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Obama Launches Campaign To Sell Iran Deal

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Obama Launches Campaign To Sell Iran Deal

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By Anita Kumar, William Douglas and Lesley Clark, McClatchy Washington Bureau (TNS)

WASHINGTON — It took years for President Barack Obama to negotiate a historic nuclear deal with Iran. Now it’s time for him to sell the plan to foreign leaders, U.S. lawmakers, and the American public.

Obama kicked off his aggressive campaign with a White House news conference Wednesday to sell the world the agreement he says would allow Iran to pursue a nuclear program but prevent it from producing a nuclear weapon.

His blunt message: The alternative is far worse.

“Without a deal, we risk even more war in the Middle East, and other countries in the region would feel compelled to pursue their own nuclear programs, threatening a nuclear arms race in the most volatile region in the world,” Obama said.

Under the deal announced Tuesday, Iran’s nuclear program would be reduced and closely monitored in exchange for economic sanctions against Iran being lifting.

But Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, a fierce opponent of the deal, told his country’s parliament that it was not bound by the deal, saying Israel could still take military action against Iran’s nuclear program even if the deal proceeds.

“We will reserve our right to defend ourselves against all of our enemies,” he said. “We have strength, and it is great and mighty.”

Obama downplayed a series of concerns, including whether the sanctions could really be restored if Iran violated the deal, Iran’s ability to use procedural delays to stop inspectors and what Iran might do with its billions of dollars.

He said he would continue to gain Iran’s cooperation on other security issues, but he acknowledged the nation may not change all of its bad behavior, including funding terrorist groups in other countries such as Syria and Yemen.

Sen. Roy Blunt of Missouri, vice chair of the Republican conference in the Senate, doesn’t think Obama will get any Republican support in the chamber for the Iran deal and will have trouble convincing some Democrats to get on board. Blunt said he is lobbying his Democratic colleagues to reject what he sees as a flawed agreement.

“The real question will be how many Democrats will actually support it once they’ve seen it,” he said Wednesday in a call with Missouri reporters.

Obama has dispatched Vice President Joe Biden, Cabinet members and senior officials to meet with lawmakers on Capitol Hill, journalists, foreign governments and nongovernmental groups.

He called senior lawmakers, including House Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) and the leaders of Britain, Germany, France, the European Union, the United Arab Emirates, Saudi Arabia, and Israel to make his case.

He vigorously defended the deal in the lengthy news conference, which at times sounds like a lecture and later devolved into the president’s pulling out a piece of paper with Iran talking points so he could address things he was not asked about.

“My hope is that everyone in Congress also evaluates this agreement based on the facts, not on politics, not on posturing,” he said. “But we live in Washington, and politics do intrude.”

Biden held a closed-door briefing Wednesday for House Democrats that lasted about 90 minutes. When asked by reporters afterward whether he changed any skeptical minds, the vice president responded, “I think we’re going to be all right.”

Rep. Bill Pascrell Jr. (D-NJ) said Biden didn’t express any personal qualms about the deal but said it might have one or two weaknesses. Pascrell said he’s “leaning towards a yes” but has not read the full agreement yet.

“I think it needs a good airing,” he said. “What are the collateral consequences of the deal, I’m very interested in that. … I’m interested in the arms that are able to come in and out of Iran. I’m also buoyed by the statement of the president with Biden standing alongside him that we are going to step up our efforts in defending Israel.”

Rep. Nita Lowey (D-NY) left the meeting still concerned about the deal’s “impact, especially about the ballistic missile sales and the armament sales and what Iran would do flush with money when the sanctions are lifted.”

After Congress formally receives the deal, a 60-day review period begins. But lawmakers go on a month-long recess, so any vote would likely wait until after they return on Sept. 8.

Obama must garner the backing of a majority of Democrats in the Republican-controlled Congress. Under legislation Congress passed this year, he could veto a vote of disapproval. It would take two-thirds votes from the House of Representatives and the Senate to override the veto.

Rep. Ed Royce (R-CA) chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, said he urged Deputy Secretary of State Tony Blinken in a call that the administration not seek action at the United Nations Security Council before Congress can review the deal in detail.

(Lindsay Wise of the Washington Bureau contributed.)

Photo: President Barack Obama speaks during a press conference in the East Room of the White House on Wednesday, July 15, 2015, in Washington, D.C. (Olivier Douliery/Abaca Press/TNS)

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10 Comments

  1. Sand_Cat July 15, 2015

    No, no…this can’t be happening!
    You mean we can’t start yet another war in the Middle East to throw away more lives and treasure?
    The GOP must find us away around this, and I can see they’re working extremely hard, and have been for some time, to undermine yet another attempt by the president to bring sanity back into US government.

