Remarks of President Barack Obama
The White House
July 18, 2015
This week, the United States and our international partners finally achieved something that decades of animosity has not – a deal that will prevent Iran from obtaining a nuclear weapon.
This deal will make America and the world safer and more secure. Still, you’re going to hear a lot of overheated and often dishonest arguments about it in the weeks ahead. So today, I want to take a moment to take those on one by one, and explain what this deal does and what it means.
First, you’ll hear some critics argue that this deal somehow makes it easier for Iran to obtain a nuclear weapon. Now, if you think it sounds strange that the United States, Great Britain, France, Germany, Russia, China, and some of the world’s best nuclear scientists would agree to something like that, you’re right. This deal actually closes off Iran’s pathway to a nuclear weapon. Today, Iran has enough nuclear material to produce up to 10 nuclear weapons. With this deal, they’ll have to ship 98% of that material out of the country – leaving them with a fraction of what it takes to make even one weapon. With this deal, they’ll have to repurpose two key nuclear facilities so they can’t produce materials that could be used for a nuclear weapon. So this deal actually pushes Iran further away from a bomb. And there’s a permanent prohibition on Iran ever having a nuclear weapon.
Second, you might hear from critics that Iran could just ignore what’s required and do whatever they want. That they’re inevitably going to cheat. Well, that’s wrong, too. With this deal, we will have unprecedented, 24/7 monitoring of Iran’s key nuclear facilities. With this deal, international inspectors will have access to Iran’s entire nuclear supply chain. The verification process set up by this deal is comprehensive and it is intrusive – precisely so we can make sure Iran keeps its commitments.
Third, you might hear from critics that Iran faces no consequences if it violates this deal. That’s also patently false. If Iran violates this deal, the sanctions we imposed that have helped cripple the Iranian economy – the sanctions that helped make this deal possible – would snap back into place promptly.
There’s a reason this deal took so long to negotiate. Because we refused to accept a bad deal. We held out for a deal that met every one of our bottom lines. And we got it.
Does this deal resolve all of the threats Iran poses to its neighbors and the world? No. Does it do more than anyone has done before to make sure Iran does not obtain a nuclear weapon? Yes. And that was our top priority from the start. That’s why it’s in everyone’s best interest to make sure this deal holds. Because without this deal, there would be no limits on Iran’s nuclear program. There would be no monitoring, no inspections. The sanctions we rallied the world to impose would unravel. Iran could move closer to a nuclear weapon. Other countries in the region might race to do the same. And we’d risk another war in the most volatile region in the world. That’s what would happen without this deal.
On questions of war and peace, we should have tough, honest, serious debates. We’ve seen what happens when we don’t. That’s why this deal is online for the whole world to see. I welcome all scrutiny. I fear no questions. As Commander-in-Chief, I make no apology for keeping this country safe and secure through the hard work of diplomacy over the easy rush to war. And on Tuesday, I’ll continue to press this case when I address the national convention of the Veterans of Foreign Wars. Because nobody understands the true cost of war better than those who’ve actually served in this country’s uniform.
We have before us an historic opportunity to pursue a safer, more secure world for our children. It might not come around again in our lifetimes. That’s why we’re going to seize it today – and keep America a beacon of hope, liberty, and leadership for generations to come.
Thank you, and have a great weekend.