President Barack Obama said Tuesday that Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s speech to Congress contained “nothing new,” and offered no “viable alternatives.”
“As far as I can tell there was nothing new,” Obama said from the Oval Office. “On the core issue, which is how do we prevent Iran from obtaining a nuclear weapon, which would make it far more dangerous and would give it scope for even greater action in the region, the prime minister didn’t offer any viable alternatives.”
Earlier Tuesday, Netanyahu addressed both houses of Congress, calling for lawmakers to oppose a nuclear deal with Iran, saying, “This is a bad deal. It's a very bad deal. We're better off without it.”
Despite the Israeli prime minister’s opposition, the administration has maintained that “nothing is agreed until everything is agreed,” and negotiators from the P5+1 group of world powers – the U.S., China, France, UK, Russia, plus Germany, have until the end of the month to hammer out a political framework agreement with Iran.
A final deadline for a comprehensive accord is set for the end of June.
“When it comes to this nuclear deal, let’s wait until there’s actually a deal on the table that Iran has agreed to, at which point everybody can evaluate it - we don’t have to speculate,” Obama said. “What I can guarantee is, if it’s a deal I signed off on, I will be able to prove that it is the best way for us to prevent Iran from getting a nuclear weapon."
Obama did not watch Netanyahu’s speech, instead he chose to attend a videoconference with British Prime Minister David Cameron, French President Francois Hollande, German Chancellor Angela Merkel, Italian Prime Minister Matteo Renzi, and European Council President Donald Tusk to discuss Ukraine and other international security issues.
Obama said he read a transcript of the prime minister’s remarks, and those whom he spoke with shared his position to allow negotiations to play out.
The prime minister’s speech followed a controversial invite from House Speaker John Boehner for Netanyahu to address Congress. The White House was not notified about the invitation, irking the Obama administration, which labeled it a breach of protocol.
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