Hagel: ‘Minimal’ risk in Iran deal

The deal struck between Iran and six world powers over the weekend poses “minimal” risks to the United States, Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel said Monday.

In an interview with USA Today, Hagel praised the interim deal that would curb Iran’s nuclear program in exchange for $7 billion in relief from international sanctions.

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“Yes, there's risk in this, of course," Hagel said. "Nothing worthwhile ever comes without some risk. But I think the risk is very minimal for us in this."

Hagel said the six-month deal includes assurances, like beefed up nuclear inspections in Iran, that minimize the risk to U.S. interests.

“That's a big deal," Hagel told USA Today. "That's the first time that they're going to have access to areas we've never had access to before."

Hagel also defended the Obama administration’s insistence that Afghan President Hamid Karzai sign the U.S.-Afghan security agreement by the end of the year, saying that it was needed if the United States and NATO are going to plan a post-2014 force.

"We're not trying to put ourselves in some position to impose dates or mandates. It's just a practical dynamic of the planning our forces have to make," he said.

Afghan President Hamid Karzai has refused to sign the deal, saying that his successor should be the one to sign it after the Afghan presidential elections next spring. Susan Rice, President Obama’s national security adviser, told Karzai Monday that he was risking the withdrawal of all U.S. troops in Afghanistan after 2014 if he did not sign the deal this year.