President Obama: “This deal demonstrates that American diplomacy can bring about real and meaningful change”

An Iranian nuclear deal has been reached:

(Final video. Full text of transcript below the fold.)

President Obama:

“The United States, together with our international partners, has reached a comprehensive long-term deal with Iran that will keep it from obtaining a nuclear weapon.”

“As President Kennedy said, ‘Let us never negotiate out of fear, but let us never fear to negotiate’.”

“History shows that America must lead not just with our might, but with our principles”

“This deal is not built on trust. It’s built on verification.”

“There’s a very real incentive for Iran to follow through, and there are very real consequences for a violation”.

“I have made clear to the Iranian people that we will always be open to engagement on the basis of mutual interests and…respect.”

“We give nothing up by testing whether this problem can be solved peacefully.”

“I believe it would be irresponsible to walk away from this deal.”

“I will veto any legislation that prevents the successful implementation of this deal.”

Vice President Biden, after the speech, whispered “Good job” to the President. (He could have added “This is a Big F-ing Deal”.)

From the White House:

After many months of principled diplomacy, the P5+1 — the United States, the United Kingdom, France, China, Russia and Germany — along with the European Union, have achieved a long-term comprehensive nuclear deal with Iran that will verifiably prevent Iran from acquiring a nuclear weapon and ensure that Iran’s nuclear program will be exclusively peaceful going forward.

This deal stands on the foundation of the Joint Plan of Action (JPOA), achieved in November of 2013, and the framework for this Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), announced in Lausanne on April 2, 2015 that set the requirements for the deal with the P5+ 1 and Iran, alongside the European Union announced today.

Now, with this deal in place, the U.S., our allies, and the international community can know that tough, new requirements will keep Iran from obtaining a nuclear weapon

(Details below)

The Iran Deal: from WhiteHouse.gov

Blocking the Four Pathways to a Nuclear Weapon

“If not this, then what”

As it stands today, Iran has a large stockpile of enriched uranium and nearly 20,000 centrifuges, enough to create 8 to 10 bombs. If Iran decided to rush to make a bomb without the deal in place, it would take them 2 to 3 months until they had enough weapon-ready uranium (or highly enriched uranium) to build their first nuclear weapon. Left unchecked, that stockpile and that number of centrifuges would grow exponentially, practically guaranteeing that Iran could create a bomb—and create one quickly – if it so chose.
This deal removes the key elements needed to create a bomb and prolongs Iran’s breakout time from 2-3 months to 1 year or more if Iran broke its commitments. Importantly, Iran won’t garner any new sanctions relief until the IAEA confirms that Iran has followed through with its end of the deal. And should Iran violate any aspect of this deal, the U.N., U.S., and E.U. can snap the sanctions that have crippled Iran’s economy back into place.


Transcript: Statement by the President on Iran

State Floor, 7:02 A.M. EDT

THE PRESIDENT: Today, 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.

This deal demonstrates that American diplomacy can bring about real and meaningful change — change that makes our country, and the world, safer and more secure. This deal is also in line with a tradition of American leadership. It’s now more than 50 years since President Kennedy stood before the American people and said, “Let us never negotiate out of fear, but let us never fear to negotiate.” He was speaking then about the need for discussions between the United States and the Soviet Union, which led to efforts to restrict the spread of nuclear weapons.

In those days, the risk was a catastrophic nuclear war between two super powers. In our time, the risk is that nuclear weapons will spread to more and more countries, particularly in the Middle East, the most volatile region in our world.

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.

This deal meets every single one of the bottom lines that we established when we achieved a framework earlier this spring. 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. 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.

Because of this deal, 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 percent of its stockpile of enriched uranium.

To put that in perspective, Iran currently has a stockpile that could produce up to 10 nuclear weapons. Because of this deal, that stockpile will be reduced to a fraction of what would be required for a single weapon. This stockpile limitation will last for 15 years.

Because of this deal, Iran will modify the core of its reactor in Arak so that it will not produce weapons-grade plutonium. And it has agreed to ship the spent fuel from the reactor out of the country for the lifetime of the reactor. For at least the next 15 years, Iran will not build any new heavy-water reactors.

Because of this deal, we will, for the first time, be in a position to verify all of these commitments. That means this deal is not built on trust; it is built on verification. Inspectors will have 24/7 access to Iran’s key nuclear facilities.

*Iran [Inspectors] (correction, marked with an asterisk) 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. This 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.

