tv Key Capitol Hill Hearings CSPAN August 6, 2015 6:00am-7:01am EDT
an iranian nuclear weapon. a lot will depend on what we do, not so much president obama but the next president after that. that is what congress should be thinking about. how do we strengthen strategic policy in the middle east to deter the iranians as we implement a deal. the president is giving a speech at american university. i hope what he is saying is we are going to close the big gap attain united states and israel and ensure israel's military -- as a secretary kerry did successfully this week. we should say the american president should say, he would use force against iran should it gets close to a nuclear weapon and violate this deal. i think that is something both democrats and republicans here on capitol hill would agree to.
so mr. chairman, i support this agreement. i would hope that congress would approve this agreement and to strengthen the ability of our country to move ahead. both to pursue the nuclear deal but to contain iranian power in the middle east. >> today on c-span, the senate foreign relations committee holds a hearing on gimmick trafficking -- on human trafficking. at 8:00 :00 p.m. eastern time, a debate between the leaders of canada's war main political parties, hosted by maclean's magazine. parliamentary elections have been called for november 19. live coverage here on c-span c-span radio and the c-span.org. theodore roosevelt becomes president after the assassination of william mckinley. first lady edith roosevelt
renovates the entire second floor of the executive mansion. the creation of the west wing to house the staff office. she creates the office of the first lady and it changes the name from executive mansion to the white house. edith roosevelt, this sunday night at 8:00 eastern on "first ladies." examining the public and private lives of the women who filled the position of first lady. their influence, from martha washington to michelle obama. on american history tv on c-span3. >> president obama made the case for the iran nuclear agreement at american university and washington, dc. saying rejecting this deal would leave war as the only remaining option. he makes reference to president kennedy's landmark speech about
negotiating with the soviet union. his remarks are about an hour. [applause] pres. obama: thank you. thank you so much. thank you. thank you very much. thank you. everybody, please have a seat. thank you very much. i apologize for the slight delay. even presidents have a problem with toner. [laughter] it is a great honor to be back
at american university, which has prepared generations of young people for service in public life. i want to thank president kerwin and the american university family for hosting us here today. 52 years ago, president kennedy, at the height of the cold war, addressed this same university on the subject of peace. the berlin wall had just been built. the soviet union had tested the most powerful weapons ever developed. china was on the verge of acquiring the nuclear bomb. less than 20 years after the end of world war ii, the prospect of nuclear war was all too real. with all of the threats that we face today, it is hard to appreciate how much more dangerous the world was at that time. in light of these mounting
threats, a number of strategists in the united states argued we had to take military action against the soviets, to hasten what they saw as inevitable confrontation. but the young president offered a different vision. strength, in his view, included powerful armed forces and a willingness to stand up for our values around the world. but he rejected the prevailing attitude among some foreign-policy circles that equated security with a perpetual war footing. instead, he promised strong, principled american leadership on behalf of what he called a practical and attainable peace. a piece based a gradual evolution in human institutions,
on a series of concrete actions and effective agreements. such wisdom would help guide our ship of state through some of the most perilous moments in human history. with kennedy at the helm, the cuban missile crisis was resolved peacefully. under democratic and republican presidents, new agreements were forged. a nonproliferation treaty that prohibited nations to develop digital weapons, while allowing them to access peaceful nuclear energy. the salt and start treaties that bound the united states and the soviet union to cooperation on arms control. not every conflict was averted. but the world avoided nuclear catastrophe. and we created the time and the
space to win the cold war without firing a shot at the soviets. the agreement now reached between the international community and the islamic republic of iran builds on this tradition of strong, principled diplomacy. after two years of negotiations, we have achieved a detailed arrangement that permanently prohibits iran from obtaining a nuclear weapon. it cuts off all of iran's pathways to a bomb. it contains the most comprehensive inspection and verification regime ever negotiated to monitor a nuclear program. as was true in previous treaties, it does not resolve all problems. it certainly doesn't resolve all of our problems with iran. it doesn't ensure a warming between our two countries.
