WASHINGTON – President Barack Obama, intent on selling the Iran deal to Congress and to the U.S. public, said Wednesday without it, Iran “could move closer to a nuclear bomb.”
The day after the announcement of the agreement, Obama held a long press conference – taking more questions then planned, which is rare — with almost all of it devoted to questions about Iran.
Obama is intent on answering critics because hemust muster enough support in Congress to prevent an override of the veto he promised if Congress nixes the deal.
The president brushed aside celebrations in Syria and Iran over the deal.
It does not give me pause that Mr. Assad or others in Tehran may be trying to spin the deal in a way that they think is favorable to what their constituencies want to hear. That’s what politicians do, and that’s been the case throughout.”
Near the end, Obama summarized his argument.
As we go forward, it’s important for everybody to remember the alternative, and the fundamental choice that this moment represents. With this deal, we cut off every single one of Iran’s pathways to a nuclear program, a nuclear weapons program.
And Iran’s nuclear program will be under severe limits for many years. Without a deal, those pathways remain open. There would be no limits to Iran’s nuclear program, and Iran could move closer to a nuclear bomb. With this deal, we gain unprecedented around the clock monitoring of Iran’s key nuclear facilities in the most comprehensive and intrusive inspection and verification regime ever negotiated.
Without a deal, those inspections go away and we’d lose the ability to closely monitor Iran’s program and detect any covert nuclear weapons program. With this deal, if Iran violates its commitments, there will be real consequences, nuclear-related sanctions that have helped to cripple the Iranian economy will snap back into place.
Without a deal, the international sanctions regime will unravel with little ability to reimpose them. With this deal, we have the possibility of peacefully resolving a major threat to regional and international security. Without a deal, we risk even more war in the Middle East and other countries in the region would feel compelled to pursue their own nuclear programs, threatening a nuclear arms race in the most volatile region in the world.
As I said yesterday, even with this deal, we will continue to have profound differences with Iran: its support of terrorism, its use of proxies to destabilize parts of the Middle East. Therefore, the multilateral arms embargo on Iran will remain in place for an additional five years, and restrictions on ballistic missile technology will remain for eight years.
In addition, the United States will maintain our own sanctions related to Iran’s support for terrorism, its ballistic missile program, its human rights violations, and we’ll continue our unprecedented security cooperation with Israel and continue to deepen our partnerships with the Gulf states.
But the bottom line is this. This nuclear deal meets the national security interests of the United States and our allies. It prevents the most serious threat, Iran obtaining a nuclear weapon, which would only make the other problems that Iran may cause even worse.