90.9 WBUR - Boston's NPR news station
Top Stories:
Iranian Peace Talks Stay Stuck

The US and Israel are split over negotiations with nuclear Iran. We’ll look at the arguments, and the stakes.

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry walks out of a press conference at the end of the Iranian nuclear talks in Geneva, Sunday, Nov. 10, 2013. Nuclear talks with Iran have failed to reach agreement, but Kerry said differences between Tehran and six world powers made "significant progress."  (AP)

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry walks out of a press conference at the end of the Iranian nuclear talks in Geneva, Sunday, Nov. 10, 2013. Nuclear talks with Iran have failed to reach agreement, but Kerry said differences between Tehran and six world powers made “significant progress.” (AP)

Secretary of State John Kerry on the air today, essentially saying the US can negotiate with Iran over its nuclear program – or go to war with Iran.  The White House wants to negotiate.  Israel has blasted the negotiations.  Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu saying they are headed for “a very dangerous and bad deal,” and “the deal of the century” for Iran.  This week, many in the US Congress are picking up that theme.  But the American people, says the White House, do not want a march to war.  Up next On Point:  the US-Israel split and more over negotiations with Iran – and what happens now.

– Tom Ashbrook


Michael Hirsh, chief correspondent at National Journal. (@MichaelPHirsh)

Mark Dubowitz, executive director of the Foundation for Defense of Democracies. Co-chair of the Project on U.S. Middle East Nonproliferation Strategy. (@dubo1968)

Suzanne Maloney, senior fellow in foreign policy at the Brookings Institute’s Saban Center for Middle East Policy. (@MaloneySuzanne)

From Tom’s Reading List

Wall Street Journal: The Case for Stronger Sanctions on Iran — “The Geneva negotiations indicate that Mr. Rouhani’s bosses are willing only to make concessions that are easily revoked or not much of a nuclear impediment to start with. The U.S. and its allies seem much more likely to get the attention of the supreme leader and the Revolutionary Guards if the pain from sanctions is so intense that a choice has to be made between economic collapse and the nuclear program.”

CNN: Bad Iran deal worse than no deal — “The problem is that the Iranian leadership does not operate by Western standards. Seldom does the Iranian government place the wellbeing of its population above its own revolutionary ideology. The Supreme Leader considers himself the Deputy of the Messiah on Earth. Sovereignty comes from God; what the Iranian people may think is beside the point.”

Haaretz: Netanyahu’s rage at Iran nuclear deal is fueled by 1938 Western betrayal at Munich — “Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu, to paraphrase Groucho Marx, cannot accept any agreement that Iran has agreed to. Conversely, the only nuclear accord that Israel can live with is one that Tehran can’t. Actually, nothing short of complete and utter dismantlement of Iran’s nuclear infrastructure can convince Israel that the mullahs in Tehran have changed their ways. That Iran has given up its quest for nuclear weapons. That Tehran is no longer pursuing a bomb with which to achieve regional hegemony and to threaten Israel with extinction.”

Please follow our community rules when engaging in comment discussion on this site.
  • X-Christian

    I’m guessing the ‘Parties of God’ are working on their veto. Religion – the reason we can’t have nice things.

    Plus, let’s face it. Kerry has been an awful Secretary of State in general. His botching of so many issues already has me quite concerned.

  • Wahoo_wa

    I have asked friends several times if they could give me just one good reason for the huge amount of money we waste supporting Israel while at the same time alienating several others countries that would be better allies. I haven’t received a single good reason in response. Most people respond with an answer having something to do with the Jewish people and a Jewish homeland. I don’t think that is a valid answer at all. It is not the responsibility of the U.S. to support, at great expense, a homeland for any religious group. I say cut bait and let Israel defend itself. It’s sink or swim time for them now.

    • alsordi

      Most Americans haven’t a clue to the true extent of the burden resulting from US support for the apartheid state of Israel. These would include the Homeland Security surveillance state Americans now live, loss of civil liberties, the loss of soldiers, the wounded, and the cost of one million vets on disability for life, tax dollars to Israel and its wars rather than US education, economy and infrastructure, to the price of gasoline, and all the strange unanswered financial mysteries that involve Israel.

      • AC

        how do you back away from signed treaties tho?

