President Obama challenges critics on historic nuclear deal with Iran

President Obama defends nuclear deal with Iran  Photo Ludo Segers

Mr. Obama has been on a major offensive selling this deal as the best solution to his main critics in Israel and US Congress. The president challenged his critics to alternatives, if any, to ensure that Iran will not engage in a nuclear arms race.

During a one-hour press conference, President Obama confronted his critics and the press head-on, preempting many of the questions they may have had. President Obama said: “I challenge those who are objecting to this agreement to read it, and to explain specifically where it is that they think that this agreement does not prevent Iran from getting a nuclear weapon.” He added, “and if the alternative is that we should bring Iran to heel through military force, then those critics should say so.” Nevertheless he expects, “the debate to be robust”, given the national security implications for the USA.

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One of the many objections of the Republicans relate to the access for verification and time it takes to get access. This was brushed aside by Mr. Obama: ”the nature of nuclear programs and facilities is such, this is not something you hide in a closet. This is not something you put on a dolly and kind of wheel off somewhere.” He reminded the audience of their high school physics: ”Nuclear material on a site leaves a trace.”

Rather than dealing with broader issues of Iran’s role in the Middle East, the President stated that the agreement focussed on preventing Iran from obtaining a nuclear weapon. He also called one American journalist’s suggestion that the deal should have been tied to release of Americans in Iranian prisons as “nonsense”, given the complexity of the deal and its implications.

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Vice President Joe Biden was also out on Wednesday meeting members of Congress and convincing them to back the deal described by the White House as “historic”. The success of this deal will be a large part of President Obama’s legacy, as he stated “it’s important for everybody to remember the alternative and the fundamental choice that this moment”. The president threatened on Tuesday that any blocking by Congress would be meet with a presidential veto. Such a veto would require two-thirds opposition in both the House of Representatives and Senate to overturn.

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