Obama asks Iran deal critics to come up with viable option

Published July 16, 2015
“What I haven’t heard is: what is your preferred alternative,” Mr Obama told critics during a White House news conference. —AP/File
“What I haven’t heard is: what is your preferred alternative,” Mr Obama told critics during a White House news conference. —AP/File

WASHINGTON: President Barack Obama on Wednesday challenged critics of the Iran nuclear agreement to come forward with a viable alternative, saying the only two real options were a negotiated deal to curb Tehran’s nuclear programme or war.

“What I haven’t heard is: what is your preferred alternative,” Mr Obama told critics during a White House news conference.

“And I haven’t heard that. And the reason is because there really are only two alternatives here: either the issue of Iran obtaining a nuclear weapon is resolved diplomatically through a negotiation or it’s resolved through force, through war. Those are the options,” he said.

“I share the concerns of Israel, (the) Saudis, Gulf partners about Iran shipping arms and causing conflict and chaos in the region,” he added.

“And that’s why I’ve said to them, ‘Let’s double down and partner much more effectively to improve our intelligence capacity and our interdiction capacity so that fewer of those arms shipments are getting through the net,” Mr Obama said.

Amid fears Washington was seeking to cosy up to its long-time foe with a deal which would not stand the test of time, Mr Obama said: “Even with this deal, we will continue to have profound differences with Iran.”


‘US not seeking to normalise relations with Iran’


“Iran still poses challenges to our interests and values,” he told reporters, citing what he called “its support of terrorism and its use of proxies to destabilise parts of the Middle East”.

Only a day after world powers agreed a deal after almost two years of negotiations to stop Iran acquiring a nuclear bomb, the US president went on the offensive to stop sceptics at home and abroad from seeking to derail the long-awaited accord.

“With this deal we cut off every single one of Iran’s pathways to a nuclear programme,” Mr Obama insisted.

“And Iran’s nuclear programme will be under severe limits for many years. Without a deal, those pathways remain open.”

He said that “Israel has legitimate concerns about its security relative to Iran”. But he insisted that no one, including Israel, had provided a better alternative to the deal, and “all those threats are compounded if Iran gets a nuclear weapon”.

Washington was not seeking to “normalise diplomatic relations” with Iran, he said. “Will we try to encourage them to take a more constructive path? Of course, but we’re not betting on it.”

The United States on Wednesday presented a draft resolution to the UN Security Council asking it to endorse the historic deal, which could be voted on as early as Monday or Tuesday, diplomats said.

The draft text seeks formal UN approval for the hard-won, ground-breaking agreement reached in Vienna on Tuesday after 18 days of talks.

Published in Dawn ,July 16th, 2015

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