        • alsordi

          Why don’t you ask Native-Americans this question ?

        • spiral007

          I do not believe Israel is a treaty ally like Britain et al or even Nato. On the other hand it has a better deal” in secret deals it has with the US government, deals if made public would cause a revulsion in the american public.

    • WorriedfortheCountry

      Who in the region would be a better ally than Israel?

      • alsordi

        A sarcastic response to this question would be “Satan”.

        But realistically, the better allies would be cooperating fairly and equally, instead of destroying and destabilizing, all the middle eastern nations. But first they must go back to 1967 borders with the Palestinians.

        If extremism was the real bogeyman, then why is the West backing extremists against a secular government in Syria??

        • alsordi

          After reviewing the above map submitted by John Hamilton, I believe Palestine should actually go back to the 1948 UN boundaries. Both sections of Palestine should be connected.

      • Wahoo_wa

        I believe engaging the Arab and Muslim communities in the region is vital. Our returns for our efforts and our financial commit would certainly have better returns not just in the region but in the larger world context.

        • WorriedfortheCountry

          Why are your goals mutually exclusive with keeping Israel as an ally? We’ve been successful with Saudi Arabia, Jordan and Egypt(until recent years).

      • John Cedar

        Israel treats women and gays too well.
        Therefore all other countries in the region would make better allies…and Satan too.
        Double down vote for you! (thus far)

        • WorriedfortheCountry

          Israel used to be loved by the left when it started on the communist collectivist community model (kibbutz). Not so much now that they dumped it and that it is a thriving free market.

          • jefe68

            That’s an over simplification of a complex situation. But hey, that’s how you roll.

            You left out the Palestinians.

          • WorriedfortheCountry

            The Palestinians that are citizens of Israel or the ones that mistreat gays and women?

            OK, that wasn’t fair.

        • AC

          wait. i’m confused. i have friends over there and the treatment of women is getting worse and worse…a girl was stoned for wearing pants in public!

          • WorriedfortheCountry

            Stoned In Israel? By whom?

          • AC

            yes – the orthodox/hassedic branches; what else? another religious extremist religion (hate them all!)


          • AC

            look; they’re doing it here too. Religion should be globally outlawed – i’m sick of this.


          • WorriedfortheCountry

            This stuff is really outrageous and should be called out. But at least it isn’t the State stoning folks like in Iran — in the name of religion. These are law breakers and should be prosecuted.

            Religion outlawed? Really?

            Net, net religion does far more good than bad. You minimize the benefits of groups like catholic charities. You should rethink your position. And are you calling for a constitutional amendment?

          • AC

            i think you’re prob right the over-all majority of religious groups try and do good. but a stoning is a stoning is a stoning. i don’t care who calls for it – those parties are backwards and sadistic
            besides, people get self-righteous about diet or clothing. or music. or being the true first hipster. or their political affiliation…
            i don’t think we’ve evolved from this human propensity for forming exclusive and intolerant ‘clans’…

          • WorriedfortheCountry

            You don’t see the difference between State sanctioned stoning and criminal stoning? In the latter, you can and should prosecute the RARE criminal. In the former there is no recourse.

            I agree with what I think is your overall point. There are countless bad acts done in the name of religion. Human sacrifice with Aztecs. The Crusades. Al Qaeda. Shia v. Sunni violence. Honor killings. and on and on. However, we don’t have ANY of those problems in this country. We must be doing something right.

    • fun bobby

      it because the evangelicals think they need to subjugate the jews in isreal to bring the return of the messiah

    • jefe68

      Afghanistan is the largest annual recipient of U.S. foreign assistance in South Asia, accounting for upwards of $10 billion in aid for FY 2010. Second is Pakistan, which received $4.4 billion in aid in 2010.

      In the Middle East, Israel received $2.8 billion in 2010. Egypt receives an average of nearly $2 billion annually, mostly military aid.

      • GTV

        Israel receives $3 to 4 billion every year from the U.S., and this has been the case for at least the past 20 or 30 years. Figures vary, but the sums are pretty impressive any way you calculate them.

  • Pentheus Makarios

    Daniel 9:25 is perhaps the most specific prophecy of the arrival of the Messiah:

    “Know therefore and discern, that from the going forth of the word to restore and to build Jerusalem unto one anointed, a prince, shall be seven weeks; and for threescore and two weeks, it shall be built again, with broad place and moat, but in troublous times.”

