nuclear infrastructure. that oftentimeses is what the critics are calling a better deal. neither 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. more over, our closest allies in europe or asia, much less china or russia, certainly are not going to agree to enforce existing sanctions for another five, ten, 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 iran cannot have peaceful nuclear power, and it certainly
wasn't based for 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 strengthening our position as some have suggested, congress's rejection would almost certainly result in multi-lateral sanctions unravelling. if as has also been suggested, we try to maintain unilateral sanctions, beefen 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 to do that, we would have to sanction, for example, some of the world's largest 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 by the way raise questions nationally about the dollar's role as the world international currency. that's part of the reason why many of the previous unilateral sanctions were waved. what is more likely to happen, should congress reject this deal is iran would end up with some form of sanctions relief without having to accept any of the restraints required by this deal. so walk away from this agreement, and you will get a
better deal, for iran. [ applause ] >> now, because more sanctions won't produce the results that the critics want, we have to be honest. congressional restriction 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? and as someone who does firmly believe that iran just not get a nuclear weapon, and has wrestled with this issue since the beginning of my presidency, i can tell you that alternatives to military reaction will have been exhausted once we reject a solution that the world almost unanimously supports. so let's not mens words, the choice we face is diplomacy or ultimately some form of war,
maybe not three months from now, but soon. as i said before, military action would be far less effective than this deal in preventing iran from obtaining a nuclear weapon. that's not just my supposition. every estimate, including those from israeli analysts suggest military action would only set back iran's program by 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 so many years 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. but if we have learned anything from the last decade, it's that wars in general and wars in the middle east in 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 bare the heaviest burden are the 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 sat 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. but how can we in good conscience justify war before we have tested a diplomatic objective that achieves our objectives that has been agreed to by iran, that is supported by the rest of the world and preserves our options if the deal falls short?
how can we justify that to our troops? how can 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 convention wisdom and the drum beat of war. worry less about being labeled weak, worry more about getting it right. i recognize that resorting to force may be temping in the face of the rhetoric and behavior that emanates from parts of iran. it is offensive. it is inincendiary. we do take it seriously.
but super powers should not act impulsively in response to talks, or even provocations that can be addressed short of war. just because iranian hard lines chant death to america does not mean that that's what all iranians believe. [ applause ] >> in fact -- [ laughter ] [ applause ] >> in fact it's those hard liners who are most comfortable with the status quo. it's those hard liners who have been most opposed to the deal. they are making common cause with the republican caucus. [ laughter ] [ applause ] >> the majority of the iranian people have powerful incentives to urge their government to move
in 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's not guaranteed to succeed. but if they take it, that would be good for iran, good for the united states, it would be good for a region that has known too much conflict. it would be good for the world. and 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 agreements, those treaties involved america accepting significant constra t constraints on our arsenal.
as such, they were riskier. this agreement involves no such constrai constraints. the defense budget of the united states is more than $600 billion. to repeat, iran's is about $15 billion. our military remains the ultimate backstop to any security agreement that 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. and 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 standing up to scrutiny. that may be why the rhetoric on
the other side is so strident. i suppose some of it can be prescribed to knee-jerk response. every decision that is made is a disaster. you are agd terrorists. you are endangering freedom. on the other hand, i do think it's important to acknowledge another more underable motivation behind the opposition to this deal, or at least scepticism to this deal, and that is a sincere affinity to our friend and ally in israel. someone who has been a stall wart friend to israel through my career, an affinity i deeply share. when the israeli government is opposed to something, people in
the united states take notice, and they should. no one can blame israelis for having a deep skepticism about any dealings with a government like iran's, which includes leaders who deny the holocaust, embrace an ideology of anti-semitism, facilitate the flow of rockets that are a-raid on israeli's borders. in such a dangerous neighborhood, israel has to be vigilant, and it rightly insists that it cannot depend 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, partly due to american
military and intelligence assistance, which my administration has provided at unprecedented levels, israel can defend itself against any conventional danger, whether from iran directly, or from its proxies. on the other hand, a nuclear-armed iran changes that equation, and that's 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. and i have made clear to the israeli government that we are prepared to discuss how we can deepen that cooperation even further. already we have held talks with israel on concluding another
10-year plan for assistance to israel. we can enhance support for areas like missile defense, information sharing, interdiction, all to help meet israel's pressing 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 helped develop many of the ideas that ultimately lead 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 netenyahu disagrees, disagrees strongly. i do not doubt his sincerity, but i believe he is wrong. i believe the facts support this deal. i believe they are in america's interest, and israel' 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. [ applause ] >> i do not believe it would be the right thing to do for israel. [ applause ]
>> 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 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 thinks, 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's easy to play on people's fears, to magnify
threats, to compare any attempt at diplomacy to munich. but none of these arguments hold up. they didn't back in 2002 and 2003. they shouldn't now. [ applause ] >> the same mind set in many cases offered by the same people, who seem to have no compunction with being repeatedly wrong. [ laughter ] >> lead to a war that did more to strengthen iran, more to isolate the united states than anything we have done in the decades before or since. it's a mind set out of step with
the traditions 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, a combination as impossible, and communication as nothing more than the exchange of threats. it is time to apply such wisdom. the deal before us doesn't bet on iran changing. it doesn't require trust. it verifies and 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. we live in a complicated world, a world in which the forces unleashed by human innovation are creating opportunities for our children that are unimaginable for most of human history. it is also a world of persistent threats, a world in which mass violence and cruelty is all too common. and human innovation risks the destruction of all that we hold
dear. in this world, the united states of america remains the most powerful nation on earth. i believe that we will remain such for decades to come. but we are one nation among many. and 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 lead an evolution of those human institutions, 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 that progress. we have 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. and as members of congress reflect on their pending decision, i urge them to set aside political concerns, shut out the noise, consider the steaks involved with the vote that you will cast, if congress kills this deal, we will lose more than just constraints on iran's nuclear program, or the
sanctions we have painstakingly built, we will have lost something more precious, america's credibility as the leader of diplomacy. america's credibility as the anchor of the international system. john f. kennedy cautioned here more than 50 years ago at this university that the pursuit of peace is not as dramatic as the pursuit of war. but it's so very important. it is surely the pursuit of peace that is most needed in this world so full of strife. my fellow americans, contact your venn -- representatives in congress, remind them of who we are, remind them of what is best
for us so we can leave behind a world that is more secure and peaceful for our children. thank you very much. [ applause ] >> president obama wrapping up an almost one-hour address at american university, spelling out the reasons why he believes congress should support the iran nuclear deal. the president saying it is the strongest non-proliferation agreement in history, spelling out the reasons for that, saying people who believe there is a better deal to be had are not living in a real world. he calls their point of view a fantasy. libby casey is standing by for us in washington, d.c., libby it occurs to us that many members of congress no matter what the president says have already made up their minds, so who in your opinion is the president trying to reach with this speech? >> some members of congress, especially republicans have come out against this deal, some have
come out for it, but there are a lot that are still on the fence. some may have made up their minds, but aren't revealing their decision yet. president obama still wants to appeal to democrats in particular, to try to pull them over to his side. to do that, he needs the support of the american people. so you heard there at the end of the speech an appeal to members of the house and senate, but also the president urging the american people to let their members of congress know that they support this deal. so it is a two-fold message. and president obama trying to make some parallels with history, looking at americans belated disapproval of the iraq war, saying to the american people, this is a similar situation to that one. >> thank you, line be. standing by, please. we're going to take a break here and we'll be right back.
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