Obama defends interim Iran nuclear deal

The president said Israel’s vision of an “ideal” nuclear agreement with Iran was unrealistic

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U.S. President Barack Obama warned on Saturday that Israel’s vision of an “ideal” nuclear agreement with Iran was unrealistic and put the chance of any acceptable final deal at no more than 50/50.

Obama argued that the best possible available agreement with Tehran was likely to be better than the alternatives, and it was therefore imperative to try to secure one.

The U.S. president said a deal was possible that included enough verification safeguards to reassure foreign powers Tehran could not build a nuclear bomb, Agence France-Presse reported, as he was speaking at the Brookings Institution’s Saban Forum in Washington

He pointed out that the possible deal could include a very “modest” option for Iran to enrich uranium as part of a peaceful nuclear program under intense scrutiny by outside observers that would ensure Tehran was kept from “breakout” capacity needed to race to build an atomic weapon.

“If we could create an option in which Iran eliminated every single nut and bolt of their nuclear program and foreswore the possibility of ever having a nuclear program, and for that matter got rid of all its military capabilities, I would take it,” Obama was quoted as saying by AFP.

“But I want to make sure everybody understands it -- that particular option is not available, so as a consequence, what we have to do is make a decision, as to given the options available, what is the best way for us to assure Iran does not get a nuclear weapon?”

Obama acknowledged likely criticism from Israel of any final deal that would not eliminate Iran’s entire nuclear infrastructure.

“One can envision an ideal world in which Iran said ‘we will destroy every element or facility and you name it’ it is all gone,” he said, according to AFP.

But he added: “I think we have to be more realistic and ask ourselves what puts us in a strong position to assure ourselves that Iran is not having a nuclear weapon.”

Obama also made clear that the interim deal reached in Geneva last month between Iran and world powers did not grant Iran a “right to enrich.”

“We can envision a comprehensive agreement that involves extraordinary constraints and verification mechanisms and intrusive inspections but that permits Iran to have a peaceful nuclear program,” Obama said.

“There are a lot of things I can envision that would be wonderful,” he added. “But ... I think we have to be more realistic.”

The interim nuclear agreement reached in Geneva sees the curbing of Iran’s nuclear program in return for seven billion dollars’ worth of limited sanctions relief from world powers.

(With AFP)

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