Full Text Obama Presidency April 2, 2015: President Barack Obama’s speech announcing a ‘framework’ agreement for a nuclear weapons deal with Iran — Transcript

POLITICAL TRANSCRIPTS

OBAMA PRESIDENCY & THE 114TH CONGRESS:

President Barack Obama’s speech announcing a ‘framework’ agreement for a nuclear weapons deal with Iran — Transcript

Source: WaPo, 4-2-15

OBAMA: Good afternoon, everybody.

Today, the United States, together with our allies and partners, has reached a historic understanding with Iran, which, if fully implemented, will prevent it from obtaining a nuclear weapon.

As president and commander in chief, I have no greater responsibility than the security of the American people, and I am convinced that if this framework leads to a final, comprehensive deal, it will make our country, our allies, and our world safer. This has been a long time coming.

The Islamic Republic of Iran has been advancing its nuclear program for decades. By the time I took office, Iran was operating thousands of centrifuges, which can produce the materials for a nuclear bomb. And Iran was concealing a covert nuclear facility.

I made clear that we were prepared to resolve this issue diplomatically, but only if Iran came to the table in a serious way.

When that did not happen, we rallied the world to impose the toughest sanctions in history, sanctions which had a profound impact on the Iranian economy.

Now, sanctions alone could not stop Iran’s nuclear program, but they did help bring Iran to the negotiating table. Because of our diplomatic efforts, the world stood with us, and we were joined at the negotiating table by the world’s major powers: the United Kingdom, France, Germany, Russia and China as well as the European Union.

Over a year ago, we took the first step towards today’s framework with a deal to stop the progress of Iran’s nuclear program and roll it back in key areas.

And recall that at the time, skeptics argued that Iran would cheat, that we could not verify their compliance, and the interim agreement would fail. Instead, it has succeeded exactly as intended. Iran has met all of its obligations.

It eliminated its stockpile of dangerous nuclear material, inspections of Iran’s program increased, and we continued negotiations to see if we could achieve a more comprehensive deal.

Today, after many months of tough principle diplomacy, we have achieved the framework for that deal. And it is a good deal, a deal that meets our core objectives.

This framework would cut off every pathway that Iran could take to develop a nuclear weapon. Iran will face strict limitations on its program, and Iran has also agreed to the most robust and intrusive inspections and transparency regime ever negotiated for any nuclear program in history. So this deal is not based on trust. It’s based on unprecedented verification.

Many key details will be finalized over the next three months. And nothing is agreed to until everything is agreed. But here are the basic outlines of the deal that we are working to finalize.

First, Iran will not be able to pursue a bomb using plutonium because it will not develop weapons grade plutonium. The core of its reactor at Arak will be dismantled and replaced. The spent fuel from that facility will be shipped out of Iran for the life of the reactor. Iran will not build a new heavy water reactor. And Iran will not reprocess fuel from its existing reactors, ever.

Second, this deal shuts down Iran’s path to a bomb using enriched uranium. Iran has agreed that its installed centrifuges will be reduced by two thirds. Iran will no longer enrich uranium at its Fordo facility. Iran will not enrich uranium with its advanced centrifuges for at least the next 10 years. The vast majority of Iran’s stockpile of enriched uranium will be neutralized.

Today, estimates indicate that Iran is only two or three months away from potentially acquiring the raw materials that could be used for a single nuclear bomb. Under this deal, Iran has agreed that it will not stockpile the materials needed to build a weapon. Even if it violated the deal, for the next decade at least, Iran would be a minimum of a year away from acquiring enough material for a bomb. And the strict limitations on Iran’s stockpile will last for 15 years.

Third, this deal provides the best possible defense against Iran’s ability to pursue a nuclear weapon covertly, that is in secret. International inspectors will have unprecedented access not only to Iranian nuclear facilities, but to the entire supply chain that supports Iran’s nuclear program, from uranium mills that provide the raw materials to the centrifuge production and storage facilities that support the program.

If Iran cheats, the world will know it. If we see something suspicious, we will inspect it. Iran’s past efforts to weaponize its program will be addressed.

With this deal, Iran will face more inspections than any other country in the world. So, this will be a long-term deal that addresses each path to a potential Iranian nuclear bomb.

There will be strict limits on Iran’s program for a decade. Additional restrictions on building new facilities or stockpiling materials will last for 15 years. The unprecedented transparency measures will last for 20 years or more. Indeed, some will be permanent. And as a member of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, Iran will never be permitted to develop a nuclear weapon.

In return for Iran’s actions, the international community has agreed to provide Iran with relief from certain sanctions. Our own sanctions and international sanctions imposed by the United Nations Security Council. This relief will be phased, as Iran takes steps to adhere to the deal. If Iran violates the deal, sanctions can be snapped back into place.

Meanwhile, other American sanctions on Iran for its support of terrorism, its human rights abuses, its ballistic missile program, will continue to be fully enforced.

Now let me re-emphasize, our work is not yet done. The deal has not been signed. Between now and the end of June, the negotiators will continue to work through the details of how this framework will be fully implemented and those details matter.

If there is backsliding on the part of the Iranians, if the verification and inspection mechanisms don’t meet the specifications of our nuclear and security experts, there will be no deal.

But if we can get this done and Iran follows through on the framework that our negotiators agreed to, we will be able to resolve one of the greatest threats to our security and to do so peacefully.

Given the importance of this issue, I have instructed my negotiators to fully brief Congress and the American people on the substance the deal. And I welcome a robust debate in the weeks and months to come.

I am confident that we can show that this deal is good for the security of the United States, for our allies and for the world.

But the fact is we only have three options for addressing Iran’s nuclear program. First, we can reach a robust and verifiable deal, like this one, and peacefully prevent Iran from obtaining a nuclear weapon.

The second option is we can bomb Iran’s nuclear facilities, thereby starting another war in the Middle East and setting back Iran’s program by a few years. In other words, setting it back by a fraction of the time that this deal will set it back. Meanwhile, we’d ensure that Iran would raise their head to try and build a bomb.

Third, we could pull out of negotiations, try to get other countries to go along and continue sanctions that are currently in place or add additional ones and hope for the best. Knowing that every time we have done so, Iran has not capitulated, but instead has advanced its program. And that in very short order, the breakout timeline would be eliminated and a nuclear arms race in the region could be triggered because of that uncertainty.

In other words, the third option leads us very quickly back to a decision about whether or not to take military action because we’d have no idea what was going on inside of Iran. Iran is not going to simply dismantle its program because we demand it to do so.

That’s not how the world works. And that’s not what history shows us. Iran has shown no willingness to eliminate those aspects of their program that they maintain are for peaceful purposes, even in the face of unprecedented sanctions.

Should negotiations collapse because we, the United States, rejected what the majority of the world considers a fair deal, what our scientists and nuclear experts suggest would give us confidence that they are not developing a nuclear weapon, it’s doubtful that we could even keep our current international sanctions in place.

So when you hear the inevitable critics of the deal sound off, ask them a simple question: Do you really think that this verifiable deal, if fully implemented, backed by the world’s major powers, is a worse option than the risk of another war in the Middle East? Is it worse than doing what we’ve done for almost two decades with Iran moving forward with its nuclear program and without robust inspections?

I think the answer will be clear. Remember, I have always insisted that I will do what is necessary to prevent Iran from acquiring a nuclear weapon, and I will.

But I also know that a diplomatic solution is the best way to get this done and offers a more comprehensive and lasting solution. It is our best option by far. And while it is always a possibility that Iran may try to cheat on the deal in the future, this framework of inspections and transparency makes it far more likely that we’ll know about it if they try to cheat, and I or future presidents will have preserved all of the options that are currently available to deal with it.

To the Iranian people, I want to reaffirm what I’ve said since the beginning of my presidency. We are willing to engage you on the basis of mutual interests and mutual respect.

This deal offers the prospect of relief from sanctions that were imposed because of Iran’s violation of international law. Since Iran’s supreme leader has issued a fatwa against the development of nuclear weapons, this framework gives Iran the opportunity to verify that it’s program is, in fact, peaceful. It demonstrates that if Iran complies with its international obligations, then it can fully rejoin the community of nations, thereby fulfilling the extraordinary talent and aspirations of the Iranian people. That would be good for Iran, and it would be good for the world.

Of course, this deal alone, even if fully implemented, will not end the deep divisions and mistrust between our two countries. We have a difficult history between us.

And our concerns will remain with respect to Iranian behavior so long as Iran continues its sponsorship of terrorism, its support for proxies who destabilize the Middle East, its threats against America’s friends and allies, like Israel.

So make no mistake, we will remain vigilant in countering those actions and standing with our allies.

It’s no secret that the Israeli prime minister and I don’t agree about whether the United States should move forward with a peaceful resolution to the Iranian issue. If in fact Prime Minister Netanyahu is looking for the most effective way to ensure Iran doesn’t get a nuclear weapon, this is the best option.

And I believe our nuclear experts can confirm that.

More importantly, I will be speaking with the prime minister today to make clear that there will be no daylight, there is no daylight when it comes to our support for Israel’s security and our concerns about Iran’s destabilizing policies and threats towards Israel.

That’s why I’ve directed my national security team to consult closely with the new Israeli government in the coming weeks and months about how we can further strengthen our long-term security cooperation with Israel and make clear our unshakeable commitment to Israel’s defense.

Today, I also spoke with the king of Saudi Arabia, to reaffirm our commitment to the security of our partners in the Gulf. And I am inviting the leaders of the six countries who make up the Gulf Cooperation Council, Saudi Arabia, United Arab Emirates, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar, and Bahrain to meet me at Camp David this spring to discuss how we can further strengthen our security cooperation while resolving the multiple conflicts that have caused so much hardship and instability throughout the Middle East.

Finally, it’s worth remembering that Congress has, on a bipartisan basis, played a critical role in our current Iran policy, helping to shape the sanctions regime that applied so much pressure on Iran and ultimately forced them to the table.

In the coming days and weeks, my administration will engage Congress once again about how we can play — how it can play a constructive oversight role. I’ll begin that effort by speaking to the leaders of the House and the Senate today.

In those conversations, I will underscore that the issues at stake here are bigger than politics. These are matters of war and peace. And they should be evaluated based on the facts, and what is ultimately best for the American people and for our national security. For, this is not simply a deal between my administration and Iran. This is a deal between Iran, the United States of America and the major powers in the world, including some of our closest allies.

If Congress kills this deal not based on expert analysis, and without offering any reasonable alternative, then it’s the United States that will be blamed for the failure of diplomacy. International unity will collapse, and the path to conflict will widen.

The American people understand this, which is why a solid majority support a diplomatic resolution to the Iranian nuclear issue. They understand instinctively the words of President Kennedy, who faced down the far greater threat of Communism, and said, “Let us never negotiate out of fear, but let us never fear to negotiate.” The American people remembered that at the height of the Cold War.

Presidents like Nixon and Reagan struck historic arms control agreements with the Soviet Union, a far more dangerous adversary, despite the fact that that adversary not only threatened to destroy our country and our way of life, but had the means to do so.

Those agreements were not perfect. They did not end all threats. But they made our world safer. A good deal with Iran will do the same. Today I’d like to express my thanks to our international partners for their steadfastness, their cooperation.

I was able to speak earlier today with our close allies, Prime Minister Cameron and President Holland and Chancellor Merkel, to reaffirm that we stand shoulder-to-shoulder in this effort. And most of all, on behalf of our nation, I want to express my thanks to our tireless — and I mean tireless — Secretary of State John Kerry and our entire negotiating team. They have worked so hard to make this progress. They represent the best tradition of American diplomacy.

Their work, our work, is not yet done and success is not guaranteed. But we have a historic opportunity to prevent the spread of nuclear weapons in Iran and to do so peacefully, with the international community firmly behind us. We should seize that chance. Thank you. God bless you. And god bless the United States of America.

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Full Text Obama Presidency April 2, 2015: State Department Full Text of Iran Nuclear Weapons Program Deal Parameters

POLITICAL TRANSCRIPTS

OBAMA PRESIDENCY & THE 114TH CONGRESS:

Parameters for a Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action Regarding the Islamic Republic of Iran’s Nuclear Program

Source: State.gov, 4-2-15

Media Note

Office of the Spokesperson
Washington, DC
April 2, 2015

Below are the key parameters of a Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) regarding the Islamic Republic of Iran’s nuclear program that were decided in Lausanne, Switzerland. These elements form the foundation upon which the final text of the JCPOA will be written between now and June 30, and reflect the significant progress that has been made in discussions between the P5+1, the European Union, and Iran. Important implementation details are still subject to negotiation, and nothing is agreed until everything is agreed. We will work to conclude the JCPOA based on these parameters over the coming months.

Enrichment

  • Iran has agreed to reduce by approximately two-thirds its installed centrifuges. Iran will go from having about 19,000 installed today to 6,104 installed under the deal, with only 5,060 of these enriching uranium for 10 years. All 6,104 centrifuges will be IR-1s, Iran’s first-generation centrifuge.
  • Iran has agreed to not enrich uranium over 3.67 percent for at least 15 years.
  • Iran has agreed to reduce its current stockpile of about 10,000 kg of low-enriched uranium (LEU) to 300 kg of 3.67 percent LEU for 15 years.
  • All excess centrifuges and enrichment infrastructure will be placed in IAEA monitored storage and will be used only as replacements for operating centrifuges and equipment.
  • Iran has agreed to not build any new facilities for the purpose of enriching uranium for 15 years.
  • Iran’s breakout timeline – the time that it would take for Iran to acquire enough fissile material for one weapon – is currently assessed to be 2 to 3 months. That timeline will be extended to at least one year, for a duration of at least ten years, under this framework.

Iran will convert its facility at Fordow so that it is no longer used to enrich uranium

  • Iran has agreed to not enrich uranium at its Fordow facility for at least 15 years.
  •  Iran has agreed to convert its Fordow facility so that it is used for peaceful purposes only – into a nuclear, physics, technology, research center.
  • Iran has agreed to not conduct research and development associated with uranium enrichment at Fordow for 15 years.
  • Iran will not have any fissile material at Fordow for 15 years.
  • Almost two-thirds of Fordow’s centrifuges and infrastructure will be removed. The remaining centrifuges will not enrich uranium. All centrifuges and related infrastructure will be placed under IAEA monitoring.

Iran will only enrich uranium at the Natanz facility, with only 5,060 IR-1 first-generation centrifuges for ten years.

  • Iran has agreed to only enrich uranium using its first generation (IR-1 models) centrifuges at Natanz for ten years, removing its more advanced centrifuges.
  • Iran will remove the 1,000 IR-2M centrifuges currently installed at Natanz and place them in IAEA monitored storage for ten years.
  • Iran will not use its IR-2, IR-4, IR-5, IR-6, or IR-8 models to produce enriched uranium for at least ten years. Iran will engage in limited research and development with its advanced centrifuges, according to a schedule and parameters which have been agreed to by the P5+1.
  • For ten years, enrichment and enrichment research and development will be limited to ensure a breakout timeline of at least 1 year. Beyond 10 years, Iran will abide by its enrichment and enrichment R&D plan submitted to the IAEA, and pursuant to the JCPOA, under the Additional Protocol resulting in certain limitations on enrichment capacity.

Inspections and Transparency

  • The IAEA will have regular access to all of Iran’s nuclear facilities, including to Iran’s enrichment facility at Natanz and its former enrichment facility at Fordow, and including the use of the most up-to-date, modern monitoring technologies.
  • Inspectors will have access to the supply chain that supports Iran’s nuclear program. The new transparency and inspections mechanisms will closely monitor materials and/or components to prevent diversion to a secret program.
  • Inspectors will have access to uranium mines and continuous surveillance at uranium mills, where Iran produces yellowcake, for 25 years.
  • Inspectors will have continuous surveillance of Iran’s centrifuge rotors and bellows production and storage facilities for 20 years. Iran’s centrifuge manufacturing base will be frozen and under continuous surveillance.
  • All centrifuges and enrichment infrastructure removed from Fordow and Natanz will be placed under continuous monitoring by the IAEA.
  • A dedicated procurement channel for Iran’s nuclear program will be established to monitor and approve, on a case by case basis, the supply, sale, or transfer to Iran of certain nuclear-related and dual use materials and technology – an additional transparency measure.
  • Iran has agreed to implement the Additional Protocol of the IAEA, providing the IAEA much greater access and information regarding Iran’s nuclear program, including both declared and undeclared facilities.
  • Iran will be required to grant access to the IAEA to investigate suspicious sites or allegations of a covert enrichment facility, conversion facility, centrifuge production facility, or yellowcake production facility anywhere in the country.
  • Iran has agreed to implement Modified Code 3.1 requiring early notification of construction of new facilities.
  • Iran will implement an agreed set of measures to address the IAEA’s concerns regarding the Possible Military Dimensions (PMD) of its program.

