The United States on Saturday vigorously defended the recent international deal on Iran’s nuclear program against critics at home and abroad.
Speaking at the 10th Annual Saban Forum of the Brookings Institution in Washington, both President Barack Obama and Secretary of State John Kerry praised their diplomatic achievement as a step in the right direction and depicted critics as living in a dream world.
“For the first time in over a decade, we have halted advances in the Iranian nuclear program”, Obama said on the stage of a Willard Hotel ballroom in a conversation with media entrepreneur Haim Saban.
“The best way for us to prevent Iran from getting a nuclear weapon is for a comprehensive, verifiable, diplomatic resolution, without taking any other options off the table if we fail to achieve that”, Obama said.
“One can envision an ideal world in which Iran said, ‘We’ll destroy every element and facility and you name it, it’s all gone.’ I can envision a world in which Congress passed every one of my bills that I put forward. There are a lot of things that I can envision that would be wonderful”, Obama said in reference to the partisan gridlock in Washington.
In theory, the Iranians will always have some capability “because the technology of the nuclear cycle, you can get off the Internet; the knowledge of creating a nuclear weapons is already out there”, Obama said.
As he has before, Obama defended the six-month deal to relax some economic sanctions on Iran in exchange for some weapons inspections as not ideal, but better than the alternative of doing nothing.
The Israeli government has repeatedly called the agreement, brokered between Iran and the US, the EU, Russia, China, France, the UK and Germany, as a “bad deal”. In addition, polls indicated that a vast majority of Israelis does not believe this first deal will preclude Iran from having nuclear weapons.
In the Forum’s key note address a couple of hours after Obama’s remarks, Secretary John Kerry defended the Iran deal, claiming that “only diplomacy” can test whether Iran is living up to verifiable, transparent and internationally accepted standards.
Kerry announced that Israel’s National Security Advisor Yossi Cohen will travel to the US next week for direct conversations with Washington’s Iran experts. As the US and Israel “may sometimes favor different tactical choices”, both countries always share the same fundamental goal, Kerry said.
Kerry is scheduled to testify before the Foreign Relations Committee of the US House of Representatives next Tuesday afternoon. The Committee is filled with Republicans who are skeptical of the Iran deal.