|Posted on August 5, 2015 at 9:05 PM|
United States, New York Times
Mr. Obama, opening a new, more overtly political phase of his public campaign for the accord, portrayed the coming vote in Congress to approve or reject the deal as the most consequential foreign policy decision for lawmakers since Congress voted in 2003 to authorize the invasion of Iraq. He implored them to “shut out the noise” and back the deal.
Delivered in stark terms that surprised some foreign policy analysts and left no room for questioning whether the agreement is good for American security — “It’s not even close,” Mr. Obama declared at one point — the president’s speech was a striking display of certitude about a diplomatic deal that has split the American public and presented a dilemma for lawmakers, including many in his own party.
Julie Hirschfeld Davis
Original publication date: 8/5/2015
Warning Congress not to derail his agreement, the president compares critics of the Iran nuclear accord to those who backed the 2003 invasion of Iraq. President Barack Obama on Wednesday made his strongest and most detailed argument to date for his landmark nuclear deal with Iran by likening opponents of the agreement to supporters of the Iraq War — and warning that congressional rejection of the accord could pave the way to a new, bloody, and unpredictable Mideast conflict.
Speaking to a crowd of students, professors, and diplomats at American University, Obama said the nuclear deal now being reviewed by Congress represented the “most consequential foreign-policy debate” since the 2003 U.S. invasion of Iraq, and warned lawmakers not to fall for similar arguments that could lead to another disastrous war.
“Between now and the congressional vote in September, you are going to hear a lot of arguments against this deal, backed by tens of millions of dollars in advertising,” Obama said. “And if the rhetoric in these ads and the accompanying commentary sounds familiar, it should, for many of the same people who argued for the war in Iraq are now making the case against the Iran nuclear deal.”
Key takeaway: Assembly of Experts Chairman Ayatollah Mohammad Yazdi echoed the Supreme Leader’s call for a comprehensive review of the nuclear deal, while senior nuclear negotiator Hamid Baeidinejad reiterated that Iran is not beholden to UN Security Council (UNSC) Resolution 2231’s ballistic missile restrictions.
Ayatollah Yazdi explicitly directed Iranian officials to scrutinize the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) agreement to ensure it complies with the Supreme Leader’s redlines. The Assembly of Experts Chairman stressed that Iran’s security and defense secrets “must be preserved.” Ayatollah Ahmad Alam ol Hoda, moreover, warned about the ramifications of pursuing “any relationship with America and Europe.” The Assembly of Experts member claimed that the JCPOA “violates” the Supreme Leader’s redlines.
The Foreign Ministry’s Director for Political and International Affairs Hamid Baeidinejad, meanwhile, stated that UNSC Resolution 2231’s statements on “arms sanctioning is not absolute.”
Key takeaway: President Hassan Rouhani continued to sell the P5+1 nuclear deal to his domestic audiences, while Ayatollah Mohammad Yazdi urged Iranian officials to exercise prudence as the deal goes through legal review. Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif censured U.S. foreign policy in response to President Obama’s speech on Wednesday.
President Rouhani pursued his aggressive campaign to build public support for the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) in an effort to counter opposition from regime hardliners. Rouhani addressed a large gathering in Tehran to promote the economic benefits of the JCPOA. He also reiterated his pledge to reduce inflationary pressure from economic sanctions. Rouhani’s statements underscore the administration’s deliberate policy prioritization and his commitment to economic performance-based legitimacy. Assembly of Experts Chairman Ayatollah Yazdi, meanwhile, warned against institutional divide over the deal and stated that Parliament and the Supreme National Security Council must review the JCPOA.
Foreign Minister Zarif responded to President Obama’s remarks on the JCPOA by highlighting U.S. foreign policy failures in the Middle East and calling on Washington to accept responsibility for creating regional crises. Zarif indicated that such events as CIA orchestrated coup in 1953 and America’s support for Saddam Hussein during the Iran-Iraq War “are all alive in the historical memory of the Iranian people.” Zarif added, “If the U.S. government wants to change the opinions and slogans of the Iranian people,” it should consider a different approach to its relationship with Iran.
Key takeaway: Ayatollah Ali Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani criticized opponents of the nuclear deal and expressed cautious optimism about thawing relations with the U.S., while Assembly of Experts member Ayatollah Ahmad Alam ol Hoda reiterated that the P5+1 agreement violates regime redlines.
Ayatollah Rafsanjani reinforced President Rouhani’s campaign to sell the benefits of the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) to the Iranian and people. The Expediency Discernment Council Chairman defended the nuclear deal, claiming that Iran’s “entire nuclear infrastructure” will remain intact. Rafsanjani suggested that regime hardliners “are making a mistake” by opposing the JCPOA. He also indicated that the nuclear deal could be an opportunity for a diplomatic thaw between Iran and the U.S. Mashhad Friday Prayer Leader Ayatollah Alam ol Hoda, meanwhile, explicitly criticized the JCPOA. The Assembly of Experts member restated his opposition to the deal and asserted that the nuclear “agreement violates” the Supreme Leader’s redlines.
Reuters reported that an anonymous Iranian official confirmed a report that IRGC Qods Force Commander Major General Qassem Soleimani traveled to Russia during the second half of July despite the UN travel ban. Soleimani allegedly met with Russian President Vladimir Putin and discussed bilateral and regional issues, including the delivery of the S-300 surface-to-air missile system to Iran.
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