Reactors and Reprocessing

  • Iran has agreed to redesign and rebuild a heavy water research reactor in Arak, based on a design that is agreed to by the P5+1, which will not produce weapons grade plutonium, and which will support peaceful nuclear research and radioisotope production.
  • The original core of the reactor, which would have enabled the production of significant quantities of weapons-grade plutonium, will be destroyed or removed from the country.
  • Iran will ship all of its spent fuel from the reactor out of the country for the reactor’s lifetime.
  • Iran has committed indefinitely to not conduct reprocessing or reprocessing research and development on spent nuclear fuel.
  • Iran will not accumulate heavy water in excess of the needs of the modified Arak reactor, and will sell any remaining heavy water on the international market for 15 years.
  • Iran will not build any additional heavy water reactors for 15 years.

Sanctions

  • Iran will receive sanctions relief, if it verifiably abides by its commitments.
  • U.S. and E.U. nuclear-related sanctions will be suspended after the IAEA has verified that Iran has taken all of its key nuclear-related steps. If at any time Iran fails to fulfill its commitments, these sanctions will snap back into place.
  • The architecture of U.S. nuclear-related sanctions on Iran will be retained for much of the duration of the deal and allow for snap-back of sanctions in the event of significant non-performance.
  • All past UN Security Council resolutions on the Iran nuclear issue will be lifted simultaneous with the completion, by Iran, of nuclear-related actions addressing all key concerns (enrichment, Fordow, Arak, PMD, and transparency).
  • However, core provisions in the UN Security Council resolutions – those that deal with transfers of sensitive technologies and activities – will be re-established by a new UN Security Council resolution that will endorse the JCPOA and urge its full implementation. It will also create the procurement channel mentioned above, which will serve as a key transparency measure. Important restrictions on conventional arms and ballistic missiles, as well as provisions that allow for related cargo inspections and asset freezes, will also be incorporated by this new resolution.
  • A dispute resolution process will be specified, which enables any JCPOA participant, to seek to resolve disagreements about the performance of JCPOA commitments.
  • If an issue of significant non-performance cannot be resolved through that process, then all previous UN sanctions could be re-imposed.
  • U.S. sanctions on Iran for terrorism, human rights abuses, and ballistic missiles will remain in place under the deal.

Phasing

  • For ten years, Iran will limit domestic enrichment capacity and research and development – ensuring a breakout timeline of at least one year. Beyond that, Iran will be bound by its longer-term enrichment and enrichment research and development plan it shared with the P5+1.
  • For fifteen years, Iran will limit additional elements of its program. For instance, Iran will not build new enrichment facilities or heavy water reactors and will limit its stockpile of enriched uranium and accept enhanced transparency procedures.
  • Important inspections and transparency measures will continue well beyond 15 years. Iran’s adherence to the Additional Protocol of the IAEA is permanent, including its significant access and transparency obligations. The robust inspections of Iran’s uranium supply chain will last for 25 years.
  • Even after the period of the most stringent limitations on Iran’s nuclear program, Iran will remain a party to the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT), which prohibits Iran’s development or acquisition of nuclear weapons and requires IAEA safeguards on its nuclear program.

Political Musings November 25, 2013: Obama faces opposition to Iran nuclear weapons deal from Israel, GOP & Canada

POLITICAL MUSINGS

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OBAMA PRESIDENCY & THE 113TH CONGRESS:

OP-EDS & ARTICLES

Obama faces opposition to Iran nuclear weapons deal from Israel, GOP & Canada

By Bonnie K. Goodman

US President Barack Obama speaks in the State Dining Room at the White House Saturday November 23, 2013, in Washington about the nuclear deal between six world powers and Iran (photo credit: AP/Susan Walsh)

The P5+1 world superpowers came to an interim deal with Iran to freeze their nuclear program in exchange for easing economic sanctions late Saturday, Nov. 23, 2013 during the their third round of talks on the issue in Geneva…READ MORE

Political Headlines November 24, 2013: Iran, World Powers Reach Nuclear Deal

POLITICAL HEADLINES

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OBAMA PRESIDENCY & THE 113TH CONGRESS:

THE HEADLINES….

Iran, World Powers Reach Nuclear Deal

FABRICE COFFRINI/AFP/Getty Images(GENEVA) — Iran and six world powers reached a preliminary deal Sunday morning to freeze key parts of Tehran’s nuclear program in return for temporary relief on economic sanctions….READ MORE

Full Text Obama Presidency November 23, 2013: Fact Sheet: Iran Nuclear Weapons Program Deal

POLITICAL HEADLINES

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OBAMA PRESIDENCY & THE 113TH CONGRESS:

THE HEADLINES….

Fact Sheet: First Step Understandings Regarding the Islamic Republic of Iran’s Nuclear Program

Source: WH, 11-23-13 

The P5+1 (the United States, United Kingdom, Germany, France, Russia, and China, facilitated by the European Union) has been engaged in serious and substantive negotiations with Iran with the goal of reaching a verifiable diplomatic resolution that would prevent Iran from obtaining a nuclear weapon.

President Obama has been clear that achieving a peaceful resolution that prevents Iran from obtaining a nuclear weapon is in America’s national security interest.  Today, the P5+1 and Iran reached a set of initial understandings that halts the progress of Iran’s nuclear program and rolls it back in key respects.  These are the first meaningful limits that Iran has accepted on its nuclear program in close to a decade.  The initial, six month step includes significant limits on Iran’s nuclear program and begins to address our most urgent concerns including Iran’s enrichment capabilities; its existing stockpiles of enriched uranium; the number and capabilities of its centrifuges; and its ability to produce weapons-grade plutonium using the Arak reactor.  The concessions Iran has committed to make as part of this first step will also provide us with increased transparency and intrusive monitoring of its nuclear program.  In the past, the concern has been expressed that Iran will use negotiations to buy time to advance their program.  Taken together, these first step measures will help prevent Iran from using the cover of negotiations to continue advancing its nuclear program as we seek to negotiate a long-term, comprehensive solution that addresses all of the international community’s concerns.

In return, as part of this initial step, the P5+1 will provide limited, temporary, targeted, and reversible relief to Iran.  This relief is structured so that the overwhelming majority of the sanctions regime, including the key oil, banking, and financial sanctions architecture, remains in place.  The P5+1 will continue to enforce these sanctions vigorously.  If Iran fails to meet its commitments, we will revoke the limited relief and impose additional sanctions on Iran.

The P5+1 and Iran also discussed the general parameters of a comprehensive solution that would constrain Iran’s nuclear program over the long term, provide verifiable assurances to the international community that Iran’s nuclear activities will be exclusively peaceful, and ensure that any attempt by Iran to pursue a nuclear weapon would be promptly detected.  The set of understandings also includes an acknowledgment by Iran that it must address all United Nations Security Council resolutions – which Iran has long claimed are illegal – as well as past and present issues with Iran’s nuclear program that have been identified by the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA).  This would include resolution of questions concerning the possible military dimension of Iran’s nuclear program, including Iran’s activities at Parchin.  As part of a comprehensive solution, Iran must also come into full compliance with its obligations under the Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) and its obligations to the IAEA.  With respect to the comprehensive solution, nothing is agreed until everything is agreed.  Put simply, this first step expires in six months, and does not represent an acceptable end state to the United States or our P5+1 partners.

Halting the Progress of Iran’s Program and Rolling Back Key Elements

Iran has committed to halt enrichment above 5%:

·         Halt all enrichment above 5% and dismantle the technical connections required to enrich above 5%.

Iran has committed to neutralize its stockpile of near-20% uranium:

·         Dilute below 5% or convert to a form not suitable for further enrichment its entire stockpile of near-20% enriched uranium before the end of the initial phase.

Iran has committed to halt progress on its enrichment capacity:

·         Not install additional centrifuges of any type.

·         Not install or use any next-generation centrifuges to enrich uranium.

·         Leave inoperable roughly half of installed centrifuges at Natanz and three-quarters of installed centrifuges at Fordow, so they cannot be used to enrich uranium.

·         Limit its centrifuge production to those needed to replace damaged machines, so Iran cannot use the six months to stockpile centrifuges.

·         Not construct additional enrichment facilities.

Iran has committed to halt progress on the growth of its 3.5% stockpile:

·         Not increase its stockpile of 3.5% low enriched uranium, so that the amount is not greater at the end of the six months than it is at the beginning, and any newly enriched 3.5% enriched uranium is converted into oxide.

Iran has committed to no further advances of its activities at Arak and to halt progress on its plutonium track.  Iran has committed to:

·         Not commission the Arak reactor.

·         Not fuel the Arak reactor.

·         Halt the production of fuel for the Arak reactor.

·         No additional testing of fuel for the Arak reactor.

·         Not install any additional reactor components at Arak.

·         Not transfer fuel and heavy water to the reactor site.

·         Not construct a facility capable of reprocessing.  Without reprocessing, Iran cannot separate plutonium from spent fuel.

Unprecedented transparency and intrusive monitoring of Iran’s nuclear program 

Iran has committed to: 

·         Provide daily access by IAEA inspectors at Natanz and Fordow.  This daily access will permit inspectors to review surveillance camera footage to ensure comprehensive monitoring.  This access will provide even greater transparency into enrichment at these sites and shorten detection time for any non-compliance.

·         Provide IAEA access to centrifuge assembly facilities.

·         Provide IAEA access to centrifuge rotor component production and storage facilities.

·         Provide IAEA access to uranium mines and mills.

·         Provide long-sought design information for the Arak reactor.  This will provide critical insight into the reactor that has not previously been available.

·         Provide more frequent inspector access to the Arak reactor.

·         Provide certain key data and information called for in the Additional Protocol to Iran’s IAEA Safeguards Agreement and Modified Code 3.1.

Verification Mechanism

The IAEA will be called upon to perform many of these verification steps, consistent with their ongoing inspection role in Iran.  In addition, the P5+1 and Iran have committed to establishing a Joint Commission to work with the IAEA to monitor implementation and address issues that may arise.  The Joint Commission will also work with the IAEA to facilitate resolution of past and present concerns with respect to Iran’s nuclear program, including the possible military dimension of Iran’s nuclear program and Iran’s activities at Parchin.

Limited, Temporary, Reversible Relief

In return for these steps, the P5+1 is to provide limited, temporary, targeted, and reversible relief while maintaining the vast bulk of our sanctions, including the oil, finance, and banking sanctions architecture.  If Iran fails to meet its commitments, we will revoke the relief.  Specifically the P5+1 has committed to:

·         Not impose new nuclear-related sanctions for six months, if Iran abides by its commitments under this deal, to the extent permissible within their political systems.

·         Suspend certain sanctions on gold and precious metals, Iran’s auto sector, and Iran’s petrochemical exports, potentially providing Iran approximately $1.5 billion in revenue.

·         License safety-related repairs and inspections inside Iran for certain Iranian airlines.

·         Allow purchases of Iranian oil to remain at their currently significantly reduced levels – levels that are 60% less than two years ago.  $4.2 billion from these sales will be allowed to be transferred in installments if, and as, Iran fulfills its commitments.

·         Allow $400 million in governmental tuition assistance to be transferred from restricted Iranian funds directly to recognized educational institutions in third countries to defray the tuition costs of Iranian students.

Humanitarian Transaction

Facilitate humanitarian transactions that are already allowed by U.S. law.  Humanitarian transactions have been explicitly exempted from sanctions by Congress so this channel will not provide Iran access to any new source of funds.  Humanitarian transactions are those related to Iran’s purchase of food, agricultural commodities, medicine, medical devices; we would also facilitate transactions for medical expenses incurred abroad.  We will establish this channel for the benefit of the Iranian people.

Putting Limited Relief in Perspective

In total, the approximately $7 billion in relief is a fraction of the costs that Iran will continue to incur during this first phase under the sanctions that will remain in place.  The vast majority of Iran’s approximately $100 billion in foreign exchange holdings are inaccessible or restricted by sanctions.

In the next six months, Iran’s crude oil sales cannot increase.  Oil sanctions alone will result in approximately $30 billion in lost revenues to Iran – or roughly $5 billion per month – compared to what Iran earned in a six month period in 2011, before these sanctions took effect.  While Iran will be allowed access to $4.2 billion of its oil sales, nearly $15 billion of its revenues during this period will go into restricted overseas accounts.  In summary, we expect the balance of Iran’s money in restricted accounts overseas will actually increase, not decrease, under the terms of this deal.

Maintaining Economic Pressure on Iran and Preserving Our Sanctions Architecture

During the first phase, we will continue to vigorously enforce our sanctions against Iran, including by taking action against those who seek to evade or circumvent our sanctions.

·         Sanctions affecting crude oil sales will continue to impose pressure on Iran’s government.  Working with our international partners, we have cut Iran’s oil sales from 2.5 million barrels per day (bpd) in early 2012 to 1 million bpd today, denying Iran the ability to sell almost 1.5 million bpd.  That’s a loss of more than $80 billion since the beginning of 2012 that Iran will never be able to recoup.  Under this first step, the EU crude oil ban will remain in effect and Iran will be held to approximately 1 million bpd in sales, resulting in continuing lost sales worth an additional $4 billion per month, every month, going forward.

·         Sanctions affecting petroleum product exports to Iran, which result in billions of dollars of lost revenue, will remain in effect.

·         The vast majority of Iran’s approximately $100 billion in foreign exchange holdings remain inaccessible or restricted by our sanctions.

·         Other significant parts of our sanctions regime remain intact, including:

o   Sanctions against the Central Bank of Iran and approximately two dozen other major Iranian banks and financial actors;

o   Secondary sanctions, pursuant to the Comprehensive Iran Sanctions, Accountability, and Divestment Act (CISADA) as amended and other laws, on banks that do business with U.S.-designated individuals and entities;

o   Sanctions on those who provide a broad range of other financial services to Iran, such as many types of insurance; and,

o   Restricted access to the U.S. financial system.

·         All sanctions on over 600 individuals and entities targeted for supporting Iran’s nuclear or ballistic missile program remain in effect.

·         Sanctions on several sectors of Iran’s economy, including shipping and shipbuilding, remain in effect.

·         Sanctions on long-term investment in and provision of technical services to Iran’s energy sector remain in effect.

·         Sanctions on Iran’s military program remain in effect.

·         Broad U.S. restrictions on trade with Iran remain in effect, depriving Iran of access to virtually all dealings with the world’s biggest economy

·         All UN Security Council sanctions remain in effect.

·         All of our targeted sanctions related to Iran’s state sponsorship of terrorism, its destabilizing role in the Syrian conflict, and its abysmal human rights record, among other concerns, remain in effect.

A Comprehensive Solution

During the six-month initial phase, the P5+1 will negotiate the contours of a comprehensive solution.  Thus far, the outline of the general parameters of the comprehensive solution envisions concrete steps to give the international community confidence that Iran’s nuclear activities will be exclusively peaceful.  With respect to this comprehensive resolution:  nothing is agreed to with respect to a comprehensive solution until everything is agreed to.  Over the next six months, we will determine whether there is a solution that gives us sufficient confidence that the Iranian program is peaceful.  If Iran cannot address our concerns, we are prepared to increase sanctions and pressure. 

Conclusion 

In sum, this first step achieves a great deal in its own right.  Without this phased agreement, Iran could start spinning thousands of additional centrifuges.  It could install and spin next-generation centrifuges that will reduce its breakout times.  It could fuel and commission the Arak heavy water reactor.  It could grow its stockpile of 20% enriched uranium to beyond the threshold for a bomb’s worth of uranium. Iran can do none of these things under the conditions of the first step understanding.

Furthermore, without this phased approach, the international sanctions coalition would begin to fray because Iran would make the case to the world that it was serious about a diplomatic solution and we were not.  We would be unable to bring partners along to do the crucial work of enforcing our sanctions.  With this first step, we stop and begin to roll back Iran’s program and give Iran a sharp choice:  fulfill its commitments and negotiate in good faith to a final deal, or the entire international community will respond with even more isolation and pressure.

The American people prefer a peaceful and enduring resolution that prevents Iran from obtaining a nuclear weapon and strengthens the global non-proliferation regime.  This solution has the potential to achieve that.  Through strong and principled diplomacy, the United States of America will do its part for greater peace, security, and cooperation among nations.

Full Text Obama Presidency November 23, 2013: President Barack Obama’s Statement on Iran Nuclear Weapons Interim Deal

POLITICAL TRANSCRIPTS

OBAMA PRESIDENCY & THE 113TH CONGRESS:

Statement By The President On First Step Agreement On Iran’s Nuclear Program

Source: WH, 11-23-13

THE PRESIDENT:  Good evening.  Today, the United States — together with our close allies and partners — took an important first step toward a comprehensive solution that addresses our concerns with the Islamic Republic of Iran’s nuclear program.

Since I took office, I’ve made clear my determination to prevent Iran from obtaining a nuclear weapon.  As I’ve said many times, my strong preference is to resolve this issue peacefully, and we’ve extended the hand of diplomacy.  Yet for many years, Iran has been unwilling to meet its obligations to the international community.  So my administration worked with Congress, the United Nations Security Council and countries around the world to impose unprecedented sanctions on the Iranian government.

These sanctions have had a substantial impact on the Iranian economy, and with the election of a new Iranian President earlier this year, an opening for diplomacy emerged.  I spoke personally with President Rouhani of Iran earlier this fall.  Secretary Kerry has met multiple times with Iran’s Foreign Minister.  And we have pursued intensive diplomacy — bilaterally with the Iranians, and together with our P5-plus-1 partners — the United Kingdom, France, Germany, Russia, and China, as well as the European Union.

