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Tuesday, October 25, 2016

By Gernot Heller and Doina Chiacu

TEHRAN/WASHINGTON (Reuters) – President Barack Obama’s administration sent a nuclear agreement with Tehran to Congress on Sunday and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu urged U.S. lawmakers to reject a deal he said would only feed an “Iranian terror machine”.

In a first concrete sign of European determination to quickly rebuild economic and political ties with Iran after a 12-year standoff, German Economy Minister Sigmar Gabriel arrived in Tehran with an economic delegation. Other European powers were expected to follow.

Obama has promised to exercise his veto if Congress rejects the deal, which curbs Iran’s nuclear program while allowing an easing of economic sanctions.

Overriding it would require a two-thirds majority of both the House of Representatives and Senate, so the administration is working to win over enough of Obama’s fellow Democrats to offset strong Republican opposition.

In an unusual move, Obama took three Democratic congressman golfing with him: Joe Courtney of Connecticut, Ed Perlmutter of Colorado and John Yarmuth of Kentucky. The president more often taps aides and friends for weekend golfing.

“I think the right thing to do is merely not to go ahead with this deal,” Netanyahu said on CBS’s Face the Nation as he continued a string of U.S. media interviews denouncing the deal reached on Tuesday between Iran and six major powers.

“There are many things to be done to stop Iran’s aggression and this deal is not one of them,” he said.


Tehran denies Western and Israeli accusations it has been using a research program as cover for ambitions to develop atomic weapons. President Hassan Rouhani said on Saturday he expected the deal would lead to closer relations with Tehran’s neighbors in the Gulf region, while Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei said Iran remained at odds with the West.

It was on Khamenei’s words that Netanyahu seized, speaking to his cabinet on Sunday.

“The Iranians are not even trying to hide the fact they will take advantage of the hundreds of billions they will receive via the agreement to arm their terror machine,” he said. “And they say explicitly they will continue their struggle against the United States and its allies, Israel of course above all.”

U.S. Defense Secretary Ashton Carter was due in Jerusalem on Sunday night in an attempt to assuage Israel’s anger over a deal it says can only delay Iran becoming a nuclear state. He is also touring Jordan and Saudi Arabia, which both eye the prospect of increasing Iranian influence in the region with some suspicion.

Germany’s Gabriel, due to meet President Hassan Rouhani and several ministers, told German newspaper Bild he would use his three-day trip to suggest Germany could serve as a mediator between Iran and arch-enemy Israel. He said he would insist the Iranian government recognize Israel’s right to exist.

“Really stable, good relationships with Germany will only be able to develop if this is accepted in Iranian politics. I will keep making that clear during my trip to Iran,” Gabriel said in comments due to be published on Monday.

British Prime Minister David Cameron said world powers could now press Tehran on other issues such as its involvement in Syria in support of President Bashar al-Assad. “We shouldn’t be naïve or starry eyed in any way about the regime that we’re dealing with,” he said in an interview with NBC News.

Opponents of the deal argue it does not provide enough supervision of Iran’s nuclear program.

Secretary of State John Kerry, who led the U.S. delegation to the talks with Iran, was asked on “Fox News Sunday with Chris Wallace” why the deal did not provide for inspections anywhere anytime.

“The fact is, that in arms control, there is no country anywhere on this planet that has ‘anywhere, anytime’,” he said. “There is no such standard. There is no such standard within arms control inspections.”

(Additional reporting Michael Flaherty in Washington, Alex Wilts; Writing by Ralph Boulton)

Photo: U.S. President Barack Obama speaks during a news conference about the recent nuclear deal reached with Iran, in the East Room of the White House in Washington July 15, 2015. (REUTERS/Joshua Roberts)

  • Grannysmovin

    Why does Israel have so much say in our Government? What about our allies who participated in these negotiations and the final deal? What is the GOP or should I say Netanyahu’s alternative? If they blocked this deal who is going to go back to the negotiation table with us, or is that the point? The fact that they were criticizing this deal and vowing to block it before they even read the agreement, speaks volumes of their mind set.