Because of this deal, inspectors will also be able to access any suspicious location. Put simply, the organization responsible for the inspections, the IAEA, will have access where necessary, when necessary. That arrangement is permanent. And the IAEA has also reached an agreement with Iran to get access that it needs to complete its investigation into the possible military dimensions of Iran’s past nuclear research.

Finally, 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.

As Iran takes steps to implement this deal, it will receive relief from the sanctions that we put in place because of Iran’s nuclear program — both America’s own sanctions and sanctions imposed by the United Nations Security Council. This relief will be phased in. Iran must complete key nuclear steps before it begins to receive new sanctions relief. And 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.

All of this will be memorialized and endorsed in a new United Nations Security Council resolution. And if Iran violates the deal, all of these sanctions will snap back into place. So there’s a very clear incentive for Iran to follow through, and there are very real consequences for a violation.

That’s the deal. It has the full backing of the international community. Congress will now have an opportunity to review the details, and my administration stands ready to provide extensive briefings on how this will move forward.

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 program. 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. We put sanctions in place to get a diplomatic resolution, and that is what we have done.

Without this deal, there would be no agreed-upon limitations for the Iranian nuclear program. Iran could produce, operate and test more and more centrifuges. Iran could fuel a reactor capable of producing plutonium for a bomb. And we would not have any of the inspections that allow us to detect a covert nuclear weapons program. In other words, no deal means no lasting constraints on Iran’s nuclear program.

Such a scenario would make it more likely that other countries in the region would feel compelled to pursue their own nuclear programs, threatening a nuclear arms race in the most volatile region of the world. It would also present the United States with fewer and less effective options to prevent Iran from obtaining a nuclear weapon.

I’ve been President and Commander-in-Chief for over six years now. Time and again, I have faced decisions about whether or not to use military force. It’s the gravest decision that any President has to make. Many times, in multiple countries, I have decided to use force. And I will never hesitate to do so when it is in our national security interest. I strongly believe that our national security interest now depends upon preventing Iran from obtaining a nuclear weapon — which means that without a diplomatic resolution, either I or a future U.S. President would face a decision about whether or not to allow Iran to obtain a nuclear weapon or whether to use our military to stop it.

Put simply, 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 U.S. President in the future. And I have no doubt that 10 or 15 years from now, the person who holds this office will be in a far stronger position with Iran further away from a weapon and with the inspections and transparency that allow us to monitor the Iranian program.

For this reason, I believe it would be irresponsible to walk away from this deal. But on such a tough issue, it is important that the American people and their representatives in Congress get a full opportunity to review the deal. After all, the details matter. And we’ve had some of the finest nuclear scientists in the world working through those details. And we’re dealing with a country — Iran — that has been a sworn adversary of the United States for over 35 years. So I welcome a robust debate in Congress on this issue, and I welcome scrutiny of the details of this agreement.

But I will remind Congress that you don’t make deals like this with your friends. We negotiated arms control agreements with the Soviet Union when that nation was committed to our destruction. And those agreements ultimately made us safer.

I am confident that this deal will meet the national security interest of the United States and our allies. So I will veto any legislation that prevents the successful implementation of this deal.

We do not have to accept an inevitable spiral into conflict. And we certainly shouldn’t seek it. And precisely because the stakes are so high, this is not the time for politics or posturing. Tough talk from Washington does not solve problems. Hard-nosed diplomacy, leadership that has united the world’s major powers offers a more effective way to verify that Iran is not pursuing a nuclear weapon.

Now, that doesn’t mean that this deal will resolve all of our differences with Iran. We share the concerns expressed by many of our friends in the Middle East, including Israel and the Gulf States, about Iran’s support for terrorism and its use of proxies to destabilize the region. But that is precisely why we are taking this step — because an Iran armed with a nuclear weapon would be far more destabilizing and far more dangerous to our friends and to the world.

Meanwhile, we will maintain our own sanctions related to Iran’s support for terrorism, its ballistic missile program, and its human rights violations. We will continue our unprecedented efforts to strengthen Israel’s security — efforts that go beyond what any American administration has done before. And we will continue the work we began at Camp David to elevate our partnership with the Gulf States to strengthen their capabilities to counter threats from Iran or terrorist groups like ISIL.

However, I believe that we must continue to test whether or not this region, which has known so much suffering, so much bloodshed, can move in a different direction.

Time and again, I have made clear to the Iranian people that we will always be open to engagement on the basis of mutual interests and mutual respect. Our differences are real and the difficult history between our nations cannot be ignored. But it is possible to change. The path of violence and rigid ideology, a foreign policy based on threats to attack your neighbors or eradicate Israel — that’s a dead end. A different path, one of tolerance and peaceful resolution of conflict, leads to more integration into the global economy, more engagement with the international community, and the ability of the Iranian people to prosper and thrive.

