By Toluse Olorunnipa, Bloomberg News (TNS)
WASHINGTON — President Barack Obama said his successor would be unwise to scuttle a nuclear deal with Iran, rebuking potential Republican candidates who oppose an agreement.
Obama referred directly to Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker, who has said he would revoke an accord on the first day of his presidency.
“It would be a foolish approach to take,” Obama said in an interview with National Public Radio that aired Tuesday. “Perhaps Mr. Walker, after he’s taken some time to bone up on foreign policy, will feel the same way.”
Obama’s comments come as his administration has been defending a framework agreement reached with Iran amid growing opposition from Republican lawmakers and the party’s potential 2016 presidential candidates. Former Texas Governor Rick Perry, one of those possible contenders, also has said the next president should revoke the deal.
Forty-seven Republican senators, including at least four potential White House aspirants, sent a letter to Iranian leaders last month warning that any deal they reached with Obama could be undone by the next president.
As a bipartisan coalition in Congress is seeking a vote on any deal to curb Iran’s nuclear program, Obama defended his administration’s ability to negotiate an agreement without lawmakers’ approval.
“There is long precedent for a whole host of international agreements in which there’s not a formal treaty ratified by Congress,” he said.
Negotiators have until the end of June to finalize the pact, ironing out technical features including the number of centrifuges Iran will be allowed to keep and how quickly economic sanctions will be lifted.
Obama said the deal is the best option to keep Iran from getting a nuclear weapon, and will be valuable even if Iran doesn’t back away from its anti-Israel rhetoric.
“The notion that we would condition Iran not getting nuclear weapons in a verifiable deal on Iran recognizing Israel is really akin to saying that we won’t sign a deal unless the nature of the Iranian regime completely transforms,” the president said. “And that is, I think, a fundamental misjudgment.”
The comments came after Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said that any deal must require Iran to recognize Israel’s right to exist.
“A deal based on this framework would threaten the survival of Israel,” and “would not block Iran’s path to the bomb,” Netanyahu said in a Twitter post last week.
Photo: Gage Skidmore via Flickr