The United States and United Kingdom remain committed to finding a diplomatic solution to Iran's nuclear weapons program, President Barack Obama and British Prime Minister David Cameron affirmed in a joint press conference Friday.
"When I came into office, I made a commitment that Iran would not obtain a nuclear weapon," Obama said, warning against any legislative action to impose new sanctions while the negotiations are ongoing. He said that while the chances of a deal were "less than 50-50," those odds must be weighed against the possibility of Iran acquiring a weapon that would "trigger an arms race in the Middle East" and argued that a diplomatic solution was "important for the world's security."
"Congress needs to show patience," Obama said, reasserting that he would veto any effort — even by his own caucus — that would torpedo the negotiations. Cameron agreed, acknowledging that he had contacted several U.S. senators to urge them not to approve new sanctions until the talks were complete.
“I am not suggesting we are on an immediate war footing should negotiations fail," Obama said. But he stressed "we must prevent Iran from getting a nuclear weapon" and "should diplomacy fail, we have to pursue other options to achieve that goal."
The two leaders, who described their relationship as close, said they continue to see eye-to-eye on a number of global issues, such as increasing trans-Atlantic trade, enhancing cybersecurity, lowering carbon emissions, fighting Ebola, and facing terrorist threats around the world.
"Great Britain is an indispensable partner," Obama said in his prepared remarks, noting that America's "commitment to our freedoms and values at home" was the key to fighting terror abroad. Cameron agreed, saying the the world faces "a poisonous and fanatical ideology" in Islamic extremism.
On the economy, Cameron's message was simple: "We are going to stick to the course."
Obama agreed: "Great Britain and the U.S. are two countries that are standing out" while the rest of the world economy struggles, "so we must be doing something right.”
Both leaders also took a hard line on Russia, emphasizing that both the U.S. and U.K. will continue to support Ukraine in its struggle with Russia, which has been feeding a violent separatist movement in the country's eastern region. "Russia continues to tear up the rule book, and that threatens our stability and our prosperity," Cameron warned. "We cannot walk on by, so we will contribute to put pressure on Russia to resolve this crisis diplomatically."
On Ebola, Cameron asserted that while the deadly disease had disappeared from newspaper headlines, the U.S. and U.K. remain committed to combating its spread. "The entire world faces a growing threat against diseases," he said, emphasizing the importance of international cooperation. "Today our fight is against Ebola; tomorrow it could be global flu pandemic."
Asked about the possibility of 2012 Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney running again, Obama responded only: "No comment."