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Iran deal: not quite done yet?

Wednesday, July 22, 2015 - 01:53

US Secretary of State John Kerry is to step up efforts to win Gulf Arab states over to a deal on Iran's nuclear programme. They're not the only ones with reservations: hardline voices in the US and Iran itself mean opposition to the deal is still a major obstacle to be overcome. David Pollard reports.

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US defence secretary Ash Carter has been notching up the diplomatic air miles. First, Israel, then Jordan - and now Saudi Arabia on his itinerary, as he tries to win opponents around to an historic nuclear deal with Iran. They include an unlikely alliance of Arab states - and Israeli leader, Benjamin Netanyahu. (SOUNDBITE) (English) ISRAELI PRIME MINISTER BENJAMIN NETANYAHU, SAYING: "The deal will give Iran hundreds of billions of dollars to bankroll its aggression in the region and its terrorism around the world." Ali Khamenei is also, at best, a reluctant partner. Iran's Supreme Leader - backed by the powerful Revolutionary Guard - says Western policies in the region are still ''180 degrees'' opposed to Iran's. There's a similar dilemma within the US. President Obama seeking to mollify hardliners in Congress - but also threatening to veto them. While Secretary of State John Kerry has just, reportedly, confirmed a new visit to the Gulf. His mission, he says: to push back against Iranian influence. Describing Khamenei's stance as ''disturbing''. (SOUNDBITE) (English) U.S. SECRETARY OF STATE, JOHN KERRY, SAYING: "It's very disturbing, its very troubling, and well have to wait and see. But that's one of the reasons for my meeting with all of the Gulf States Markets appear less anxious. If Israel wanted to take direct action against Iran, it would have done so by now, is one view. And Iran: it's thinking with its pocket. Says IHS Global Insight's Jan Randolf. (SOUNDBITE) (English) IHS GLOBAL INSIGHT, DIRECTOR OF SOVEREIGN RISK, JAN RANDOLPH, SAYING: ''I think the general population are very much behind this return to normality, as they see it, the rehabilitation of the country internationally. And it makes good economic sense for them, and that's quite clear.'' Ash Carter may have a hard sell in Saudi Arabia - a kingdom ruled by Shi'ite Iran's traditional rivals, the Sunnis. It's been speculated that one Saudi response could be to step up its own nuclear power plans. And one day, seek to make weapons from it.

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Iran deal: not quite done yet?

Wednesday, July 22, 2015 - 01:53