De­fend­ing the deal

Iran ac­cord is only op­tion to avert Mideast nu­clear race: Obama

Cape Breton Post - - WORLD -

U.S. Pres­i­dent Barack Obama vig­or­ously de­fended the nu­clear deal with Iran on Wed­nes­day, cast­ing the his­toric ac­cord as the only pos­si­ble way to avert a war with Iran and a nu­clear arms race in the Mid­dle East.

A day af­ter the U.S., Iran and world pow­ers an­nounced the deal, Obama said the U.S. faces a “fun­da­men­tal choice” — whether or not to em­brace the op­por­tu­nity to re­solve the Ira­nian nu­clear is­sue peace­fully.

His re­marks ap­peared aimed squarely at Congress, where law­mak­ers are dis­cussing leg­is­la­tion to try to stop the deal’s im­ple­men­ta­tion.

Un­der the deal an­nounced Tues­day, Iran’s nu­clear pro­gram will be scaled back and closely mon­i­tored as the U.S. and world pow­ers seek to cut off Iran’s abil­ity to de­velop a nu­clear weapon. In ex­change, Iran will see bit­ing eco­nomic sanc­tions even­tu­ally lifted, free­ing up bil­lions of dol­lars in oil rev­enue and frozen as­sets.

“I ex­pect the de­bate to be ro­bust, and that’s how it should be,” Obama said, im­plor­ing law­mak­ers who are skep­ti­cal of the deal to “re­mem­ber the al­ter­na­tive.”

“With­out a deal, we risk even more war in the Mid­dle East, and other coun­tries in the Mid­dle East would feel com­pelled to de­velop their own nu­clear weapons,” Obama said, adding that such a chain of events would risk a nu­clear arms race “in the most dan­ger­ous re­gion in the world.”

Op­po­nents of the deal, in­clud­ing Is­rael, have lam­basted the Obama ad­min­is­tra­tion for grant­ing sanc­tions re­lief to Iran while it con­tin­ues to fund ter­ror­ist groups in places like Syria, Ye­men and Le­banon.

But the his­toric en­gage­ment with Iran — a top U.S foe since the 1979 Ira­nian Revo­lu­tion — has sparked op­ti­mism in some diplo­matic cir­cles that it could lead to a broader de­tente be­tween the two coun­tries, with the U.S. and Iran team­ing up to con­front mu­tual con­cerns like the Is­lamic State group.

AP PHOTO

U.S. Pres­i­dent Barack Obama an­swers ques­tions about the Iran nu­clear deal dur­ing a news con­fer­ence at the White House in Washington Wed­nes­day.

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