but it achieves one of our most critical security objectives. as such, it is a very good deal. today, i want to speak to you about this deal and the most consequential foreign-policy debate that our country has had since the invasion of iraq. as congress decides whether to support this historic diplomatic breakthrough or instead blocks it over the objection of the vast majority of the world. between now and the congressional vote in september, you are going to hear a lot of arguments against this deal, backed by tens of millions of dollars in advertising. and if the rhetoric in these ads and the accompanying commentary sounds familiar, it should. for many of the same people who
argued for the war in iraq are now making the case against the iran nuclear deal. now when i ran for president eight years ago as a candidate who opposed the decision to go to war in iraq, i said that america did not just have to end that war. we had to end the mindset that got us there in the first place. it was a mindset characterized by a preference for military action over diplomacy. a mindset that put a premium on unilateral u.s. action over the painstaking work of building international consensus. a mindset that exaggerated threats beyond what the intelligence supported. leaders did not level with the american people about the costs of war, insisting that we could
easily impose our will on a part of the world with a profoundly different culture and history. and of course, those calling for war made themselves strong and decisive while dismissing those who disagreed as weak. even appeasers have a malevolent adversary. more than a decade later, we still live with the consequences of the decision to invade iraq. our troops achieved every mission they were given. but thousands of lives were lost. tens of thousands wounded. that doesn't count the lives lost among iraqis. nearly a trillion dollars was spent.
today, iraq remains gripped by sectarian conflict and the emergence of al qaeda in iraq has now evolved into isis. and ironically, the single greatest beneficiary in the region of that war was the islamic republic of iran. -- islamic republic of iran which sought strategic position strengthened by the removal of its long-standing enemy, saddam hussein. i raise this recent history because, now more than ever, we need it clear thinking in our foreign-policy. and i raise this history because it bears directly on how we respond directly to the iran nuclear program. that program has been around for decades, dating back to the shah's efforts, with u.s. support, in the 1960's and 1970's to develop nuclear power.
the theocracy that overthrew the shaw -- a war in which saddam hussein used chemical weapons to brutal affect. iran's nuclear program advanced steadily through the 1990's, despite unilateral u.s. sanctions. when the bush administration took office, iran had no centrifuges. the machines necessary to produce material for a bomb. but despite repeated warnings from the united states government, by the time i took office, iran had installed several thousand centrifuges and showed no inclination to slow, much less halt, its program. among u.s. policymakers, there has never been disagreement on the danger posed by an iranian nuclear bomb. democrats and republicans alike
have recognized that it would spark an arms race in the world's most unstable region and turn every crisis into a potential nuclear showdown. it would embolden terrorist groups like hezbollah and oppose -- and opposepose an unacceptable risk to israel, which iranian leaders have repeatedly threatened to destroy. more broadly, it could unravel the global commitment to nonproliferation that the world has done so much to defend. the question then is not whether to prevent iran from obtaining a nuclear weapon, but how. even before taking office, i made clear that iran would not be allowed to acquire a nuclear weapon on my watch. and it has been my policy throughout my presidency to keep all options, including possible military options, on the table to achieve that objective.
but i have also made clear my preference for a peaceful, diplomatic resolution of the issue. not just because of the costs of war, but also because a negotiated agreement offered a more effective, verifiable, and durable resolution. and so in 2009, we let the iranians know that a diplomatic path was available. iran failed to take that path. and our intelligence community exposed the existence of a covert nuclear facility. now some have argued that iran's intransigence show the futility of negotiations. in fact, it was our very willingness to negotiate that helped america rally the world to our cause and secured international participation in an unprecedented framework of commercial and financial
sanctions. keep in mind, unilateral u.s. sanctions for iran have been in place for decades but had failed to pressure iran to the negotiating table. what made our new approach more effective was our ability to draw upon united nation's resolutions combining strong enforcement with voluntary agreements for nations like china and india, japan and south korea, to reduce their purchases of iranian oil, as well as the imposition by our european allies of a total oil embargo. winning this global buy-in was not easy. i know, i was there. [laughter] pres. obama: in some cases, our partners lost billions of dollars in trade because of their decision to cooperate. but we were able to convince them that, absent a diplomatic resolution, the result could be
war with major disruptions to the global economy, and even greater instability in the middle east. in other words, it was diplomacy. hard, painstaking diplomacy, not saber rattling, not tough talk that ratcheted up the pressure on iran. with the world now unified beside us, iran's economy contracted severely and remains about 20% smaller today than it would have otherwise been. no doubt this hardship played a role in iran's 2013 elections when the iranian people elected a new government, the promise to improve the economy through engagement with the world. a window had cracked open. iran came back to the nuclear talks.
