Obama blasts opponents of Iran deal
He declared that lawmakers risk damaging American credibility if they vote to scuttle the deal
President Barack Obama defended the Iran nuclear deal on Wednesday against a furious lobbying effort by political opponents and Israel and said abandoning the agreement would open up the prospect of war.
Invoking the Cold War peacemaking initiatives of former Presidents John Kennedy and Ronald Reagan, Obama said that if the U.S. Congress blocked the deal it would accelerate Tehran's path to a bomb and severely damage America's credibility.
Obama said that "alternatives to military actions will have been exhausted once we reject a hard-won diplomatic solution that the world almost unanimously supports."
He added: "Let's not mince words. The choice we face is ultimately between diplomacy or some form of war. Maybe not tomorrow, maybe not three months from now, but soon."
Obama's speech was part of a new push to promote the July 14 U.S.-led deal between Iran and six world powers that was put together over 18 months of negotiations.
Opponents of the agreement in the United States, led mainly by Republicans, say it does not go far enough to ensure that Iran will never be able to develop a nuclear weapon and argue that lifting sanctions on Iran will only empower it to do so.
Some of Democrat Obama's fiercest critics in Congress quickly dismissed the president's argument."President Obama's deal with Iran empowers one of our chief antagonists and the world's most radical Islamist regime with a pathway to the bomb, missiles to deliver it, money to pay for it, and the means to acquire a new military arsenal," Senator John McCain, Republican chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee and fellow committee member Lindsay Graham said in a statement.
"Instead of dismantling Iran's nuclear program, this agreement would lock it in place."
U.S. Senator Bob Corker, chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, said lawmakers left a meeting with the
International Atomic Energy Agency's chief meant to allay concerns about the deal more worried than when they went in.
"It was not a reassuring meeting," Corker told reporters after the meeting in Congress with IAEA Director General Yukiya Amano on Wednesday. The IAEA would undertake much of the monitoring and verification work.
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