    Here’s an analysis of the text: http://goo.gl/OFST0U

  • James

    I haven’t been following the story really closely, but it was my impression that it was the French that are the hardliners that are holding up the process.

  • lobstahbisque

    At first glance, there’s lots of sun glare, I thought it said, “Iranian Peace Talks Suck.” Don’t they though.

  • Charles Vigneron

    Exactly, “A question of trust.”
    Israel’s national interest is not those of the US. I remember the dead of the USS Liberty. We’re allies at convenience.
    If the Israeli’s continue to build on conquered lands they’ll need to keep them by force-forever. That’s not gonna change.
    Iran has every right to build a bomb. Or, will Israel give theirs up?

  • toc1234

    Might be a good time for Cowboy Obama to draw another red line. you know, take some air out of his Obamacare Eff-up story for a awhile. or at least until Nov 30th rolls around and his website still blows….

  • spiral007

    I really see no reason for Iran to make major compromise to their nuclear program. Notice, over time how our demands have changed…first it was no weapon, then no weapons production capability and now anything that has the potential to enable a weapons capability. Eventually we will be asking Iranians that they can not study nuclear energy et al.

    So far nothing Iran has done is contrary to NPT; the security council resolutions are un-democratic and irrelevant as they over-ride a treaty.

    We are doing this because we can….we will eventually turn the non western world against us and when it is strong enough, we will see good bye to dollar as a reserve currency.

    If we are serious about solving problems, address the elephant in the room, namely Israel and its expansionist policies and nuclear arsenal and almost daily threats of bombing Iran and their actual bombing of sovereign countries.

    • tbphkm33

      In some ways it would be good for the world if Iran had a nuclear bomb. At least there would put Israel in check. Lets not forget, Israel is controlled by a conservative religious faction themselves. Take away the flavoring of the religion, there reality is that on both sides you have narrow minded hawks willing to go to extremes.

      • pete18

        Good lord what a stupid idea.

        • spiral007

          why, are you for a total nuclear disarmament or are you only for Iran not having weapons (which they say they are not pursuing), but Israel keeping its 300 bomb arsenal?

          • pete18

            I’m for Iran not having any nuclear weapons. Don’t listen to what they say, watch what they do.

          • spiral007

            Okay, so please provide some (ANY) EVIDENCE that Iran either has nuclear weapons or is pursuing nuclear weapons. I have not found any evidence.

            From the answer you gave, I have to surmise that you do not see a problem with Israel having nuclear weapons?

  • toc1234

    Watch for Obama to pull a Clinton here… The day before Bubba’s impeachment trial he decided to bomb Iraq. lobbing a cruise missile or two into Tehran would certainly take his Obamacare debacle off the front page for awhile… I wouldn’t put it past Valerie Jarret, err, I mean, Obama…

    • tbphkm33

      Must be unaware of history… after all it was Reagan who did back room dealings with Iran, first to delay releasing the hostages till after the 1980 US election and then there was the Iran-Contra Affair.

      Hmm, we could write all day about historical dirty dealings of the Nopublican establishment…

      • keltcrusader

        no one here is stopping you, please do!!

    • fun bobby

      not to mention this NSA thing that grows daily

  • James

    Now we’re getting chicken hawk advice from some punk who learned foreign policy on SEGA.

    • WorriedfortheCountry

      It was pretty funny.

      Game Over!!!

    • ToyYoda

      All that gaming when I was young did not go to waste. Where is that job posting for Secretary of Defense? I’ve played enough StarCraft in my day.

      • WorriedfortheCountry

        Don’t underestimate computer games.

        I hear the Obamacare geniuses used SimCity to model the roll out of the Obamacare scheme. Brilliant!!

  • ToyYoda

    You see? Video games can be a teaching tool. Buy yourself a Sega. :)

    • fun bobby

      at this point one might be better off buying a saiga

  • hennorama

    It’s encouraging to hear the direct challenge by Ms. Maloney to Mr. Dubowitz’ unfounded claims.

  • M S

    These Neocons, always wanting war, but never serving…a truly disgusting group.

