News / Middle East

Obama Urges Iran to Seize 'Door of Opportunity' in Nuclear Talks

President Barack Obama speaks during a meeting with Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy in the Oval Office of the White House, Jan. 13, 2014.
President Barack Obama speaks during a meeting with Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy in the Oval Office of the White House, Jan. 13, 2014.
President Barack Obama says Iran should seize a "door of opportunity" to achieve a final comprehensive nuclear deal with the international community, and he has appealed again to lawmakers not to pass legislation imposing new sanctions.

Obama spoke after talks with the visiting Prime Minister of Spain, Mariano Rajoy Brey, covering bilateral and European economic issues, as well as a range of foreign policy and security matters.

Obama's message to Congress has been that new sanctions now would jeopardize chances for a peaceful resolution with Iran of international concerns about its nuclear program.

On Monday he said the interim Joint Plan of Action allows "time and space" to negotiate a comprehensive deal, and he said lawmakers should give the process "a chance."

"My preference is for peace and diplomacy and this is one of the reasons why I have sent a message to Congress that now is not the time for us to impose new sanctions, now is the time for us to allow the diplomats and technical experts to do their work," Obama said.

Forging a final deal will not be easy, he said, but he urged Tehran to seize the opportunity.

"If Iran is willing to walk through the door of opportunity that is presented to them, then I have no doubt that it can open up extraordinary opportunities for Iran and their people," Obama said. "If they fail to walk through this door of opportunity, then we are in a position to reverse any interim agreement, and put in place additional pressure to make sure that Iran does not obtain a nuclear weapon."

A six-month period begins January 20 for the U.S., partners in the P5+1 group of nations, and Iran to reach agreement on a final deal.

Obama has said he would veto any bill arriving at his desk from Capitol Hill that imposed new sanctions during the period of negotiations for a comprehensive agreement.  

But even as agreement on the Joint Plan of Action with Iran was announced this past Sunday, U.S. lawmakers showed little sign of decreased determination to press ahead with a sanctions bill.

White House Press Secretary Jay Carney says Congress could always impose new sanctions if Iran failed to fulfill obligations under the interim agreement, or failed to reach a final comprehensive accord.

"Obviously if Iran violated the terms of the agreement or failed to reach a resolution with the P5+1 over the six -period, Congress we're confident could act very quickly in response to that and pass new sanctions at that time that could be implemented very quickly," he said.

Carney added that the administration is confident Iran understands that any failure to abide by commitments in the implementation agreement or reach a final resolution would result in action by the U.S. and international community.

In his remarks, Obama also made his first comment about critical remarks former Secretary of Defense Robert Gates made in a just-published memoir.

Gates questioned Obama's personal commitment to the U.S. mission in Afghanistan.  Obama described Gates as an outstanding secretary of defense and a friend, and said what is important is getting Afghan policy right.

"Whenever you have got men and women that you are sending into harm's way after having already made enormous investments of blood and treasure in another country, that part of your job as commander-in-chief is to sweat the details on it and to recognize that there is enormous sacrifices that are being made and you are constantly asking yourselves questions about how you can improve the strategy,"
he said.

Saying he has faith in the mission and "unwavering confidence" in U.S. troops,  Obama noted the U.S. is on track to end combat operations by the end of 2014.

He made no mention of the Bilateral Security Agreement, which Afghan President Hamid Karzai has been refusing to sign.

You May Like

Video Indiana Controversy Points to Divergent Notions of Religious Freedom

Arkansas, North Carolina have approved similar laws that gay-marriage opponents say help maintain their beliefs in face of changing culture More

UNICEF Denies North Korean Measles Outbreak

Agency dismisses Russian media report after government, WHO assurances More

Turkey Seen Taking Harder Stance Against Militant Kurds

Stance comes as President Recep Tayyip Erdogan is being seen as moving closer to generals More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Indiana Controversy Highlights Divergent Meanings of Religious Freedomi
X
Jerome Socolovsky
April 01, 2015 1:41 AM
Indiana’s state government has triggered a nationwide controversy by approving a law that critics say is aimed at allowing discrimination against gays and lesbians. The controversy stems from divergent notions of religious freedom in America. VOA's Jerome Socolovsky reports.
Video

Video Indiana Controversy Highlights Divergent Meanings of Religious Freedom

Indiana’s state government has triggered a nationwide controversy by approving a law that critics say is aimed at allowing discrimination against gays and lesbians. The controversy stems from divergent notions of religious freedom in America. VOA's Jerome Socolovsky reports.
Video

