President Obama said Saturday that opponents of his administration’s nuclear deal with Iran are engaging in “overheated and often dishonest arguments” to derail the accord.
“This deal will make America and the world safer and more secure,” Mr. Obama said in his weekly address. “We held out for a deal that met every one of our bottom lines. And we got it.”
But in Tehran, Iran’s top leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei said Saturday the historic nuclear deal won’t change Iran’s policy towards the “arrogant” United States. He said Iran will continue to support its allies in the Middle East including the Lebanese Hezbollah, Palestinian resistance groups and the Syrian government.
His remarks were greeted by customary chants of “Death to America,” a feature of public ceremonies since the Islamic revolution of 1979 which toppled the U.S.-backed shah.
“Our policies toward the arrogant U.S. government will not change,” Khamenei said at a prayer gathering in Tehran marking the end of the Muslim fasting month of Ramadan.
The agreement among the U.S. and other world powers is aimed at curbing Iran’s nuclear program in return for lifting international and U.S. economic sanctions. The president said it’s the surest way to prevent Iran from developing a nuclear weapon.
Many Republicans and some Democrats in Congress are expressing concern that the accord doesn’t require Iran to dismantle its nuclear facilities and that prompt international inspections are not guaranteed. More than two-thirds of all House Republicans have already signed onto a resolution disapproving of the agreement, with the measure likely to get a vote in early September.
Sen. Ted Cruz, Texas Republican and a candidate for the GOP presidential nomination in 2016, said he’ll block Mr. Obama’s diplomatic nominees and hold up State Department authorizing legislation unless Congress can consider the accord before the U.N. Security Council acts on it.
Congress has 60 days to review the deal, and Mr. Obama has vowed to veto any legislation that would overturn the agreement. The president said he’s confident he has the stronger argument.
“I welcome all scrutiny. I fear no questions,” he said in his address.
Mr. Obama said he’ll also make his case on Tuesday at the annual Veterans of Foreign Wars convention in Pittsburgh.
“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,” the president said. “Nobody understands the true cost of war better than those who’ve actually served in this country’s uniform.”
Administration officials say it would be “devastating” for U.S. standing in the world if Congress rejects the accord. The president said killing the agreement also would be dangerous.
“Without this deal, there would be no limits on Iran’s nuclear program,” he said. “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.”
• This article is based in part on wire-service reports.
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