President Obama. (AP/Jacquelyn Martin) (AP/Jacquelyn Martin)
President Obama

With only 24 hours left for negotiations with Iran on a nuclear program, Obama conceded that the prospects for a deal are diminishing. 

US President Barack Obama, at a Tuesday evening event, assured Senate Democrats that he will not agree to a bad nuclear deal with Iran and asked them to withhold judgment until the deal is completed. He also acknowledged that it is uncertain whether a deal will actually be signed.

Obama got no resistance to that message over wine and appetizers in the White House State Dining Room, participants said the next day.

A testy debate over trade last month divided Obama from many in his party. Tuesday’s meeting was an opportunity for Obama and Democrats to reset their relationship in preparation for the legislative session ahead.

A top focus of the meeting was the pending deal with Iran, according to several lawmakers who attended the event. Prospects are uncertain for the Obama administration to complete a deal, but if the accord is not sent to Congress by Thursday, its month-long review period would be doubled to 60 days.

Obama has expended significant political capital on finalizing an agreement to keep Iran from going nuclear, prompting Republicans to accuse him of making too many concessions and even some Democrats to express deep ambivalence.

Tuesday night, he asked Democrats to support him if he does reach a deal that would be good enough for him to sign.

The existing nuclear facility in Bushehr province, Iran.

The Bushehr nuclear plant. (AP/Mehr))

“He wanted to make it perfectly clear that he is in no rush to an agreement and that he will walk away from the table if there is no good deal to be reached and that there isn’t a deal yet, and so all of these reports about what is in a deal are premature,” said Senator Chris Murphy.

Speaking to Politico, Senator Dick Durbin quoted Obama as saying that the chances of arriving at a deal with the Islamic Republic were diminished.

“He said the chances, he thought, were less than 50-50 at this point and that he wouldn’t agree to something he thought was weak or unenforceable. But if he comes up with an agreement and it meets his standards, he wanted us to take an honest look at it and not prejudge.” Durbin said.

“He said, ‘don’t get nervous, don’t get concerned about statements by the supreme leader [Iran’s Ali Khamenei], about statements in the press. I am not going to sign a deal where we can’t assure that we’ve blocked all pathways to a bomb for Iran.’ I found that very reassuring,” Senator Chris Coons told Politico.

Obama on Wednesday discussed Iran during a video conference with his national security team, Secretary of State John Kerry, Energy Secretary Ernest Moniz and the US negotiating team in Vienna, according to a White House readout.

The Obama administration, especially Kerry, has worked in recent days to dismiss suggestions that desperation will prompt the president to sign a deal — any deal — for the sake of a legacy. Time is pressing, but Senator Ben Cardin, ranking Democrat on the Foreign Relations Committee, told Politico that the president seemed “not at all” concerned about the implications of giving Congress more time to scrutinize the deal in a meeting that Cardin characterized as “somewhat social, somewhat businesslike.”

Iran Worse than ISIS

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, restating Israel’s vehement position to the deal on Tuesday, said that Iran’s threat to the world was greater than that presented by the Islamic State (ISIS) terror organization.

“Iran, the leading patron of terrorism in the world, is squeezing more and more concessions from the major powers. Today, Iran is the greatest threat to world peace. The concessions agreement that Iran is about to receive from the major powers paves the way for it to arm itself with nuclear weapons and deliver them via the missiles that it is continuing to develop,” the Israeli premier warned.

“How can a state that repeatedly violates the decisions of the international community be trusted?! How can Iran be given hundreds of billions of dollars without this money being conditioned on it not being used to grease the wheels of its ramified terrorist machine? Iran’s increasing aggression is many times more dangerous than that of ISIS, which is dangerous enough, and the true goal of this aggression in the end is to take over the world,” Netanyahu stated.

By: United with Israel Staff and AP

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