Sen. Dianne Feinstein (Calif.), the top Democrat on the Senate Intelligence Committee, said the nuclear framework deal with Iran was better than she had anticipated, and she criticized Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's call for continuing sanctions on Iran.
Under the framework deal announced last week, Iran agreed to restrictions on nuclear facilities and to international inspections. Feinstein noted that the inspection of Iran's mines, mills, facilities and other elements of its nuclear supply chain would last up to 25 years. The surveillance and inspections are key, she said.
"It's a better agreement, candidly, than I thought it was ever going to be. I think that it can be a very serviceable, practical agreement, and it can signal a new day," Feinstein said on CNN's "State of the Union" on Sunday. "Otherwise, we keep this dynamic going, which is not productive of anything that's positive for the region."
Netanyahu appeared on CNN before Feinstein and criticized the deal as not going far enough. The options are not limited to agreeing to the deal or going to war, he said. A third alternative is "standing firm, ratcheting up the pressure until you get a better deal," the Israeli leader said.
Netanyahu said the deal does not roll back Iran's nuclear program, and he was against any sanctions being lifted. He said the deal does not place permanent restrictions on Iran and will "pump up Iran's terror machine throughout the world."
"What is illegitimate is being legitimized," Netanyahu said, referring to Iran's nuclear program. "There's still time to get a better deal and apply pressures on Iran."
Feinstein said Netanyahu has not provided a "real alternative" and warned that his stance could backfire on him.
"I don't think it's helpful for Israel to come out and oppose this one opportunity to change a major dynamic — which is a downhill dynamic — in this part of the world," she said. "I wish that he would contain himself."
In response to Netanyahu's claim that the deal will develop into an arms race in the Middle East, Feinstein said that threat already exists. She said it is not viable in the long term to continue with the option of taking military action or leveraging more sanctions, which she said "generally hurt those who can't afford a better way of life."
Feinstein said that Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif and Iranian President Hassan Rouhani appear sincere in cooperating with world leaders and that Iran's supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, "is agreeable." However, she cautioned that a final, binding deal is yet to come.
"I think this is the best that's going to get done. It's a framework. It has to be wrapped into a final agreement. There still can be changes," she said.