Today, that diplomacy opened up a new path toward a world that is more secure — a future in which we can verify that Iran’s nuclear program is peaceful and that it cannot build a nuclear weapon.

While today’s announcement is just a first step, it achieves a great deal.  For the first time in nearly a decade, we have halted the progress of the Iranian nuclear program, and key parts of the program will be rolled back.  Iran has committed to halting certain levels of enrichment and neutralizing part of its stockpiles.  Iran cannot use its next-generation centrifuges, which are used for enriching uranium.  Iran cannot install or start up new centrifuges, and its production of centrifuges will be limited.  Iran will halt work at its plutonium reactor.  And new inspections will provide extensive access to Iran’s nuclear facilities and allow the international community to verify whether Iran is keeping its commitments.

These are substantial limitations which will help prevent Iran from building a nuclear weapon.  Simply put, they cut off Iran’s most likely paths to a bomb.  Meanwhile, this first step will create time and space over the next six months for more negotiations to fully address our comprehensive concerns about the Iranian program.  And because of this agreement, Iran cannot use negotiations as cover to advance its program.

On our side, the United States and our friends and allies have agreed to provide Iran with modest relief, while continuing to apply our toughest sanctions.  We will refrain from imposing new sanctions, and we will allow the Iranian government access to a portion of the revenue that they have been denied through sanctions.  But the broader architecture of sanctions will remain in place and we will continue to enforce them vigorously.  And if Iran does not fully meet its commitments during this six-month phase, we will turn off the relief and ratchet up the pressure.

Over the next six months, we will work to negotiate a comprehensive solution.  We approach these negotiations with a basic understanding:  Iran, like any nation, should be able to access peaceful nuclear energy.  But because of its record of violating its obligations, Iran must accept strict limitations on its nuclear program that make it impossible to develop a nuclear weapon.

In these negotiations, nothing will be agreed to unless everything is agreed to.  The burden is on Iran to prove to the world that its nuclear program will be exclusively for peaceful purposes.

If Iran seizes this opportunity, the Iranian people will benefit from rejoining the international community, and we can begin to chip away at the mistrust between our two nations.  This would provide Iran with a dignified path to forge a new beginning with the wider world based on mutual respect.  If, on the other hand, Iran refuses, it will face growing pressure and isolation.

Over the last few years, Congress has been a key partner in imposing sanctions on the Iranian government, and that bipartisan effort made possible the progress that was achieved today.  Going forward, we will continue to work closely with Congress.  However, now is not the time to move forward on new sanctions -– because doing so would derail this promising first step, alienate us from our allies and risk unraveling the coalition that enabled our sanctions to be enforced in the first place.

That international unity is on display today.  The world is united in support of our determination to prevent Iran from developing a nuclear weapon.  Iran must know that security and prosperity will never come through the pursuit of nuclear weapons — it must be reached through fully verifiable agreements that make Iran’s pursuit of nuclear weapons impossible.

As we go forward, the resolve of the United States will remain firm, as will our commitments to our friends and allies –- particularly Israel and our Gulf partners, who have good reason to be skeptical about Iran’s intentions.

Ultimately, only diplomacy can bring about a durable solution to the challenge posed by Iran’s nuclear program.  As President and Commander-in-Chief, I will do what is necessary to prevent Iran from obtaining a nuclear weapon.  But I have a profound responsibility to try to resolve our differences peacefully, rather than rush towards conflict.  Today, we have a real opportunity to achieve a comprehensive, peaceful settlement, and I believe we must test it.

The first step that we’ve taken today marks the most significant and tangible progress that we’ve made with Iran since I took office.  And now we must use the months ahead to pursue a lasting and comprehensive settlement that would resolve an issue that has threatened our security — and the security of our allies — for decades.  It won’t be easy, and huge challenges remain ahead.  But through strong and principled diplomacy, the United States of America will do our part on behalf of a world of greater peace, security, and cooperation among nations.

Thank you very much.

Political Musings September 29, 2013: Obama is first US president in 34 years to speak to an Iranian leader

POLITICAL MUSINGS

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OBAMA PRESIDENCY & THE 113TH CONGRESS:

OP-EDS & ARTICLES

Obama is first US president in 34 years to speak to an Iranian leader (Video)

By Bonnie K. Goodman

This past week for the first time in 34 years the United States and Iran took the first steps towards the resumption of some sort of thaw in diplomatic relations, with the ultimate step being President Barack Obama’s…READ MORE

Full Text Obama Presidency June 19, 2013: President Barack Obama’s Speech to the People of Berlin from the Brandenburg Gate

POLITICAL TRANSCRIPTS

OBAMA PRESIDENCY & THE 113TH CONGRESS:

President Obama Speaks to the People of Berlin from the Brandenburg Gate

Source: WH, 6-19-14

President Barack Obama delivers remarks at the Brandenburg Gate in Berlin

President Barack Obama delivers remarks at the Brandenburg Gate in Berlin, Germany, June 19, 2013. (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)

But two decades later, this work is not yet done, President Obama said. “Today’s threats are not as stark as they were half a century ago, but the struggle for freedom and security and human dignity — that struggle goes on.”…READ MORE

Remarks by President Obama at the Brandenburg Gate — Berlin, Germany

Source: WH, 6-19-13

Pariser Platz, Brandenburg Gate
Berlin, Germany

3:29 P.M. CEST

PRESIDENT OBAMA:  Hello, Berlin!  (Applause.)  Thank you, Chancellor Merkel, for your leadership, your friendship, and the example of your life — from a child of the East to the leader of a free and united Germany.

As I’ve said, Angela and I don’t exactly look like previous German and American leaders.  But the fact that we can stand here today, along the fault line where a city was divided, speaks to an eternal truth:  No wall can stand against the yearning of justice, the yearnings for freedom, the yearnings for peace that burns in the human heart.  (Applause.)

Mayor Wowereit, distinguished guests, and especially the people of Berlin and of Germany — thank you for this extraordinarily warm welcome.  In fact, it’s so warm and I feel so good that I’m actually going to take off my jacket, and anybody else who wants to, feel free to.  (Applause.)  We can be a little more informal among friends.  (Applause.)

As your Chancellor mentioned, five years ago I had the privilege to address this city as senator.  Today, I’m proud to return as President of the United States.  (Applause.)  And I bring with me the enduring friendship of the American people, as well as my wife, Michelle, and Malia and Sasha.  (Applause.)  You may notice that they’re not here.  The last thing they want to do is to listen to another speech from me.  (Laughter.)  So they’re out experiencing the beauty and the history of Berlin.  And this history speaks to us today.

Here, for thousands of years, the people of this land have journeyed from tribe to principality to nation-state; through Reformation and Enlightenment, renowned as a “land of poets and thinkers,” among them Immanuel Kant, who taught us that freedom is the “unoriginated birthright of man, and it belongs to him by force of his humanity.”

Here, for two centuries, this gate stood tall as the world around it convulsed — through the rise and fall of empires; through revolutions and republics; art and music and science that reflected the height of human endeavor, but also war and carnage that exposed the depths of man’s cruelty to man.

It was here that Berliners carved out an island of democracy against the greatest of odds.  As has already been mentioned, they were supported by an airlift of hope, and we are so honored to be joined by Colonel Halvorsen, 92 years old — the original “candy bomber.”  We could not be prouder of him.  (Applause.)  I hope I look that good, by the way, when I’m 92.  (Laughter.)

During that time, a Marshall Plan seeded a miracle, and a North Atlantic Alliance protected our people.  And those in the neighborhoods and nations to the East drew strength from the knowledge that freedom was possible here, in Berlin — that the waves of crackdowns and suppressions might therefore someday be overcome.

Today, 60 years after they rose up against oppression, we remember the East German heroes of June 17th.  When the wall finally came down, it was their dreams that were fulfilled.  Their strength and their passion, their enduring example remind us that for all the power of militaries, for all the authority of governments, it is citizens who choose whether to be defined by a wall, or whether to tear it down.  (Applause.)

And we’re now surrounded by the symbols of a Germany reborn.  A rebuilt Reichstag and its glistening glass dome.  An American embassy back at its historic home on Pariser Platz.  (Applause.)  And this square itself, once a desolate no man’s land, is now open to all.  So while I am not the first American President to come to this gate, I am proud to stand on its Eastern side to pay tribute to the past.  (Applause.)

For throughout all this history, the fate of this city came down to a simple question:  Will we live free or in chains?  Under governments that uphold our universal rights, or regimes that suppress them?  In open societies that respect the sanctity of the individual and our free will, or in closed societies that suffocate the soul?

As free peoples, we stated our convictions long ago. As Americans, we believe that “all men are created equal” with the right to life and liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.  And as Germans, you declared in your Basic Law that “the dignity of man is inviolable.”  (Applause.)  Around the world, nations have pledged themselves to a Universal Declaration of Human Rights, which recognizes the inherent dignity and rights of all members of our human family.

And this is what was at stake here in Berlin all those years.  And because courageous crowds climbed atop that wall, because corrupt dictatorships gave way to new democracies, because millions across this continent now breathe the fresh air of freedom, we can say, here in Berlin, here in Europe — our values won.  Openness won.  Tolerance won.  And freedom won here in Berlin.  (Applause.)

And yet, more than two decades after that triumph, we must acknowledge that there can, at times, be a complacency among our Western democracies.  Today, people often come together in places like this to remember history — not to make it.  After all, we face no concrete walls, no barbed wire.  There are no tanks poised across a border.  There are no visits to fallout shelters.  And so sometimes there can be a sense that the great challenges have somehow passed.  And that brings with it a temptation to turn inward — to think of our own pursuits, and not the sweep of history; to believe that we’ve settled history’s accounts, that we can simply enjoy the fruits won by our forebears.

But I come here today, Berlin, to say complacency is not the character of great nations.  Today’s threats are not as stark as they were half a century ago, but the struggle for freedom and security and human dignity — that struggle goes on.  And I’ve come here, to this city of hope, because the tests of our time demand the same fighting spirit that defined Berlin a half-century ago.

Chancellor Merkel mentioned that we mark the anniversary of President John F. Kennedy’s stirring defense of freedom, embodied in the people of this great city.  His pledge of solidarity — “Ich bin ein Berliner” — (applause) — echoes through the ages.  But that’s not all that he said that day.  Less remembered is the challenge that he issued to the crowd before him:  “Let me ask you,” he said to those Berliners, “let me ask you to lift your eyes beyond the dangers of today” and “beyond the freedom of merely this city.”  Look, he said, “to the day of peace with justice, beyond yourselves and ourselves to all mankind.”

President Kennedy was taken from us less than six months after he spoke those words.  And like so many who died in those decades of division, he did not live to see Berlin united and free.  Instead, he lives forever as a young man in our memory.  But his words are timeless because they call upon us to care more about things than just our own self-comfort, about our own city, about our own country.  They demand that we embrace the common endeavor of all humanity.

And if we lift our eyes, as President Kennedy called us to do, then we’ll recognize that our work is not yet done.  For we are not only citizens of America or Germany — we are also citizens of the world.  And our fates and fortunes are linked like never before.

We may no longer live in fear of global annihilation, but so long as nuclear weapons exist, we are not truly safe.  (Applause.)  We may strike blows against terrorist networks, but if we ignore the instability and intolerance that fuels extremism, our own freedom will eventually be endangered.  We may enjoy a standard of living that is the envy of the world, but so long as hundreds of millions endure the agony of an empty stomach or the anguish of unemployment, we’re not truly prosperous.  (Applause.)

I say all this here, in the heart of Europe, because our shared past shows that none of these challenges can be met unless we see ourselves as part of something bigger than our own experience.  Our alliance is the foundation of global security.  Our trade and our commerce is the engine of our global economy.  Our values call upon us to care about the lives of people we will never meet.  When Europe and America lead with our hopes instead of our fears, we do things that no other nations can do, no other nations will do.  So we have to lift up our eyes today and consider the day of peace with justice that our generation wants for this world.

I’d suggest that peace with justice begins with the example we set here at home, for we know from our own histories that intolerance breeds injustice.  Whether it’s based on race, or religion, gender or sexual orientation, we are stronger when all our people — no matter who they are or what they look like — are granted opportunity, and when our wives and our daughters have the same opportunities as our husbands and our sons.  (Applause.)

When we respect the faiths practiced in our churches and synagogues, our mosques and our temples, we’re more secure.  When we welcome the immigrant with his talents or her dreams, we are renewed.  (Applause.)  When we stand up for our gay and lesbian brothers and sisters and treat their love and their rights equally under the law, we defend our own liberty as well.  We are more free when all people can pursue their own happiness.  (Applause.)  And as long as walls exist in our hearts to separate us from those who don’t look like us, or think like us, or worship as we do, then we’re going to have to work harder, together, to bring those walls of division down.

Peace with justice means free enterprise that unleashes the talents and creativity that reside in each of us; in other models, direct economic growth from the top down or relies solely on the resources extracted from the earth.  But we believe that real prosperity comes from our most precious resource — our people.  And that’s why we choose to invest in education, and science and research.  (Applause.)

And now, as we emerge from recession, we must not avert our eyes from the insult of widening inequality, or the pain of youth who are unemployed.  We have to build new ladders of opportunity in our own societies that — even as we pursue new trade and investment that fuels growth across the Atlantic.

America will stand with Europe as you strengthen your union.  And we want to work with you to make sure that every person can enjoy the dignity that comes from work — whether they live in Chicago or Cleveland or Belfast or Berlin, in Athens or Madrid, everybody deserves opportunity.  We have to have economies that are working for all people, not just those at the very top.  (Applause.)

Peace with justice means extending a hand to those who reach for freedom, wherever they live.  Different peoples and cultures will follow their own path, but we must reject the lie that those who live in distant places don’t yearn for freedom and self-determination just like we do; that they don’t somehow yearn for dignity and rule of law just like we do.  We cannot dictate the pace of change in places like the Arab world, but we must reject the excuse that we can do nothing to support it.  (Applause.)

We cannot shrink from our role of advancing the values we believe in — whether it’s supporting Afghans as they take responsibility for their future, or working for an Israeli-Palestinian peace — (applause) — or engaging as we’ve done in Burma to help create space for brave people to emerge from decades of dictatorship.  In this century, these are the citizens who long to join the free world.  They are who you were.  They deserve our support, for they too, in their own way, are citizens of Berlin.  And we have to help them every day.  (Applause.)

Peace with justice means pursuing the security of a world without nuclear weapons — no matter how distant that dream may be.  And so, as President, I’ve strengthened our efforts to stop the spread of nuclear weapons, and reduced the number and role of America’s nuclear weapons.  Because of the New START Treaty, we’re on track to cut American and Russian deployed nuclear warheads to their lowest levels since the 1950s.  (Applause.)

But we have more work to do.  So today, I’m announcing additional steps forward.  After a comprehensive review, I’ve determined that we can ensure the security of America and our allies, and maintain a strong and credible strategic deterrent, while reducing our deployed strategic nuclear weapons by up to one-third.  And I intend to seek negotiated cuts with Russia to move beyond Cold War nuclear postures.  (Applause.)

At the same time, we’ll work with our NATO allies to seek bold reductions in U.S. and Russian tactical weapons in Europe.  And we can forge a new international framework for peaceful nuclear power, and reject the nuclear weaponization that North Korea and Iran may be seeking.

America will host a summit in 2016 to continue our efforts to secure nuclear materials around the world, and we will work to build support in the United States to ratify the Comprehensive Nuclear Test Ban Treaty, and call on all nations to begin negotiations on a treaty that ends the production of fissile materials for nuclear weapons.  These are steps we can take to create a world of peace with justice.  (Applause.)

Peace with justice means refusing to condemn our children to a harsher, less hospitable planet.  The effort to slow climate change requires bold action.  And on this, Germany and Europe have led.

In the United States, we have recently doubled our renewable energy from clean sources like wind and solar power.  We’re doubling fuel efficiency on our cars.  Our dangerous carbon emissions have come down.  But we know we have to do more — and we will do more.  (Applause.)

With a global middle class consuming more energy every day, this must now be an effort of all nations, not just some.  For the grim alternative affects all nations — more severe storms, more famine and floods, new waves of refugees, coastlines that vanish, oceans that rise.  This is the future we must avert.  This is the global threat of our time.  And for the sake of future generations, our generation must move toward a global compact to confront a changing climate before it is too late.  That is our job.  That is our task.  We have to get to work.  (Applause.)

Peace with justice means meeting our moral obligations.  And we have a moral obligation and a profound interest in helping lift the impoverished corners of the world.  By promoting growth so we spare a child born today a lifetime of extreme poverty.  By investing in agriculture, so we aren’t just sending food, but also teaching farmers to grow food.  By strengthening public health, so we’re not just sending medicine, but training doctors and nurses who will help end the outrage of children dying from preventable diseases.  Making sure that we do everything we can to realize the promise — an achievable promise — of the first AIDS-free generation.  That is something that is possible if we feel a sufficient sense of urgency.  (Applause.)

Our efforts have to be about more than just charity.  They’re about new models of empowering people — to build institutions; to abandon the rot of corruption; to create ties of trade, not just aid, both with the West and among the nations they’re seeking to rise and increase their capacity.  Because when they succeed, we will be more successful as well.  Our fates are linked, and we cannot ignore those who are yearning not only for freedom but also prosperity.

