The framework deal
reached with Iran on Thursday is a "good deal" that meets the "core objectives," that allows oversight of the country's nuclear capabilities, former Secretary of State Madeleine Albright said Friday.
"I think that what is important about it, it has cut off a way for Iran to develop a nuclear program in terms of not being able to develop weapons-grade plutonium," Albright told MSNBC's "Morning Joe" program. "And also, that it can't go through pursuing the enriched uranium route because of things that have been shut down."
The deal, which is to be finalized in June, also reduces the number of Iranian centrifuges and sets up an international inspection program, Albright pointed out.
Even though there is a great deal of work still needed between now and June, she said, "the framework of this looks as though we have accomplished what was wanted in order to not have Iran be able to have a breakout period that was shorter. Now it's up to a year. And so I think it's a very important agreement."
The deal is different than negotiations with North Korea that ended up allowing that country to have the cover it needed to build nuclear weapons, Albright insisted.
"I think that what is going to happen here is a stronger, as I understand it, stronger international verification, more powers involved," she said. "I think people are aware of the problems that the North Korean issue created."
North Korea lost a chance to obtain twin nuclear energy reactors that were promised under an agreed-upon framework plan with the United States in 1994, when it was found eight years later to be developing highly enriched uranium after it agreed to shut down its plutonium program, Forbes contributor Donald Kirk wrote
Friday. When the reactors' construction stopped, North Korea resumed its nuclear warhead program.
As far as Iran is concerned, Albright said, that country has had "the potential to have a nuclear weapon for a long time, and this is a way to limit it and have oversight of it...they could already be doing what people are concerned they might be doing."
The current negotiations with Iran have been more successful than those over the past years because sanctions have made a difference, said Albright.
"Everything that I have studied shows that Iran's economy has really been hurting," she said. "There also are new leaders in Iran who see the viability and the importance of this."
And as far as historic allies in the Middle East, such as Saudi Arabia and Egypt, Albright believes that they need to be informed that an agreement with Iran will benefit them.
"They do not want to have Iran as a nuclear power amidst them," she said. "One of the concerns people had is if Iran develops a bomb then the others might be going in that direction also. I think they have to see it as a way of helping to stabilize a region and that it might, in fact, lead to a lot of other discussions about what's going on in the region."
Former ambassador Nicholas Burns, also on the Friday morning program, said that there should be a "very, very high bar" for finishing the deal by the June 30 deadline.
"Remember, of course, that Iran needs this deal a lot more than the United States does," said Burns. "That might give us a negotiating advantage. But as Secretary Albright said, it does cut off their pathway to a nuclear weapon. The Iraqi heavy water reactor is going to be neutralized. The enrichment is going to be scrutinized. The verification provisions here are very strict."
And what makes the deal different from North Korea's, Burns said, is "Iran's a trading nation. They need capital investment. They need to export their oil and gas. And that's why the sanctions have been so effective here. The whole world has sanctioned them. That is not the case with North Korea, who lives in not very splendid isolation."
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