During his press conference today, as he vigorously defended the Iran nuclear deal, President Obama also made some subtle (or not so subtle) references to Benjamin Netanyahu — to turn the Israeli prime minister’s own words against him.
Obama stressed that other issues involving Iran had to be separated out from the central nuclear question — that this tight focus was necessary in order to establish the international cooperation needed to enforce the economic sanctions that would in turn bring Iran to the bargaining table.
“And by the way, that was not simply my priority. If you look back at all the debates that have taken place over the last five, six years, this has been a Democratic priority, this has been a Republican priority — this has been Prime Minister Netanyahu’s priority. It’s been our Gulf allies’ priority, making sure Iran does not get a nuclear weapon.”
Later on, Obama also addressed the idea that by having previously frozen money returned to them, Iran would be able to expand its presence in Syria and other hotspots. On one hand, he explained, Iran would have to spend some of that money on its own domestic infrastructure, to recover from the economic damage of the sanctions — and on the other, the United States and its allies would indeed work to counter any increased military presence.
But he also said something else that was very interesting:
The other problem with the argument that folks have been making about, oh, this is a windfall and suddenly Iran is flush with cash, and they’re going to take over the world. And I say that not tongue in cheek, because if you look at some of the statements by some of our critics, you would think that Iran is, in fact, going to take over the world as a consequence of this deal — which I think would be news to the Iranians.
That argument is also premised on the notion that if there is no deal, if Congress votes down this deal, that we’re able to keep sanctions in place with the same vigor and effectiveness as we have right now. And that, I can promise you, is not true. That is absolutely not true. I want to repeat: We’re not writing Iran a check. This is Iran’s money that we were able to block them from having access to. That required the cooperation of countries all around the world, many of whom really want to purchase oil from Iran. The imposition of sanctions — their cooperation with us — has cost them billions of dollars, made it harder for them. They’ve been willing to do that because they’ve believed we were sincere about trying to resolve the nuclear issue peacefully, and they considered that a priority — a high enough priority that they were willing to cooperate with us on sanctions.
One of those “critics” Obama spoke of, who was warning that Iran might take over the world, was…Benjamin Netanyahu, in a tweet from a few days ago:
Iran’s increasing aggression is more dangerous than that of ISIS, and the true goal of this aggression in the end is to take over the world.
— PM of Israel (@IsraeliPM) July 8, 2015