Iran Nuclear Deal Could Be Stalling Tactic for Long Term Negotiations

Skeptics of the deal worry Iran might have an alternative purpose for making the agreement.
3:00 | 11/25/13

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Transcript for Iran Nuclear Deal Could Be Stalling Tactic for Long Term Negotiations
This is a special room. I'm -- company -- -- as ABC news digital special report secret diplomacy back channel negotiations resulting in a landmark deal with Iran. -- sanctions will be lifted eased if nuclear enrichment slows down. ABC's Devin -- -- on the latest Washington and joins us now with some of the details of this -- Hey -- -- this deal has drawn now a mix of cheers and some jeers. But the real focus is on the six months ahead of those negotiations are going to be much more difficult. Even -- spark celebrations in Iran. But today sceptical western powers see the much harder work begins. That is the effort. To get the comprehensive agreement. Which to acquire enormous steps in terms of verification transparency. And accountability. The nuclear deal sealed over the weekend came after months of secret negotiations between the US and Iran. Iran agreed to freeze its nuclear program and allowed daily inspections of key facilities for six months. In return the US and allies will ease some economic sanctions about seven billion dollars worth and promise not to impose any new wants. If Iran does not fully meet its commitments during the six month -- We will turn off the relief and ratchet up the pressure. Still Iran's centrifuges keep spinning something that has Israel and her US allies in congress concerned. I just don't see this movement in the direction. -- preventing Iran from developing a nuclear weapon at all. We've trusted the Iran eons before just like the north Koreans on nuclear issues and what have we gotten for it. They continue to have their development of these weapons lawmakers from both parties see the move forward with tougher sanctions on Iran. If the talks to reach a long term agreement fail. -- secretary of state Carey says those talks will begin today. And already there's some disagreement Iran says those western powers now recognize it has a right to -- -- The US says not so fast that's not in the deal it's still up for negotiation -- -- let me ask is because -- critics of the deal here commerce and that essentially these talks are a delaying tactic. By the Iran -- what is the administration's response to that. We're here for the White House -- president Obama's but it's worth the try remember President Obama as a candidate in 2007. Set out that he wanted to establish a dialogue with the Iranians to give this a chance here it is they've made some progress. But they say the administration says if all else fails acknowledged ratchet up those sanctions again and they're ready to do so and congress -- treaties to. All right -- thank you -- so for more on how this deal came about -- -- -- ABC's chief foreign correspondent in London Terry Moran Terry thanks for being with us today. Both sides as Ashley -- this a victory but did both sides essentially get what they wanted. Not entirely that's the nature of a negotiation and a deal and you're absolutely right Dan both sides emerged from this deal. And claimed victory. And the hardliners in both. Sides in both countries essentially said. That this deal was bad so either that's evidence that nobody knows what they're talking about -- that it might actually be a real compromise that rarest thing in negotiations. Essentially. Iran does have to. At least put a ceiling on where it is right now. As far as nuclear powers concerned and open up its facilities to international inspections on a daily basis on the other hand. The United States and allies have got to. Ease the sanctions just a little bit. You still can fall apart in a minute it was quite clear in Geneva where I was over the weekend nobody trusts anyone in this deal. Which is why it's all full of these. Mechanisms hopefully trust isn't required. -- who won. Well I did I guess the hope is that peace in the Middle East one but that remains to be seen -- -- that is reflective over the reception here in the United States as we just heard from -- peace there haven't been a bit of a mixed response -- that. But a wrong audience are really and the diplomats as as heroes essentially. Absolutely right we saw these extraordinary scenes. Over the weekend in the wee hours of the morning. Late at night I should say in Tehran when their negotiators were turned back to Iran they were greeted at the airport. Like rock stars. And why is that well for one thing that is evidence of what conservatives in the United States are saying the sanctions are crippling the Iranian economy they're desperate for any relief for them. There's no question that that is true. But there's one other thing you see in those crowds there is a real desire among many many Iran needs to be a normal country in the world again. They are the Persian they are a great culture in the history of this world they have had this pariah status certainly under. President Mahmoud -- Ahmadinejad and really back. Back through the decades there are many millions of Iranians who want to reemerge. As a full participant in the world community and they see this temporary. Partial deal. As the cracking of the door opening that is the