  • ian berry

    Bunch of kids- if you dont have a toy for each of them to play with the only solution is to take away all the toys.

    Israel needs to give up their nukes. Problem solved.

  • Charles Vigneron

    Iran should follow US Resolutions?!
    What about Israel?

    • fun bobby

      if they did we might have to as well.

  • spiral007

    I love these neocons asking of Iran what they refuse to ask of Israel…follow UNSC resolutions…does dubowitz know how many resolutions has Israel ignored!!!

    • Labropotes

      The word ‘capitulate’ comes from a Latin word meaning ‘headings,’ as in the headings of the paragraphs containing the terms to be imposed on a subjugated nation. So there is a sad irony to Dubowitz saying that no one is asking Iran to capitulate.

  • John_Hamilton

    This is a good example of how phony discussions of the Mideast, especially when it involves “Israel” (I put the names of countries in quotes because they are assumed identities. The land doesn’t call itself by any of these names.) are in mainstream media.
    Whenever “U.S.” “interests” are mentioned it should be kept in mind that these “interests” are not the interests of average “Americans,” but of the ruling elite – the current administration, the Congress, the foreign policy establishment, and the servile news media.
    “Israel” is under no threat from “Iran,” especially no nuclear threat. The only nuclear threat in the Mideast comes from “Israel,” because it is the only country that has nuclear weapons. What is really going on is a faction in “Israel” – and its leader – is determined to have an attack on “Iran,” preferably by the “U.S.,” but will do it themselves if they see fit.
    I believe the state of “Israel” has a subliminal zeal for revenge for World War II, and is evening up the score. When six million have been killed, maybe the zeal for killing people will subside. As long as the “U.S.” backs “Israel” with billions of dollars and military backing, this zeal will continue unabated.
    Below is a graphic of the changes in land possession in the “Israel/Palestine” area since 1946. It should get bigger if you click on it.

  • spiral007

    Tom please stop Mark from outright lying…..when and where has the IAEA documented decades of Iranian military nuclear programs.

  • stef_a_no

    Mark, When I hear ‘enhanced negotiation’ I can’t help but remember the term ‘enhanced interrogation.’ I don’t know where the line in the sand should be drawn, but call a spade a spade; You don’t want to make any concessions, while you expect them to do everything you ask them to. Bon chance..

  • tbphkm33

    The Israeli government is dominated by paranoid hawks – think a bit more extreme than the neocons in the impostor “President” GW Bush’s administration. One largely has to ignore the filthy propaganda coming out of Tel Aviv.

    Stalled negotiations between Washington, D.C. and Tehran are still better than no negotiations. On so many fronts, the world needs relations between the United States and Iran to thaw out via negotiations. Failure is not an option. Short sighted right wingers (think Nopublican’s and Tea Baggers) in the U.S. might champion a military attack, but like Afghanistan and Iraq both proved, such a measure would in the end hurt the United States as much as Iran. Simply, the U.S. cannot economically or morally afford to attack Iran.

    The Obama Administration is the best hope of constructive engagement between the United States and Iran. Heaven forbid, four years from now there is a Nopublican administration in the White House, living in that conservative echo chamber that has little to do with reality. Does anyone really think anything constructive in relation to Iran would come out of a potential future Nopublican administration?

  • phildunk

    This show was perhaps the most irresponsible yet. In the
    end, the usual bias towards Israel and against Iran was manifest. Much of
    the discrediting of the negotiation was supported by the last minute scuttling
    of the interim deal by France. Does Tom not know that the Saudi’s are
    using substantial, recently concluded arms deals with France to influence their
    behavior in these talks? Does he not wonder why it is only France that
    took this position, and then only after it became apparent that only their last
    minute objection would serve the interest of their Saudi clients? Like
    the rest of the corporate media, this show has not informed the American people
    of critical, factual information for making an informed judgement as to
    why France did what they did, which is being cited by all the neocons as proof
    that the Administration is being had.

    In addition, as usual, we had to listen to Dubowitz repeat over
    and over again about Iran’s “decades of deception about their nuclear
    program,” and no one, including Tom, reminded the listeners that Israel
    has never “come clean” as to the fact they are sitting there with 300
    nuclear warheads.

    In the end, this was an ignorant and one-sided presentation of
    issues which could have catastrophic implications for our country and the rest
    of the world. One might as well have been listening to FOX news.

