At the annual State of the Union address to a joint session of Congress, President Obama defended his administration’s handling of the Iranian nuclear threat and maintained that the interim agreement reached in Geneva is a positive step towards encouraging the ayatollahs to give up on advancing their nuclear program.
“It is American diplomacy, backed by pressure, that has halted the progress of Iran’s nuclear program – and rolled parts of that program back – for the very first time in a decade,” The President said to loud applause from his party’s side of the aisle. “As we gather here tonight, Iran has begun to eliminate its stockpile of higher levels of enriched uranium. It is not installing advanced centrifuges. Unprecedented inspections help the world verify, every day, that Iran is not building a bomb. And with our allies and partners, we’re engaged in negotiations to see if we can peacefully achieve a goal we all share: preventing Iran from obtaining a nuclear weapon.”
Moving forward, the President acknowledged that the six-month time frame in negotiating with Iran may not succeed. Nonetheless, he defended his policy of engaging with Iran. “We are clear-eyed about Iran’s support for terrorist organizations like Hezbollah, which threaten our allies; and the mistrust between our nations cannot be wished away,” Obama told Congress. “But these negotiations do not rely on trust; any long-term deal we agree to must be based on verifiable action that convinces us and the international community that Iran is not building a nuclear bomb. If John F. Kennedy and Ronald Reagan could negotiate with the Soviet Union, then surely a strong and confident America can negotiate with less powerful adversaries today.”
The president also warned against imposing additional sanctions on Iran and promised to veto the bi-partisan Iran Act bill now co-sponsored by a majority of U.S. Senators. “Let me be clear: if this Congress sends me a new sanctions bill now that threatens to derail these talks, I will veto it,” Obama promised.
“For the sake of our national security, we must give diplomacy a chance to succeed. If Iran’s leaders do not seize this opportunity, then I will be the first to call for more sanctions, and stand ready to exercise all options to make sure Iran does not build a nuclear weapon. But if Iran’s leaders do seize the chance, then Iran could take an important step to rejoin the community of nations, and we will have resolved one of the leading security challenges of our time without the risks of war,” the President added.
A poll published today showed a majority of 63% of Americans overwhelmingly support the Iran sanctions bill, even after hearing the President’s argument.
(Jacob Kornbluh – YWN)