Barack Obama Challenges Critics of Landmark Iran Nuclear Deal

Barack Obama Challenges Critics of Landmark Iran Nuclear Deal
Thu Jul 16, 2015 12:39:52

Barack Obama has launched an aggressive defence of the landmark Iranian nuclear deal, rejecting the idea that it leaves Tehran on the brink of a bomb and arguing the only alternative to the diplomatic accord is war.

The US president vigorously challenged his critics during a lengthy White House news conference after Iran, America and five other world powers finalised a historic, years-long agreement to limit Tehran’s nuclear programme in exchange for billions in sanctions relief.

Opposition to the deal has been fierce, both in Washington and Israel and Sunni Arab rivals of Iran also express concerns.

“Either the issue of Iran is resolved diplomatically through a negotiation or it’s resolved through force, through war,” Mr Obama said. “Those are the options.”

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, perhaps the fiercest critic of Mr Obama’s overtures to Iran, showed no sign he could be persuaded to even tolerate the agreement.

Netanyahu sees Iran nuclear program as a threat to Israel’s existence and in remarks to Israel’s parliament, he said he was not bound by the terms of the deal and could still take military action against Iran.

In the US Congress, resistance comes not only from Republicans, but also Mr Obama’s own Democratic Party. Vice President Joe Biden spent yesterday on Capitol Hill meeting privately with House of Representatives Democrats, and plans to return today to make a similar pitch to Democrats on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee.

The president said he welcomed a “robust” debate with Congress, but showed little patience for what he cast as politically-motivated opposition. Politicians cannot block the nuclear deal .

The nuclear accord has become a centrepiece of Mr Obama’s foreign policy, a high-stakes gamble that diplomatic engagement with a long-time American foe could resolve one of the world’s most pressing security challenges.

The importance of the deal to Mr Obama was evident, both in his detailed knowledge of its technical provisions and his insistence that no critique go unanswered.

Showing a command of technical nuclear issues, Mr Obama spent much of the news conference trying to knock down criticisms of the deal point by point, Breakinf news reports.