‘N-deal not prelude to normal US-Iran relations’

Washington, July 16 (IANS/EFE) The agreement reached with Iran on its nuclear programme is not a prelude to a normalisation of relations with Iran or to formal cooperation with Tehran in the fight against the IS, US President Barack Obama has said.

Obama, on Wednesday, attempted to pre-empt critics by stating that the deal “meets the national security interests of the US and its allies”, and reminded that the sole priority has always been to stop Iran from developing a nuclear weapon.

He said it is a historic opportunity to create a safer world, and asked Congress to evaluate the pact based on facts and not on politics.

The president also made it clear that the accord hopes to be able to “incentivise (the Iranians) to behave differently in the region”.

The president made his remarks at a press conference focusing on Iran, a day after negotiators in Vienna reached the agreement between the Iranian government and the P5+1 group consisting of the US, Russia, China, France and Britain, plus Germany.

Obama told reporters at the White House that the chance for reaching agreement with Iran might not occur again in “our lifetimes”, and said if the US does not seize the opportunity “future generations will judge us harshly”.

The president spoke directly with reporters, but his real audience appeared to be the Democrats on Capitol Hill who have been sceptical of the deal, and who might join the Republicans in trying to sink the pact.

Obama has vowed to veto any bill that threatens the accord and it would require a two-third majority in both houses of Congress to override the veto, meaning that dozens of the president’s fellow Democrats would have to join Republicans in opposing the agreement.

“There really are only two alternatives here: either the issue of Iran obtaining a nuclear weapon is resolved diplomatically, through a negotiation, or it’s resolved through force, through war. Those are the options,” Obama said.

“Without a deal, there would be no limits to Iran’s nuclear programme and Iran could move closer to a nuclear bomb… Without a deal, we risk even more war in the Middle East.”

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