US President Barack Obama speaks during a joint news conference with German Chancellor Angela Merkel in Washington.
(photo credit: REUTERS)
WASHINGTON – US President Barack Obama says that gaps in talks with Iran over its nuclear program have been “sufficiently narrowed and sufficiently clarified” that world powers can now present the Islamic Republic with an agreement.
“We are presenting to them a deal that allows them to have peaceful nuclear power but gives us the absolute assurance that is verifiable they are not producing a nuclear weapon,” Obama said.
“They have to make a decision.”
Obama said that a year’s worth of negotiations was “time well spent,” overcoming a “truth deficit” between Tehran and the West.
But after two extensions were announced throughout that year, the president joined US Secretary of State John Kerry and Iranian Foreign Minister Muhammad Javad Zarif in rejecting prospects for further delays.
“I don’t see a further extension being useful,” he continued, unless a political framework agreement is reached by the March 31 deadline set by negotiators.
In a press conference from the East Room of the White House, hosting German Chancellor Angela Merkel, the president addressed concerns over Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s upcoming visit to Washington, when he is expected to criticize the diplomatic effort.
“There are real differences substantively, but that’s separate and apart from Mr. Netanyahu coming to Washington,” Obama said, warning that the perception of a Likud-Republican alignment puts a “cloud” of “partisan politics” over the US-Israel relationship.
Angela Merkel did not address the matter, but smiled and nodded to laughter, as Obama noted the chancellor would not seek an invitation to the White House so close to her own elections.
“And I suspect she wouldn’t have asked for one,” he said.