President Barack Obama acknowledges applause before he delivers the State of the Union address in the House Chamber at the U.S. Capitol in Washington, D.C., Jan. 28, 2014..
(photo credit: OFFICIAL WHITE HOUSE PHOTO / PETE SOUZA)
Israel is pleased at a compromise deal achieved between the United States Congress and the administration of President Barack Obama, Intelligence Minister Yuval Steinitz said on Wednesday.
"We are certainly happy this morning, this is an achievement for Israeli policy ... (Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's) speech in Congress ... was decisive in achieving this law, which is a very important element in preventing a bad deal, or at least, in improving the agreement and making it more reasonable," Steinitz told Israel Radio.
Obama dropped his opposition on Tuesday to a bill giving Congress a voice on a nuclear deal with Iran, after members of his Democratic Party negotiated changes to the bill that had won strong support from both parties.
The bill that passed cut to 30 days from 60 the time in which Congress can review any final nuclear agreement and eliminated the requirement that Obama certify that Iran is not supporting acts of terrorism against the United States.
Instead, it requires the administration to send Congress regular, detailed reports on a range of issues including Iran's support for terrorism, ballistic missiles and nuclear program.
Obama has invested enormous political capital throughout his presidency in securing an international agreement to ensure Iran does not develop a nuclear weapon, relying on tight sanctions that crippled Iran's economy and forced it to negotiate.
"This is more pressure and another barrier in the face of a bad agreement and therefore the administration and the negotiating team will make more of an effort to seal gaps and to achieve an agreement that looks better, or at least more reasonable, so that it will pass in Congress," Steinitz said.
Netanyahu and Obama have differed sharply over an agreement with Iran which Israel fears will not be stringent enough and would allow the Islamic Republic to develop nuclear weapons.
Iran says its nuclear program is peaceful, but it has never welcomed intrusive inspections and has in the past kept some nuclear sites secret.
Securing proper inspections is crucial for the United States and other Western powers to ensure a final deal, due by June 30, is effective and to persuade a skeptical US Congress and Israel to accept the agreement.