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Obama Warns Congress: Don't Kill Iran Deal

"It's the United States that will be blamed for failure of diplomacy,"

Barack Obama delivers his statement on the interim Iran deal. (Image Source: Whitehouse.gov/YouTube screengrab)

President Barack Obama warned Congress against wrecking the newly agreed-upon plan for a nuclear deal with Iran.

“If Congress kills this deal, not based on expert analysis and without offering any reasonable alternative, then it's the United States that will be blamed for failure of diplomacy,” Obama said. “International unity will collapse and the path to conflict will widen.”

Speaking in the White House Rose Garden shortly after the announcement for a planned agreement to be reached by June 30.

“It is a good deal, a deal that meets our core objectives. this frame work would cut off every pathway Iran could take to create a nuclear weapon,” Obama said.

Republicans in Congress has voiced strong opposition to the deal. Obama said he would be talking to leaders of the House and Senate. 

“I'll underscore the issues at stake here are bigger than politics, these are matters of war and peace,” Obama said. “They should be evaluated based on the facts and what is ultimately best for the American people and national security.”

The U.S., Britain, China, France, Germany and Russia settled on a plan with the Iranian government for drafting a formal deal by the end of June after that would require Iran to open up for international inspections of its nuclear energy, but will allow the country to continue to enrich uranium.

Senior administration officials told reporters Thursday that the administration was focused on giving negotiators space to get a deal. White House officials have called dozens of members of Congress in the last several days.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has been a strong vocal critic of the Iranian negotiations, which Obama acknowleged.

“It's no secret the Israeli prime minister and I don't agree about whether the United States should move forward with a peaceful resolution to the Iranian issue,” Obama said. “If in fact Prime Minister Netanyahu is looking for the most effective way to insure Iran doesn't get a nuclear weapon, this is the best option. I believe our nuclear experts can confirm that. More importantly, I'll be speaking with the prime minister today to make clear there is no daylight when it comes to our support for Israel's security and our concerns about Iran's destabilizing policies and threats towards Israel.”

Obama acknowledged critics who are suspicious of Iran sticking to the agreement, but said the agreement tightly prevents the country from proceeding covertly in building a nuclear bomb.

"If Iran cheats, the world will know it," Obama said. "If we see something suspicious, we'll inspect it. Iran's past efforts to weaponize this program will be addressed. With this deal, Iran will face more inspections than any other country in the world."

On Wednesday, Obama spoke with Secretary of State John Kerry and National Security Adviser Susan Rice called the president at midnight to inform him on the status of the Iranian nuke talks.

Obama’s response to Rice, according to the senior administration officials, was that the negotiators know where he stands and he has confidence that when he wakes in the morning, the negotiators will have a deal to present to him. Obama approved plan at Thursday morning’s presidential daily briefing.

Obama then called the leaders of Britain, France, Germany and Saudi Arabia.

Obama cited past presidents Ronald Regan, Richard Nixon and John F. Kennedy who each negotiated with the Soviet Union, which he pointed out was a much greater threat to the United States. He warned Congress not to end the deal.

Obama stressed that the Iranians will have to adhere to the agreement long term or the sanctions will snap back into place and the country will be isolated from the international community again.

“If there is backsliding on the part of the Iranians, if the verification and inspection mechanisms don't meet the specifications of our nuclear and security experts, there will be no deal,” Obama said. “But if we can get this done, and Iran follows through on the frame work that our negotiators agree to, we'll be able to resolve one of the greatest threats to our security and do so peacefully.”

He further admonished critics saying the deal is preferable to another war.

"When you hear the critics of the deal sound off, ask them a simple question: Do you really think this verifiable deal, if fully implemented, backed by the world's major powers, is a worse option than the risk of another war in the middle east?" Obama said.

One last thing…
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