- The Washington Times - Tuesday, July 14, 2015

Israel and Saudi Arabia wasted no time blasting the nuclear accord with Iran, while many of the world’s leaders — and some of Iran’s immediate neighbors — expressed relief that a deal had been reached.

A fierce critic of the talks from the beginning, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu immediately condemned the deal as details emerged Tuesday morning, telling reporters in Jerusalem that the agreement to curb Iran’s nuclear programs in exchange for an eventual end to sanctions on Tehran was a “stunning historic mistake” under which Iran will get “a cash bonanza of hundreds of billions of dollars which will allow it to continue to pursue its agenda of aggression and terror in the region and in the world.”

“Israel was not bound by this deal with Iran because Iran continues to seek our destruction,” he said. “We will always defend ourselves.”

In a sign of the depth of the sentiment in both capitals, President Obama placed calls to both Mr. Netanyahu and Saudi King Salman to explain the deal.

There was no official comment from Saudi Arabia, leader of the Sunni Arab states, which have worried about Shiite Iran’s expansion in the region. One unidentified Saudi official, however, told CNN that the deal marked a “monumental historical miscalculation.”

That was clearly a minority view, as Mr. Obama’s negotiating partners — Britain, France, Germany, Russia and China — all announced at least qualified backing for the agreement, while figures as varied as Pope Francis, U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon and Syrian President Bashar Assad issued statements in support of the deal.

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The embattled Mr. Assad, whose regime is heavily dependent on Iranian aid and arms as its battles rebels and Islamist terrorist groups, called the deal “a great victory” for his regime’s patron.

“Indubitably, this agreement crowns the steadfastness of the Iranian people, with all their components and inclinations, in the face of the unfair sanctions that were imposed on the Islamic Republic of Iran,” he told the Syrian SANA news agency.

Not a tough sell

The tough sell Mr. Obama faces with the Republican-led Congress is largely absent in other major capitals.

In a statement on the Kremlin website, Russian President Vladimir Putin said Moscow “welcomes the agreement reached today in Vienna on a settlement of the situation concerning Iran’s nuclear program.”

He suggested that a Russian blueprint formed the basis for the final deal.

Representatives from the United Kingdom and France were more reserved in their support, saying Tehran will remain under the microscope even with the signing of the deal.

“Now that Iran has a greater financial capacity, we need to be extremely vigilant on what Iran will be. Iran must show that it is ready to help us end the conflict,” said French President Francois Hollande.

British Prime Minister David Cameron echoed Mr. Hollande’s warnings.

“Of course this agreement will not solve all the difficulties, especially between Iran and its neighbors,” Mr. Cameron said. “We will continue to work with our partners in the region to ensure stability and security, and I hope that Iran will also follow this path.”

Although every leader from the P5+1 supports the deal with Iran, they do so for different reasons. Leaders from the U.S. and its Western allies expressed hope that the pact would give U.N. inspectors greater access to and control over Iran’s nuclear processes, thus limiting its “breakout” capacity to develop a nuclear weapon.

China and Russia, on the other hand, appear mostly happy to see economic sanctions lifted from a country that could be one of their biggest trading partners.

In the Middle East, a sharp division emerged between Sunni Arab states such as Saudi Arabia, which are deeply skeptical about the ambitions of Shiite Islam Iran, and many of Iran’s neighbors that see major business opportunities with the end of international sanctions.

Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi called the deal “a catalyst for regional stability,” and the Turkish minister of energy and natural resources, Taner Yildiz, called it a “very positive development.” Pakistan also hailed the agreement, and officials were talking about restarting a major regional pipeline that had been blocked by the nuclear dispute.

Even Egypt, a rival to Iran for influence in the region that does not have diplomatic relations with Tehran, tentatively welcomed the accord, which could end Iran’s international isolation.

A Foreign Ministry spokesman in Cairo “expressed hope that the deal between both sides is complete and prevents an arms race in the Middle East as well as ensuring the region is free of all weapons of mass destruction, including nuclear weapons,” the government said in a statement.

The crisscrossing nature of Middle Eastern sectarian politics also colored reactions to the deal.

Mustafa Hijri, general secretary of the Democratic Party of Iranian Kurdistan, warned that lifting sanctions means Iran “will get resources to continue support for terrorists and dictatorships that sponsor terrorists such as Bashar al-Assad. They will get more resources to make more turbulence in the Middle East.”

The Vatican was adopting a wait-and-see approach to the merits of the deal.

Jesuit Father Federico Lombardi, a Vatican spokesman, said, “The agreement on the Iranian nuclear program is viewed in a positive light by the Holy See.

“It constitutes an important outcome of the negotiations carried out so far, although continued efforts and commitment on the part of all involved will be necessary in order for it to bear fruit.”

• Andrew Nachemson can be reached at anachemson@washingtontimes.com.

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