Obama: Iran nuclear deal starts Jan. 20

USA Today – by David Jackson

WASHINGTON — President Obama said Sunday that the clock starts ticking Jan. 20 on a six-month nuclear deal with Iran, calling it the best bet to deny Tehran the means to make nuclear weapons.

Obama also vowed to veto any congressional legislation that slaps new sanctions on Iran, saying it would damage prospects for a long-term nuclear agreement.

“I have no illusions about how hard it will be to achieve this objective, but for the sake of our national security and the peace and security of the world, now is the time to give diplomacy a chance to succeed,” Obama said in a written statement.  

Under the six-month agreement that Obama first announced Nov. 23, Iran would restrict its uranium enrichment program in exchange for the loosening of economic sanctions that are crippling the Iranian economy. Obama credited the sanctions with forcing Iran’s leaders to the negotiating table.

In the meanwhile, the United States and its global partners — Great Britain, China, France, Germany, Russia and the European Union — will negotiate the details of a long-term agreement to restrict Iran’s nuclear program.

Obama has vowed to prevent Iran from securing the means to make nuclear weapons. Iran says its nuclear program is strictly for peaceful energy uses.

Some congressional lawmakers are skeptical. They have proposed a new package of sanctions that have strong bipartisan support, despite opposition from Obama and his aides.

“Imposing additional sanctions now will only risk derailing our efforts to resolve this issue peacefully,” Obama said.

If Iran fails to live up to its commitments, he said, new sanctions can be imposed and the suspended ones can be re-applied.

Sen. Mark Kirk, R-Ill., who supports new sanctions, said he fears the Obama administration’s policies will lead to either a nuclear-armed Iran, or a pre-emptive military strike on Iran by Israel.

The Jan. 20 start date for the short-term deal means that “the administration will give the world’s leading state sponsor of terrorism billions of dollars while allowing the mullahs to keep their illicit nuclear infrastructure in place,” Kirk said.

Kirk — sponsor of a new Iran sanctions bill along with Sen. Robert Menendez, D-N.J., chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee — said their plan now has 59 of 100 senators as co-sponsors.

In a Washington Post op-ed, Menendez said the prospect of new sanctions will bolster negotiations with Iran.

Calling proposed legislation “a clarifying action,” Menendez wrote that “it allows all sides to negotiate in certainties.”

In his statement, Obama noted that the temporary deal includes “new and more frequent inspections,” to make sure Iran follows through on pledges to eliminate stockpiles of highly enriched uranium and dismantles “some of the infrastructure that makes such enrichment possible.”

While Iran receives “modest relief” from certain sanctions in exchange for compliance, Obama said, “we will continue to vigorously enforce the broader sanctions regime, and if Iran fails to meet its commitments we will move to increase our sanctions.”

In a statement released Sunday, Secretary of State John Kerry said the administration is “clear-eyed about the even greater challenges we all face in negotiating a comprehensive agreement. These negotiations will be very difficult, but they represent the best chance we have to resolve this critical national security issue peacefully and durably.”


One thought on “Obama: Iran nuclear deal starts Jan. 20

  1. “Sen. Mark Kirk, R-Ill., who supports new sanctions, said he fears the Obama administration’s policies will lead to either a nuclear-armed Iran, or a pre-emptive military strike on Iran by Israel.”


    I’m thinkin’ fear # 2 is the only LEGITIMATE fear.

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