and after a series of negotiations, iran agreed with the international community to an interim deal, a deal that rolled back iran's stockpile of near 20% enriched uranium and froze the process. -- froze the progress of its program. the member countries could negotiate a comprehensive deal without the fear that iran might be stalling for time. let me pause here just to remind everybody, that when the interim deal was announced, critics, the same critics we are hearing from now, called it a historic mistake. they insisted iran would ignore its obligations. they warned the sanctions would unravel. they warned that iran would
receive a windfall to support terrorism. the critics were wrong. the progress of iran's nuclear program was halted for the first time in a decade. its stockpile of dangerous materials was reduced. the deployment of its advanced centrifuges was stopped. inspections did increase. there was no flood of money into iran. and the architecture of the international sanctions remained in place. in fact, the interim deal worked so well that the same people who criticized it so fiercely now cite it as an excuse not to support the broader accord. think about that. what was once proclaimed as an historic mistake is now held up as a success and a reason to not
sign the comprehensive deal. so keep that in mind when you assess the credibility of the arguments being made against diplomacy today. despite the criticism, we moved ahead to negotiate a more lasting, comprehensive deal. our diplomats led by secretary of state john kerry kept our coalition united. our nuclear experts, including one of the best in the world ernie moniz, work tirelessly on a technical details. in july, we reached a comprehensive plan of action that meets our objectives. iran is never allowed to build a nuclear weapon. the agreement strictly defines the manner in which its nuclear program can proceed, ensuring that all pathways to a bomb are
cut off. here is how. under this deal, iran cannot acquire the plutonium needed for a bomb. the core of its heavy water reactor in iraq will be replaced with one that will not produce plutonium for a weapon. the spent fuel from that reactor will be shipped out of the country and iran will not build any new heavywater reactors for at least 15 years. iran will also not be able to acquire the enriched uranium that could be used for a bomb. as soon as this deal is implemented, iran will remove two thirds of its centrifuges. for the next decade, iran will not enrich uranium with its more advanced centrifuges. iran will not enrich uranium at the previously undisclosed facility that is deep
underground for at least 15 years. iran will get rid of 98% of its stockpile of enriched uranium, which is currently enough for up to 10 nuclear bombs, for the next 15 years. even after those 15 years have passed, iran will never have the right to use a peaceful program as cover to pursue a weapon. and in fact, this deal shuts off the type of covert path iran pursued in the past. there will be 24/7 monitoring of iran's nuclear facilities. for decades, inspectors will have access to iran's full supply chain. understand why this is so important. for iran to cheat, it has to build a lot more than just one building or covert facility.
it would need a secret source for every single aspect of its program. no nation in history has been able to pull off such centrifuge when subjected to such rigorous inspections. and under the terms of the deal, inspectors will have the permanent ability to inspect any suspicious sites in iran. finally, iran has powerful incentives to keep its commitments. before getting sanctions relief, iran has to take significant concrete steps, like removing centrifuges and getting rid of its stockpile. if iran violates the agreement over the next decade, all of the sanctions can snap back into place. we will not need the support of other members of the un security council. america can trigger snap back on our own.
however, if iran abides by the deal and its economy begins to reintegrate with the world, the incentives to avoid snapback will only grow. so this deal is not just the best choice among alternatives. this is the strongest, nonproliferation agreement ever negotiated. and because this is such a strong deal, every nation in the world that has commented publicly, with the exception of the israeli government, has expressed support. the united nations security council has unanimously supported it. the majority of arms control and nonproliferation experts support it. over 100 former ambassadors who served under republican and democratic presidents support it. i've had to make a lot of tough
calls as president, but whether or not this deal is good for american security is not one of those calls. it's not even close. unfortunately, we are living through a time in american politics where every foreign policy decision is viewed through a partisan prism evaluated by headline-grabbing soundbites. and so, before the ink was even dry on the deal before congress even read it, a majority of republicans declared their virulent opposition. lobbyists and pundits were suddenly transformed into armchair nuclear scientists, disputing the assessments of experts like dr. moniz. challenging his findings. offering sometimes contradicting
arguments about why congress should reject this deal. but if you repeat these arguments long enough, they can get some traction. so let me address just a few of the arguments made so far in opposition to this deal. first, there are those who say that the inspections are not strong enough because inspectors cannot go anywhere in iran at any time with no notice. here's the truth. inspectors will be allowed daily access to iran's key nuclear sites. if there is a reason for inspecting a suspicious, undeclared site anywhere in iran, inspectors will get that access, even if iran objects. in fact, it can be with as little as 24 hours notice.