future to them in that way well then on that deal what is the timeline -- for removing some of these sanctions and as is something or even put in place. We'll -- that that seems to be a debate the European officials said today that. Money could flow to Iran as early as December. He Ronnie and said today that money's already -- -- their way and the Americans said -- that report is false. It probably have to do with that financial technicalities of the whole thing but there's no question. That this is on a fast track. This is this deal is meant to build trust and confidence. Between people who don't have any for each -- and they need to see some money fast and the United States and western powers need to see those inspections start. They need to see the breaking of some of the connections in the centrifuges. Where they enrich uranium to a very high near weapons grade dangerous level. And they need to see the degradation of that very dangerous kind of weapons grade fuel. Down to a lower level. All this is gonna happen pretty fast and it's the hope certainly among the negotiators that we talked to in Geneva. That there's a momentum built now towards the much tougher comprehensive deal sometime down the for a -- Politics. Who with a capital -- clearly playing into this an end here at home in the states. Congressional Republicans are are still pushing for new sanctions against Iran and and I guess the question is that. Does that benefit the president in these kinds of talks this negotiation almost to have a good cop bad cop scenario taking place. Yeah that's a great point and I we should emphasize -- Democrats as well as Republicans. Who are deeply suspicious of around who think this is a bad deal and are lining up. To pass new sanctions. If those sanctions are structured in such a way as senator Bob Corker of Tennessee and others are talking about. That they would essentially be the big baseball bat the back of the -- if Iran steps not aligned that might strengthen. The president's hand might strengthen the deal. If on the other hand they're done to show how tough the congress is tougher than President Obama we are gonna have any of this negotiating with Iran. While that would kill the deal right at the outset and so it depends on how they are. Developed and passed and it will be a challenge for the president to see if he consigned them to aid in the negotiations instead of -- the deal. You talk about nuclear weapons and obviously the entire world's attention is -- -- -- but. But some analysts analysts are saying that this deal -- was a lot more important for Iran. Then the US and Europe primarily because the most recent sanctions have essentially cripple the economy there and. Absolutely -- there's -- a couple reasons why it's so important -- on one yes sanctions relief. The latest round of sanctions and achievement. Not a lot of the president's critics want and note this. And achievement of President Obama finally to get. All kinds of countries together in a very severe regime of sanctions China and Russia as well that did -- Heart into a -- and society. And they do want out from under those sanctions and are desperate to get their economy going in their currencies collapsed unemployment is very high. People arrested that the young country they need a lot of jobs and so there's no question that they want out from under the sanctions the -- this is important. Is. It may help determine who runs Iran in the coming years. -- president Ronnie. The president of -- when he spoke to his people after this deal was reached. Almost sounded like an American politician of course do very different systems but he emphasized over and over. You voted for this government and this government is delivering -- you will see the benefits of your votes. And there is a contest one of the Iran in negotiators that -- that I talked to in Geneva said. We have about six months -- about six months domestically. If we don't deliver what the people want they'll turn back toward -- -- job type leadership or even war. We're talking about how this deal came about secretary of state John Kerry was a last minute add to the VIP list going to the negotiations in Geneva there. What has been the depth of his involvement in behind us. Profound is just an amazing story -- in this whole. Approach to Iran actually begins a couple of years ago when secretary. Kerry was Senator Kerry. And they remember that three American hikers who had wandered into Iran and were detained by the government and eventually released. That. Release was made possible by the nation of Oman. And the sultan of Oman who is close to Iran and close to the United States and he operated as a go between. Senator Kerry was instrumental in that release and that those conversations about those hikers. Began opening a back channel. Which President Obama took advantage of the White House took advantage of and when secretary Kerry became. When Senator Kerry became secretary of state -- He followed up on and so one of the astonishing revelations of the weekend there'd been almost a year of top secret meetings between. Top US officials and Iran in officials in Oman and elsewhere in the region laying the ground work. For the deal that was reached this weekend in Geneva is really an amazing story these meetings kept secret even from some of America's closest allies. Including