President Obama today suggested Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu believes a peace deal over Iran’s nuclear weapons program is not possible, indicating Netanyahu’s upcoming speech to Congress was an attempt to undermine negotiations for a nuclear agreement by drumming up support for legislation that would authorize new sanctions against Iran.
Obama spoke during a news conference with German Chancellor Angela Merkel:
The prime minister and I have a very real difference around Iran – Iran sanctions. I have been very clear . . . that it does not make sense to sour the negotiations a month or two before they are about to be completed. We should play that out. If, in fact, we can get a deal, then we should embrace that. If we can’t get a deal, then we’ll have to make a set of decisions and, as I’ve said to Congress, I’ll be the first to work with them to apply even stronger measures against Iran.
“But what’s the rush?” Obama asked with respect to sanctions. And then, his tone became caustic:
Unless your view is that, it’s not possible to get a deal with Iran, and it shouldn’t even be tested. And that I cannot agree with, because as the president of the United States, I’m looking at what the options are if we don’t get a diplomatic resolution. And those options are narrow, and they’re not attractive. And from the perspective of U.S. interests, and I believe from the perspective of Israel’s interests – although, I can’t speak, obviously, for the Israeli government – it is far better if we can get a diplomatic solution.
Obama is right to feel concerned about the options facing him should negotiations fail. But given the existential threat posed by Iranian nuclear weapons not just to Israel, but to the United States; the determination of Iran to get a nuclear weapon; the closeness of Iran to that goal, and the short “breakout” period it would have under any deal; its constant deceptions over the years; and the inability of the United States to reliably detect cheating, a verifiable agreement with Iran that will safeguard our country does not seem possible. At least not at this point, some six years after Obama – “whats the rush?” – embarked on this goal.