    • johninPCFL

      Bibi’s alternative is sending in the US army and wasting another few thousand American lives.

      • Joseph Kelsall

        ‘Onward Christian Soldiers’ is the Israeli unofficial national anthem!

    • oldtack

      Why does Israel have so much say in our Government? Check the roles of Congress for religious affiliations. Check all of the various Positions in The Capitol. Check the Jewish Anti-defamation League and other powerful Jewihs Organizations. You can probably find all of this on Google.

      Netanyahu? Bibi was born in Israel. He came with his family to the USA when he was about 7 years old.He lived in Cheltenham Township, Pennsylvania, a suburb of Philadelphia. He attended school there from 1956 to 1958. The family returned to Israel and then returned to the States in 1963 to 1967. Bibi graduated from Cheltenham High School then attended MIT where he earned two degrees During his tenure he did return to Israel to serve in the Army and he lost a brother in Combat. Bibi is about as much American as he is Israeli and he and his parents were very conservative in their Politics. They fit right in with our Tea Party Republicans.

  • Eleanore Whitaker

    Well, now at least we know why it was sooooooo important for Netanyahu to be invited to speak on the floor of the US House of Representatives several months back, don’t we? Boehner and his Republican Regime only showed publicly what they wanted Americans to see…what they discussed in the back room of the GOP chambers will never be revealed.

    Netanyahu is no fool. He okayed the bulldozing of hundreds of Palestinian homes in the West Bank to build homes for Israelis. Perhaps, Israeli women need to consider birth control if their country is no longer large enough to support their population growth?

    When Israel decimate Lebanon 3 times in past decades, Israel’s land mass grew as “spoils of war.” Isn’t that why Netanyahu wants a war with its neighbor, Iran? And it wouldn’t hurt Israel in the least to capture Iran who is No. 2 in oil in the Middle East.

    It shouldn’t surprise anyone that US Big Oil sidled up to the Saudis who are No. 1 in Oil and wanted those Iranian sanctions in place to offset any further competition for oil prices.

    Now that OPEC is refusing to reduce its oil production and prices, US Big Oil would love nothing more than control of Iran’s oil supplies with Israel in control of Iran.

    • Sand_Cat

      Bibi wants lebensraum. Let’s call it what it is.

  • Joseph Kelsall

    To hell with Israel. They wouldn’t be happy if the Palestinians upped and left their homeland to the Ashkenazi Jews. The Jews have no occupiers for the homes they are building and they like the fact that ‘anti semitism’ helps to encourage European Jews to make Aliya to Israel. Many of the homes in the best settlements are owned by absentee Americans who like to talk of their home in Jerusalem.
    Obama is the best president the USA has had in my living memory.

  • Marv Nochowitz

    Foreign governments have no business getting involved in our government. Israel does what is best for Israel and the U.S. must do what is best for the U.S.

    • Polana

      Israel owns US. Sharon said so long time ago and short after that statement he had massive stroke. HMMMMM. All is for Israel Security, how about other countries?? Israel wants to occupy Iran now w/US help.??Some people short on memory. They instigate, lie and US listens to BS. It’s time to cut ties. Since when Israel PM is dictating to US Gov.??? Who runs this country??.

  • Katela

    Israel isn’t urging rejection. The fascist Prime Minister is. How do you say ‘Go f*^k yourself ” in Hebrew?

  • dovawk

    Wait till the presidential runners start to thin out as we approach the dead line and go into the Primary. After the Primary just sit back and watch to see witch candidate gets a free trip to Israel (sponsored by AIPAC and ADL) and personal private meeting with Netanyahu after a tour of Israel. See who owns who! Their checking them out to see if they are 100% or more pro-Israel. If they are not watch for the smear campaign or funding cut off after they get back.