And finally, let’s remember that peace with justice depends on our ability to sustain both the security of our societies and the openness that defines them.  Threats to freedom don’t merely come from the outside.  They can emerge from within — from our own fears, from the disengagement of our citizens.

For over a decade, America has been at war.  Yet much has now changed over the five years since I last spoke here in Berlin.  The Iraq war is now over.  The Afghan war is coming to an end.  Osama bin Laden is no more.  Our efforts against al Qaeda are evolving.

And given these changes, last month, I spoke about America’s efforts against terrorism.  And I drew inspiration from one of our founding fathers, James Madison, who wrote, “No nation could preserve its freedom in the midst of continual warfare.”  James Madison is right — which is why, even as we remain vigilant about the threat of terrorism, we must move beyond a mindset of perpetual war.  And in America, that means redoubling our efforts to close the prison at Guantanamo.  (Applause.)  It means tightly controlling our use of new technologies like drones.  It means balancing the pursuit of security with the protection of privacy. (Applause.)

And I’m confident that that balance can be struck.  I’m confident of that, and I’m confident that working with Germany, we can keep each other safe while at the same time maintaining those essential values for which we fought for.

Our current programs are bound by the rule of law, and they’re focused on threats to our security — not the communications of ordinary persons.  They help confront real dangers, and they keep people safe here in the United States and here in Europe.  But we must accept the challenge that all of us in democratic governments face:  to listen to the voices who disagree with us; to have an open debate about how we use our powers and how we must constrain them; and to always remember that government exists to serve the power of the individual, and not the other way around.  That’s what makes us who we are, and that’s what makes us different from those on the other side of the wall.  (Applause.)

That is how we’ll stay true to our better history while reaching for the day of peace and justice that is to come.  These are the beliefs that guide us, the values that inspire us, the principles that bind us together as free peoples who still believe the words of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. — that “injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.”  (Applause.)

And we should ask, should anyone ask if our generation has the courage to meet these tests?  If anybody asks if President Kennedy’s words ring true today, let them come to Berlin, for here they will find the people who emerged from the ruins of war to reap the blessings of peace; from the pain of division to the joy of reunification.  And here, they will recall how people trapped behind a wall braved bullets, and jumped barbed wire, and dashed across minefields, and dug through tunnels, and leapt from buildings, and swam across the Spree to claim their most basic right of freedom.  (Applause.)

The wall belongs to history.  But we have history to make as well.  And the heroes that came before us now call to us to live up to those highest ideals — to care for the young people who can’t find a job in our own countries, and the girls who aren’t allowed to go to school overseas; to be vigilant in safeguarding our own freedoms, but also to extend a hand to those who are reaching for freedom abroad.

This is the lesson of the ages.  This is the spirit of Berlin.  And the greatest tribute that we can pay to those who came before us is by carrying on their work to pursue peace and justice not only in our countries but for all mankind.

Vielen Dank.  (Applause.)  God bless you.  God bless the peoples of Germany.  And God bless the United States of America.  Thank you very much.  (Applause.)

END
3:58 P.M. CEST

Political Headlines March 20, 2013: In Israel, President Barack Obama Vows to Prevent Nuclear Iran

POLITICAL HEADLINES

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OBAMA PRESIDENCY & THE 113TH CONGRESS:

THE HEADLINES….

In Israel, Obama Vows to Prevent Nuclear Iran

Source: ABC News Radio, 3-20-13

Lior Mizrahi/Getty Images

Seeking to reassure the United States’ primary ally in the Middle East, President Obama Wednesday told Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu that his administration remains committed to doing “what is necessary” to prevent Iran from obtaining a nuclear weapon.

“We do not have a policy of containment when it comes to a nuclear Iran. Our policy is to prevent Iran from acquiring a nuclear weapon,” Obama told reporters at a joint press conference after a series of closed-door meetings with Israeli leaders….READ MORE

Full Text Campaign Buzz September 27, 2012: Mitt Romney’s Statement on Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s Speech at the United Nations — I Stand With Prime Minister Netanyahu

CAMPAIGN 2012

CAMPAIGN BUZZ 2012

THE HEADLINES….

Mitt Romney: I Stand With Prime Minister Netanyahu

Source: Mitt Romney Press, 9-27-12

Mitt Romney today released the following statement on Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s speech at the United Nations:

“I join in Prime Minister Netanyahu’s call for a Middle East of progress and peace. And I join his urgent call to prevent the gravest threat to that vision—a nuclear-armed Iran.  I, like the rest of the American people, applaud the bravery of the people of Israel and stand with them in these dangerous times. The designs of the Iranian regime are a threat to America, Israel, and our friends and allies around the world.”

Full Text Political Headlines September 16, 2012: Israeli PM Benjamin Netanyahu on NBC’s Meet the Press Says Iran Is ’20 Yards’ From Nuclear Bomb

POLITICAL HEADLINES

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OBAMA PRESIDENCY & THE 112TH CONGRESS:

THE HEADLINES….

September 16: Benjamin Netanyahu, Susan Rice, Keith Ellison, Peter King, Bob Woodward, Jeffrey Goldberg, Andrea Mitchell

Source: MSNBC, 9-16-12

MR. DAVID GREGORY:  This morning, a special hour of MEET THE PRESS.  Turmoil in the Middle East creates a flashpoint on the campaign trail.  Set off by an American anti-Islamic video, rage against the U.S. sweeps the Arab world.  And an attack on the U.S. Consulate in Libya kills ambassador Chris Stephens and three others.

(Videotape)

HILLARY CLINTON:  The people of Egypt, Libya, Yemen and Tunisia did not trade the tyranny of a dictator for the tyranny of a mob.

(End videotape)

GREGORY:  But in this highly-charged campaign environment new questions about how the Obama administration should respond enter the political debate.

(Videotape)

MR. MITT ROMNEY:  The administration was wrong to stand by statements sympathizing with those who had breached our embassy in Egypt instead of condemning their actions.

(End videotape)

GREGORY:  This morning we’ll talk to a key member of the president’s foreign policy team–the U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, Susan Rice.

Also, this morning, an exclusive network interview with a key player in the Middle East–the prime minister of Israel, Benjamin Netanyahu.  Has relations between his country and the U.S. have at a new low over the looming nuclear threat from Iran?

(Videotape)

BENJAMIN NETANYAHU:  Those in the international community that refuse to put red lines before Iran don’t have a moral right to place a red light before Israel.

(End videotape)

GREGORY:  Sorting out U.S. options in the Middle East, consequences for the region, and the political impact in November–our political roundtable.  Joining us, the first Muslim elected to the U.S. Congress, Democratic Representative from Minnesota Keith Ellison; the chairman of the Homeland Security Committee, New York Republican congressman Peter King; Author of the new book, The Price of Politics, The Washington Post’s Bob Woodward; the Atlantic’s Jeffrey Goldberg; and NBC’s chief foreign affairs correspondent Andrea Mitchell.

Announcer:  From NBC News in Washington, MEET THE PRESS with David Gregory.

GREGORY:  And good morning.  Relative calm this morning in the Middle East after several days of intense anti-American protests raged across many parts of the Islamic world.  But word this morning that the Obama administration has ordered the evacuation of all but emergency personnel from diplomatic missions in Tunisia and Sudan.  And defense secretary Leon Panetta saying this morning, the Pentagon has deployed forces to several areas in an increased effort to protect U.S. personnel and property from the potential of violent protests, the latest consequences, of course, of this troubling unrest.  Joining me now for the very latest, the U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, Susan Rice.  Ambassador Rice, welcome back to MEET THE PRESS.

MS. SUSAN RICE (U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations):  Thank you, good to be here.

GREGORY:  The images as you well know are jarring to Americans watching all of this play out this week, and we’ll share the map of all of this turmoil with our viewers to show the scale of it across not just the Arab world, but the entire Islamic world and flashpoints as well.  In Egypt, of course, the protests outside the U.S. embassy there that Egyptian officials were slow to put down.  This weekend in Pakistan, protests as well there.  More anti-American rage.  Also protests against the drone strikes.  In Yemen, you also had arrests and some deaths outside of our U.S. embassy there.  How much longer can Americans expect to see these troubling images and these protests go forward?

MS. RICE:  Well, David, we can’t predict with any certainty.  But let’s remember what has transpired over the last several days.  This is a response to a hateful and offensive video that was widely disseminated throughout the Arab and Muslim world.  Obviously, our view is that there is absolutely no excuse for violence and that– what has happened is condemnable, but this is a– a spontaneous reaction to a video, and it’s not dissimilar but, perhaps, on a slightly larger scale than what we have seen in the past with The Satanic Verses with the cartoons of the Prophet Muhammad.  Now, the United States has made very clear and the president has been very plain that our top priority is the protection of American personnel in our facilities and bringing to justice those who…

GREGORY:  All right.

MS. RICE:  …attacked our facility in Benghazi.

GREGORY:  Well, let’s talk– talk about– well, you talked about this as spontaneous.  Can you say definitively that the attacks on– on our consulate in Libya that killed ambassador Stevens and others there security personnel, that was spontaneous, was it a planned attack?  Was there a terrorist element to it?

MS. RICE:  Well, let us– let me tell you the– the best information we have at present.  First of all, there’s an FBI investigation which is ongoing.  And we look to that investigation to give us the definitive word as to what transpired.  But putting together the best information that we have available to us today our current assessment is that what happened in Benghazi was in fact initially a spontaneous reaction to what had just transpired hours before in Cairo, almost a copycat of– of the demonstrations against our facility in Cairo, which were prompted, of course, by the video.  What we think then transpired in Benghazi is that opportunistic extremist elements came to the consulate as this was unfolding.  They came with heavy weapons which unfortunately are readily available in post revolutionary Libya.  And it escalated into a much more violent episode.  Obviously, that’s– that’s our best judgment now.  We’ll await the results of the investigation.  And the president has been very clear–we’ll work with the Libyan authorities to bring those responsible to justice.

GREGORY:  Was there a failure here that this administration is responsible for, whether it’s an intelligence failure, a failure to see this coming, or a failure to adequately protect U.S. embassies and installations from a spontaneous kind of reaction like this?

MS. RICE:  David, I don’t think so.  First of all we had no actionable intelligence to suggest that– that any attack on our facility in Benghazi was imminent.  In Cairo, we did have indications that there was the risk that the video might spark some– some protests and our embassy, in fact, acted accordingly, and had called upon the Egyptian authorities to– to reinforce our facility.  What we have seen as– with respect to the security response, obviously we had security personnel in Benghazi, a– a significant number, and tragically, among those four that were killed were two of our security personnel.  But what happened, obviously, overwhelmed the security we had in place which is why the president ordered additional reinforcements to Tripoli and– and why elsewhere in the world we have been working with governments to ensure they take up their obligations to protect us and we reinforce where necessary.

GREGORY:  The president and the secretary of state have talked about a mob mentality.  That’s my words, not their words, but they talked about the– the tyranny of mobs operating in this part of the world.  Here’s the reality, if you look at foreign aid–U.S. direct foreign aid to the two countries involved here, in Libya and Egypt, this is what you’d see: two hundred million since 2011 to Libya, over a billion a year to Egypt and yet Americans are seeing these kinds of protests and attacks on our own diplomats.  Would– what do you say to members of congress who are now weighing whether to suspend our aid to these countries if this is the response that America gets?

MS. RICE:  Well, first of all, David, let’s put this in perspective.  As I said, this is a response to a– a very offensive video.  It’s not the first time that American facilities have come under attack in the Middle East, going back to 1982 in– in Beirut, going back to the Khobar Towers in– in Saudi Arabia, or even the attack on our embassy in 2008 in Yemen.

GREGORY:  Or Iran in 1979.

MS. RICE:  This has– this has happened in the past, but there– and so I don’t think that– that we should misunderstand what this is.  The reason we provide aid in Egypt and in Libya is because it serves American interests because the relationships…

GREGORY:  But– but our Americans are not being served if this is the response.

MS. RICE:  It serves our interests to have Egypt willing and able to– to maintain its peace treaty with Israel, it servers our interest for Egypt to continue to be a strong partner.  Now, let’s be clear, the government, once President Obama called President Morsi, immediately in Egypt the security forces came out and have provided very significant protection.  Same in Tunisia, same in Libya, same in Yemen.  And all of these leaders have very forcefully conveyed their condemnation of what has transpired.

GREGORY:  But there were conflicting messages from the Morsi government.  In Arabic they encourage protests, in English they said stop the protests.  This from an ally that we give over a billion dollars?

MS. RICE:  What has happened in fact is that the Egyptian government has come out and protected our facilities.  Our embassy is open today, things are calm.  And Morsi has repeatedly been clear in his condemnation of– of what has occurred.  We– we are in these partnerships, David, over the long-term.  We think that– that– despite this very bumpy path we’re on and the very disturbing images we’ve seen, it’s in the United States fundamental interest that people have the ability to choose their own governments, that the governments be democratic and free.  That’s in our long-term best interest.

GREGORY:  You know that this…

MS. RICE:  We need to reinforce that with our assistance.

GREGORY:  We are in the middle of a heated presidential campaign, there are different foreign policy visions.  That’s why we wanted to dedicate the hour to this today to really understand these different views.  Mitt Romney spoke out this week, he criticized the administration, talked about whether the United States was apologizing for some of the initial response to this.  These were his comments this week.

(Videotape; Wednesday)

MR. MITT ROMNEY:  The administration was wrong to stand by a statement sympathizing with those who had breached our embassy in Egypt instead of condemning their actions.  I think it’s a– a– a terrible course to– for America to– to stand in apology for our values.

(End videotape)

GREGORY:  Our embassies did not stand up for speech– free speech in this initial response to this violence.  And the Republican charge is that it’s weakness on the part of this administration that invites this kind of chaos, that the administration has not been tough enough on radical extremists that are beginning to take root in these countries.  How do you respond to that?

MS. RICE:  First of all, I think the American people and certainly our diplomats and– and development experts who are putting their lives on the line around the world every day expect from our leadership unity in times of challenge and strong, steady, steadfast leadership of the sort that President Obama has been providing.  With respect to this, I think, vacuous charge of weakness, let’s– lets recall, I think, the American people fully understand that this is an administration led by a president who said when he ran for office that he would take the fight to al Qaeda.  We have decimated al Qaeda.  Osama bin Laden is dead.  He said we would end the war responsibly in Iraq.  We’ve done that.  He has restored relationships around the world.  I spend every day up at the United Nations where I have to interact with 192 other countries.  I know how well the United States is viewed.  I know that our standing is much improved and it’s translated into important support for strong American positions, for example with sanctions against Iran.

GREGORY:  Was it inappropriate for Governor Romney to level the criticism he leveled?

MS. RICE:  I’m not going to get into politics, David.  That’s not my role in this job.  But I think the American people welcome and appreciate strong, steady, unified leadership, bipartisan in times of challenge.  And for those men and women in our diplomatic service, including those we tragically lost, they look to our leadership to be unified and responsible.

GREGORY:  Let’s talk about another area where the administration is on the defensive in terms of leadership in the world, and that is the nuclear threat from Iran.  Another area of tension between the United States and Israel.  In just a couple of minutes we will show our interview with the prime minister of Israel, Benjamin Netanyahu.  And our viewers will see that.  One aspect is how close Iran is getting to becoming a nuclear power.  I asked him about that.  I want to show you a piece of the interview and get your reaction to it.

(Videotape)

PRIME MINISTER BENJAMIN NETANYAHU (Prime Minister of Israel):  I can tell you, David, that Iran has been placed with some clear red lines on a few matters, and they have avoided crossing them.  So I think that as they get closer and closer and closer to the achievement of the weapons-grade material, and they’re very close, they’re six months away from being about 90 percent of having the enriched uranium for an atom bomb, I think that you have to place that red line before them now, before it’s– it’s too late.

GREGORY:  As the prime minister of Israel, has Iran crossed your red line?

MR. NETANYAHU:  Well, the way I would say it, David, is they are in the red zone.  You know, they are in the last 20 yards.  And you can’t let them cross that goal line.  You can’t let them score a touchdown, because that would have unbelievable consequences, grievous consequences, for the peace and security of us all– of the world really.

(End videotape)

GREGORY:  What is President Obama’s line in the sand, the point at which he says to Iran don’t cross this with your nuclear program or there’s going to be a military consequence?

MS. RICE:  David, the president has been very, very clear.  Our bottom line, if you want to call it a red line, president’s bottom line has been that Iran will not acquire a nuclear weapon and we will take no option off the table to ensure that it does not acquire a nuclear weapon, including the military option.

GREGORY:  The prime minister says…

MS. RICE:  But…

GREGORY:  …they are acquiring.

MS. RICE:  …he’s talking about a– a red zone which is a new concept…

GREGORY:  No, no, but he’s talking about how close they are to actually becoming a nuclear power–having to develop a capacity to become a nuclear power.

