Obama: Let Iran Talks Proceed With a ‘Confident America’

U.S. President Barack Obama delivers a State of the Union address before a joint session of Congress on Tuesday evening at the Capitol in Washington. He said a "strong and confident America" could negotiate successfully with Iran.
National Journal
Elaine M. Grossman
Jan. 29, 2014, 3:40 a.m.

Pres­id­ent Obama, in his Tues­day even­ing State of the Uni­on ad­dress, im­plored Con­gress to al­low Ir­an nuc­le­ar talks to pro­ceed with “a strong and con­fid­ent Amer­ica.”

“These ne­go­ti­ations do not rely on trust; any long-term deal we agree to must be based on veri­fi­able ac­tion that con­vinces us and the in­ter­na­tion­al com­munity that Ir­an is not build­ing a nuc­le­ar bomb,” he told the joint ses­sion of law­makers. “If John F. Kennedy and Ron­ald Re­agan could ne­go­ti­ate with the So­viet Uni­on, then surely a strong and con­fid­ent Amer­ica can ne­go­ti­ate with less power­ful ad­versar­ies today.”

Obama and Sen­ate Ma­jor­ity Lead­er Harry Re­id (D-Nev.) have stared down a ma­jor­ity of law­makers — in­clud­ing many from their own party — who have urged pas­sage of a new bill that would height­en eco­nom­ic sanc­tions against Ir­an if dip­lo­mat­ic pro­gress is not made to­ward a long-term deal that sub­stan­tially re­duces Tehran’s ca­pa­city to build a nuc­le­ar weapon. However, Obama has ar­gued that fresh sanc­tions would squelch any po­ten­tial of turn­ing back Ir­an’s atom­ic pro­gram, and Re­id has not al­lowed the le­gis­la­tion to come to a floor vote.

The United States and five oth­er world powers — China, France, Ger­many, Rus­sia and the United King­dom — in Novem­ber inked an in­ter­im agree­ment with Tehran un­der which the Middle East­ern state agrees to a set of re­stric­tions on its atom­ic-en­ergy pro­jects in ex­change for some sanc­tions re­lief. Ir­an con­tin­ues to main­tain that its nuc­le­ar am­bi­tions re­main peace­ful, and has in­sisted it re­tains a right to con­tin­ue urani­um en­rich­ment and oth­er atom­ic activ­it­ies for civil en­ergy pro­duc­tion, med­ic­al needs and re­search.

The pres­id­ent — tout­ing the strength of a policy of “dip­lomacy backed by pres­sure” — in the Tues­day speech said the im­pos­i­tion of sanc­tions had brought Ir­an to the ne­go­ti­at­ing table. But he re­peated his threat to veto any sanc­tions le­gis­la­tion that Con­gress may pass dur­ing a six-month peri­od that runs through June, dur­ing which the in­ter­im deal is in place and talks for a per­man­ent ac­cord are on­go­ing.

“As we gath­er here to­night, Ir­an has be­gun to elim­in­ate its stock­pile of high­er levels of en­riched urani­um,” Obama said in the just-over-one-hour­long speech de­voted mainly to do­mest­ic is­sues. “It is not in­stalling ad­vanced cent­ri­fuges. Un­pre­ced­en­ted in­spec­tions help the world veri­fy, every day, that Ir­an is not build­ing a bomb. And with our al­lies and part­ners, we’re en­gaged in ne­go­ti­ations to see if we can peace­fully achieve a goal we all share: pre­vent­ing Ir­an from ob­tain­ing a nuc­le­ar weapon.”

He said the talks “will be dif­fi­cult” and “may not suc­ceed,” not­ing that U.S. dip­lo­mats are “clear-eyed about Ir­an’s sup­port for ter­ror­ist or­gan­iz­a­tions like Hezbol­lah, which threaten our al­lies.”

“The mis­trust between our na­tions can­not be wished away,” Obama said.

However, not­ing that the talks do not rely on “trust” for suc­cess, he asked law­makers to “give dip­lomacy a chance to suc­ceed.”

“If Ir­an’s lead­ers do not seize this op­por­tun­ity, then I will be the first to call for more sanc­tions, and stand ready to ex­er­cise all op­tions to make sure Ir­an does not build a nuc­le­ar weapon,” Obama said. “But if Ir­an’s lead­ers do seize the chance, then Ir­an could take an im­port­ant step to re­join the com­munity of na­tions, and we will have re­solved one of the lead­ing se­cur­ity chal­lenges of our time without the risks of war.”

Rep­res­ent­at­ive Cathy Mc­Mor­ris Rodgers (R-Wash.), who de­livered the 10-minute Re­pub­lic­an re­sponse to the State of the Uni­on speech, did not ad­dress the is­sue of the Ir­an ne­go­ti­ations in her re­marks.

What We're Following See More »
INTERCEPT IN MIDDLE EAST
Navy Calls Iranian Ships’ Actions Dangerous, Unprofessional
2 minutes ago
THE LATEST

"Four Iranian ships made reckless maneuvers close to a U.S. warship this week, the Pentagon said Thursday, in an incident that officials said could have led to dangerous escalation." The four Iranian vessels engaged in a "high-speed intercept" of a U.S. destroyer in the Strait of Hormuz. A Navy spokesman said the Iranina actions "created a dangerous, harassing situation that could have led to further escalation including additional defensive measures" by the destroyer.

Source:
$300 SAVINGS CARD
Under Pressure, EpiPen Maker Drops Prices
10 minutes ago
THE LATEST

Amid public outcry and the threat of investigation by the Senate Judiciary Committee, Mylan has agreed to effectively drop the price of EpiPens. "The company, which did not lower the drug's list price, said it would reduce the patient cost of EpiPen through the use of a savings card, which will cover up to $300 of EpiPen 2-Pak."

Source:
AN ENGLISHMAN IN MISSISSIPPI
Nigel Farage: Trump Can Beat Polls
1 hours ago
THE LATEST

Nigel Farage, who led the Brexit effort in the United Kingdom, appeared at a Trump rally in Mississippi yesterday. Farage told the 15,000-strong crowd: "Remember, anything is possible if enough decent people are prepared to stand up against the establishment."

Source:
MOB RULE?
Trump on Immigration: ‘I Don’t Know, You Tell Me’
2 hours ago
THE LATEST

Perhaps Donald Trump can take a plebiscite to solve this whole messy immigration thing. At a Fox News town hall with Sean Hannity last night, Trump essentially admitted he's "stumped," turning to the audience and asking: “Can we go through a process or do you think they have to get out? Tell me, I mean, I don’t know, you tell me.”

Source:
BIG CHANGE FROM WHEN HE SELF-FINANCED
Trump Enriching His Businesses with Donor Money
1 days ago
WHY WE CARE

Donald Trump "nearly quintupled the monthly rent his presidential campaign pays for its headquarters at Trump Tower to $169,758 in July, when he was raising funds from donors, compared with March, when he was self-funding his campaign." A campaign spokesman "said the increased office space was needed to accommodate an anticipated increase in employees," but the campaign's paid staff has actually dipped by about 25 since March. The campaign has also paid his golf courses and restaurants about $260,000 since mid-May.

Source:
×