This deal offers an opportunity to move in a new direction. We should seize it.

We have come a long way to reach this point — decades of an Iranian nuclear program, many years of sanctions, and many months of intense negotiation. Today, I want to thank the members of Congress from both parties who helped us put in place the sanctions that have proven so effective, as well as the other countries who joined us in that effort.

I want to thank our negotiating partners — the United Kingdom, France, Germany, Russia, China, as well as the European Union — for our unity in this effort, which showed that the world can do remarkable things when we share a vision of peacefully addressing conflicts. We showed what we can do when we do not split apart.

And finally, I want to thank the American negotiating team. We had a team of experts working for several weeks straight on this, including our Secretary of Energy, Ernie Moniz. And I want to particularly thank John Kerry, our Secretary of State, who began his service to this country more than four decades ago when he put on our uniform and went off to war. He’s now making this country safer through his commitment to strong, principled American diplomacy.

History shows that America must lead not just with our might, but with our principles. It shows we are stronger not when we are alone, but when we bring the world together. Today’s announcement marks one more chapter in this pursuit of a safer and more helpful and more hopeful world.

Thank you. God bless you. And God bless the United States of America.

END
7:17 A.M. EDT

Bold added.

5+

26 Comments

  1. The president has vowed to veto any legislation that will block the deal.

    Congress will have a narrow path to block the deal

    In principle, the US Congress still has the ability to scuttle the deal but it is difficult. Under the terms of a legislative compromise between the White House and Senator Bob Corker, Congress will have the opportunity to vote to register its disapproval of the administration’s diplomacy. But unless they can overcome a presidential veto, Obama’s actions will stand.

    In practice, overcoming a veto is very difficult. The Congressional politics around this will matter politically, but they are unlikely to alter the actual foreign policy.

  2. Twitter commentary:

    Jesse Taylor ‏@jesseltaylor
    People who supported the Iraq War are calling this treaty awful and delusional, so that’s a good sign.

    LOLGOP ‏@LOLGOP
    Fox News is so upset about this Iran deal you’d think it was giving working people health insurance.

    Chemi Shalev ‏@ChemiShalev
    Basically, it’s now Israel & GOP vs. the world….

    Dana Houle ‏@DanaHoule
    Unfortunately this deal does nothing to stop the proliferation of Republican and neocon hyperbole.

    Michael Cohen ‏@speechboy71
    I am shocked to hear Lindsey Graham say Iran deal will make everything worse. Usually he’s so level-headed and sober in his pronouncements

    JORGE RAMOS ‏@jorgeramosnews
    Obama dice que acuerdo nuclear con Irán está basado en la verificación, no en la confianza. Amenaza con vetar leyes que afecten el acuerdo

  3. Tremendous news. Tremendous accomplishment. This is the capstone of President Obama’s presidency. Wow.

  4. Pope Francis:

    “The agreement on the Iranian nuclear program is viewed in a positive light by the Holy See.

    It constitutes an important outcome of the negotiations carried out so far, although continued efforts and commitment on the part of all involved will be necessary in order for it to bear fruit.”

  5. The NY Times BREAKING NEWS email headline seems like the wrong takeaway from this:

    BREAKING NEWS
    Obama Vows to Veto Any Legislation That Would Block Iran Deal

    Tuesday, July 14, 2015 7:27 AM EDT

    Iran and a group of six nations led by the United States said they had reached a historic accord on Tuesday to significantly limit Tehran’s nuclear ability for more than a decade in return for lifting international oil and financial sanctions.

    President Obama, in an early morning appearance at the White House that was broadcast live in Iran, began what promised to be an arduous effort to sell the deal to Congress and the American public, saying the agreement was “not built on trust. It is built on verification.”

    But Mr. Obama made it abundantly clear that he would fight to preserve the deal in its entirety, saying, “I will veto any legislation that prevents the successful implementation of this deal.”

    He added that the accord was preferable to the alternate scenario of an unbridled Iran touching off a nuclear arms race in the Middle East, adding that his successors in the White House “will be in a far stronger position” to restrain Iran for decades to come than they would be without it.

    Iran’s president, Hassan Rouhani, made a brief statement, saying that the Iranian people’s “prayers have come true.”

    What would be wrong with “Iran and a group of six nations led by the United States reach historic accord”?

