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

Katrina Brought Enduring Changes to New Orleans

The city’s recovery is the result of the people and culture the city is famous for, as well as newcomers and start-up industries More

China to Open Stock Markets to Pension Funds

In unprecedented move, government to soon allow local pension funds to invest up to $94 billion in domestic shares More

Magical Photo Slides Show Native Americans in Late 1800s

Walter McClintock spent 20 years photographing the Blackfoot Indians and their vanishing culture at the dawn of the modern age More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Colombians Flee Venezuela as Border Crisis Escalatesi
X
August 27, 2015 2:08 AM
Hundreds of Colombians have fled Venezuela since last week, amid an escalating border crisis between the two countries. Last week, Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro ordered the closure of a key border crossing after smugglers injured three Venezuelan soldiers and a civilian. The president also ordered the deportation of Colombians who are in Venezuela illegally. Zlatica Hoke reports.
Video

Video Colombians Flee Venezuela as Border Crisis Escalates

Hundreds of Colombians have fled Venezuela since last week, amid an escalating border crisis between the two countries. Last week, Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro ordered the closure of a key border crossing after smugglers injured three Venezuelan soldiers and a civilian. The president also ordered the deportation of Colombians who are in Venezuela illegally. Zlatica Hoke reports.
Video

Video Is China's Economic Data Accurate?

Some investors say China's wild stock market gyrations have been made worse by worries about the reliability of that nation's economic data. And some critics say the reports can mislead investors by painting an unrealistically-strong picture of the economy. A key China scholar says Beijing is not fudging ((manipulating)) the numbers, but that the economy is evolving quickly from smoke-stack industries to services, and the ways of tracking new economic activity are falling behind the change. V
Video

Video Next to Iran, Climate at Forefront of Obama Agenda

President Barack Obama this week announced new initiatives aimed at making it easier for Americans to access renewable energy sources such as solar and wind. Obama is not slowing down when it comes to pushing through climate change measures, an issue he says is the greatest threat to the country’s national security. VOA correspondent Aru Pande has more from the White House.
Video

Video Shipping Containers Provide Experimental Housing

Housing prices around the San Francisco Bay area are out of reach for many people, so some young entrepreneurs, artists and tech industry workers are creating their own houses using converted shipping containers. But as VOA's Mike O’Sullivan reports from Oakland, the effort requires ingenuity and dealing with restrictive local laws.
Video

Video Arctic Draws International Competition for Oil

A new geopolitical “Great Game” is underway in earth’s northernmost region, the Arctic, where Russia has claimed a large area for resource development and President Barack Obama recently approved Shell Oil Company’s test-drilling project in an area under U.S. control. Greg Flakus reports.
Video

Video Philippine Maritime Police: Chinese Fishermen a Threat to Country’s Security

China and the Philippines both claim maritime rights in the South China Sea.  That includes the right to fish in those waters. Jason Strother reports on how the Philippines is catching Chinese nationals it says are illegal poachers. He has the story from Palawan province.
Video

Video Technique May Eliminate Drill-and-Fill Dental Care

Many people dread visiting dentists because they're afraid of drills. Now, however, a technology developed by a British firm promises to eliminate the need for mechanical cleaning of dental cavities by speeding a natural process of tooth repair. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video China's Spratly Island Building Said to Light Up the Night 'Like A City'

Southeast Asian countries claim China has illegally seized territory in the Spratly islands. It is especially a concern for a Philippine mayor who says Beijing is occupying parts of his municipality. Jason Strother reports from the capital of Palawan province, Puerto Princesa.
Video

Video Ages-old Ice Reveals Secrets of Climate Change

Ice caps don't just exist at the world's poles. There are also tropical ice caps, and the largest sits atop the Peruvian Andes - but it is melting, quickly, and may be gone within the next 20 years. George Putic reports scientists are now rushing to take samples to get at the valuable information about climate change locked in the ice.
Video

Video French Experiment in Integrating Roma Under Threat

Plans to destroy France’s oldest slum have sparked an outcry on the part of its Roma residents. As Lisa Bryant reports from the Paris suburb of La Courneuve, rights groups argue the community is a fledgling experiment on integrating Roma who are often outcasts in many parts of Europe.
Video

Video Kenyans Turn to Agriculture for Business

Each year Kenyan universities continue to churn out graduates for the job market despite the already existing high rate of unemployment among youth in the country. Some of these young men and women have realized that agriculture can be as rewarding as any other business or job, and they are resorting to agribusiness in large numbers as a way of tackling unemployment. Rael Ombuor reports for VOA.
Video

Video First Women Graduate Elite Army Ranger School

Two women are making history for the U.S. Army by proving they are among the toughest of the tough. VOA's Carla Babb reports from Fort Benning, Georgia as 94 men and those two women rise as graduates of the difficult Ranger school.

VOA Blogs