and while the process for resolving a dispute about access can take 24 days, we will be watching it continuously until inspectors get in. by the way, nuclear material isn't something you hide in the closet. [laughter] it can leave a trace for years. the bottom line is, if iran cheats, we can catch them and we will. second, there are those who argue that the deal isn't strong enough because some of the limitations on iran's civilian nuclear programs expire in 15 years. let me repeat. the prohibition on iran having a nuclear weapon is permanent. the ban on weapons-related research is permanent. inspections are permanent. it is true that some of the limitations regarding iran's
peaceful program last only 15 years. but that is how arms control agreements work. the first salt treaty with the soviet union lasted five years. the first start treaty lasted 15 years. and in our current situation, if 15 or 20 years from now iran tries to build a bomb, this deal ensures that the united states will have better tools to detect it, and the same options available to stop a weapons program as we have today including if necessary military options. on the other hand, without this deal, the scenarios the critics warn about happening in 15 years could happen six months from now. by killing this deal, congress
would not merely pave iran's pathway to a bomb. it would accelerate it. third, a number of critics say the deal isn't worth it because iran will get billions of dollars in sanctions relief. now let's be clear. the international sanctions were put in place to get iran to agree to constraints on its program. that's the point of sanctions. any negotiated agreement with iran would involve sanctions relief. so an argument against sanctions relief is effectively an argument against any diplomatic resolution of this issue. it is true that, if iran lives up to its commitments, it will gain access to roughly $56 billion of its own money, money frozen overseas by other countries. with the notion that this will
be a game changer, with all this money funneled into iran's pernicious activities, misses the reality of iran's current situation. partly because of our sanctions, the iranian government has over $500 billion in urgent requirements from funding pensions and salaries to paying for crumbling infrastructure. iran's leaders have raised expectations of their people that sanctions relief will improve their lives. even a repressive regime like iran's cannot completely ignore those expectations. and that's why our best analysts expect the bulk of this revenue to go into spending that improves the economy and benefits the lives of the iranian people. now this is not to say the
sanctions relief will provide no benefit to iran's military. let's stipulate that some of that money will flow to activities that we object to. we have no illusions about the iranian government or the significance of the revolutionary guard and the quds force. iran supports terrorist organizations like hezbollah. it supports proxy groups that threaten our interests and interests of our allies, including proxy groups who killed our troops in iraq. they try to destabilize our gulf partners. but iran has been engaged in these activities for decades. they engaged in them before sanctions and while sanctions were in place. in fact, iran engaged in these sanctions in the middle of the iran-iraq war, a war that cost
them nearly a million lives and hundreds of billions of dollars. the truth is that iran has always found a way to fund these efforts. whatever been a fit iran may claim from sanctions relief pales in comparison to the danger it could pose with a nuclear weapon. moreover, there is no scenario where sanctions relief turns iran into the region's dominant power. iran's defense budget is eight times smaller than the combined budget of our gulf allies. their conventional capabilities will never compare to israel's. and our commitment to israel's military edge helps to guarantee that. over the last several years, iran has had to spend billions of dollars to support its only ally in the arab world, bashar al-assad. and iran, like the rest of the
region, is being forced to respond to the threat of isil in iraq. so, contrary to the alarmists who claim iran is on the brink of taking over the middle east or even the world, iran will remain a regional power with its own set of challenges. the ruling regime is dangerous and it is repressive. we will continue to have sanctions in place on iran's support for terrorism and violation of human rights. we will continue to insist upon the release of americans detained unjustly. we will have a lot of differences with the iranian regime. but if we are serious about confronting iran's destabilizing
activities, it is hard to imagine a worse approach than blocking this deal. instead, we need to check the behavior that we are concerned about directly, by helping our allies in the region strengthen their own ability to counter a cyber attack or a ballistic missile, by improving the introduction of weapons shipments that go to groups like hezbollah, by training our allies' special forces so they can more effectively respond to situations like yemen. all these capabilities will make a difference. we will be in a stronger position to implement them with this deal. and by the way, such a strategy also helps us effectively confront the immediate and lethal threat posed by isil. now the final criticism, the
sort of catchall that you may hear, is the notion that there is a better deal to be had. we should get a better deal. that is repeated over and over again. it's a bad deal. we need a better deal. [laughter] one that relies on vague promises of toughness and, more recently, the argument that we can apply a broader and indefinite set of sanctions to squeeze the iranian regime harder. those making this argument are either ignorant of iranian society or just not being straight with the american people. sanctions alone are not going to force iran to completely dismantle its nuclear infrastructure, even aspects consistent with these programs. that is what the critics are calling a better deal.
