Sunday from the White House President Barack Obama hailed the relations between America and Iran by citing his administrations nuclear deal and Iran’s release of American sailors and prisoners saying “Perhaps most important of all, we achieved this through diplomacy without resulting to another war in the Middle East.”
Partial transcript as follows:
This is a good day. Once again we’re seeing what’s possible with strong American diplomacy. As I said in my State of the Union address, ensuring the security of the United States and the safety of our people demands a smart, patient and disciplined approach to the world. That includes our diplomacy with the Islamic Republic of Iran. For decade, our differences meant our governments almost never spoke to each other. Ultimately that did not advance America’s interest. Over the year Iran moved closer and closer to having the ability build a nuclear weapon. From President Franklin Roosevelt to John F. Kennedy to Ronald Reagan, the United States has never been afraid to pursue diplomacy. We could advance by engaging directly with the Iranian government. We’ve seen the results. Under the nuclear deal that we, our allies and partners reached with Iran last year, Iran will not get its hands on a nuclear bomb. The region, the United States and the world will be more secure. As I’ve said many time, the nuclear deal was never intended to resolve all of our differences with Iran, but engaging directly with the Iranian government on a sustained basis for the first time in decades has created a unique opportunity, a window, to try to resolve important issues.
Today, I can report progress on a number of fronts. First, yesterday, marked a milestone in preventing Iran from obtaining a nuclear weapon. Iran has fulfilled key commitments under the nuclear deal. I want to explain why this is important. Over more than a decade Iran moved ahead with its program and before the deal it has installed nearly 20,000 centrifuges that could enrich uranium for a nuclear bomb. Today, Iran has removed two-thirds of those machines. Before the deal, Iran was increasing stockpile of enriched uranium. Enough for up to ten nuclear bombs. Today, more than 98% of that stockpile has been shipped out of Iran. Meaning Iran doesn’t have enough material for even one bomb.
Before, Iran was nearly completion of a reactor capable of plutonium for a bomb. Today it’s been poured out and filled with concrete so it cannot be used again. Before the deal, the world has relatively little visibility into Iran’s nuclear program. Today inspectors are on the ground and the Iran is being dealing with monitors. Inspectors will monitor the facility 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. For decades to come, inspectors will have access to Iran’s entire nuclear supply chain. In other words, if Iran tries to cheat, if they try to build a bomb covertly, we will catch them. The bottom line is this, whereas Iran was expanding its nuclear program, we have now cut off every single path that Iran could have used to build a bomb.
Whereas it would have taken Iran two to three months to break out with enough material the rush with a bomb, we have extended that break out time to a year. With the world’s unprecedented inspections and access to Iran’s program, we’ll know if Iran ever tries to break out. Now that Iran’s actions have been verified, it can begin to receive relief from certain nuclear sanctions and gain access to its own money that had been frozen. Perhaps most important of all, we achieved this through diplomacy without resulting to another war in the Middle East. By working with Iran on this nuclear deal, we were better able to address other issues. When our sailors in the Persian Gulf strayed into Iranian waters that could have sparked a major international incident.
Follow Pam Key on Twitter @pamkeyNEN