MS. RICE:  They’re not there yet.  They are not there yet.  And our assessment is, and– and we share this regularly with our Israeli counterparts in the intelligence and defense community, that there is time and space for the pressure we are mounting, which is unprecedented in terms of sanctions, to still yield results.  This is not imminent.  The window is not infinite, but let’s be clear–the sanctions that– that are now in place reached their high point in July.  The– the Iranian economy is suffering.  It’s shrinking for the first time.  Negative one percent growth.  The amount of production of Iranian oil has dropped 40 percent over the last several months.  Their currency has plummeted 40 percent over the last several months.  This pressure is even to use the Iranian’s own words crippling.

GREGORY:  But can you say…

MS. RICE:  And we think…

GREGORY:  …that President Obama’s strategy to keep Iran from acquiring a nuclear weapon almost at the end of his first term is succeeding or failing?

MS. RICE:  David, what is clear is Iran does not have a nuclear weapon.  And that Iran is more isolated than ever internationally.  The economic pressure it is facing is much greater than ever.  When President Obama came to office the international community was divided about Iran.  And Iran was internally very united.  The exact opposite is the case today.  The international community is united.  We just had another strong resolution out of the IAEA Board of Governors.  And the internal dynamics in Iran are– are fracturing and the leadership is divided.  We are committed and President Obama is committed to preventing Iran from acquiring a nuclear weapon.  It is not a policy of containment.  But, David, the most difficult and profound decision that any president has to make is the decision to go to war.  And this president is committed to exhausting pressure, economic pressure, and diplomacy while there is– is still time before making a decision of such consequence.

GREGORY:  Ambassador Rice, the debate continues.  Thank you very much…

MS. RICE:  Thank you.

GREGORY: …for your views this morning.

Now to this looming nuclear threat from Iran from the Israeli perspective.  There were new tensions between the Obama administration in Israel this week.  Earlier, I spoke with the prime minister of Israel Benjamin Netanyahu about where things stand and whether he is trying to influence the outcome of our presidential campaign.

Prime Minister, welcome back to MEET THE PRESS.

PRIME MINISTER NETANYAHU:  Thank you.  Good to be with you, David.

GREGORY:  I want to talk specifically before we get to the questions of what’s happening more broadly in the Middle East and the turmoil there this week about the threat from Iran.  You spoke about that this week, and this question of whether Israel has to take matters into its own hands.  And you launched pretty pointed criticism at the United States.  I want to play a portion of what you said.

(Videotape; Monday)

PRIME MINISTER BENJAMIN NETANYAHU:  The world tells Israel, wait.  There’s still time.  And I say, wait for what?  Wait until when?  Those in the international community who refuse to put red lines before Iran don’t have a moral right to place a red light before Israel.

(End videotape)

GREGORY:  Prime Minister, I want to understand very clearly what your views are.  Is it your view that the Obama administration is either unwilling or unable to stop Iran from becoming a nuclear power?

PRIME MINISTER NETANYAHU:  Now first of all, President Obama and the U.S. administration have repeatedly said that Israel has the right to act by itself against any threat to defend itself.  And I think that that remains our position.  And for me, the issue is– as the prime minister of a country that is threatened with annihilation by a regime that is racing a brutal regime in Tehran that is racing to develop nuclear bombs for that and, obviously, we– we cannot delegate the job of stopping Iran if all else fails to someone else.  That was the main point that I was saying there.  It was directed at the general international community.  A lot of leaders calling me telling me don’t do it, it’s not necessary.  You know, the danger of acting is much greater than not acting.  And I always say the danger of not acting in time is much greater because Iran with nuclear weapons would mean that the kind of fanaticism that you see storming your embassies would have a nuclear weapon.  Don’t let these fanatics have nuclear weapons.

GREGORY:  But Prime Minister, let’s be clear.  You were upset with this administration.  The Secretary of State Hillary Clinton had said in an interview that there were no deadlines by this administration in terms of what Iran should or shouldn’t do by a date certain.  That’s what led to those remarks.  And so my question still stands.  Is it your view that this administration is either unwilling or unable to stop Iran from developing a nuclear weapon?

PRIME MINISTER NETANYAHU:  No.  President Obama has said that he’s determined to prevent Iran from getting nuclear weapons and I appreciate that and I respect that.  I think implicit in that is that if you’re determined to prevent Iran from getting nuclear weapons, it means you’ll act before they get nuclear weapons.  I just think that it’s important to communicate to Iran that there is a line that they won’t cross.  I think a red line in this case works to reduce the chances of the need for military action because once the Iranians understand that there’s no– there’s a line that they can’t cross, they are not likely to cross it, you know, when President Kennedy set a red line in the Cuban missile crisis, he was criticized.  But it turned out it didn’t bring war, it actually pushed war back and probably purchased decades of peace with the Soviet Union.  Conversely, when there was no American red line set before the Gulf War, Saddam Hussein invaded Kuwait, and maybe that war could have been avoided.  And I can tell you David that Iran has been placed with some clear red lines on a few matters and they have avoided crossing them.  So I think that as they get closer and closer and closer to the achievement of weapons grade material, and they are very close, they are six months away from being about ninety percent of having the enriched uranium for an atom bomb, I think that you have to place that red line before them now before it’s– it’s too late.  That was the point that I was making.

GREGORY:  As a prime minister of Israel, has Iran crossed your red line?

PRIME MINISTER NETANYAHU:  Well, the way I would say it David is they are in the red zone.  You know, they are in the last 20 yards.  And you can’t let them cross that goal line.  You can’t let them score a touchdown because that would have unbelievable consequences, grievous consequences, for the peace and security of us all– of the world really.

GREGORY:  That seems to be a newer development from your way of thinking that they are now in a red zone.  And to use– to use the sports metaphor, you won’t let them cross the– the goal line.  Is Israel closer to taking action into its own hands?

PRIME MINISTER NETANYAHU:  We always reserve the right to act.  But I think that if we are able to coordinate together a common position, we increase the chances that neither one of us will have to act.  Iran is very cognizant of the fact of its degrees of freedom and as the IAEA report says not only have they not stopped, they have actually rushed forward– they’re rushing forward with their enrichment program.  And I think it’s very important to make it clear to them that they can’t just proceed with impunity.

GREGORY:  Your criticism, your calling on President Obama to set this red line, comes in the middle of a heated presidential campaign.  You understand the American political system very well.  You’re very sophisticated in that regard.  In your view, would Governor Mitt Romney as President Romney make Israel safer?  Would he take a harder line against Iran than President Obama in your judgment?

PRIME MINISTER NETANYAHU:  God, I’m– I’m not going to be drawn into the American election.  And– and what’s guiding my statements are– is not the American political calendar but the Iranian nuclear calendar.  They’re just– you know, if they stop spinning the centrifuges for– and took timeout for the American elections, I wouldn’t have to talk.  And I wouldn’t have to raise this issue.  But as the prime minister of Israel, knowing that this country committed to our destruction is getting closer to the goal of having weapons of mass destruction then I speak out.  And it’s got– it’s really not a partisan political issue.  And I think it’s important for anyone who is the president of the United States to be in that position of preventing Iran from having this nuclear weapons– nuclear weapons capability.  And I’m talking to the president.  I just talked to him the other day.  We are in close consultations.  We’re trying to prevent that.  It’s really not a partisan issue.  It’s a policy issue not a political issue.

GREGORY:  Well, but it may not be a partisan issue.  You have known Mitt Romney a long time.  The reality is– tell me if you disagree that Governor Romney just in an interview this week said that his position is very much the same as President Obama.  They are both committed to preventing Iran from acquiring a nuclear weapon.  Not just as an impartial observer, as the prime minister of Israel, do you agree with that that both the president and his challenger have the same view with regard to preventing Iran from going nuclear?

PRIME MINISTER NETANYAHU:  I have no doubt that they are equally committed to preventing that.  It’s a– it’s a vital American interest.  It’s a– it’s an existential interest on my case so, this isn’t the issue.  We are united on this across the board.

GREGORY:  Why can’t Iran be contained just as the Soviet Union was?  There are those in your country and in the United States who believe that a containment strategy would actually work?

PRIME MINISTER NETANYAHU:  I think Iran is very different.  They put their zealotry above their survival.  They have suicide bombers all over the place.  I wouldn’t rely on their rationality, you know, you– since the advent of nuclear weapons, you had countries that had access to nuclear weapons who always made a careful calculation of cost and benefit.  But Iran is guided by a leadership with an unbelievable fanaticism.  It’s the same fanaticism that you see storming your embassies today.  You want these fanatics to have nuclear weapons?  I mean, I’ve heard some people suggest, David, I actually I read this in the American press.  They said, well, you know, if you take action, that’s– that’s a lot worse than having Iran with nuclear weapons.  Some have even said that Iran with nuclear weapons would stabilize the Middle East– stabilize the Middle East.  I– I think the people who say this have set a new standard for human stupidity.  We have to stop them.  Don’t rely on containment.  That is not the American policy.  It would be wrong.  It would be a grave, grave mistake.  Don’t let these fanatics have nuclear weapons.  It’s terrible for Israel and it’s terrible for America.  It’s terrible for the world.

GREGORY:  Prime Minister, one more question on the American election.  You have been accused this week by pundits in this country of trying to interfere in this presidential election, siding with Governor Mitt Romney.  Now, Governor Romney for a year, and he said it in his convention speech, has said, quote, “President Obama has thrown allies like Israel under the bus.”  Do you agree or disagree with Governor Romney’s charge?  It’s a serious charge.

PRIME MINISTER NETANYAHU:  Well, you’re– you’re trying to get me into the– into the American election and I’m not going to do that.  The relationship between Israel and the United States is a bond of– it’s just a very powerful bond.  It was, it is, and will be and will continue to be.  And I– I can tell you there’s no one– there’s no leader in the world who’s more appreciative than me of the strength of this alliance.  It’s very strong.  There’s no one in Israel who appreciates more than me the importance of American support for Israel.  It’s not a partisan issue.  In fact, we cherish the bipartisan support of Democrats and Republicans alike.  This is critical for us.

GREGORY:  But prime minister, with respect, if I may just interrupt you…

PRIME MINISTER NETANYAHU:  And– and I think it’s critical that we take…

GREGORY:  I think this is a very important point because you say you don’t want to interfere in the election.  There are tens of millions of Americans who are watching that speech, who hear that rhetoric, who hear that charge, who may not understand the complexities of this issue.  You are the leader of the Jewish people.  You say this is not a partisan issue.  You get billions of dollars from direct foreign investment from this country, hundreds of millions of dollars from Americans, Jews and Christians alike from this country.  It seems to me for you to remain silent on whether this administration has thrown Israel under the bus is tantamount to agreeing with the sentiment.  So where do you come down on that specific charge against President Obama?

PRIME MINISTER NETANYAHU:  Now, there you go again, David, you’re trying to draw me into something that– that is simply not– not the case and it’s not my position.  My position is that we– we have strong cooperation.  We’ll continue to cooperate.  We’re the best of allies.  And Israel is the one reliable ally of the United States in the Middle East…

GREGORY:  So President Obama has not thrown Israel under the bus?

PRIME MINISTER NETANYAHU:  …if that wasn’t understood until yesterday.  So it’s– it’s– there’s– there’s no bus, and we’re not going to get into that discussion, except to say one thing.  We have a strong alliance and we’re going to continue to have a strong alliance.  I think the important question is where does the– the only bus that is really important is the Iranian nuclear bus.  That’s the one that we have to– to derail.  And that’s my interest.  That’s my– my only interest.

GREGORY:  Final question on the broader Middle East and what we’re seeing this week.  This anti-American and indeed anti-Israeli rage throughout the Middle East attacking our embassy, killing a United States ambassador as you well know.  What has been unleashed and what can United States and its allies specifically do to contain it?

PRIME MINISTER NETANYAHU:  Well, look, I– I– I think people focus on the spark.  The spark of reprehensible and irresponsible film is a– is a spark, but it’s not– it doesn’t explain anything.  I mean, it doesn’t explain 9/11.  It doesn’t explain the decades of animosity and the grievances that go back centuries.  In fact, there’s a tinderbox of hatred here from a virulent strain of Islam that takes moderate Muslims and Arabs and attacks them first but seeks to deprive all of us of the basic– the basic values that we have.  They’re against the human rights.  They’re against the rights of women.  They’re against freedom of religion.  They’re against freedom of speech and freedom of expression.  They’re against all the things that we value.  They’re against tolerance.  They’re against– they’re against pluralism, and they’re against freedom.  And they’re– they’re– they view not your policies but you, the very existence of United States and its values, and by extension Israel.  They view that as an intolerable crime.  And we have to understand that.  We have to deal with it.  And we have to be the close support because in– in this vast expanse of land, you can understand why they are so– so antagonistic to us because for them we are you and you are us.  And at least on this point they’re right.

GREGORY:  Finally, prime minister, did you feel snubbed not getting a face-to-face meeting with President Obama in New York during the upcoming U.N. meetings?  Would you like to have that face-to-face encounter?  Would it be helpful to your relationship at this point?

PRIME MINISTER NETANYAHU:  You know, I’m always pleased and– and happy to have a conversation with President Obama.  He’s– I think he’s met me more than any other leader in the world and I– I appreciate that.  We’ve had our discussions.  Our– our schedules on this visit didn’t work out.  I come to New York and he leaves New York.  But we continue in close consultations.  We have urgent business, Israel and America, to prevent Iran from getting nuclear weapons.  I think it’s important to delineate a red line for Iran so we’re not faced with a conundrum of what to do if we don’t place a red line and they just proceed to the bomb.

GREGORY:  Prime minister, thank you very much for your time.

PRIME MINISTER NETANYAHU:  Thank you, to all of you.

GREGORY:  Coming up next, our political roundtable on the political impact of this turmoil in the Middle East.  Is it a case of weakness on the part of this administration?  Did Governor Romney go too far in that criticism?  Our political roundtable is here and we’ll weigh in.  Democratic congressman from Minnesota, Keith Ellison; Chair of the Homeland Security Committee, Congressman Peter King of New York;  The Washington Post’s, Bob Woodward; Jeffrey Goldberg of The Atlantic magazine; and our own Andrea Mitchell.

(Announcements)

GREGORY:  Coming up our political roundtable.  Was this week that 3:00 AM phone call moment for Romney?  What is his response to the turmoil in the Middle East say about his readiness to be president?  Our roundtable weighs in up next after this brief break.

(Announcements)

GREGORY:  And we’re back with our political roundtable.  Joining me national correspondent for The Atlantic, a journalist who’d spent his career covering the Middle East, Jeff Goldberg; NBC’s chief foreign affairs correspondent Andrea Mitchell; associate editor for The Washington Post and author of the new groundbreaking book The Price of Politics, Bob Woodward; Chairman of the Homeland Security Committee, Republican Congressman Peter King of New York; and the first Muslim elected to the U.S. Congress, Minnesota Congressman Keith Ellison.  Welcome to all of you.  These are very difficult times for this country and for the Middle East.  There’s a question I think that Americans have of what is going on here.  Why is this happening?  And it’s happening, Jeff Goldberg, in a heated presidential debate.  And so you have accusations and response, and we’ve seen that play out already in the course of this hour.  Liz Cheney, the daughter of the former vice president, launched a very serious attack that indeed Governor Romney amplified on.  And she wrote in the Wall Street Journal–I want to show it to our viewers and get discussion about it here.  In too many parts of the world, she writes, America is no longer viewed as a reliable ally or an enemy to be feared… Nor do our adversaries any longer fear us.  Ask the mobs in Cairo who attacked our embassy or the Libyan mobs who killed our diplomats at the U.S. consulate in Benghazi.  Ask the Iranians who make unhindered daily progress towards obtaining a nuclear weapon.

MR. JEFF GOLDBERG (National Correspondent, The Atlantic):  Well, I mean, a couple of quick points.  The first is, you know, to be fair, 9/11 happened during the Bush administration, the Bush-Cheney administration.  So it’s not as if people– Muslim radicals feared the United States during that period, not when they were killing thousands of American troops in Iraq certainly.  I mean, the larger point is that– that, you know, there’s a tendency, especially seven weeks out from an election, to turn this in– turn everything that happens in the world into an election issue.  There are some very, very deep and troubling things going on in– in the Middle East that have very little to do with what a president does or doesn’t do.  I mean, let’s– let’s be fair about this.  You– you– you have a complete upheaval in the Middle East.  You don’t have American policymakers being able to shape the way Muslims think about the world, about modernity, about the United States.  So– so to blame the president for– for an attack on– on these embassies, I think, is a bit much.

GREGORY:  Congressman…

REP. PETER KING (R-NY/Chairman, Committee on Homeland Security):  Yeah.

GREGORY: …as a Republican here, supporter of Governor Romney…

REP. KING:  Yes.

GREGORY:  …is this American weakness that brought this on?  Is that the Republican view?  Is that what the view of President Romney would be?