  • GTV

    Have we been here before? In the 1990′s two former presidents of Iran, Rafsanjani and Khatami, reached out to improve relations between the U.S. and Iran. But these overtures were shot down by the combined forces of Israel, the Israel lobby, and their fervid allies in the U.S. Congress. Thus, the opportunity for Washington and Tehran to forge a mutually productive relationship was lost. It looks as if another opportunity will be lost if Obama and Kerry cannot hold their ground against those same combined forces mentioned above.

  • fun bobby

    so 5 years after winning the peace prize Obama still has not made peace in the middle east? I guess that’s harder that stopping the seas from rising

    • StilllHere

      Maybe only as hard as getting a website to work.

  • Paul Taylor

    I still do not understand why Israel gets to control our foreign policy. Those times when the US has attempted to find a means to peace between the Palestinians and Israelis, the Israelis start taking over more territory to build more settlements. If, for example, Canada decided to establish French settlements in Wisconsin. Would those who were removed from their land feel abused? Would they want to take up arms? Why is it acceptable to the US to continue this relationship when we are not equal partners.

    • Roy-in-Boise

      Bibi is way far to the right. He is rigid and difficult to negotiate with.

  • Roy-in-Boise

    Great topic, more shows on this process would be nice.

  • http://www.twitter.com/changeirannow Change Iran Now

    Clearly the hardline conservative mullahs like Khamenei are making all the decisions and any deal that deals a fatal blow the Iran’s nuclear weapons ambitions was doomed to fail anyway

  • John_Hamilton

    Hmm. Because I could speak freely in “Israel,” let’s bomb “Iran.” Easy decision. I’m a threat to mosquitos that try to bite me, to the occasional fly, a gnat or two from time to time, and sometimes to wasps. That’s about as far as my threateningness goes.

    As for the threateningness of “Iran,” it is a naton of 77 million people. Some of them might be threatening, but I see no reason to invade the country, or bomb it to smithereens like many in “Israel” (and its “U.S.” backers) would like to do.

    Try again. Dumb questions are fun to answer.

  • Wahoo_wa

    Establishing stronger diplomatic ties and building trust.

Sep 15, 2014
In this Thursday, Sep. 11, 2014 photo, Middle Eastern leaders stand together during a family photo with of the Gulf Cooperation Council and regional partners at King Abdulaziz International Airport’s Royal Terminal in Jiddah, Saudi Arabia. (AP/Brendan Smialowski, Pool)

President Obama says he will build a coalition of partners in the Middle East to combat ISIS. We’ll do a reality check on who’s really stepping up for what.

Sep 15, 2014
This Monday, Sept. 27, 2010 file photo shows hikers on the South Kaibab Trail in Grand Canyon National Park, Ariz. (AP/Carson Walker)

Uproar over development plans for the Grand Canyon. We go to the Navajo Nation and the Canyon floor to see what’s at stake.

Sep 12, 2014
In this May 23, 2014, file photo, Janay Rice, left, looks on as her husband, Baltimore Ravens running back Ray Rice, speaks to the media during a news conference in Owings Mills, Md. (AP/Patrick Semansky)

#WhyIStayed. We’re looking at women in and out of relationships of domestic violence.

Sep 12, 2014
President Barack Obama meets with Congressional leaders in the Oval Office of the White House in Washington, Tuesday, Sept. 9, 2014, to discuss options for combating the Islamic State. (AP/Evan Vucci)

The President’s ISIS strategy. The Ray Rice video. Congress is back. Apple’s new watch. Our weekly news roundtable goes behind the headlines.

On Point Blog
On Point Blog
Our Week In The Web: September 12, 2014
Friday, Sep 12, 2014

In which you had varied reactions to the prospect of a robotic spouse.

More »
Beverly Gooden on #WhyIStayed
Friday, Sep 12, 2014

Beverly Gooden — who originated the #WhyIStayed hashtag that has taken off across Twitter — joined us today for our discussion on domestic violence.

More »
1 Comment
Tierney Sutton Plays LIVE For On Point
Friday, Sep 5, 2014

We break out Tierney Sutton’s three beautiful live tracks from our broadcast today for your listening pleasure.

More »