Obama defends nuclear deal, reassures Israel

Published December 8th, 2013 - 04:00 GMT
US President Barack Obama speaks about US, Iran and Israel and the Middle East at the 10th Anniversary Saban Forum hosted by the Saban Center for Middle East Policy at Brookings Institution in Washington, DC, December 7, 2013. [AFP]
US President Barack Obama speaks about US, Iran and Israel and the Middle East at the 10th Anniversary Saban Forum hosted by the Saban Center for Middle East Policy at Brookings Institution in Washington, DC, December 7, 2013. [AFP]
US President Barack Obama on Saturday defended nuclear diplomacy with Iran, saying talks can achieve greater peace for Israel and the United States than could military action.


Speaking to the Brookings Institution’s Saban Forum, the US president explained some of the gaps existing between himself and Israeli Prime Minister Benyamin Netanyahu, who keeps opposing a nuclear deal reached last month between Iran and six world powers - the US, Britain, Russia, France, China and Germany, known as the P5+1. 

“There are times where I, as president of the United States, am going to have different tactical perspectives than the prime minister of Israel," Obama said. 

The president criticized Netanyahu for believing that the constant mounting of pressure will ultimately lead the Iranians to halt their nuclear energy program, including enrichment-related activities. No political party in Tehran will tolerate anything but a “dignified solution” to the decade-long nuclear dispute, Obama asserted. 

According to the six-month deal struck in Geneva, the US and five other powers have agreed to reduce some of the existing economic sanctions on Iran. The interim deal gives negotiators the time and space to discuss a long-term agreement in which Iran would continue to enrich “low level” uranium while the world powers would lift all sanctions on the nation. 

Obama said the US remains committed to Israel's security, and that the bilateral military and intelligence cooperation "has never been stronger." 

After the Nov. 24 agreement, the White House opposed new congressional proposals to increase economic sanctions on Iran, saying they would scuttle the interim deal and end hopes for a permanent one. 

The Iranian side also hopes that the deal would create a win-win situation. 

Iranian Deputy Foreign Minister and member of the Iranian nuclear negotiating team, Abbas Araghchi, urged the P5+1 not to lose the opportunity created after the Geneva deal to resolve the nuclear dispute. He said there is no single winner in negotiations, and that a resolution of the issue will benefit both sides. 

The Brookings Institution is hosting the forum entitled, “Power Shifts: US-Israel Relations in a Dynamic Middle East.” 


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