Washington: Facing tough challenge from the Republican controlled Congress, US President Barack Obama on Wednesday reached out to his countrymen seeking their support for Iranian nuclear deal, which he argued cuts off all of Tehran's pathway to a nuclear bomb.
Having sent the deal to the Congress for approval, Obama described it as the most consequential foreign-policy debate that the United States has had since the invasion of Iraq.
"After two years of negotiations, we have achieved a detailed arrangement that permanently prohibits Iran from obtaining a nuclear weapon. It cuts off all of Iran's pathways to a bomb. It contains the most comprehensive inspection and verification regime ever negotiated to monitor a nuclear program," he said as he took up the podium at the American University here.
"As was true in previous treaties, it does not resolve all problems. It certainly doesn't resolve all our problems with Iran. It does not ensure a warming between our two countries. But it achieves one of our most critical security objectives. As such, it is a very good deal," he argued.
Noting that from the very beginning his goal is not to allow Iran have nuclear weapons, Obama said he opted for the diplomatic option instead of war to achieve this.
"I have made clear my preference for a peaceful diplomatic resolution of the issue, not just because of the costs of war, but also because a negotiated agreement offered a more effective, verifiable and durable resolution," he said.
Referring to the two years of negotiations with the Iranian leadership, Obama said it was diplomacy, hard, painstaking diplomacy, not saber rattling, not tough talk, that ratcheted up the pressure on Iran.
"With the world now unified beside us, Iran's economy contracted severely, and remains about 20 per cent smaller today than it would have otherwise been. No doubt this hardship played a role in Iran's 2013 elections, when the Iranian people elected a new government, that promised to improve the economy through engagement to the world," he said.
A window had cracked open, the US President said.
"After a series of negotiations, Iran agreed with the international community to an interim deal, a deal that rolled back Iran's stockpile of near 20 per cent enriched uranium, and froze the progress of its program so that the P5+1 -- the US, China, Russia, the UK, Germany, France, and the European Union, could negotiate a comprehensive deal without the fear that Iran might be stalling for time," he said.
Obama warned that if the Congress does not passes the deal, countries like India, China would no longer be part of any sanctions regime against Iran. "Keep in mind, unilateral US sanctions against Iran had been in place for decades, but had failed to pressure Iran to the negotiating table.
"What made our new approach more effective was our ability to draw upon new UN Security Council resolutions, combining strong enforcement with voluntary agreements for nations like China and India, Japan and South Korea, to reduce their purchases of Iranian oil, as well as the imposition by our European allies of a total oil embargo," Obama said.
"Winning this global buy-in was not easy. I know; I was there. In some cases, our partners lost billions of dollars in trade because of their decision to cooperate. But we were able to convince them that, absent a diplomatic resolution, the result could be war with major disruptions to the global economy, and even greater instability in the Middle East," Obama said.
Obama said this deal is not just the best choice among alternatives, this is the strongest nonproliferation agreement ever negotiated, and because this is such a strong deal, every nation in the world that has commented publicly, with the exception of the Israeli government, has expressed support.