Video Nigerians Welcome Buhari's Return to Power

Crowds of jubilant Nigerians nationwide have celebrated the return to power of former military ruler Muhammadu Buhari. The retired army general won this year's presidential election with more than 2 million votes more than incumbent President Goodluck Jonathan. Buhari's supporters hope he can strengthen the country's economy and security once he takes office in late May. Zlatica Hoke has this story.
Video

Video Report: State of Black America a 'Tale of Two Nations'

The National Urban League has described this year's "State of Black America" report as a "tale of two nations." The group's annual report, released earlier this month (March), found that under an equality index African Americans had only 72% parity compared to whites in areas such as education, economics, health, social justice and civic engagement. It’s a gap that educators and students at Brooklyn’s Medgar Evers College are looking to close. VOA's Daniela Schrier reports from the school.
Video

Video Film Tells Story of Musicians in Mali Threatened by Jihadists

At this year's annual South by Southwest film and music festival in Austin, Texas, some musicians from Mali were on hand to promote a film about how their lives were upturned by jihadists who destroyed ancient treasures in the city of Timbuktu and prohibited anyone from playing music under threat of death. As VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from Austin, some are afraid to return to their hometowns even though the jihadists are no longer in control there.
Video

Video Gamma Ray Observatory to Open Soon in Mexico

American and Mexican scientists have completed construction of the world's largest gamma ray observatory, situated high in central Mexico’s Sierra Negra Mountain. The observatory's huge array of water-based detectors will soon start discovering secrets about black holes and supernovas. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Ebola Vaccine Trials Underway in West Africa

Ebola has claimed the lives of more than 10,000 people in West Africa. Since last summer, researchers have rushed to get anti-Ebola vaccines into clinical trials. While it's too early to say that any of the potential vaccines work, some scientists say they are seeing strong results from some of the studies. VOA's Carol Pearson reports.
Video

Video Philippines Wants Tourists Spending Money at New Casinos

Tourism is a multi-billion dollar industry in the Philippines. Close to five million foreign visitors traveled there last year, perhaps lured by the country’s tropical beaches. But Jason Strother reports from Manila that the country hopes to entice more travelers to stay indoors and spend money inside new casinos.
Video

Video Civilian Casualties Push Men to Join Rebels in Ukraine

The continued fighting in eastern Ukraine and the shelling of civilian neighborhoods seem to be pushing more men to join the separatist fighters. Many of the new recruits are residents of Ukraine made bitter by new grievances, as well as old. VOA's Patrick Wells reports.
Video

Video Islamic State Prisoners Talk of Curiosity, God, Regret

Islamic State fighter, a prisoner of Kurdish YPG forces, asked his family asking for forgiveness: "I destroyed myself and I destroyed them along with me." The Syrian youth was one of two detainees who spoke to VOA’s Kurdish Service about the path they chose; their names have been changed and identifying details obscured. VOA's Zana Omer reports.
Video

Video Germanwings Findings Raise Issue of Psychological Testing for Pilots

More is being discovered about the co-pilot in the crash of Germanwings Flight 9525 in the French Alps. Investigators say he was hiding a medical condition, raising questions about the mental qualifications of pilots. VOA's Carolyn Presutti reports.
Video

Video Liberia's Almost Last Ebola Patient Grateful but Still Grieving

Beatrice Yardolo was to make history as Liberia’s last Ebola patient. Liberians recently started counting down 42 days, the period that has to go by without a single new infection until the World Health Organization can declare a country Ebola-free. That countdown stopped on March 20 when there was another new case of Ebola, making Yardolo’s story a reminder that Ebola is far from over. Benno Muchler reports from Monrovia.
Video

Video Cambodian Land Grabs Threaten Traditional Communities

Indigenous communities in Cambodia's Ratanakiri province say the government’s economic land concession policy is taking away their land and traditional way of life, making many fear that their identity will soon be lost. Local authorities, though, have denied this is the case. VOA's Say Mony went to investigate and filed this report, narrated by Colin Lovett.

VOA Blogs

Circumventing Censorship

An Internet Primer for Healthy Web Habits

As surveillance and censoring technologies advance, so, too, do new tools for your computer or mobile device that help protect your privacy and break through Internet censorship.
More