      • I agree! Ed Kilgore:

        Jennifer Rubin is, as you might have predicted, living on a very different planet. The headline of the first of many hundreds of posts I am sure she will write on this subject says it all: “Critics relieved that the Iran deal is absurd.” She goes on to blithely suggest that congressional disapproval of the deal is now “likely,” and warns that support for it by HRC “may be the death knell of her presidential ambitions.”

        HAHAHAHAHAHA!!!! Er, no.

        Because Christian Right and also militarist voters do matter in the Republican presidential nominating contest, I suspect the main political import of this deal for the time being will be its usefulness as a token of both anti-Obama and anti-anti-Bibi savagery in the Republican presidential nomination contest.

        It only matters in the godprimaries.

  6. so happy (and relieved) to see this one in the record books now. Obama has done so much as president:
    fair pay act
    ACA
    Sotomayor and Kagan
    saved the frakking economy
    consumer financial protection
    opposed DOMA
    etcetcetc

    • He is certainly taking the “lame” out of “lame duck”. I am glad he refused to be crippled by a recalcitrant (hell, pigheaded!) Congress.

    • Heads explode from the right and the wacky part of the “left”. (they call themselves left – but they certainly seem to agree frequently with the right)

      • And then there are our two senators

        Senators Chuck Schumer and Kirsten Gillibrand each said they will carefully consider the details of President Obama’s nuclear agreement with Iran before determining whether to support the deal.

        In separate statements on Tuesday morning, both New York senators said they plan to use the congressional review period to examine the deal.

        “Over the coming days, I intend to go through this agreement with a fine-tooth comb, speak with administration officials, and hear from experts on all sides,” Schumer said. “I supported legislation ensuring that Congress would have time and space to review the deal, and now we must use it well. Supporting or opposing this agreement is not a decision to be made lightly, and I plan to carefully study the agreement before making an informed decision.”

        http://www.capitalnewyork.com/article/city-hall/2015/07/8572017/schumer-gillibrand-withhold-judgment-iran-deal

        • I hope that if they have any doubts about which way the wind is blowing that you will tell them it is blowing towards peace.

          The president’s statement should have re-assured them.

          And really the bottom line is: “if not this, what?” We do NOT want to leave this up to future presidents or future Congresses. We have the pieces in place now.

          I was listening to the Rude Pundit on my drive home from an errand this morning and he pointed out that in 20 years, most young Iranians will not know that they are supposed to hate us. And that makes the world a little less dangerous.

          • They also seem to forget that others have signed on….Russia, China, Germany, France, and the UK.

  7. Analysis from Center for American Progress:

    “[This is the] most effective chance we have to prevent Iran’s march toward a nuclear weapon,” Brian Katulis, a senior fellow at the Center for American Progress, said. “It gives us greater access, knowledge, and ability to lock down any attempt.”

    The National Security team at the Center for American Progress, put out five criteria last month that would determine whether the nuclear deal was a success. Tuesday’s deal shows that all five of these criteria were met. Deal supporters generally feel that the agreement was a success and that it will open the doorway to better relations between Iran and the western world as well as preventing a future war.[…]

    One of the previous holdups over negotiations was Iran’s refusal to allow inspections at nuclear sites. The current deal allows the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) to access all sites, including military sites. A predetermined joint commission — made up of one member from each negotiating side – will then have to approve the inspection.

    “This was solved in a good way,” said [Shlomo Brom a Visiting Fellow at the Center for American Progress and former Brigadier General in the Israeli Army (and one of the authors of CAP’s five criteria)]. While certain critics were pushing for unfettered access to Iran’s nuclear sites, Brom said, “it never works that way.”

  8. Thomas Friedman from the NY Times interviewed President Obama yesterday. His comments about Iranian society were pertinent:

    “What’s interesting, if you look at what’s happened over the last several months, is the [Iranian] opponents of this deal are the hard-liners and those who are most invested in Iran’s sponsorship of terrorism, most invested in destabilizing Iran’s neighbors, most virulently anti-American and anti-Israeli. And that should tell us something, because those hard-liners are invested in the status quo in which Iran is isolated, and they are empowered.

    Isolation blocks off communication and gives power to those who control the narrative. Young Iranians, as they become part of the global economy, will not want to go back to the ways of the old mullahs.

    • And those young Iranians are very highly educated. The Shakespearean authority., Greenblatt, gave a talk in Teheran and he was stunned by the sophistication of the questions posed by the students.

      • Iran is, as you know, from the ancient country of Persia and their civilization has been around for a very long time. It is the height of arrogance to assume that simply because they live under a totalitarian regime run by ayatollahs that they somehow stopped being smart or sophisticated. The political structure in place now is the result of many things, one of which is our own country’s intervention into Persian politics. I would hate for anyone to judge us based on the people who were running our country from 1981 to 1989 or 2001 through 2009.