Israel. When asked about an Israeli government officials and you don't have to tell us something for us to know that it's happening. Indicating that their intelligence. Had they had revealed to them these meetings were under way. But it is it is a tale of diplomatic. For NASA and secrecy. That led. To the accord in Geneva this weekend who -- speaking. Israel obviously America's biggest ally in the region -- not having a favorable response -- this negotiation in this deal making that's going on. What does Israel have to lose in the shuffle. Well. Perhaps its existence if he talked to some Israelis. You know is real Israeli democracy is a very vibrant. And vocal democracy and they don't agree on a lot of things in Israel that's a sign of the health of its democracy they agree on this across the party lines and across the ideological lines for the most part that this is bad for them. -- deeply concerned this they look across. At Iran they see a country which is sworn to destroy Israel for decades. Which has a sponsored what Israel experiences is terrorism. On its northern border and in its villages and cities they received their arch enemy doing a deal with their closest ally. About nuclear weapons and that is a terrifying thing to Israel. It has united the Israeli people in concern. In worry. And in defiance they are ready. As prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu said to go it alone if they have to have they believe the only way to stop Iran. From breaking out and building a nuclear weapon if that's what they believe is happening. They'll do it alone -- attack alone one other thing that's happened in Israel looking at all the Israeli media over the past couple days. A lot of reflection. What do we do wrong how did we lose Obama. Netanyahu and Obama. Don't seem to like each other very much Netanyahu openly campaigned almost four for the Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney. And their reflection that you see in the Israeli media parts of the Israeli media is a sense of sorrow and regret. That their most important alliance in the world. Seems to have frayed -- to the point where they are now looking at a very changed Middle East one that they don't think will benefit them. That is a relationship indeed that has been closely watched of resent it -- also want to ask you about Saudi Arabia also in opposition to this deal essentially. Is siding with Israel and it might -- -- usual to -- but but in fact a lot of the Arab world doesn't wanna see a stronger Iran I. Absolutely. That saudis see themselves as the certainly the spiritual leaders and the financial leaders of the -- Majority of the Arab world and they are looking across that Persian gulf from -- C. The very powerful nation of Iran. Get derivative that -- we knew what the Iran Iranian revolution did. Ayatollah Khomeini coming to power is. Liberate the Shiites of the Middle East. The Shiites were second class citizens and many many countries including Saudi Arabia most of the Saudi oil fields are. In territories where there's -- -- -- population. And so for decades now Saudi Arabia has been very very wary of Iran reaching across the gulf. Storing -- Saudi Shiite populations into revolt against the Saudi regime. Bob rain is also -- majority Shiite population and so there's. Deep deep enmity across the Persian gulf -- between Saudi Arabia and Iran and you're right. -- according -- -- -- in the country with strange bedfellows and Saudi Arabia and it Israel are now shoulder to shoulder against this deal and against Iran. So in the kind of -- very basic question but still question I think that's worthy of being asked if Israel and Saudi Arabia are against this then why. Was this such an important deal for the US. It's a potential game changer -- first nuclear proliferation. It -- prospect of Iran developing a nuclear weapon is a dire one for the entire region in the entire world this is. And has demonstrated certainly in its rhetoric and often in its actions a reckless and at times dangerous regime. It is also. Regime in the middle of the world's most dangerous neighborhood -- touch off -- nuclear arms race. In Saudi Arabia and Egypt elsewhere in the Middle East. And so those those prospects are profound. First order national security concerns for the United States. But secondarily. Iran might be able to play very positive constructive roles. With the United States in a place like Iraq which is falling apart where both countries have profound influence in Afghanistan. Which is falling apart. And where Iran has a great deal of influence. There are opportunities. Even despite the very different systems for the United States and Iran to work together. Most probably -- terrorism they are both dire enemies of al-Qaeda. So there -- plus -- major strategic plus sides. The United States to develop some kind of arrangement with Iran but the main driving one without question. Is. Nuclear proliferation stop Iran from getting a bomb and President Obama is batting gambling risking. That this is a better way than war. So you lastly Terry before we let you -- this is six month deal what happens and after that six months. Well it depends on what happens during the six months if both sides abide by the terms the deal. And are able to negotiate the very difficult next stage where Iran really rolls back its nuclear program. To the point