REP. KING:  Well, my view is it was a large component of it.  There has been– this president’s policy– President Obama’s policy has been confusing.  It’s been apologetic, and it’s been misguided.  From the day he started his apology tour back in 2009 where he was, no matter what people say, apologizing for America, somehow suggesting that we’ve been anti-Islam until he became the president throughout– the fact that– even talking about Iraq, the way he took our troops out of Iraq without even getting the status of forces agreement.  He was given a glide path in Iraq.  And yet he pulled the troops out, brags about the fact that troops are out, gives a definite date for getting out in Afghanistan.  What he is doing by that is telling our allies they can’t trust us and he’s also telling unaligned that the U.S. is not a reliable ally.  And the fact that you would have the prime minister of Israel on this show explaining his relationship with the president of the United States at a time of such turmoil in the Middle East, we have never had a situation like this where there has been such a disconnect between the U.S. president and the Israeli prime minister.  And the fact that he won’t even meet with him at the U.N., while he’s going to meet with President Morsi, sends terrible signals.

GREGORY:  Well, to– to be fair, the prime minister of Israel did not describe that as a stub– snub in that interview.

REP. KING:  I’m saying it.  I’m saying, I’m saying.

GREGORY:  You’re saying, okay.  Congressman, your response?

REP. KEITH ELLISON (D-MN):  Well, it’s ridiculous.  The president has been consistent.  He’s been steady.  And he’s had progress in the policy wins in the Middle East.  I mean, this is a seriously deeply rooted phenomenon, the Arab Spring that is going to be unfolding for a long time.  And the last thing we need is to start making quick emo– emotionally-charged decisions.  We need consistent steady leadership like the president has shown.

GREGORY:  But there is a policy component, Andrea and Bob, to this.  The New York Times writes about it in an analysis piece this morning.  I want to put a portion of that on the screen because it does provide some context here.  The upheaval over an anti-Islam video has suddenly become Mr. Obama’s most serious foreign policy crisis of the election season and a range of analysts say it presents questions about central tenets of his Middle East policy:  Did he do enough during the Arab Spring to help the transition to democracy from autocracy?  Has he drawn a hard enough line against Islamic extremists?  Did his administration fail to address security concerns?

MS. ANDREA MITCHELL (Host, “ANDREA MITCHELL REPORTS”):  Well, first of all, I think we have to exce– concede that George Herbert Walker Bush’s relationship with the then prime minister of Israel was arguably much worse than what we’re seeing now.  So, Republicans as well as Democrats have had difficulty, Congressman, in the past with Israel.  That..,

REP. KING:  It’s always the post-9/11 world.

MS. MITCHELL:  ..but that said…

REP. KING:  There’s never been a relationship like this.

MS. MITCHELL:  …that said.  I think there can be a legitimate criticism that this president has not handled the Israeli-Palestinian issue well, but the Arab Spring has been a much greater, much broader troubling issue that arguably not any American president could handle very effectively.  That is not the argument.  That is not the policy argument that– that Mitt Romney has made.  Mitt Romney’s– the criticism of Mitt Romney is coming largely from many Republicans whom I talked to, foreign policy experts, who say that in the middle of the crisis when the state department did not know where Ambassador Stevens was, when the body was missing, that he came out with a written statement and doubled down on it the next morning and that it was not presidential, it did not show leadership.  That is the criticism…

REP. KING:  When he put out the statement, he didn’t know that the ambassador had been shot.

MS. MITCHELL:  But then he shouldn’t have put out a statement, you know, the argue…

REP. KING:  Well, first up– that’s exactly the problem.  Entire project– I mean, if you don’t know something, how can you– I mean, it’s not (Unintelligible).

MS. MITCHELL:  But silence is often a good choice.  Peggy Noonan said that as well.

REP. ELLISON:  What about waiting until you know more?  I mean, what about Reagan?  Reagan said, you know, when we have a crisis like this, we should all come together as Americans and not sort of– divide up politically and try to seek a– a point.

REP. KING:  You know, sometimes wait…

REP. ELLISON:  That was in– that was a– that was a sad moment.

REP. KING:  President Obama waited three days after the underwear bomber before he made a statement, and then he came out and said, this was a sole individual…

GREGORY:  All right, let me get Bob to weigh in.

REP. KING:  …al Qaeda operation.

MR. BOB WOODWARD (Associate Editor, Washington Post):  There’s a way to look at this neutrally, and I– I just don’t think the charge of weakness will stick.  I mean, Obama’s been tough on these things.  Let’s be realistic.  The extremists in the Middle East who are causing all of this trouble are extremists.  And no Republican, no Democratic president is going to be able to control them.  The question is, what’s the policy and what’s the response?  And you deal in the intelligence world and you ask the experts about this and they’ll say you never know.  Ten people are going to come together and take over an embassy, shoot someone and so forth.  So the idea that government can– has the puppet strings here is- is just–

(Cross talk)

GREGORY:  But couldn’t we’ve done well with– well, but let’s get– gentleman, let’s get to the point.  Where…

MR. GOLDBERG:  Yeah.

GREGORY:  Where are the extremists who are– who are protesting about the fact that Muslims are being killed in Syria every day, as you don’t see those protests?  Is this about the United States or is it about them?

MR. GOLDBERG:  It’s about everything.  I mean, the truth is it’s about everything.  It’s unfolding.  It’ll be unfolding for a generation.  And you’re right.  I mean, you don’t see– you don’t see that level of anxiety directed at Syria.  Hundred– in the last week, hundreds of Syrian Muslims have been killed by the Syrian regime.  And you don’t see Syrian embassies being attacked.  Obviously– obviously– obviously, if you’re– you know, we talked so much about the Arab street, how the Arab street feels about America.  We– we have to start talking about the American street too, because this is going to have consequences for these governments that we support.  You know, we Americans see these countries that are– that we provide billions of dollars who’re not protecting our embassies, and they’re eventually going to say, the American people can say enough already with this.

REP. ELLISON:  This is a good time to realize that the so-called Arab street is not one monolithic thing.  You have some people in, say, Libya, for example, who are pro– holding up signs, apologizing for what happened to Chris Stevens.

GREGORY:  Right.  We have some of them.  Yeah.

REP. ELLISON:  Yeah.  And– and– and, we– we need to understand that this is not– everybody’s not on the same side.  You have some radicals who want to push back.  Some con– some of– some loyalists from the old regime, some extremists, who want to exploit the situation, and you have people who want a Democratic society.  They’re both contesting for who’s going to come out and the United States should stay on their side.

REP. KING:  But– but how do we appeal to the wrong people in the Middle East by somehow exalting this whole– this whole idea of the video being the cause of the– of the riot?

REP. ELLISON:  It’s a spark.  It’s not a cause.

REP. KING:  Okay.  But for us to be saying somehow putting that on the equivalence of the American policy or to say that our policy in this country can be determined by a fanatical Christian minister in the South or radical Islamist mobs in the Middle East, then I think, the president can do more.

MS. MITCHELL:  I– I agree with that.

REP. KING:  The president should be dealing with the–

GREGORY:  But, Congressman, is it responsible for Mitt Romney to say that a President Romney could have stopped this from happening?

REP. KING:  I think it’s responsible for him to say that he would set a policy which would not be as confusing as this one.  Why (Unintelligible) with President Morsi?  Why didn’t the next day the president even mention President Morsi?  He come out to not say a word about the fact that our supposed ally–he doesn’t even know if he’s an ally or not–was getting a billion dollars not to defend our embassy in Cairo.  The president did not mention that.

REP. ELLISON:  But when the president called– but when the president called, Morsi listened.

REP. KING:  But for the single (cross talk) said nothing about it…

REP. ELLISON:  And I– and I wouldn’t…

(Cross talk)

REP. KING:  No, everyone is being critical of Mitt Romney.

GREGORY:  Okay, good.

REP. KING:  President Obama made his statement, he did not even mention the failure of leadership in Egypt.

MS. MITCHELL:  Well, Congressman, you’re absolutely correct.  I think that it is easy for the administration to try to point to the film.  There is a much broader issue, as Jeffrey and– and Bob has– have been pointing to.  The world is changing and it is changing too rapidly for any American leadership to figure out what to do.  There is going to be a big argument over foreign aid, you know that.  And whether or not that is even a sensible argument is another question.  They have a big problem with Morsi.  Morsi needs economic aid.  He has, I’ve been told, reached out to the New York economic club.  He wants to give a speech here in 10 days.  He knows he needs the IMF.  He knows he needs the United States.  But he’s trying at the same time to placate the radical elements in the brotherhood.

GREGORY:  Let me…

MR. WOODWARD:  But– but the core problem is there’re angry people out there.  And you can’t identify them.  And the– the idea that you’re going to have a government policy to deal with angry people in a– in a way that will suppress them just is not going to happen.

GREGORY:  Let me get a break in here– let me get a break in here.  We’ll come back with the roundtable.  More on this, the political impact right in the middle of the campaign.  More with our roundtable right after this.

(Announcements)

GREGORY:  We’re back with our roundtable.  Some context here–look at this polling from CNN/ORC–better at handling foreign policy, a big advantage for President Obama as we go into these presidential debates.  Jeffrey Goldberg?

MR. GOLDBERG:  You know, I– I was troubled by something that Susan Rice said before, which is talking about how people are offended by this movie and sort of apologizing for this– this film.  I think there’s a– there’s a perpetual grievance machine working in the Middle East.  Bob– Bob points this out.  People will be angry no matter what.  And– and at a certain point, I think the administration should just say, look, we have free speech in America.  It is part of our value system.  You know, opp– opposition to blasphemy is part of your value system and we respect that as long as you do it peacefully, but we have free speech in our country and we’re going to stand up for our liberal western values.

MR. KING:  Suppose tomorrow with Salman Rushdie, we going to back down on that also, yeah.

MR. GOLDBERG:  No.  Exactly.  You want to be– you want to stand very strongly.  And you want to also support liberal thought in the Middle East and that means engaging with– you have to remember most Muslims in the Middle East aren’t attacking American embassies, many want to be– have more liberal open society.

GREGORY:  Congressman Ellison, is our only leverage in the United States money and foreign aid?

REP. ELLISON:  Absolutely not.  We have a lot of influence in terms of culture, in terms of just the way America is a democratic society.  We should use that.  They, as a matter of fact, all the protests we saw were for people reaching for a greater level of democracy.  But foreign aid is a part of it.  And I think that for us to threaten to snatch aid now is dangerous and a bad idea.

GREGORY:  Andrea Mitchell, the question of Iran as well, I want to get reaction to the prime minister.  He said something among the significant things, there– they have an equal commitment, he said, Mitt Romney and President Obama, to prevent Iran from going nuclear.  That is not the wedge that Governor Romney has been arguing.  He has said, “You re-elect President Obama they go nuclear, you elect me they do not.”

MS. MITCHELL:  And yet Mitt Romney himself misspoke apparently in another interview saying that he agrees with President Obama on what that imaginary red line is.  I thought it was very interesting that Prime Minister Netanyahu said they are in a red zone.  The football analogy, yes.  But he was trying to smooth over the differences.  But there are very real differences.  Real differences in that while President Obama has made a commitment to stop them from weaponizing, from getting a– from going nuclear, they believe somehow in this notion that they will have the intelligence, they will know when the Ayatollah makes a political decision, and they will still have the time.  And arguably in the past, we’ve learned that intelligence is not that precise.

MR. WOODWARD:  There is so much turns on the intelligence.  It was this interesting your discussion with the Israeli Prime Minister, and he said, well, at six months and they’ll have 90 percent.  And the Ambassador Rice said, well, it’s not imminent that they’re going to get the bomb.  If you study intelligence, as I have for about 40 years, and Jeffrey and I were talking about, some day we’re going to write a book called “The Unintelligence of Intelligence” because it’s just often wrong.  And people are surprised.  And we’re– you know, deep, deep uncertainty about all of this– 90 percent, six months, it’s not going to happen.  We don’t know.

GREGORY:  What about– what about this interference in our election?  You’re curious about that from both of you, because he takes on– well, I– I pressed him on that charge.

MR. GOLDBERG:  Well, there’s– there’s two issues.  One is a legitimate issue, which is this debate over red lines.  This is the debate that Obama and Netanyahu should have, a discussion, in private.  And– and that’s– that’s legitimate for– for Netanyahu to raise.  What’s illegitimate, and– and let me put this as– as bluntly as I can.  I’ve been watching the relationship between the U.S. and Israel for 20 years, more than 20 years, very seriously and I’ve never seen an Israeli prime minister mismanage the relationship with the United States or with the administration the way this prime minister has.  Obama is not blameless.  The first year, the peace process was a disaster.  But, you know, one– one person here is the– one person here is the senior partner, one is the– the junior partner, and Netanyahu has turned this into a story about himself and Obama.

REP. KING:  No, I– I disagree.  I’m– I’m not here to criticize our president.  The fact is in 2009 when he went to the Middle East and suggested a moral equivalency between the Iranians and the Israelis, when he was harping on against the Israelis, the fact is the Israeli government does not trust the American government.  And that’s really the issue.  Not when the red line is going to be or where it’s going to be.  The fact is there was not a trust between the Israeli prime minister and the American President.  And this is a President who’d come in saying he was going to restore harmony among nations, he was going to have better relationship with our overseas allies…

MS. MITCHELL:  But…

REP. KING:  …and adversaries.

GREGORY:  Are you double down on the comment that this President has thrown Israel under the bus?

REP. KING:  He has not shown– yes, I will.  In the context of politics, yes, he has, absolutely.

REP. ELLISON:  That’s– that’s absolutely wrong.

REP. KING:  He absolutely has.

REP. ELLISON:  There’s no evidence to that.

REP. KING:  The way…

GREGORY:  What does that mean in the context of politics, it’s either true or it’s not.

REP. KING:  It– it is true.

REP. ELLISON:  It’s not true.

REP. KING:  It is true.  Let me tell you why it’s true.  You had an Israeli prime minister being– when he went to the White House being put off to eat by himself, being ignored by the president.  You have the president refusing to sit down with him at the U.N.  This is an ally.

REP. ELLISON:  Well…

REP. KING:  He’s not going to treat Morsi this way.

REP. ELLISON:   According to…

REP. KING:  He’s not going to treat the Arab League this way.

REP. ELLISON:   According to…

REP. KING:  To treat an ally like that is, yeah, like putting him under the bus.

GREGORY:  All right.  Go ahead, Congressman.

REP. ELLISON:  —military leaders the security relationship is as good as it ever has been.

REP. KING:  We’re talking about diplomatic relationship.

GREGORY:  Hold on, let him…

REP. ELLISON:  And– and– no, no, no.  And so– and so the point is this is a sad reality where we are putting Israel as a political football in an election, it should not be done.

REP. KING:  The president…

REP. ELLISON:  And– and as a matter of fact, I think that the– that the president– President Netanyahu (sic) ought to be a little bit more careful (cross talk) himself.

GREGORY:  Andrea, and I really– in ten seconds, what do you look for this week as we move beyond, as this conversation moves?

MS. MITCHELL:  I think there are more security challenges.  You’ve got embassies shut down.  The marines are going to be more engaged in various places.  This is a crisis.  And it could rebound against President Obama.

GREGORY:  All right.  Before we go and take a break, I wanted to let you know that you can catch more of Bob Woodward in our take two web extra, which will be posted on our press pass blog this afternoon.  We’re going to talk in depth about his new book, The Price of Politics.  You can read an excerpt on our– of the book on our website as well, that’s meetthepressnbc.com.  We’ll be back with more in just a moment.

(Announcements)

GREGORY:  Before we go this morning, a couple of programming notes.  You can watch this week’s press pass conversation on our blog as well, a lot going on on the blog.  Some straight talk from the much talked about duo themselves.  Simpson-Bowles, Former Senator Alan Simpson, former White House chief of staff for President Clinton Erskine Bowles, that’s at meetthepressnbc.com.

Also Thursday on ROCK CENTER WITH BRIAN WILLIAMS, Ted Koppel goes toe-to-toe with the lives of Bill O’Reilly, Ann Coulter and Bill Maher for a provocative new look at the role of openly partisan media and at the role it’s playing in our society.  That’s on ROCK CENTER Thursday at 10:00 P.M. Eastern, 9:00 Central.

That is all for us today.  We’ll be back next week.  If it’s Sunday, it’s MEET THE PRESS.  And as we leave you, we remember the lives of Ambassador Chris Stevens and the three other Americans that were lost this week in the attack on our consulate in Libya.  Our thoughts and prayers of course are with their families.

Campaign Headlines July 29, 2012: Mitt Romney Visits Jerusalem, Israel, Backs Israeli Stance on Threat of Nuclear Iran in Speech

CAMPAIGN 2012

CAMPAIGN BUZZ 2012

THE HEADLINES….

Romney Backs Israeli Stance on Threat of Nuclear Iran

Source: NYT, 7-29-12

Mitt Romney visited the Western Wall in Jerusalem on Sunday. “We respect the right of a nation to defend itself,” he said.

Stephen Crowley/The New York Times

Mitt Romney visited the Western Wall in Jerusalem on Sunday. “We respect the right of a nation to defend itself,” he said.

In Jerusalem, Mitt Romney said Iran must prevented from being able to build nuclear weapons, a subtle departure from the Obama administration’s position that Iran not acquire them….READ MORE

Mitt Romney Will ‘Respect’ Israeli Decision to Use Force with Iran If Necessary

Source: ABC News Radio, 7-29-12

Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

Mitt Romney would “respect” an Israeli decision to use military action if necessary to prevent Iran from obtaining nuclear weapons, a senior aide said Sunday.

