Feinstein: Iranians Are 'Sincere,' Netanyahu Should 'Contain Himself'

By Susan Jones | April 6, 2015 | 6:01am EDT

Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.)

(CNSNews.com) - Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) said she backs President Obama's diplomacy with Iran as the best deal that's going to get done; she believes the Iranians are "sincere" in wanting a deal; and she disagrees that the broad outlines of the deal threaten the survival of Israel.

Jim Acosta, hosting CNN's "State of the Union" on Sunday, asked Feinstein if she thinks Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu is "overstepping his bounds as a head of state" by lobbying against the framework agreement in favor of a better deal.

"Well, I think he's said what he's had to say," Feinstein replied. "And to be candid with you, this can backfire on him. And I wish that he would contain himself, because he has put out no real alternative, in his speech to the Congress, no real alternative, since then, no real alternative."

Netanyahu, preceding Feinstein on "State of the Union," said his alternative "is standing firm, ratcheting up the pressure (through continued sanctions), until you get a better deal."

But Feinstein said she believes that more sanctions would drive Iran's nuclear program "underground" and make it more difficult to monitor.

The agreement worked out by the Obama administration is "a better agreement, candidly, than I thought it was every going to be...And it can signal a new day. Otherwise, we keep this dynamic going, which is not productive of anything that's positive for the region."

Asked if she thinks the Iranians have been trying to develop nuclear weapons up to this point, Feinstein mentioned the interim agreement with Iran -- the Joint Plan of Action -- which "has been carried out over the last couple of years without infraction."

"I believe that this foreign minister (Javad Zarif) and this Iranian president (Hassan Rouhani), both of whom are moderates, really want to show that there is another way for Iran, and therefore, giving up this program is worth it. So..."

"Do you trust the Iranians?" Acosta interrupted.

"I believe he (Zarif) is sincere. I believe that President Rouhani wants this. And it looks like the supreme leader will be agreeable.

"Now, having said that, we have got everybody jumping to conclusions in the Congress. This agreement has to be written up into a binding kind of agreement. And that's the document that we all need to see, the final document."

Feinstein said she believes the U.S. is "on the cusp of something that can be workable," and she said it's "essentially a presidential agreement" that does not need Congress's approval.

'Pretty remarkable' deal

Sen. Chris Murphy (D-Conn.), appearing on NBC's "Meet the Press," said he views the Iran deal as "pretty remarkable."

"We have increased breakout time to a year. We have significantly rolled back their enrichment capability. We're dismantling the potential plutonium path at Iraq and we have an inspections regime that is absolutely unprecedented that is going to allow us to find a covert program if it exists outside of the known research facilities.

"The idea that we should just go back to the negotiating table and put back sanctions into place, I think doesn't understand the reality that with this deal on the table, it would have been hard to get our partners, especially Russia and China, to go back to sanctions when most of our objectives had been met at the negotiating table.

"It is easy to say that we just continue to negotiate and effectively sanction Iran into submission. I don't think that that is the deal that the rest of our negotiating partners signed up for. And that's the reality that we have to deal with."

What about giving Iran more money (by lifting sanctions), when Iran has not agreed to stop supporting terrorism or change its behavior, Todd asked Murphy.

"Well, it is true that this deal doesn't turn Iran from a bad guy into a good guy. But it is a little bit rewriting of history to suggest that these negotiations were about all of the other nefarious activities of Iran in the region.

"These negotiations were about their nuclear program such that we can start to lift up the moderate elements within Iran, the internationalists who want them to be sitting as a member of the world community so that we can talk about all of these other issues."

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