PRESIDENT Barack Obama threw down the gauntlet to Congress yesterday, warning that it would be irresponsible to block a momentous nuclear accord with Iran.
He hailed yesterday’s historic Vienna agreement between Iran and the P5+1 group of world powers as an opportunity for all participants to move in a “new direction.”
The president told domestic critics that “no deal” would mean “a greater chance of more war in the Middle East.”
Mr Obama welcomed the landmark deal aimed at restricting Iran’s nuclear programme to civil use for more than a decade in exchange for billions of dollars in international sanctions relief.
He said that the agreement, hammered out after nearly two years of negotiations, would cut off all of Iran’s pathways towards a bomb and give the international community unprecedented access to the country’s nuclear facilities.
“This deal is not built on trust. It is built on verification,” he declared.
Congress has 60 days to assess the accord and decide whether to pursue legislation imposing new sanctions on Iran or to prevent the president from suspending existing ones.
Mr Obama renewed his vow to veto any such legislation and urged Congress to consider the repercussions of its actions.
His Iranian counterpart Hassan Rouhani suggested that “a new chapter” had opened between his country and the rest of the world.
Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif said: “This is a historic moment. We are reaching an agreement that is not perfect for anybody but it is what we could accomplish and it is an important achievement for all of us.”
The major international dissenting voice was undeclared nuclear power Israel, which has tried unsuccessfully to persuade its US ally to deploy air strikes to destroy Iran’s nuclear capability.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu called the deal “a bad mistake of historic proportions,” claiming that it would allow Iran “to continue to pursue its aggression and terror in the region.”
Russian President Vladimir Putin said that the deal had brought the world “a sigh of relief.”
He pledged that “Russia will do its utmost to make sure that the Vienna agreement is fully implemented, thus contributing to international and regional security.”