In a briefing to preview Romney’s speech slated for Sunday evening overlooking the Old City in Jerusalem that will focus on the U.S.-Israel relationship, foreign policy adviser Dan Senor said that Romney believes preventing Iran from nuclear capabilities is the “highest national security priority.”

“If Israel has to take action on its own, in order to stop Iran from developing that capability the governor would respect that decision,” said Senor….READ MORE

Full Text Campaign Buzz July 29, 2012: Mitt Romney’s Speech to the Jerusalem Foundation on Israel’s Right to Defend itself From Nuclear Iran in Jerusalem, Israel

CAMPAIGN 2012

CAMPAIGN BUZZ 2012

THE HEADLINES….

Remarks To The Jerusalem Foundation

Source: Mitt Romney, 7-29-12

romney-2012-blog-image-israel-speech.jpg

Mitt Romney today delivered remarks to the Jerusalem Foundation in Jerusalem, Israel. The following remarks were prepared for delivery:

Thank you for that kind introduction, Mayor Barkat, and thank you all for that warm welcome.  It’s a pleasure and a privilege to be in Israel again.

To step foot into Israel is to step foot into a nation that began with an ancient promise made in this land. The Jewish people persisted through one of the most monstrous crimes in human history, and now this nation has come to take its place among the most impressive democracies on earth. Israel’s achievements are a wonder of the modern world.

These achievements are a tribute to the resilience of the Israeli people.  You have managed, against all odds, time and again throughout your history, to persevere, to rise up, and to emerge stronger.

The historian Paul Johnson, writing on the 50th anniversary of the creation of the Jewish state, said that over the course of Israel’s life, 100 completely new independent states had come into existence. “Israel is the only one whose creation can fairly be called a miracle,” Johnson wrote.

It is a deeply moving experience to be in Jerusalem, the capital of Israel.

Our two nations are separated by more than 5,000 miles. But for an American abroad, you can’t get much closer to the ideals and convictions of my own country than you do in Israel.  We’re part of the great fellowship of democracies.  We speak the same language of freedom and justice, and the right of every person to live in peace.  We serve the same cause and provoke the same hatreds in the same enemies of civilization.

It is my firm conviction that the security of Israel is in the vital national security interest of the United States. And ours is an alliance based not only on shared interests but also on enduring shared values.

In those shared values, one of the strongest voices is that of your prime minister, my friend Benjamin Netanyahu.  I met with him earlier this morning and I look forward to my family joining his this evening as they observe the close of this fast day of Tisha B’Av.

It’s remarkable to consider how much adversity, over so great a span of time, is recalled by just one day on the calendar.  This is a day of remembrance and mourning, but like other such occasions, it also calls forth clarity and resolve.

At this time, we also remember the 11 Israeli athletes and coaches who were massacred at the Munich Olympics forty years ago. Ten years ago this week, 9 Israeli and American students were murdered in the terrorist attack at Hebrew University. And tragedies like these are not reserved to the past. They are a constant reminder of the reality of hate, and the will with which it is executed upon the innocent.

It was Menachem Begin who said this about the Ninth of the month of Av:  “We remember that day,” he said, “and now have the responsibility to make sure that never again will our independence be destroyed and never again will the Jew become homeless or defenseless.” “This,” Prime Minister Begin added, “is the crux of the problems facing us in the future.”

So it is today, as Israel faces enemies who deny past crimes against the Jewish people and seek to commit new ones.

When Iran’s leaders deny the Holocaust or speak of wiping this nation off the map, only the naïve – or worse – will dismiss it as an excess of rhetoric.  Make no mistake: the ayatollahs in Tehran are testing our moral defenses.  They want to know who will object, and who will look the other way.

My message to the people of Israel and the leaders of Iran is one and the same: I will not look away; and neither will my country. As Prime Minister Begin put it, in vivid and haunting words, “if an enemy of [the Jewish] people says he seeks to destroy us, believe him.”

We have seen the horrors of history.  We will not stand by.  We will not watch them play out again.

It would be foolish not to take Iran’s leaders at their word. They are, after all, the product of a radical theocracy.

Over the years Iran has amassed a bloody and brutal record. It has seized embassies, targeted diplomats, and killed its own people. It supports the ruthless Assad regime in Syria. They have provided weapons that have killed American soldiers in Afghanistan and Iraq. It has plotted to assassinate diplomats on American soil.  It is Iran that is the leading state sponsor of terrorism and the most destabilizing nation in the world.

We have a solemn duty and a moral imperative to deny Iran’s leaders the means to follow through on their malevolent intentions.

We should stand with all who would join our effort to prevent a nuclear-armed Iran – and that includes Iranian dissidents. Do not erase from your memory the scenes from three years ago, when that regime brought death to its own people as they rose up. The threat we face does not come from the Iranian people, but from the regime that oppresses them.

Five years ago, at the Herzliya Conference, I stated my view that Iran’s pursuit of nuclear weapons capability presents an intolerable threat to Israel, to America, and to the world.

That threat has only become worse.

Now as then, the regime’s claims that it seeks to enrich nuclear material for peaceful purposes are belied by years of malign deceptions.

Now as then, the conduct of Iran’s leaders gives us no reason to trust them with nuclear material.

But today, the regime in Iran is five years closer to developing nuclear weapons capability.  Preventing that outcome must be our highest national security priority.

I want to pause on this last point. It is sometimes said that those who are the most committed to stopping the Iranian regime from securing nuclear weapons are reckless and provocative and inviting war.

The opposite is true. We are the true peacemakers. History teaches with force and clarity that when the world’s most despotic regimes secure the world’s most destructive weapons, peace often gives way to oppression, to violence, or to devastating war.

We must not delude ourselves into thinking that containment is an option. We must lead the effort to prevent Iran from building and possessing nuclear weapons capability. We should employ any and all measures to dissuade the Iranian regime from its nuclear course, and it is our fervent hope that diplomatic and economic measures will do so. In the final analysis, of course, no option should be excluded. We recognize Israel’s right to defend itself, and that it is right for America to stand with you.

These are some of the principles I first outlined five years ago. What was timely then has become urgent today.

Let me turn from Iran to other nations in the Middle East, where we have seen rising tumult and chaos. To the north, Syria is on the brink of a civil war.  The dictator in Damascus, no friend to Israel and no friend to America, slaughters his own people as he desperately clings to power.

Your other neighbor to the north, Lebanon, is under the growing and dangerous influence of Hezbollah.

After a year of upheaval and unrest, Egypt now has an Islamist President, chosen in a democratic election. Hopefully, this new government understands that one true measure of democracy is how those elected by the majority respect the rights of those in the minority.  The international community must use its considerable influence to ensure that the new government honors the peace agreement with Israel that was signed by the government of Anwar Sadat.

As you know only too well, since Hamas took control of the Gaza Strip in 2007, thousands of rockets have rained on Israeli homes and cities.  I have walked on the streets of Sderot, and honor the resolve of its people. And now, new attacks have been launched from the Sinai Peninsula.

With Hezbollah rockets aimed at Israel from the north, and Hamas rockets aimed from the south, with much of the Middle East in tumult, and with Iran bent on nuclear arms, America’s vocal and demonstrated commitment to the defense of Israel is even more critical. Whenever the security of Israel is most in doubt, America’s commitment to Israel must be most secure.

When the decision was before him in 1948, President Harry Truman decided without hesitation that the United States would be the first country to recognize the State of Israel.  From that moment to this, we have been the most natural of allies, but our alliance runs deeper than the designs of strategy or the weighing of interests.

The story of how America – a nation still so new to the world by the standards of this ancient region – rose up to become the dear friend of the people of Israel is among the finest and most hopeful in our nation’s history.

Different as our paths have been, we see the same qualities in one another. Israel and America are in many respects reflections of one another.

We both believe in democracy, in the right of every people to select their leaders and choose their nation’s course.

We both believe in the rule of law, knowing that in its absence, willful men may incline to oppress the weak.

We both believe that our rights are universal, granted not by government but by our Creator.

We both believe in free enterprise, because it is the only economic system that has lifted people from poverty, created a large and enduring middle class, and inaugurated incomparable achievements and human flourishing.

As someone who has spent most of his life in business, I am particularly impressed with Israel’s cutting edge technologies and thriving economy.  We recognize yours as the “start-up nation” – and the evidence is all around us.

You have embraced economic liberty.  You export technology, not tyranny or terrorism.  And today, your innovators and entrepreneurs have made the desert bloom and have made for a better world.  The citizens of our countries are fortunate to share in the rewards of economic freedom and in the creativity of our entrepreneurs. What you have built here, with your own hands, is a tribute to your people, and a model for others.

Finally, we both believe in freedom of expression, because we are confident in our ideas and in the ability of men and women to think for themselves.  We do not fear open debate. If you want to hear some very sharp criticisms of Israel and its policies, you don’t have to cross any borders.  All you have to do is walk down the street and into a café, where you’ll hear people reasoning, arguing, and speaking their mind. Or pick up an Israeli newspaper – you’ll find some of the toughest criticism of Israel you’ll read anywhere. Your nation, like ours, is stronger for this energetic exchange of ideas and opinions.

That is the way it is in a free society. There are many millions of people in the Middle East who would cherish the opportunity to do the same.  These decent men and women desire nothing more than to live in peace and freedom and to have the opportunity to not only choose their government but to criticize it openly, without fear of repression or repercussion.

I believe that those who oppose these fundamental rights are on the wrong side of history. But history’s march can be ponderous and painfully slow. We have a duty to speed and shape history by being unapologetic ambassadors for the values we share.

The United States and Israel have shown that we can build strong economies and strong militaries. But we must also build strong arguments that advance our values and promote peace. We must work together to change hearts and awaken minds through the power of freedom, free enterprise and human rights.

I believe that the enduring alliance between the State of Israel and the United States of America is more than a strategic alliance: it is a force for good in the world. America’s support of Israel should make every American proud. We should not allow the inevitable complexities of modern geopolitics to obscure fundamental touchstones. No country or organization or individual should ever doubt this basic truth:  A free and strong America will always stand with a free and strong Israel.

And standing by Israel does not mean with military and intelligence cooperation alone.

We cannot stand silent as those who seek to undermine Israel, voice their criticisms.  And we certainly should not join in that criticism. Diplomatic distance in public between our nations emboldens Israel’s adversaries.

By history and by conviction, our two countries are bound together.  No individual, no nation, no world organization, will pry us apart. And as long as we stay together and stand together, there is no threat we cannot overcome and very little that we cannot achieve.

Thank you all.  May God bless America, and may He bless and protect the Nation of Israel.

Full Text Obama Presidency March 25-27, 2012: President Barack Obama at the Nuclear Security Summit, Seoul, South Korea & Speech Transcripts

POLITICAL SPEECHES & DOCUMENTS

OBAMA PRESIDENCY & THE 112TH CONGRESS:

President Obama in South Korea

Source: WH, 3-25-12

Just after midnight on Saturday morning, President Obama boarded Air Force One and departed for a trip to South Korea. After crossing the International Date Line, he arrived in Seoul for a nuclear security summit.

As part of the trip, the President today got a first hand view of North Korea as he toured to the DMZ and met with U.S. troops stationed on the border. He told the servicemen and women, “Everybody back home could not be prouder of what you guys do each and every day — the dedication, the professionalism that you show.”
President Obama views the DMZ (March 25, 2012)
President Barack Obama is briefed by Lt. Col. Ed Taylor as he views the DMZ from Observation Post Ouellette at Camp Bonifas, Republic of Korea, March 25, 2012. (Official White House Photo by Chuck Kennedy)

The President also kicked off the three days of diplomacy with a pair of bilateral meetings — with President Lee Myung-bak of South Korea and Prime Minister Erdogan or Turkey.

President Barack Obama and President Lee Myung-bak (March 25, 2012)

President Barack Obama and President Lee Myung-bak participate in a press conference at the Blue House in Seoul, Republic of Korea, March 25, 2012. (Official White House Photo by Chuck Kennedy)

Discussing the Global Economy and Nuclear Security in Seoul

Source: WH, 3-26-12

The Korean trade agreement will support an estimated 70,000 jobs

Tomorrow, President Obama will head home from South Korea — after a busy three days of diplomatic meetings and discussions of nuclear security.

At a talk today with students at Hankuk University, the President outlined the reasons why he’s made the issue such a major priority:

We’re building an international architecture that can ensure nuclear safety.  But we’re under no illusions. We know that nuclear material, enough for many weapons, is still being stored without adequate protection. And we know that terrorists and criminal gangs are still trying to get their hands on it — as well as radioactive material for a dirty bomb. We know that just the smallest amount of plutonium — about the size of an apple — could kill hundreds of thousands and spark a global crisis. The danger of nuclear terrorism remains one of the greatest threats to global security. And that’s why here in Seoul, we need to keep at it.

This is the President’s third official visit to South Korea, and as he pointed today, he’s been to Seoul more than any other capital. That fact obviously to speaks the strength of the political relationship between our two nations, but it also highlights our growing economic ties.

That’s why President Obama worked so hard to pass the U.S.-Korea Trade Agreement — which will help to support an estimated 70,000 jobs in the years ahead and increase U.S. GDP by at least $11 billion due to increased exports of goods.

The economy was also a topic of discussion in a series of bilateral meetings between President Obama and foreign leaders. Today, he held talks with President Hu Jintao of China, President Nursultan Nazarbayev of Kazakhstan, and President Dmitry Medvedev of Russia.

POLITICAL QUOTES & SPEECHES









 

Full Text Obama Presidency March 26, 2012: President Barack Obama’s Speech at Hankuk University, South Korea on Nuclear Weapons & Iran

POLITICAL SPEECHES & DOCUMENTS

OBAMA PRESIDENCY & THE 112TH CONGRESS:

POLITICAL QUOTES & SPEECHES

Remarks by President Obama at Hankuk University

Source: WH, 3-26-12

Seoul, Republic of Korea

10:32 A.M. KST

PRESIDENT OBAMA:  Thank you.  (Applause.)  Thank you so much.  Thank you.  (Applause.)  Please, thank you very much.

To President Park, faculty, staff and students, thank you so much for this very warm welcome.  It is a great honor to be here at Hankuk University of Foreign Studies.  (Applause.)  I want to thank Dr. Park for, a few moments ago, making me an honorary alumni of the university.  (Applause.)

I know that this school has one of the world’s finest foreign language programs — which means that your English is much better than my Korean.  (Laughter.)  All I can say is, kamsa hamnida.  (Applause.)

Now, this is my third visit to the Republic of Korea as President.  I’ve now been to Seoul more times than any other capital — except for Washington, D.C.,  of course.  This reflects the extraordinary bonds between our two countries and our commitment to each other.  I’m pleased that we’re joined by so many leaders here today, Koreans and Americans, who help keep us free and strong and prosperous every day.  That includes our first Korean-American ambassador to the Republic of Korea — Ambassador Sung Kim.  (Applause.)

I’ve seen the deep connections between our peoples in my own life — among friends, colleagues.  I’ve seen it so many patriotic Korean Americans, including a man born in this city of Seoul, who came to America and has dedicated his life to lifting up the poor and sick of the world.  And last week I was proud to nominate him to lead the World Bank — Dr. Jim Yong Kim.  (Applause.)

I’ve also seen the bonds in our men and women in uniform, like the American and Korean troops I visited yesterday along the DMZ — Freedom’s Frontier.  And we salute their service and are very grateful for them.  We honor all those who have given their lives in our defense, including the 46 brave souls who perished aboard the Cheonan two years ago today.  And in their memory we reaffirm the enduring promise at the core of our alliance — we stand together, and the commitment of the United States to the defense and the security of the Republic of Korea will never waver.  (Applause.)

Most of all, I see the strength of our alliance in all of you.  For decades, this school has produced leaders — public servants, diplomats, businesspeople — who’ve helped propel the modern miracle that is Korea– transforming it from crushing poverty to one of the world’s most dynamic economies; from authoritarianism to a thriving democracy; from a country focused inward to a leader for security and prosperity not only in this region but also around the world — a truly “Global Korea.”

So to all the students here today, this is the Korea your generation will inherit.  And I believe there’s no limits to what our two nations can achieve together.  For like your parents and grandparents before you, you know that the future is what we make of it.  And you know that in our digital age, we can connect and innovate across borders like never before — with your smart phones and Twitter and Me2Day and Kakao Talk.  (Laughter and applause.)  It’s no wonder so many people around the world have caught the Korean Wave, Hallyu.  (Applause.)

Or consider this:  In advance of my visit, our embassy invited Koreans to send us your questions using social media.  Some of you may have sent questions.  And they called it, “Ask President Obama.”  Now, one of you — maybe it was you, maybe it was somebody else — this is true — asked this question:  “Have you posted, yourself, a supportive opinion on a website under a disguised name, pretending you are one of the supporters of President Obama?”  (Laughter.)  I hadn’t thought of this.  (Laughter.)  But the truth is I have not done this.  Maybe my daughters have.  (Laughter.)  But I haven’t done that myself.

So our shared future — and the unprecedented opportunity to meet shared challenges together — is what brings me to Seoul.  Over the next two days, under President Lee’s leadership, we’ll move ahead with the urgent work of preventing nuclear terrorism by securing the world’s nuclear materials.  This is an important part of the broader, comprehensive agenda that I want to talk with you about today — our vision of a world without nuclear weapons.