where the world. Transparently. Has confidence that it can never build a nuclear weapon. Then the sanctions get lifted. Iran becomes a normal country in a nuclear sense in other words has peaceful use of nuclear power under. International law and that would be a game changer for that region but that has a long way off in a very very hard deal to strike. And had a deal certainly that has -- a lot of attention in recent Terry Moran in London Terry thank you for that. So for more of the details of the deal itself I want to bring an ABC's Martinez. At the Pentagon and Louie -- the nitty gritty of this the deal. Essentially it outlines that nuclear enrichment. Is to halt at 5% I mean essentially does that mean that Iran cannot develop nuclear weapons at those levels. Not necessarily it's called the break out that means that's the some higher percentages in which you get weapons grade uranium. And we have been -- beyond -- percent almost 67%. In order to do that. Iran already has stockpiles of 20%. Under this deal they're gonna. Neutralize that they're gonna created into an ox -- it doesn't. I can't be used for weapons purposes so that's a plus in this deal in in terms of its nuclear program but -- -- right and in reaching up to 5%. By some time if this deal falls apart and in case they were to actually proceed with the decision. To seek a nuclear weapon but. Part of the -- Reason here's some criticism. That this deal doesn't go far enough Israel for example what they wanted -- destruction of the centrifuges that -- crew who leads to this enrichment of uranium. What they think that as long as -- centrifuges are in place. Very quickly Iran committed to switch -- organization -- a program. That's because the enrichment levels of 5% to 20% and higher it's a very fast process. Some estimates are that right now what this deal dies in buying time for that so called break out. On that I talked about his need an extra month so that -- -- criticism but the supporters and and he obviously seeing enough time did you'd we need that time. Just to get. Them at the table to see what else can be done through negotiating table so that. -- Iran's nuclear program. Can probably negotiate exit. Now -- regarding the carrying sticks and air -- -- part of this regarding the sanctions oil a big part of this deal. What relief. Did Iran get in that area. You know -- seven billion dollars total of that four and a half billion are actually coming from oil exports but when yeah we'll look at the real. My amounts in that they sanctions -- and then damage that. The sanctions are causing on Iran's economy it's -- -- -- -- can -- -- -- -- -- drop in the -- because Iran -- five billion dollars -- month. In oil revenue because of the existing sanctions regime so seven billion dollars over six months since a phased in process. Verses five billion dollars a month you know that adds up and over a year that sixty billion dollars in lost revenue. I think or they last couple of years as -- international sanctions regime is gone. Higher and higher. I have had a big screen in broad in scope. I think Iran has lost some around 150 billion. -- -- -- -- When you have an economy that is so dependent on revenue from its petroleum exports that's gonna impact everything that's -- -- rising inflation. Why he saw. Such pressure on the Iranian government why. -- -- was actually elect that he was elected on a campaign platform and easing the sanctions regime. And so even though it's seven billion dollars. It's in really immigrants -- thing's not that much and but for him you ask yourself why would or honey except such. -- small deal for him he is Terry said he's got to go back and show that he can get something from these negotiations. May be healed well try to get more and it -- over the next coming six months. But for now he had to show that he could actually get something from this deal and he did. Let me ask about the verification process of this because part of the -- requiring open access to IAEA. Investigators and inspectors in there I mean. Is there concern about the legitimacy about just how reliable method this would be to figure if in fact Iran is keeping its word. We're hearing that from -- for President Obama that this is -- verification regime that is never actually happened inside Iran. And -- -- if they try to do something in secret which some hardliners here in the US and across the globe like and Netanyahu are not gonna trust these guys. It's it's still -- regime have verification regime that has not been in place and one of the things that's really significant here is that there they've allowed daily access. To these enrichment facilities -- cons. And for a these -- the two places one of them was a secret facility up until two a couple of years ago. So the fact that they're giving -- daily access to the IE EA inspectors is a big deal the other thing is that they're also giving access. Two uranium in mines themselves and it also gonna provide -- -- -- gonna provide. Some of plans that they have for some of these facilities now. One thing that is not covered by this deal is actually am very significant and that is. The military facilities one of them being pension. This is a missile plant. Missile facility. That -- -- believed where -- has actually tested the explosive triggers that you need. The detonates nuclear weapons and that facility