Republicans who oppose the nuclear deal with Iran are doing so for political reasons more than anything else, President Barack Obama claimed on Monday.
“Unfortunately, a large portion of the Republican Party, if not a near unanimous portion of Republican representatives, are going to be opposed to anything that I do, and I have not oftentimes based that on a judgment on the merits, but have based that on their politics,” Obama told NPR in an interview.
“And I don't think that's a surprise to anybody. What I do know, though, is, is that when this agreement is implemented and we've seen centrifuges coming out of facilities like Fordow and Natanz, and we've got inspectors on the ground and it becomes clear that Iran in fact is abiding by this agreement, then attitudes will change, because people will recognize that, in fact, whatever parade of horribles was presented in opposition have not come true,” he continued.
Obama expressed confidence that as the agreement with Iran is implemented, “will see, in fact, more and more folks pull out of the immediate politics of it and judge it on the basis of whether it was the right thing to do for the country.”
The deal, claimed the president, “cuts off all the pathways for Iran getting a nuclear weapon. In exchange, Iran gets relief from the sanctions that we organized, systematically, with the international community over the last several years that's crippled their economy and forced them back to the table.”
“With that issue resolved, although we will have to be vigilant through the inspection process and the verification process, although we will have a backstop in being able to exercise all options, including military, if Iran violated or cheated on the agreement, then an additional priority that we have is making sure that Iran ends some of the destabilizing activities that it's engaged in for a very long time, providing arms to Hezbollah to threaten Israel and our other allies in the region, making sure that through proxies, Iran is not engaging in destabilizing activities toward Gulf countries,” he continued.
Obama also said that as a result of the agreement, Iran might start “toning down its rhetoric in terms of its virulent opposition to Israel. And, you know, that's something that we should welcome.”
The comments come as 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, the latest being Jewish Senator Brian Schatz from Hawaii, who on Monday announced that he backs the deal.
Obama has threatened to veto any legislation passed by Congress blocking the deal.
In an interview with CNN which aired on Sunday, Obama declared that he “doesn’t intend to lose” the battle with Congress over the Iran deal.
“If Congress were to reject this deal,” he warned in that interview, “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.”