President Obama Comments on Iran Nuclear Talks in Huffington Post Interview (Excerpts)

March 21, 2015

Weapon Program: 

  • Nuclear


HUFFPOST:  What impact do you think the Israeli elections are going to have on your ability to sell any Iranian nuclear agreement to both the American public and this Congress?

PRESIDENT OBAMA:  I don't think it will have a significant impact.  Obviously there's significant skepticism in Israel generally about Iran.  And understandably.  Iran has made vile comments, anti-Semitic comments, comments about the destruction of Israel.  It is precisely for that reason that even before I became president, I said Iran could not have a nuclear weapon.

What is going to have an effect on whether we get a deal done is, number one, is Iran prepared to show, to prove to the world that it is not developing a nuclear weapon, and can we verify that in an intrusive, consistent way.

And frankly, they have not yet made the kind of concessions that are I think going to be needed for a final deal to get done.  But they have moved, and so there's the possibility.

The other thing is going to be me being able to show not just the American people or the Israeli people but the world that, in fact, we have mechanisms in place that will prevent Iran from having a nuclear weapon.  And that the deal that is made not only is verifiable, but it also makes it much less likely that Iran is able to break out than if we have no deal at all.  And that's an argument that we are going to have to make, if we have a deal. But we've still got some more to do.

HUFFPOST:  Well, that's my next question.  Recent reports say that a draft is circulating.  But there are other reports that say a sticking point remains over the pace of U.N. sanctions relief.  So where do things stand now, and how firm are you on the idea that international sanctions relief must be phased out over time?

OBAMA:  There is no deal until everything is worked out.  And I think that it's premature to suggest that there is a draft out there. What is true is that there has been movement from the Iranian side.  We are consulting with the P5+1.

Negotiations have broken for a week because of the Nowruz holidays inside of Iran, which gives time for us to make sure that everybody within the P5+1 is comfortable with the current positions that are being taken.  It allows them to consult.  We'll be back in a week.  Our goal though is to get this done in a matter of weeks, not months.