Speaking to supporters in a 20-minute conference call, President Barack Obama declared that the multinational pact intended to halt Iran from developing nuclear weapons “achieves critical security objectives not just for the United States but for our allies and the world, including the State of Israel.”
“I’ve never been more certain about a policy decision than this one right here,” he told listeners from the White House on July 30.
He also characterized opponents of the Iran deal as being backed by “billionaires” and urged those listening in to win over “squishy” lawmakers who are considering opposing the deal.
“The lobbying that is taking place on the other side is fierce, it is well financed, it is relentless,” the president said on the phone call.
Although the White House Press Office declined to specify the names or numbers of the callers invited to participate, a spokesperson for the National Jewish Democratic Council said the list included, in addition to his organization, the Committee for American Progress, MoveOn.org, and J Street.
“It wasn’t really intended for the Jewish community but the Jewish community was welcome and invited,” said NJDC’s Max Samis.
Early in the conversation, the president said he was “unequivocal in my support of the State of Israel, our greatest ally in the region” and one of his “top policy priorities was to make sure that we refocused attention on the non-proliferation of weapons of mass destruction, particularly nuclear weapons.”
Tackling opponents’ arguments point-by-point, Obama said the agreement “cuts off the main pathways for Iran to get a nuclear weapon” and would enable the United States and its allies to “know exactly what they are doing at all times.”
In addition it shuts down underground facilities, prevents Iranian plutonium development, and requires Iran to reduce by 98 percent its stockpiles of enriched uranium, he said, adding that the agreement also “sets up an unprecedented verification inspection regime that allows 24/7 coverage of all their declared nuclear facilities.”
Obama said “it is possible” that Iran may cheat “because this deal is not based on trust but verification, and the Iranian regime is a brutal theocracy that is anti-American, anti-Israel, and denies the Holocaust and supports terrorist proxies and has been involved in destabilizing activities throughout the region.”
However, he added, “because of this deal we are absolutely certain that we will be able to catch them more effectively than without a deal…. If they are caught cheating we can reimpose the entire regime of sanctions that are currently in place, and Iran’s economy would go back into the tank.”
Answering fears of Israel supporters that the infusion of funds from the lifting of sanctions would be used in part to finance Islamist terrorism, he promised to “continue to be able to interdict and prevent Iran from arming Hizbullah under international authorities.”
He said that if Congress were to reject the deal, it would do irreparable damage to America’s diplomatic credibility.
“If you hear people say, ‘We should have gotten a better deal,’ you have to ask them, ‘What exactly do you mean?’” said Obama. “If what they mean is Iran would have completely eliminated peaceful nuclear power, then what you have to say is, ‘Iran would not do that, and the only way to do that effectively was if we were prepared to go to war.’”
The Republican Jewish Coalition responded with a stinging news release titled “Obama’s Demonization of Iran Deal Critics Must Stop.”
RJC executive director Matt Brooks took exception to the president’s characterizing lobbying efforts as “fierce, well-financed, and relentless.” Brooks recalled how Jewish groups bristled when President George H.W. Bush, in 1991, complained about pressure from pro-Israel lobbyists.
“Jewish leaders need to hold President Obama to the same standards they held the first President Bush. And President Obama should stick to the facts and stop demonizing Americans who are rightly skeptical of his dubious deal with the Tehran regime,” Brooks said.