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

Photogallery Strong Words Start, May End, S. African Xenophobic Attacks

President Jacob Zuma publicly condemned rise in attacks on foreign nationals but critics say leadership has been less than welcoming to foreign residents More

Video Family Waits to Hear Charges Against Reporter Jailed in Iran

Reports in Iran say Jason Rezaian has been charged with espionage, but brother tells VOA indictment has not been made public More

Video Overwhelmed by Migrants, Italy Mulls Action to Stabilize Libya

Amnesty International says multinational concerted humanitarian effort must be enacted to address crisis; decrepit boats continue to bring thousands of new arrivals daily More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Are Energy Needs Putting Thailand's Natural Beauty at Risk?i
X
Steve Sandford
April 17, 2015 12:50 AM
Thailand's appetite for more electricity has led to the construction of new dams along the Mekong River to the north and new coal plants near the country's famous beaches in the south. A proposed coal plant in a so-called "green zone" has touched off a debate. VOA's Steve Sandford reports.
Video

Video Are Energy Needs Putting Thailand's Natural Beauty at Risk?

Thailand's appetite for more electricity has led to the construction of new dams along the Mekong River to the north and new coal plants near the country's famous beaches in the south. A proposed coal plant in a so-called "green zone" has touched off a debate. VOA's Steve Sandford reports.
Video

Video Overwhelmed by Migrants, Italy Mulls Military Action to Stabilize Libya

Thousands more migrants have arrived on the southern shores of Italy from North Africa in the past two days. Authorities say they expect the total number of arrivals this year to far exceed previous levels, and the government has said military action in Libya might be necessary to stem the flow. VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports.
Video

Video Putin Accuses Kyiv of ‘Cutting Off’ Eastern Ukraine

Russian President Vladimir Putin, in his annual televised call-in program, again denied there were any Russian troops fighting in Ukraine. He also said the West was trying to ‘contain’ Russia with sanctions. Henry Ridgwell reports on reactions to the president’s four-hour TV appearance.
Video

Video Eye Contact Secures Dog's Place in Human Heart

Dogs serve in the military, work with police and assist the disabled, and have been by our side for thousands of years serving as companions and loyal friends. We love them. They love us in return. VOA’s Rosanne Skirble reports on a new study that looks at the bio-chemical bond that cements that human-canine connection.
Video

Video Ukrainian Volunteers Search for Bodies of Missing Soldiers

As the cease-fire becomes more fragile in eastern Ukraine, a team of volunteer body collectors travels to the small village of Savur Mohyla in the what pro-Russian separatists call the Donetsk Peoples Republic - to retrieve bodies of fallen Ukrainian servicemen from rebel-held territories. Adam Bailes traveled with the team and has this report.
Video

Video Xenophobic Violence Sweeps South Africa

South Africa, long a haven for African immigrants, has been experiencing the worst xenophobic violence in years, with at least five people killed and hundreds displaced in recent weeks. From Johannesburg, VOA’s Anita Powell brings us this report.
Video

Video Sierra Leone President Koroma Bemoans Ebola Impact on Economy

In an interview with VOA's Shaka Ssali on Wednesday, President Ernest Koroma said the outbreak undermined his government’s efforts to boost and restructure the economy after years of civil war.
Video

Video Protester Lands Gyrocopter on Capitol Lawn

A 61-year-old mailman from Florida landed a small aircraft on the Capitol lawn in Washington to bring attention to campaign finance reform and what he says is government corruption. Wednesday's incident was one in a string of security breaches on U.S. government property. Zlatica Hoke reports the gyrocopter landing violated a no-fly zone.
Video

Video Apollo 13, NASA's 'Successful Failure,' Remembered

The Apollo 13 mission in 1970 was supposed to be NASA's third manned trip to the moon, but it became much more. On the flight's 45th anniversary, astronauts and flight directors gathered at Chicago's Adler Planetarium to talk about how the aborted mission changed manned spaceflight and continues to influence space exploration today. VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports.
Video

Video Badly Burned Ukrainian Boy Bravely Fights Back

A 9-year-old Ukrainian boy has returned to his native country after intensive treatment in the United States for life-threatening burns. Volodia Bubela, burned in a house fire almost a year ago, battled back at a Boston hospital, impressing doctors with his bravery. Faith Lapidus narrates this report from VOA's Tetiana Kharchenko.
Video

Video US Maternity Leave Benefits Much Less Than Many Countries

It was almost 20 years ago that representatives of 189 countries met at a UN conference in Beijing and adopted a plan of action to achieve gender equality around the world. Now, two decades later, the University of California Los Angeles World Policy Analysis Center has issued a report examining what the Beijing Platform for Action has achieved. From Los Angeles, Elizabeth Lee has more.
Video

Video Endangered Hawaiian Birds Get Second Chance

Of the world's nearly 9,900 bird species, 13 percent are threatened with extinction, according to BirdLife International. Among them are two Hawaiian honeycreepers - tiny birds that live in the forest canopy, and, as the name implies, survive on nectar from tropical flowers. Scientists at the San Diego Zoo report they have managed to hatch half a dozen of their chicks in captivity, raising hopes that the birds will flutter back from the brink of extinction. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Exhibit Brings Renaissance Master Out of the Shadows

The National Gallery of Art in Washington has raised the curtain on one of the most intriguing painters of the High Renaissance. Mostly ignored after his death in the early 1500s, Italian master Piero di Cosimo is now claiming his place alongside the best-known artists of the period. VOA’s Ardita Dunellari reports.
Video

Video Sidemen to Famous Blues Artists Record Their Own CD

Legendary blues singer BB King was briefly hospitalized last week and the 87-year-old “King of the Blues” may not be touring much anymore. But some of the musicians who have played with him and other blues legends have now released their own CD in an attempt to pass the torch to younger fans... and put their own talents out front as well. VOA’s Greg Flakus has followed this project over the past year and filed this report from Houston.
Video

Video Iran-Saudi Rivalry Is Stoking Conflict in Yemen

Iran has proposed a peace plan to end the conflict in Yemen, but the idea has received little support from regional rivals like Saudi Arabia. They accuse Tehran of backing the Houthi rebels, who have forced Yemen’s president to flee to Riyadh, and have taken over swaths of Yemen. As Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA, analysts say the conflict is being fueled by the Sunni-Shia rivalry between the two regional powers.

VOA Blogs