State Department spokesman John Kirby depicted the arms embargo lift on Iran in the nuclear deal as a victory for the United States Tuesday.
Last week, President Obama announced that a nuclear agreement had been reached with Iran.
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As written in the agreement, Iran is allowed to continue uranium enrichment and maintain 6,000 centrifuges. In exchange, the United States and the United Nations will lift economic sanctions over time, remove a conventional weapons embargo after five years, and remove a ban on the research and development of ballistic missile technology after eight years.
The agreement said other restrictions on Iran’s nuclear program would last ten years. After ten years, Iran would be free to develop nuclear weapons.
Associated Press reporter Matt Lee asked Kirby, "Can you think of one instance in which what you ended up with was better than what you were seeking?"
"Well I think remember the–on the arms embargo and the–and the missile program sanctions, under the U.N. Security Council resolutions which put those sanctions in place and drove Iran to the negotiating table, it was always understood that all of those sanctions would be lifted at once when Iran complied with their requirements under Lausanne," Kirby said.
Kirby also said the arms embargo and the ban on ballistic missile technology would have been lifted immediately if it were not for the United States, which held out for a five-year ban and an eight-year ban.
A 2010 U.N. Security Council resolution put a ban for member countries to sell conventional arms such as tanks, missile launchers, and fighter jets. Kirby continued to defend these victories by saying they were only enacted to get Iran to negotiations.
"But the U.N. Security Council resolutions, which put those sanctions on did so with the intent of driving Iran to the negotiating table, specifically over their nuclear program," Kirby said. "So it was always understood by all the members of the P5- plus-1 members, that as a part of–to have a deal, without the sanctions relief, all of them, there would be no deal."
Lee said previous U.N. Security Council resolutions called for stricter restrictions on Iran’s nuclear program.
"But the problem that exists there is that those U.N. Security Council resolutions to which you refer, which have now been superseded by yesterday's resolution, are stronger," Lee said. "They call for Iran to suspend or halt enrichment altogether. So, when you say that well, Russia and China wanted the arms embargo and ballistic missile stuff to go immediately, they wouldn't have gone immediately, because Iran wasn't in compliance with the terms of the previous resolutions."
Some congressional Democrats do not share the Obama administration’s view that the embargo on arms is lifted as a victory.
"But you’d say that those are two things that you exceeded your expectations?" Lee asked.
"Yes, that’s one example, and if you need more, I’m happy to provide that for you," Kirby said.
The Obama administration will not be able to claim these numerous issues as "victories."