With nuclear negotiations hanging in the balance, if Iran does not agree to tighter and more stringent inspections, the United States is willing to walk away from the deal completely, President Obama said.
“If we had unprecedented transparency in that system, if we were able to verify that, in fact, they are not developing weapons systems, then there’s a deal to had. But that’s going to require them to accept the kind of verification and constraints on their program that so far at least they have not been willing to say ‘yes’ to,” Obama said in an interview with CBS News.
Obama said that within the next month, the U.S. would determine whether Iran would be able to accept what would be an “extraordinarily reasonable deal.” But there are conditions to the plan, the president added, that could either make or break negotiations that have been ongoing for more than a year.
“If there’s no deal, then we walk away,” Obama said. “If we cannot verify that they are not going to obtain a nuclear weapon – that there’s a breakout period, so even if they cheated, we would be able to have enough time to take action – if we don’t have that kind of deal, then we’re not going to take it.”
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Sunday once again pushed back on the deal, warning that the U.S. and its allies must not be deceived.
“We share the same goal of preventing Iran from getting a nuclear weapon, but we disagree on how to do it,” Netanyahu said in a separate interview with CBS, which aired Sunday. “I do not trust inspections with totalitarian regimes.”
Netanyahu made an unprecedented trip to the U.S. capitol this week, having been invited to speak before a joint meeting of Congress. During the address, the Israeli prime minister applauded his country’s strong relationship with U.S. leaders, saying he appreciated “all that President Obama has done for Israel.” But Netanyahu went on to swiftly condemn the pending nuclear deal with Iran, warning that that the country’s leaders could not be trusted.
Netanyahu’s address sparked controversy on Capitol Hill: The address came before negotiations have been finalized, and just days ahead of Israeli elections on March 17 that will determine if Netanyahu gets another term. Nearly 50 Democratic lawmakers boycotted the joint meeting, and criticized House Speaker John Boehner for inviting the prime minister without first consulting the Obama administration – a move that was deemed a breach of protocol by the White House.
Sen. Dianne Feinstein, a California Democrat and ranking member on the Senate Intelligence Committee, said on Sunday that Netanyahu’s speech was “humiliating” and “embarrassing.”
Senate Majority Mitch McConnell this week postponed a vote on legislation that requires Obama to let Congress weigh in on any nuclear deal with Iran. Appearing at his first Sunday show since Republicans gained control of the Senate, McConnell said he is hoping to garner enough support in Congress to overcome a veto from Obama.
“Obviously, the president doesn’t want us involved in this. But he’s going to need us if he’s going to lift any of the existing sanctions. And so I think he cannot work around Congress forever,” McConnell said on CBS’s “Face the Nation.”