’s concerns. The process of consultation with, and any action by, the members of the Joint Commission would not exceed 7 days, and Iran would implement the necessary means within 3 additional days. “

    Look how nice and sweet the wording is! Awwwwww.

    But all that it actually says is that IAEA can request anywhere it wants, Iran can give alternative explanations, but IAEA can claim it is not enough, then Iran’s option is to go to the arbitrary board which only needs 5 out of 8 members to agree on a course of action, meaning that China and Russia can’t veto it.

  13. A concerned world citizen says:

    Iran is proper f*cked.

    Zarif/Ruhani had to get this deal at all cost because his political life depends on it. He promised his voters to deliver them a deal and he has.

    The details of the deal is just so humiliating:

    Iran will still be required to prove a negative. Basically anyone can accuse Iran of anything and Iran must prove otherwise.

    We can all be happy now.

  14. pragmatic says:

    @A concerned world citizen says:
    July 14, 2015 at 8:34 am

    “Zarif/Ruhani had to get this deal at all cost because his political life depends on it. He promised his voters to deliver them a deal and he has.”

    Question: Based on what you said above one would think Zarif/Rohani have circumvented the leader (Rahbari)? Another words they have crossed his red line, correct? I do not agree with your assessment, because they have followed what the Leader have drawn for them. Subsequently, they did not have the authority to do otherwise.

  15. Kathleen says:

    A huge thank you to the Leverett’s for doing everything in their power to help inform the public about the situation with Iran based on facts. Too bad more mainstream outlets were not open to having you on. CNN…MSNBC’s Melissa Harris Perry, now the folks from the Cycle. Too bad Joe Scarborough, Chris Matthews, Ed, Al Sharpton etc are not into really informing the public baaed on a deeper understanding of the facts.

    Hopefully the next two months they will open up to having the Leverett”s on their programs to educate the American public about the deal.

    Hillary you were great on the Cycle but you look tired. Bet you will be making the rounds. Hopefully you get some deep rest. Lemon , honey hot water for that overworked (thank you) throat and voice. Traditional Medicinals Throat Coat (Whole Foods) for that throat and voice. We need the two of you big time!

    Hopefully folks step up the pressure on their Reps over the next two months to support this historic deal. Aipac’s website has been focused on taking this deal down for months…years. New commercials attacking the deal endlessly on the mainstream focused on taking the deal down. We have to continue to do our part calling into national radio (Diane Rehm, On Point (millions listen), Washington Journal (Cspan) write local letters to your paper in support of this deal.

    Contact Reps, call into national radio shows, information panels based on the facts, link Going To Tehran pieces around the web, write local papers in support of the deal! Keep supporting this historic deal. The least we can do!

  16. Amir says:

    Smith says:
    July 14, 2015 at 7:25 am

    Who’s doing these colonoscopies? I remember (if I’m not mistaken) Carlo Lucas died of a perforation (iaterogenic, during colonoscopy).

  17. fyi says:

    pragmatic says:

    July 14, 2015 at 9:02 am

    Yes, that is patently nonsensical.

    Mr. Khamenei has gotten what he had wanted and will get more of it in the ripeness of time.

    And the young people will have a better prospects in the immediate future.