President Barack Obama “doesn’t intend to lose” the battle with Congress over the Iran deal, he told CNN’s Fareed Zakaria on Sunday.
Those who are opposed to the deal, he said, “can't just say we want a better deal. They can't just say we're going to be tougher.”
“This is serious. And it requires us asking tough questions and engaging in a substantive conversation about how are we to achieve what even my fiercest critics would acknowledge should be a shared goal, which is preventing Iran from getting a nuclear weapon,” continued Obama.
“If Congress were to reject this deal,” he warned, “then that central goal would be harder to achieve. And the international unity that we've brought about over the last several years would fray, not just with respect to sanctions, but with respect to the world's attitude about U.S. leadership and how they gauge who's at fault in this dispute between the United States and Iran.”
“What Congress needs to understand is, is that we are the most powerful country on Earth. But our power does not simply come from the fact that we've got the biggest military. Our power derives from the fact that since World War II, we have put together international institutions that have served our interests but have also served the interests of the world,” Obama continued.
“And as much as people may complain about the United States, they still recognize that we have been able to operate on the basis of principles and values and build human institutions that function effectively and fairly around the world. And if we stop doing that, then our power will be diminished, no matter how big our military budget is. And it will become a much more dangerous world. That's why I don't intend to lose on this,” he stressed.
Congress continues to review the deal that was reached last month between Iran and six world powers and has until September 17 to accept or reject it.
Republicans have objected to the deal as not tough enough to prevent Iran obtaining a nuclear weapon in the long run, while several Democrats have expressed support.
Obama has threatened to veto any legislation passed by Congress blocking the deal.
In the same interview, the president also claimed that Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu's "interference" in American affairs is “unprecedented”.
Zakaria asked Obama if it was “appropriate of a foreign head of government to inject himself into an American affair” to the extent Netanyahu has, and if he could recall similar conduct by another foreign head of state.
The President tried to dodge the question, suggesting that Zakaria should pose his query directly to Netanyahu. Obama did, however, note that he could not "recall a similar example."
In March, in the midst of world powers' negotiations with Iran, Netanyahu spoke out against a potential accord before Congress, incurring the wrath of the Obama administration.
But tension between Israel and the United States has remained high since the deal's announcement last month, with Obama recently singling out the Jewish state as the only country who opposed the agreement.
In his interview, though, Obama was quick to stress the deep relationship shared by the U.S. and Israel.
Asserting his ability to prove Netanyahu's basic position wrong, Obama claimed the deal was the best way to ensure Iran would not acquire nuclear weapons, making it a good agreement for the U.S. and especially good for Israel.