Washington (CNN) - In an interview Sunday, Tom Donilon, former national security adviser to the Obama White House, traced a clear path between President Barack Obama's decision to implement sanctions against Iran and the deal brokered with Tehran last week.
"There is a direct line here between the sanctions, Rouhani's election, and their coming to the table," Donilon told George Stephanopoulos on ABC's "This Week."
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Donilon rebutted any claim of weakness in the Oval Office and called the sanctions placed on the Iranian regime the "toughest put on any country." Some U.S. allies have criticized the deal and portrayed Obama as vacillating on foreign policy.
"You wouldn't have had a negotiation under way right now," Donilon said, crediting the sanctions campaign spearheaded by Obama. "You wouldn't have forced the choice. You wouldn't have had the election of Rouhani."
Despite Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's very public disapproval of the deal - Netanyahu called the agreement a "historic mistake" that made the world “a much more dangerous place" - the former Obama White House adivser said the agreement would mollify the Israelis by "freezing" Iran's nuclear work during the next six months of negotiations.
Additionally, the deal requires Iran to remove its stockpile of uranium enriched to 20% purity and, according to U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry, provides little relief to the Iranian economy. The $6 billion to $7 billion in sanction relief is a small fraction of the roughly $100 billion in foreign exchange holdings that remain inaccessible to Iran because of sanctions. The agreement also provides for intensive monitoring of Iran's nuclear sites, including the plutonium-producing reactor at Arak.
"It's a very good foundation as a backdrop against which to have comprehensive negotiations," Donilon said.
In this weekend's Financial Times, however, Rouhani said that his nation remains absolutely determined to reserve the right to enrich uranium. Asked during an interview for the paper if dismantling Iran's nuclear facility constituted a red line, Rouhani answered, "100 percent."
Donilon said that kind of position is a nonstarter for U.S. negotiators working toward a comprehensive deal. "It's going to have to be rolled back," he said.