On 5 August, two weeks after the P5+1 (the five permanent members of the UN Security Council plus Germany) and Iran reached the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) regulating Iran’s nuclear program, U.S. president Barack Obama outlined the deal in an address at American University in Washington, DC. Speaking six weeks before Congress’s 17 September deadline to review it, Obama called on U.S. citizens to pressure their representatives to support the deal. Most of his speech focused on discrediting congressional opponents to the JCPOA, with the president pointing out that “many of the same people who argued for the war in Iraq are now making the case against the Iran nuclear deal.”
However, Obama also addressed the grievances of the deal’s biggest international opponent, PM Benjamin Netanyahu of Israel. He discussed the Israeli premier’s alarmist rhetoric and attempts to derail the deal, highlighting the fact that Israel was the only country in the world opposed to the JCPOA. Responding to Netanyahu’s argument that sanctions relief would provide Iran with more resources to develop a nuclear weapon, Obama stated, “A nuclear-armed Iran is far more dangerous to Israel, to America, and to the world than an Iran that benefits from sanctions relief.”
Obama’s address not only reflected the increased tension between the two men, it marked the first time in recent history that a U.S. leader has openly singled out his Israeli counterpart as an impediment to U.S. foreign policy–making. Nevertheless, Netanyahu’s fearmongering tactics and Obama’s consequent criticism did not stop the administration from repeatedly offering Israel increased military aid to bolster its sense of security.
Presented below are excerpts from Obama’s address. The full transcript is available at www.whitehouse.gov.