Obama Preempts Netanyahu Congress Speech With Interview on Iran Nuclear Deal
JNS.org – Hours before Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s planned speech in the U.S. Congress, Obama has given an exclusive interview that such a deal would be reached if Iran can agree to freeze its sensitive nuclear activity for at least a decade in a verifiable way.
“If, in fact, Iran is willing to agree to double-digit years of keeping their program where it is right now and, in fact, rolling back elements of it that currently exist … if we’ve got that, and we’ve got a way of verifying that, there’s no other steps we can take that would give us such assurance that they don’t have a nuclear weapon,” Obama told Reuters.
Obama said that Netanyahu’s Congress speech on Tuesday, in which the prime minister is expected to criticize U.S. insistence on a diplomatic deal with Iran, would not be “permanently destructive” to U.S. Israeli ties, but reiterated that there is a “substantial disagreement” between the U.S. and Israel on the issue.
If we can get Iran to agree to a final deal, “it would be far more effective in controlling their nuclear program than any military action we could take, any military action Israel could take and far more effective than sanctions will be,” Obama said,
A day before his Congress speech, Netanyahu spoke at the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) conference. The purpose of the Tuesday speech, the prime minister said Monday, is “to speak up about a potential deal with Iran that could threaten the survival of Israel.” Pointing to a map on a screen behind him, Netanyahu described how Iran is “training, arming, dispatching terrorists on five continents.”
However, in his interview Obama dismissed the idea that Netanyahu’s Congress speech might majorly affect U.S. negotiations with Iran.
“I’m less concerned, frankly, with Prime Minster Netanyahu’s commentary than I’m with Congress taking actions that might undermine the talks before they’re completed,” Obama said.