        American “exceptionalists” are very good at demonizing an entire people based on their narrow view of a country or a region. George W. Bush did not even bother figuring out the difference between Shiite and Sunni Muslims. Marco Rubio thinks that Iran is supporting ISIL when in fact, Iran is pushing back fiercely against their encroachment and is an ally with us in our fight against their extremism!

  9. Peter Beinart in The Atlantic on what is really troubling to the deal’s critics, that “the nuclear agreement highlights the limits of American power—something the president’s opponents won’t accept.”

    “You have taken the position that if the United States just … walked away from a bad deal, ratcheted up sanctions, that Iran would buckle and come to the table with more favorable terms,” Dickerson said. But “what about an alternative explanation, which a lot of experts believe, which is that they would say, ‘Forget negotiations, we’re going to race towards a breakout on a nuclear bomb?’”

    Cotton’s answer: present a “credible threat of military force” and the Iranians will abandon “their nuclear-weapons capabilities.” The senator never explained why threatening war would make Iran capitulate now, given that the United States and Israel have been making such threats for over a decade. Nor did he address the consequences of a military strike, which former U.S. Secretary of Defense Robert Gates has said could “prove catastrophic, haunting us for generations.” […]

    When critics focus incessantly on the gap between the present deal and a perfect one, what they’re really doing is blaming Obama for the fact that the United States is not omnipotent. This isn’t surprising given that American omnipotence is the guiding assumption behind contemporary Republican foreign policy. Ask any GOP presidential candidate except Rand Paul what they propose doing about any global hotspot and their answer is the same: be tougher. America must take a harder line against Iran’s nuclear program, against ISIS, against Bashar al-Assad, against Russian intervention in Ukraine and against Chinese ambitions in the South China Sea. […]

    Accepting that American power is limited means prioritizing. It means making concessions to regimes and organizations you don’t like in order to put more pressure on the ones you fear most. That’s what Franklin Roosevelt did when allying with Stalin against Hitler. It’s what Richard Nixon did when he reached out to communist China in order to increase America’s leverage over the U.S.S.R.

    And it’s what George W. Bush refused to do after 9/11 …

    It means recognizing that no matter how deeply Americans believe in their country’s unique virtue, the United States is subject to the same restraints that have governed great powers in the past. For the Republican right, that’s a deeply unwelcome realization. For many other Americans, it’s a relief. It’s a sign that, finally, the Bush era in American foreign policy is over.

      • It is wishful thinking that the Bush/Cheney Doctrine has been relegated to the dustbin of history as wonderful as it sounds. Many of the current crop of GOP presidential hopefuls are relying on the same advisers and pundits who led us into the Iraq War.

        It makes it that much more vital that the next president is a Democrat who adheres to the Obama Doctrine of “don’t do stupid stuff”. It would be stupid to renounce this agreement, it would be stupid to toss aside a real opportunity to stop Iran from building a nuclear bomb, it would be stupid to bludgeon a nation whose people are anxious to become part of the global economy.

  10. The president will be holding a news conference at 1pm Eastern on Wednesday, July 15, 2015 to discuss the Iranian nuclear agreement:

  11. This article in the Seattle Times is a good summary of the negoiations with Iran…..

    VIENNA — The talks that led to the historic deal over Iran’s nuclear program have proceeded on and off for a dozen years but only truly came to life after two key decisions in 2013, both made behind closed doors — one at the White House, the other, a few months later, at Iran’s imposing presidential palace, Beit Rahbari, in central Tehran.

    In each case, the country’s top official decided to reverse a long-standing policy, taking significant risk to open space for negotiations. In gambling that the time had come to seek a deal, President Obama and Ayatollah Ali Khamenei broke a stalemate that had made the years of on-and-off negotiations an exercise in frustration.

    http://www.seattletimes.com/nation-world/historic-nuclear-deal-with-iran-turned-on-key-decisions/

    The ST republishes NYT articles so this is a day old but it’s a free read with links to more analysis…..

    “The reality is that it is a painful agreement to make, but also necessary and wise,” said R. Nicholas Burns, who drafted the first sanctions against Iran, passed in the U.N. Security Council in 2006 and 2007, when he was undersecretary of state for policy. “And we might think of it as just the end of the beginning of a long struggle to contain Iran. There will be other dramas ahead.”

    http://www.seattletimes.com/nation-world/obamas-precarious-bet-on-iran-may-take-years-to-pay-off/

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