WASHINGTON: President Barack Obama assured in a taped television interview on Sunday that the United States was prepared to “walk away” from nuclear talks with Iran if a verifiable deal cannot be reached with Tehran.
Obama made the comments on Saturday as US Secretary of State John Kerry was in Paris to smooth over differences with France, which has pressed for greater guarantees that an agreement will stop Iran from gaining a nuclear weapon, and a bruising speech to Congress earlier in the week by Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.
“If there is no deal then we walk away,” Obama said in the interview, which aired on “CBS News Sunday Morning” and in expanded form on the network’s “Face the Nation” show.
“If we cannot verify that they are not going to obtain a nuclear weapon, that there’s a breakout period so that even if they cheated we would be able to have enough time to take action — if we don’t have that kind of deal, then we’re not going to take it,” he said.
Netanyahu, who charged in an impassioned speech to Congress on Tuesday that a nuclear deal would pave the way for an Iranian bomb, showed no sign of budging in an interview on the same “Face the Nation”. “I do not trust inspections with totalitarian regimes,” he said.
“And so I’d be a lot more circumspect. In fact, what I’m suggesting is that you contract Iran’s nuclear programme, so there’s less to inspect”.
Obama said the Iranians have negotiated seriously and progress has been made “in narrowing the gaps, but those gaps still exist”.
And I would say that over the next month or so, we’re going to be able to determine whether or not their system is able to accept what would be an extraordinarily reasonable deal, if in fact, as they say, they are only interested in peaceful nuclear programmes.