Source: USA TODAY
President Obama said Saturday that an interim agreement on Iran’s nuclear program is “an important first step” and again vowed to prevent Tehran from obtaining the means to make nuclear weapons.
The agreement opens “a new path to a world that is more secure,” Obama said in brief remarks at the White House.
He spoke just after U.S. and international partners negotiated a six-month interim deal with Iran, which agreed to limit nuclear activities in return for relief from some $6.1 billion in sanctions that have hurt its economy.
Obama pledged to work with Congress moving forward on a permanent agreement but indicated he would oppose congressional calls for new sanctions in the short term because they would “derail this promising first step” and risk a possible military confrontation.
The sanctions that have been eased can be reapplied, and new ones put in place, if Iran violates the agreement over the next six months, Obama stressed. He said, “Iran cannot use negotiations as cover to advance its (nuclear) program.”
Said Obama: “I have a profound responsibility to try to resolve our differences peacefully, rather than rush towards conflict.”
The president again pledged to block Iran from obtaining a nuclear weapon, and “only diplomacy can bring about a durable solution.”
The interim deal is put in place while the parties negotiate a broader agreement, one in which Iran forgoes the ability to make nuclear weapons.
Israel is likely to oppose the deal. Officials there have long said that Iran cannot be trusted and is determined to make nuclear weapons.
Dave Solimini, a spokesman for Democratic-leaning Truman Project, a Washington-based national security group, said the interim agreement proves that years of sanctions against Iran have worked.
“Iran’s sincerity in these negotiations must always be subject to proof, which is why ongoing inspections and surveillance of their facilities is even more important now,” he said. “The secondary sanctions which were switched off can just as easily be switched back on if Iran fails to keep their word.”
Some congressional Republicans, meanwhile, questioned the value of the interim agreement.
“Unless the agreement requires dismantling of the Iranian centrifuges, we really haven’t gained anything,” tweeted Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C.