neither of the iranian government or the iranian opposition or the iranian people would agree to what they would view as a total surrender of their sovereignty. moreover, our closest allies in europe or in asia, much less china or russia, certainly are not going to agree to enforce existing sanctions for another 5, 10, 15 years, according to the dictates of the u.s. congress, because their willingness to support sanctions in the first place was based on iran ending its pursuit of nuclear weapons. it was not based on the belief that they cannot have peaceful nuclear power.
it certainly wasn't based on a desire for regime change in iran. as a result, those who say we can just walk away from this deal and maintain sanctions are selling a fantasy. instead of strengthen our position, as some have suggested, congress's rejection would almost surely result in multilateral sanctions unraveling. if, as has also been suggested we try to maintain unilateral sanctions, beef and them up, we would be standing alone. we cannot dictate the foreign, economic, and energy policies of every major power in the world.
in order to even try do that, we would have to sanction, for example, some of the world upon start as banks. we would have to cut off countries like china from the american financial system, and since they happen to be major purchasers of our debt, such actions could trigger severe disruptions in our own economy and raise questions internationally about the dollar's role as a reserve currency. that is part of the reason why many of the previous unilateral sanctions were waived. what is more likely to happen should congress reject this deal is that iran would end up with some form of sanctions relief without having to accept any of the restraints required by this deal. walk away from this agreement, and you will get a better deal for iran. [applause]
because sanctions will produce the results critics want, we have to be honest. congressional rejection of this deal leaves any u.s. administration that is absolutely committed to preventing iran from getting a nuclear weapon with one option another war in the middle east. i say this not to be provocative. i am stating a fact. without this deal, iran will be in a position, however tough our rhetoric may be, to steadily advance its capabilities, its breakout time, which is already fairly small, could shrink to near zero.
does anyone really doubt that the same voices now raised against this deal will be demanding that whoever is president bomb those nuclear facilities? as someone who does firmly believe that iran must not get a nuclear weapon and has wrestled with this issues is the beginning of my presidency, i can tell you that alternatives to military actions will have been exhausted once we reject a hard one diplomatic solution that the world almost unanimously supports. so let's not mince words. the choice we face is ultimately between diplomacy or some form of war, maybe not tomorrow maybe not three months from now, but soon.
here is the irony. as i said before, military action would be far less effective than this deal in preventing iran from obtaining a nuclear weapon. that is not just my supposition, every estimate, including those from israeli analysts, suggests that military action would only set back iran's program from -- for a few years at best, which is a fraction of the limitations imposed by this deal. it would likely guarantee that inspectors are kicked out of iran. it is probable that it would drive iran's program deeper underground. it would certainly destroy the international unity that we spent the managers building. now, there are some opponents, i have to give them credit. there are opponents of this deal who accept the choice of war.
in fact, they argue that surgical strikes against iran's facilities will be quick and painless. if we have learned anything from the last decade, it is that wars in general and wars in the middle east of particular are anything but simple. [applause] the only certainty in war is human suffering, uncertain costs, unintended consequences. we can also be sure that the americans who bear the heaviest burden are less than 1% of us, the outstanding men and women who serve in uniform, and not those of us who send them to war.
