Hailing the landmark nuclear deal with Iran, US President Barack Obama on Tuesday said the pact ensuring Tehran does not acquire a nuclear bomb was based on verification and not on trust as he warned the Congress that he will veto any legislation aimed at scuttling the agreement.
“After two years of negotiations, the United States, together with our international partners, has achieved something that decades of animosity has not: a comprehensive long-term deal with Iran that will prevent it from obtaining a nuclear weapon,” Obama told reporters at the White House.
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Led by the United States the so-called P5+1 countries –the US, Britain, France, Russia, China and Germany — reached the landmark agreement with Iran after more than 20 months of intense negotiations, mostly held in Vienna or Geneva.
Obama, in a rare early morning statement, asserted that this deal has achieved what the US and the international community wanted from day one — to prevent Iran from acquiring nuclear weapons.
For the next 15 years, Iran will not build any nuclear weapons, Obama said at the White House with Vice President Joe Biden standing by his side.
Because of this deal, Obama said Iran will remove two thirds of its installed centrifuges, the machines necessary to produce highly enriched uranium for a bomb and store them under constant international supervision.
Iran will not use its advanced centrifuges to produce enriched uranium for the next decade. Iran will also get rid of 98 per cent of its stockpile of enriched uranium, he said.
Obama said because of this deal the international community will for the first time be in a position to verify all of Iranian commitments.
“That means this deal is not built on trust. It is built on verification. Inspectors will have 24/7 access to Iran’s nuclear facilities. Iran will have access to Iran’s entire nuclear supply chain, its uranium mines and mills, its conversion facility and its centrifuge manufacturing and storage facilities,” he said.
“Today, because America negotiated from a position of strength and principle, we have stopped the spread of nuclear weapons in this region. Because of this deal, the international community will be able to verify that the Islamic Republic of Iran will not develop a nuclear weapon,” he said.
The US President asserted that under the deal every pathway to a nuclear weapon is cut off and the inspection and transparency regime necessary to verify that objective will be put in place.
Well aware of the challenge that he faces in the Congress where Democrats are in a minority, Obama said, “I will veto any legislation that prevents the successful implementation of this deal.”
Obama said the deal demonstrates that American diplomacy can bring about real and meaningful change that makes the country and the world safer and more secure.
Confident that this deal will meet the national security interests of the United States and its allies, Obama said he will veto any legislation that prevents the successful implementation of the agreement.
“Because of this deal, Iran will not produce the highly enriched uranium and weapons-grade plutonium that form the raw materials necessary for a nuclear bomb,” he said.
This also ensures that Iran will not be able to divert materials from known facilities to covert ones.
Some of these transparency measures will be in place for 25 years, he noted. IAEA inspectors would get access that they need to complete their investigation into the possible military dimensions of Iran’s past nuclear research, he said.
“Iran is permanently prohibited from pursuing a nuclear weapon under the Nuclear Non-proliferation Treaty, which provided the basis for the international community’s efforts to apply pressure on Iran,” Obama asserted.
He also announced that the Iranian sanctions would be lifted in phased manner.
“Iran must complete key nuclear steps before it begins to receive sanctions relief,” Obama stressed.
“Over the course of the next decade, Iran must abide by the deal before additional sanctions are lifted, including five years for restrictions related to arms and eight years for restrictions related to ballistic missiles,” he said, adding that all of this will be memorialised and endorsed in a new United Nations Security Council resolution.
If Iran violates the deal, all of these sanctions will snap back into place, Obama said.
So there is a very clear incentive for Iran to follow through and there are very real consequences for a violation, Obama said.
Well aware of the challenge that he faces in the Congress to get the deal verified, Obama said as the American people and Congress review the deal it will be important to consider the alternative.
“Consider what happens in a world without this deal. Without this deal, there is no scenario where the world joins us in sanctioning Iran until it completely dismantles its nuclear programme. Nothing we know about the Iranian government suggests that it would simply capitulate under that kind of pressure and the world would not support an effort to permanently sanction Iran into submission,” he said.
The Iranian deal, Obama said, would also present the United States with fewer and less effective options to prevent Iran from obtaining a nuclear weapon.
“No deal means a greater chance of more war in the Middle East. Moreover, we give nothing up by testing whether or not this problem can be solved peacefully. If, in a worst-case scenario, Iran violates the deal, the same options that are available to me today will be available to any US president in the future,” Obama said.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, however, termed the deal as a “historic mistake” for the world.
The Iranian President, Hassan Rouhani described it as a historic moment.
“I’m pleased to announce that after 23 months of negotiations this admin(stration) managed to reach a new point, a new chapter in history,” he wrote on Twitter.