    Reply
  2. Dominick Vila July 16, 2015

    I wonder what the rest of the world, Netanyahu notwithstanding, is thinking about us. The position taken by most Republicans in Congress defies logic. How can a nuclear weapons development agreement that requires dismantling of 90% of centrifuges, that allows IAEA inspectors to conduct inspections whenever and wherever they deem necessary, and that delays Iran’s nuclear weapons development by at least 10 years be a bad thing? Complaining about the fact that the rest of the world is lifting the sanctions imposed on Iran in exchange for them agreeing to terms that are short of unconditional surrender highlights the hypocrisy of those whose real motivation is to embarrass President Obama, ensure foreign and military aid to Israel is not discontinued as a consequence of a stable Persian Gulf and Middle East, and the need to support the military complex, including the arms industry.
    The most important thing to consider is the alternative. Do we prefer to have an adversary with nuclear weapons within the next year or two? Do we prefer warfare and sacrificing thousands of young Americans to satisfy Netanyahu wishes? What exactly does the GOP have in mind as an alternative, besides acting like spoiled brats?

    Reply
    1. 1Zoe55 July 16, 2015

      And if the Republicans do not approve of this agreement, I would suggest they start fundraising efforts for the burials of the over 40,000 American military men and women our country would lose in a war in the Middle East. Of course, the soldiers will never be these congressional Republicans’ children, will they? President Obama is correct in that you exhaust all diplomatic efforts before you declare war on any country.

      1. Dominick Vila July 16, 2015

        Needless to say, our young will be coming back in body bags – in the middle of the night – to make sure nobody knows the real cost of Republican warmongering.
        The irony is that even from an economic perspective, this agreement is bound to be beneficial to us. Cheap Iranian oil will bring gas prices down further, and an increase in exports will help us reduce our trade imbalance and could help create jobs. Who knows, maybe that’s why the GOP opposes it, the same way they opposed investment in infrastructure, raising the minimum wage, and anything that helps the middle class and the poor.
        The idea that an increase in Iranian government revenues as a result of a resumption of oil exports, highlights how desperate Netanyahu and his pals in Congress are to find excuses to reject anything that helps stabilize the Persian gulf.

    2. yabbed July 16, 2015

      Excellent post, Dominick Vila.

    3. David July 16, 2015

      Dominick, you are wrong. The agreement does NOT “allow for inspections whenever and wherever” is deemed necessary. In fact, a procedure has to be followed. A request for inspection has to be made; there is a 72 reply period; if Iraq does not agree to the inspection, a committee will decide whether or not it will go forward. There is no control over Iraq developing or importing ICBMs to carry a nuclear payload.

      1. Dominick Vila July 16, 2015

        What does Iraq have to do with a nuclear weapons development with Iran?

        1. David July 16, 2015

          Typo…I meant Iran. Also, read your own article concerning “Transparency”.

  3. Eleanore Whitaker July 16, 2015

    Look, the GOP has since the election of 2008 was declared in Obama’s favor, tried to demolish his administration. That’s treason. When it denies THIS president and NO other his right to interface as the leader of a free world country with our allies in this and other foreign affairs, the GOP has gone far out of the realm of THEIR duties.

    The decades long boycotts of Iran and Cuba had not done one single thing to change these countries, save make the US the BAD GUY.

    And let’s not pretend that since Iran is the 2nd largest oil producer in the world, that Bis Oil USA didn’t know that boycotting Iran was a superb plan to allow the Good Ole Boys of Oil in the US the opportunity to skank away and jack oil prices for 3 decades. And…isn’t that exactly what they did?

    The GOP had a lot of motives for pushing the Iran sanctions. Big Oil was only one of them. The others were the slap in the face to GWHB when his CIA tried to depose the Shah, when he double crossed Saddam Hussein, further enraging Iraq and then sold arms illegally to the Iran Contras…further enraging Iran’s government. What the hell do you think the US looks like to people in the middle east when the US has Republicans now all chomping at the bit to make a grab for Iranian oil using Israel to do the dirty work? Israel has already confiscated land that has exceeded its borders…Don’t try and tell me that Netanyahu wouldn’t love to decimate Iran for no reason other than grabbing more land for Israel’s ever growing population. If this is not so, why the hell did Netanyahu bulldozed all of those homes in the West Bank if not to create more homes for Israelis? They are running out of space. Maybe, Israeli women need to consider birth control?

    Reply

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