as commander in chief, i have not shied away from using force when necessary. i have ordered tens of thousands of young americans into combat. i have set by their bedside sometimes when they come home. i have ordered military action in seven countries. there are times when force is necessary, and if iran does not abide by this deal, it's possible that we don't have an alternative. how can we in good conscience justify war before we tested a diplomatic agreement that achieves our objectives, that has been agreed to by iran, that is supported by the rest of the world, and that preserves our options if the deal falls short. how can we justify that to our
troops? how could we justify that to the world? or to future generations? in the end, that should be a lesson that we have learned from over a decade of war. on the front end, ask tough questions, subject our own assumptions to evidence and analysis, resist the conventional wisdom and the drumbeat of war. worry less about being labeled week. worry more about getting it right. i recognize that resulting to force may be tempting in the face of rhetoric and the behavior that imitates from parts of iran. it is offensive. it is incendiary. we do take it seriously.
but superpowers should not act impulsively in response to talk. or even provocations that can be addressed short of war. just because iranian hardliners chant, "death to america" -- it does not mean that that's what all iranians believe. [applause] in fact, it is those hardliners who are most comfortable with the status quo. it is those hardliners chanting " death to america" who have been opposed to the deal. [applause] [laughter] the majority the iranian people have powerful incentives to urge their government and a
different, less provocative, direction. incentives that are strengthened by this deal. we should offer them that chance. we should give them that opportunity. it is not guaranteed to succeed, but if they take it, that would be good for iran, the united states. it would be good for a region that has known too much conflict. it would be good for the world. if iran does not move in that direction, if iran violates this deal, we will have ample ability to respond. you know, the agreements pursued by kennedy and reagan with the soviet union -- those treaties and vault america accepting significant constraints on our arsenal. as such, they were riskier.
this agreement involves no such constraints. the budget of the united states is more than $600 billion -- iran's is about $15 billion. our military is the ultimate backstop to any agreement we make. i have stated that iran will never be allowed to obtain a nuclear weapon. i have done what is necessary to make sure our military options are real. i have no doubt that any president who follows me will take the same position. so, let me sum up here. when we carefully examine the arguments against this deal, none of them stand up to scrutiny. that may be why the rhetoric on the other side is so strident.
i suppose some of it can be ascribed to knee-jerk partisanship that has become all too familiar, rhetoric that renders every decision made a disaster, a surrender, aiding terrorists, endangering freedom. on the other hand, i do think it is important to acknowledge another more understandable motivation behind the opposition to this deal, or at least skepticism to this deal. that is a sincere affinity for our friend and ally israel, and affinity that, as somebody who has been a stalwart friend to israel throughout my career, i deeply share. when the israeli government is opposed to something, people in the united states take notice. they should. no one can blame israelis for
having a deep skepticism about any dealings with the government like iran, which includes leaders who deny the holocaust and braced and ideology of anti-semitism, facilitated the flow of rockets that are arrayed on israelis borders, appointed -- or pointed at tel aviv. in such a dangerous neighborhood, israel has to be vigilant, and it rightly insists that it cannot the tend on any other country, even its great friend the united states, for its own security. so we have to take seriously concerns in israel.
but the fact is that partly due to american military and intelligence assistance, which my administration has provided at unprecedented levels, israel can defend it self against any conventional danger, whether from iran directly or from its proxies. on the other hand, a nuclear weapon changes that equation. that is why this deal ultimately must be judged by what it achieves on the central goal of preventing iran from obtaining a nuclear weapon. this deal does exactly that. i say this as someone who has done more than any other president to strengthen israel's security. i have made it clear that we are prepared to discuss how we can deepen that cooperation even further. already we have held talks on
israel with concluding another ten-year plan for u.s. security assistance to israel. we can enhance, support, areas like interdiction all to help israel's security needs, and to provide a hedge against any additional activities that iran may engage in as a consequence of sanctions relief. but i have also listened to the israeli security establishment which warned of the danger posed by a nuclear armed iran, for decades. in fact, they help to develop many of the ideas that ultimately led to this deal. so to friends of israel, and to the israeli people, i say this a nuclear armed iran is far more dangerous to israel, to america, and to the world, than an iran that benefits from sanctions relief.
