President Barack Obama is pushing to seal the Iran nuclear deal, accusing opponents of “selling a fantasy”.In a speech at a Washington DC university he said the agreement is publicly supported by every country in the world, except for Israel.
He described a forthcoming congressional vote on lifting sanctions as either a vote for war or for peace.
Members of Congress have come under intense pressure from Israeli interest groups to reject the deal.
Mr Obama described it as the “strongest non-proliferation agreement ever negotiated”.
He equated those who oppose the deal with the supporters of the American invasion of Iraq.
“The same mindset, in many cases offered by the same people – who seem to have no compunction with being repeatedly wrong – led to a war that did more to strengthen Iran, more to isolate the United States, than anything we have done before or since.”
In a conference call arranged by a Jewish organisation on Wednesday, Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu rejected the notion that a vote against the deal is a vote for war.
Instead, a vote for the deal would make war more likely, Mr Netanyahu argued.
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“It will spark a nuclear arms race in the region,” Mr Netanyahu said. “And it would feed Iran’s terrorism and aggression that would make war, perhaps the most horrific war of all, far more likely.”
“Peace is not the absence of conflict,” Mr Obama said in his speech, quoting President Ronald Reagan. “It is the ability to cope with conflict by peaceful means.”
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President John F Kennedy in 1963, spoke at the same Washington DC area university in support of diplomacy with the Soviet Union.
The Iran deal is considered a signature achievement of Mr Obama’s foreign policy legacy. He and his aides will work through the summer Congressional recess to convince lawmakers to confirm the deal.
The nuclear deal calls for Iran to reduce its enrichment in exchange for the releasing of millions of dollars in frozen assets.