Days after the deadline for nuclear talks with Iran, President Obama hailed the breakthrough reached by Secretary John Kerry and the team in Switzerland.
“Today, the United States, together with allies and partners, have reached a historic understanding with Iran,” Obama said, asserting that if it was “fully implemented” it would prevent Iran from obtaining a nuclear weapon.
Obama admitted that the agreement was “a long time coming” but praised his leadership of the negotiations and the results of the lengthy discussions.
He was increasingly defensive of his position, at one point directly addressing the disagreement he had with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.
“It’s no secret Israeli prime minister and I don’t agree about whether the United States should move forward with a peaceful resolution to the Iranian issue,” he said. “If in fact Netanyahu is looking for the most effective way to insure Iran doesn’t get a nuclear weapon, this is the best option.”
Obama also sought to get ahead of criticism from members of Congress, asserting that his administration would engage closely with lawmakers.
“I’ll begin that by speaking to leaders of House and Senate today,” he said. “In those conversations, I’ll underscore the issues at stake here are bigger than politics. These are matters of war and peace.”
He also warned Congress from trying to kill the deal.
“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,” he said. “International unity will collapse and the path to conflict will widen.”
Obama discounted the idea of a military option to prevent Iran from achieving a nuclear weapon, pointing out that it would risk another war in the Middle East.
“Iran is not going to simply dismantle the program because we demand it to do so,” he said, “That’s not how the world works and not what history shows us.”