is not part of this deal so it it's unclear how we will be able to monitor whether -- any developments there. But for now you have a pretty -- big step forward. In terms of monitoring the Iranian program. -- -- saint Iran breaks the terms of the deal me what do we expect a response then from the US is -- military action. On the table -- those kinds of responses even be discussed. We -- -- military option he's never taken off the table even with this six month interim deal as a matter fact. At this morning sent daily off camera press briefing on the spokesman here at the Pentagon basically simulate the force -- year. Around -- -- has not changed the US military force posture. Has not changed and won't change as a result of this deal so as always you know the United States tries to maintain a visible military presence in the region. It's not just the. And the carrier and it's always -- around the gulf region. Are in the Arabian Sea it's not just the American forces on the ground in Kuwait in cutter in the year bases there but also some of the monitoring for example there is. We call here ISI are and in. Drones. That skim along the coast -- trying to see if there's any nuclear activity underway. Bob so that is not gonna change sell -- as to what actually happens. If this deal falls apart I can't speculate on that but when they gates -- he sends the message here. At depending on today that. As far as the military's concerned. Nothing's changed you know we're talking with about that that Iran's president has to go back -- to show that he's got some kind of power some kind of -- -- -- to get something back from this. But some critics have been saying that whatever the president -- agrees on at these decisions inside Iran -- really made. By the religious leaders Somalis now could he have made this deal -- without their backing. He he needed to support the US supreme leader Ayatollah Khamenei and he needed that. -- he you know I just talking about when the my colleagues here today who live in Iran covered Iran for several years. And day he was makes it -- we were talking about just this very scenario how it is. You have an independent -- government. Existing parallel to this theocracy that is ruled by the supreme leader. And wild the -- can carry out in an independent decisions they're really not independent because ultimately. They have to be approved by the supreme leader. -- you have to think -- even though coming he remembered just did this while the talks are ongoing he gave this speech to act contained tough language. During Friday prayers I talked about. America not backing down -- America and the chance from the crowd of death to America which referred for thirty years. And and so that was seen as a hard line but yet you -- you deal emerging from these talks over the weekend. And so -- The impression there has to be that even -- you heard these tough words coming from coming any. That ultimately yes he did sponsor deal because he wants to see. Potentially a resolution in this because he years. The rate in Iranian population. Expressing its author -- this presidential vote. That they wanted sanctions relief. So mean he's getting the message but how far they're gonna take it. Every piece -- let me ask you about this because they've been talking about Israel's response to this and Benjamin Netanyahu clearly been an -- -- -- very vocal critic of the agreement. The question is though hasn't talked himself out of out of place at the table going forward I mean is there a way that you can possibly -- back in. Well I don't know that he ever wanted to -- at the table. I think what he's a true then insisted on is that Iran this dissent assemble. These centrifuges. That they basically the -- themselves. An opportunity for -- nuclear program. I don't think he even wants a civilian program that something immediate United States might be willing to allow if you read between lines of the president Obama's statement that was released. The night of the deal on Saturday. -- heat you know Iran we we have done all this reporting about Iran wants -- right to enrich uranium. While he kind of they gave a big line -- about access to civilian programs that's something that Israel doesn't want. So how far they can continue this pressure in the United States. I think they're gonna keep pressing on that the only thing that is a concern to -- right now -- their safety as your Terry thought about. And for them that means that Iran not have a nuclear program and that's the message that they're gonna continue to convey to the not only to the United States but to. The other members the the UN Security Council who participated. In this deal don't forget. French president -- on. Sticking up a very forcefully. That of the plutonium facility in Iraq had to be part of the deal and then right after that -- he visits Israel. And demonstrates the -- the friendship between those two countries and the resolve in terms denying. Iran has some kind of a nuclear activity a major response from this landmark deal ABC's that Martinez at the Pentagon that we thank you for that. Of course you can have a complete recap right here on ABC news dot confidant -- wearing -- With this ABC news digital special report.

This transcript has been automatically generated and may not be 100% accurate.

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