i recognize that prime minister netanyahu disagrees, disagree strongly. i do not doubt his sincerity. i believe he is wrong. i believe the facts support this deal. i believe they are in america's interest and israel's interest and as president of the united states, it would be an obligation of my constitutional duty to act against my best judgment simply because it causes temporary friction with a dear friend and ally. i do not believe that would be the right thing to do for the united states. i do not leave it would be the right thing to do for israel. [applause]
pres. obama: over the last couple of weeks, i have repeatedly challenged anyone opposed to this deal to put forward a better, plausible, alternative. i have yet to hear one. what i have heard instead are the same types of arguments that we have heard in the run-up to the iraq war. iran cannot be dealt with diplomatically. we can take military strikes without significant consequences. we shouldn't worry about what the rest of the world rings, because once we act, everyone will fall in line. tougher talk, more military threats, will force iran into submission. we can get a better deal. i know it is easy to play on people's fears. to magnify threats, to compare
any attempt at the promising to munich, but none of these arguments hold up. they did not back in 2002 and 2003. they should not now. [applause] the same mindset come in many cases offered by the same people, who seem to have no compunction with being repeatedly wrong -- [laughter] -- led to a war that strengthen iran than anything we have done in the decade before or since.
it is a mindset out of step with the tradition of american foreign-policy, where we exhaust diplomacy before war and debate matters of war and peace in the cold light of truth. peace is not the absence of conflict, president reagan once said. it is the ability to cope with conflict by peaceful means. president kennedy warned americans not to see conflict as inevitable, accommodation as impossible, and communication as nothing more than the exchange of threats. it is time to apply such wisdom. the deal before us does not bet on iran changing. it doesn't require trust. it verifies. it requires.
iran to forsake a nuclear weapon. just as we struck agreements with the soviet union at a time when they were threatening our allies, arming proxies against us, proclaiming their commitment to destroy our way of life, and had nuclear weapons pointed at all of our major cities, a genuine existential threat. you know, we live in a complicated world, a world in which the forces unleashed by human innovation are creating opportunities for our children that were unimaginable for most of human history. it is also a world of persistent threats, a world in which massive violence and cruelty is all too common, and human innovation risk the destruction
of all we hold dear. in this world, the united states of america remains the most powerful nation on earth, and i believe that we will remain such for decades to come. but we are one nation among many. what separates us from the empires of old, what has made us exceptional, is not the mere fact of our military might. since world war ii, the deadliest war in human history we have used our power to try to bind nations together in a system of international law. we have led an evolution of those human institutions that president kennedy spoke about.
to prevent the spread of deadly weapons, to uphold peace and security and promote human progress. we now have the opportunity to build on the progress. we built a coalition and held it together through sanctions and negotiations, and now we have before us a solution that prevents iran from obtaining a nuclear weapon without resorting to war. as americans, we should be proud of this achievement. as members of congress reflect on the pending decision, i urge them to satisfy -- set aside political concerns, shut out the noise, consider the stakes involved with the vote that you will cast. if congress kills that deal, we will lose more than constraints on iran's nuclear program or the sections we have painstakingly
built, we will have lost something precious, america's credibility as a leader of the pharmacy, america's credibility -- america's credibility as a leader of diplomacy, america's credibility as the anchor of the international system. john f. kennedy cautioned more than 50 years ago at this university that the pursuit of peace is not as dramatic as the pursuit of war. it is so very important. it is surely the pursuit of peace that is most needed in this world full of strife. contact your representatives in congress. remind them of who we are. remind them of what is best in
us and what we stand for. so we can leave behind a world that is more secure and more peaceful for our children. thank you very much. [applause] ♪ >> the senate foreign relations committee with a report on human trafficking. tonight, a debate on the leaders between canada's four -- tom manger on the rise in crimes in u.s. cities.
miami herald correspondent carol rosenberg on the latest white house moves to shut down guantanamo bay. host: good morning. today, at the white house president obama will participate in a video conference to talk about historic legislation and what many say our new challenges to the voting rights act. front page of the montgomery alabama advertiser. civil rights leaders push for new voting protection. from the cleveland plain