Three years ago, I traveled to Prague and I declared America’s commitment to stopping the spread of nuclear weapons and to seeking a world without them.  I said I knew that this goal would not be reached quickly, perhaps not in my lifetime, but I knew we had to begin, with concrete steps.  And in your generation, I see the spirit we need in this endeavor — an optimism that beats in the hearts of so many young people around the world.  It’s that refusal to accept the world as it is, the imagination to see the world as it ought to be, and the courage to turn that vision into reality.  So today, with you, I want to take stock of our journey and chart our next steps.

Here in Seoul, more than 50 nations will mark our progress toward the goal we set at the summit I hosted two years ago in Washington — securing the world’s vulnerable nuclear materials in four years so that they never fall into the hands of terrorists.  And since then, nations — including the United States — have boosted security at nuclear facilities.

South Korea, Japan, Pakistan and others are building new centers to improve nuclear security and training.  Nations like Kazakhstan have moved nuclear materials to more secure locations.  Mexico, and just yesterday Ukraine, have joined the ranks of nations that have removed all the highly enriched uranium from their territory.  All told, thousands of pounds of nuclear material have been removed from vulnerable sites around the world.  This was deadly material that is now secure and can now never be used against a city like Seoul.

We’re also using every tool at our disposal to break up black markets and nuclear material.  Countries like Georgia and Moldova have seized highly enriched uranium from smugglers.  And countries like Jordan are building their own counter-smuggling teams, and we’re tying them together in a global network of intelligence and law enforcement.  Nearly 20 nations have now ratified the treaties and international partnerships that are at the center of our efforts.  And I should add that with the death of Osama bin Laden and the major blows that we’ve struck against al Qaeda, a terrorist organization that has actively sought nuclear weapons is now on the path to defeat.

So in short, the international community has made it harder than ever for terrorists to acquire nuclear weapons, and that has made us all safer.  We’re building an international architecture that can ensure nuclear safety.  But we’re under no illusions.  We know that nuclear material, enough for many weapons, is still being stored without adequate protection.  And we know that terrorists and criminal gangs are still trying to get their hands on it — as well as radioactive material for a dirty bomb.  We know that just the smallest amount of plutonium — about the size of an apple — could kill hundreds of thousands and spark a global crisis.  The danger of nuclear terrorism remains one of the greatest threats to global security.

And that’s why here in Seoul, we need to keep at it.  And I believe we will.  We’re expecting dozens of nations to announce over the next several days that they’ve fulfilled the promises they made two years ago.  And we’re now expecting more commitments — tangible, concrete action — to secure nuclear materials and, in some cases, remove them completely.  This is the serious, sustained global effort that we need, and it’s an example of more nations bearing the responsibility and the costs of meeting global challenges.  This is how the international community should work in the 21st century.  And Korea is one of the key leaders in this process.

The United States will continue to do our part — securing our own material and helping others protect theirs.  We’re moving forward with Russia to eliminate enough plutonium for about 17,000 nuclear weapons and turn it instead into electricity.  I can announce today a new agreement by the United States and several European partners toward sustaining the supply of medical isotopes that are used to treat cancer and heart disease without the use of highly enriched uranium.  And we will work with industry and hospitals and research centers in the United States and around the world, to recover thousands of unneeded radiological materials so that they can never do us harm.

Now, American leadership has been essential to progress in a second area — taking concrete steps towards a world without nuclear weapons.  As a party to the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty, this is our obligation, and it’s one that I take very seriously.  But I believe the United States has a unique responsibility to act — indeed, we have a moral obligation.  I say this as President of the only nation ever to use nuclear weapons.  I say it as a Commander-in-Chief who knows that our nuclear codes are never far from my side.  Most of all, I say it as a father, who wants my two young daughters to grow up in a world where everything they know and love can’t be instantly wiped out.

Over the past three years, we’ve made important progress.  With Russia, we’re now reducing our arsenal under the New START Treaty — the most comprehensive arms control agreement in nearly 20 years.  And when we’re done, we will have cut American and Russian deployed nuclear warheads to their lowest levels since the 1950s.

As President, I changed our nuclear posture to reduce the number and role of nuclear weapons in our national security strategy.  I made it clear that the United States will not develop new nuclear warheads.  And we will not pursue new military missions for nuclear weapons.  We’ve narrowed the range of contingencies under which we would ever use or threaten to use nuclear weapons.  At the same time, I’ve made it clear that so long as nuclear weapons exist, we’ll work with our Congress to maintain a safe, secure and effective arsenal that guarantees the defense not only of the United States but also our allies — including South Korea and Japan.

My administration’s nuclear posture recognizes that the massive nuclear arsenal we inherited from the Cold War is poorly suited to today’s threats, including nuclear terrorism.  So last summer, I directed my national security team to conduct a comprehensive study of our nuclear forces.  That study is still underway.  But even as we have more work to do, we can already say with confidence that we have more nuclear weapons than we need.  Even after New START, the United States will still have more than 1,500 deployed nuclear weapons, and some 5,000 warheads.

I firmly believe that we can ensure the security of the United States and our allies, maintain a strong deterrent against any threat, and still pursue further reductions in our nuclear arsenal.

Going forward, we’ll continue to seek discussions with Russia on a step we have never taken before — reducing not only our strategic nuclear warheads, but also tactical weapons and warheads in reserve.  I look forward to discussing this agenda with President Putin when we will meet in May.  Missile defense will be on the agenda, but I believe this should be an area of cooperation, not tension.  And I’m confident that, working together, we can continue to make progress and reduce our nuclear stockpiles.  Of course, we’ll consult closely with our allies every step of the way, because the security and defense of our allies, both in Europe and Asia, is not negotiable.

Here in Asia, we’ve urged China — with its growing nuclear arsenal — to join us in a dialogue on nuclear issues.  That offer remains open.  And more broadly, my administration will continue to pursue ratification of the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty.  And after years of delay, it’s time to find a path forward on a new treaty that verifiably ends the production of fissile materials for nuclear weapons — ends it once and for all.

By working to meet our responsibilities as a nuclear power, we’ve made progress in a third area — strengthening the global regime that prevents the spread of nuclear weapons.  When I came into office, the cornerstone of the world’s effort — which is the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty — was fraying.  Iran had started spinning thousands of centrifuges.  North Korea conducted another nuclear test.  And the international community was largely divided on how to respond.

Over the past three years, we have begun to reverse that dynamic.  Working with others, we’ve enhanced the global partnership that prevent proliferation.  The International Atomic Energy Agency is now conducting the strongest inspections ever.  And we’ve upheld the basic bargain of the NPT:  Countries with nuclear weapons, like the United States and Russia, will move towards disarmament; countries without nuclear weapons will not acquire them; and all countries can have access to peaceful nuclear energy.

Because of these efforts, the international community is more united and nations that attempt to flout their obligations are more isolated.  Of course, that includes North Korea.

Here in Korea, I want to speak directly to the leaders in Pyongyang.  The United States has no hostile intent toward your country.  We are committed to peace.  And we are prepared to take steps to improve relations, which is why we have offered nutritional aid to North Korean mothers and children.

But by now it should be clear, your provocations and pursuit of nuclear weapons have not achieved the security you seek; they have undermined it.  Instead of the dignity you desire, you’re more isolated.  Instead of earning the respect of the world, you’ve been met with strong sanctions and condemnation.  You can continue down the road you are on, but we know where that leads.  It leads to more of the same — more broken dreams, more isolation, ever more distance between the people of North Korea and the dignity and the opportunity that they deserve.

And know this:  There will be no rewards for provocations.  Those days are over.  To the leaders of Pyongyang I say, this is the choice before you.  This is the decision that you must make.  Today we say, Pyongyang, have the courage to pursue peace and give a better life to the people of North Korea.  (Applause.)

This same principle applies with respect to Iran.  Under the NPT, Iran has the right to peaceful nuclear energy.  In fact, time and again the international community — including the United States — has offered to help Iran develop nuclear energy peacefully.  But time and again Iran has refused, instead taking the path of denial, deceit and deception.  And that is why Iran also stands alone, as the only member of the NPT unable to convince the international community that its nuclear program is for peaceful purposes — the only member.  That’s why the world has imposed unprecedented sanctions, slowing Iran’s nuclear program.

The international community is now poised to enter talks with Iran’s leaders.  Once again, there is the possibility of a diplomatic resolution that gives Iran access to peaceful nuclear energy while addressing the concerns of the international community.  Today, I’ll meet with the leaders of Russia and China as we work to achieve a resolution in which Iran fulfills its obligations.

There is time to solve this diplomatically.  It is always my preference to solve these issues diplomatically.  But time is short.  Iran’s leaders must understand they, too, face a choice. Iran must act with the seriousness and sense of urgency  that this moment demands.  Iran must meet its obligations.

For the global response to Iran and North Korea’s intransigence, a new international norm is emerging:  Treaties are binding; rules will be enforced; and violations will have consequences.  We refuse to consign ourselves to a future where more and more regimes possess the world’s most deadly weapons.

And this brings me to the final area where we’ve made progress — a renewed commitment to harnessing the power of the atom not for war, but for peaceful purposes.  After the tragedy at Fukushima, it was right and appropriate that nations moved to improve the safety and security of nuclear facilities.  We’re doing so in the United States.  It’s taking place all across the world.

As we do, let’s never forget the astonishing benefits that nuclear technology has brought to our lives.  Nuclear technology helps make our food safe.  It prevents disease in the developing world.  It’s the high-tech medicine that treats cancer and finds new cures.  And, of course, it’s the energy — the clean energy that helps cut the carbon pollution that contributes to climate change.  Here in South Korea, as you know, as a leader in nuclear energy, you’ve shown the progress and prosperity that can be achieved when nations embrace peaceful nuclear energy and reject the development of nuclear arms.

And with rising oil prices and a warming climate, nuclear energy will only become more important.  That’s why, in the United States, we’ve restarted our nuclear industry as part of a comprehensive strategy to develop every energy source.  We supported the first new nuclear power plant in three decades.  We’re investing in innovative technologies so we can build the next generation of safe, clean nuclear power plants.  And we’re training the next generation of scientists and engineers who are going to unlock new technologies to carry us forward.

One of the great challenges they’ll face and that your generation will face is the fuel cycle itself in producing nuclear energy.  We all know the problem:  The very process that gives us nuclear energy can also put nations and terrorists within the reach of nuclear weapons.  We simply can’t go on accumulating huge amounts of the very material, like separated plutonium, that we’re trying to keep away from terrorists.

And that’s why we’re creating new fuel banks, to help countries realize the energy they seek without increasing the nuclear dangers that we fear.  That’s why I’ve called for a new framework for civil nuclear cooperation.  We need an international commitment to unlocking the fuel cycle of the future.  In the United States we’re investing in the research and development of new fuel cycles so that dangerous materials can’t be stolen or diverted.  And today I urge nations to join us in seeking a future where we harness the awesome power of the atom to build and not to destroy.

In this sense, we see how the efforts I’ve described today reinforce each other.  When we enhance nuclear security, we’re in a stronger position to harness safe, clean nuclear energy.  When we develop new, safer approaches to nuclear energy, we reduce the risk of nuclear terrorism and proliferation.  When nations, including my own, fulfill our responsibilities, it strengthens our ability to ensure that other nations fulfill their responsibilities.  And step by step, we come closer to the security and peace of a world without nuclear weapons.

I know that there are those who deride our vision.  There are those who say ours is an impossible goal that will be forever out of reach.  But to anyone who doubts the great progress that is possible, I tell them, come to Korea.  Come to this country, which rose from the ashes of war — (applause) — a country that rose from the ashes of war, turning rubble into gleaming cities.  Stand where I stood yesterday, along a border that is the world’s clearest contrast between a country committed to progress, a country committed to its people, and a country that leaves its own citizens to starve.

Come to this great university, where a new generation is taking its place in the world — (applause) — helping to create opportunities that your parents and grandparents could only imagine.  Come and see some of the courageous individuals who join us today — men and women, young and old, born in the North, but who left all they knew behind and risked their lives to find freedom and opportunity here in the South.  In your life stories we see the truth — Koreans are one people.  And if just given the chance, if given their freedom, Koreans in the North are capable of great progress as well.  (Applause.)

Looking out across the DMZ yesterday, but also looking into your eyes today, I’m reminded of another country’s experience that speaks to the change that is possible in our world.  After a terrible war, a proud people was divided.  Across a fortified border, armies massed, ready for war.  For decades, it was hard to imagine a different future.  But the forces of history and hopes of man could not be denied.  And today, the people of Germany are whole again — united and free.

No two places follow the same path, but this much is true:  The currents of history cannot be held back forever.  The deep longing for freedom and dignity will not go away.  (Applause.) So, too, on this divided peninsula.  The day all Koreans yearn for will not come easily or without great sacrifice.  But make no mistake, it will come.  (Applause.)  And when it does, change will unfold that once seemed impossible.  And checkpoints will open and watchtowers will stand empty, and families long separated will finally be reunited.  And the Korean people, at long last, will be whole and free.

Like our vision of a world without nuclear weapons, our vision of a Korea that stands as one may not be reached quickly.  But from this day until then, and all the days that follow, we take comfort in knowing that the security we seek, the peace we want, is closer at hand because of the great alliance between the United States and the Republic of Korea — (applause) — and because we stand for the dignity and freedom of all Koreans.  (Applause.)  And no matter the test, no matter the trial, we stand together.  We work together.  We go together.  (Applause.)
Katchi kapshida!

Thank you very much.  (Applause.)

END
11:03 A.M. KST

Full Text Obama Presidency March 5, 2012: President Barack Obama and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu of Israel Remarks / Speeches at White House Meeting on Iran

POLITICAL SPEECHES & DOCUMENTS

OBAMA PRESIDENCY & THE 112TH CONGRESS:

President Obama Meets With Prime Minister Netanyahu

Source: WH, 3-5-12


President Barack Obama and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu of Israel (March 5, 2012) President Barack Obama and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu of Israel deliver statements to the press prior to their bilateral meeting in the Oval Office, March 5, 2012. (Official White House Photo by Lawrence Jackson)

A day after speaking at the AIPAC Policy Conference, President Obama welcomed Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to the White House.

Before the two leaders sat down for their meeting, they spoke briefly with reporters. President Obama said:

This visit obviously comes at a critical time. We are seeing incredible changes that are taking place in the Middle East and in North Africa. We have seen the terrible bloodshed that’s going on in Syria, the democratic transition that’s taking place in Egypt. And in the midst of this, we have an island of democracy and one of our greatest allies in Israel.

As I’ve said repeatedly, the bond between our two countries is unbreakable. My personal commitment — a commitment that is consistent with the history of other occupants of this Oval Office — our commitment to the security of Israel is rock solid. And as I’ve said to the Prime Minister in every single one of our meetings, the United States will always have Israel’s back when it comes to Israel’s security. This is a bond that is based not only on our mutual security interests and economic interests, but is also based on common values and the incredible people-to-people contacts that we have between our two countries.

Read the full remarks from both leaders here.

POLITICAL QUOTES & SPEECHES

Remarks by President Obama and Prime Minister Netanyahu of Israel

Oval Office

10:53 A.M. EST

PRESIDENT OBAMA:  Well, I want to welcome Prime Minister Netanyahu and the entire Israeli delegation back to the White House, back to the Oval Office.

This visit obviously comes at a critical time.  We are seeing incredible changes that are taking place in the Middle East and in North Africa.  We have seen the terrible bloodshed that’s going on in Syria, the democratic transition that’s taking place in Egypt.  And in the midst of this, we have an island of democracy and one of our greatest allies in Israel.

As I’ve said repeatedly, the bond between our two countries is unbreakable.  My personal commitment — a commitment that is consistent with the history of other occupants of this Oval Office — our commitment to the security of Israel is rock solid. And as I’ve said to the Prime Minister in every single one of our meetings, the United States will always have Israel’s back when it comes to Israel’s security.  This is a bond that is based not only on our mutual security interests and economic interests, but is also based on common values and the incredible people-to-people contacts that we have between our two countries.

During the course of this meeting, we’ll talk about the regional issues that are taking place, and I look forward to the Prime Minister sharing with me his ideas about how we can increase the prospects of peace and security in the region.  We will discuss the issues that continue to be a focus of not only our foreign policy but also the Prime Minister’s — how we can, potentially, bring about a calmer set of discussions between the Israelis and the Palestinians and arrive at a peaceful resolution to that longstanding conflict.  It is a very difficult thing to do in light of the context right now, but I know that the Prime Minister remains committed to trying to achieve that.

And obviously a large topic of conversation will be Iran, which I devoted a lot of time to in my speech to AIPAC yesterday, and I know that the Prime Minister has been focused on for a long period of time.  Let me just reiterate a couple of points on that.

Number one, we all know that it’s unacceptable from Israel’s perspective to have a country with a nuclear weapon that has called for the destruction of Israel.  But as I emphasized yesterday, it is profoundly in the United States’ interest as well to prevent Iran from obtaining a nuclear weapon.  We do not want to see a nuclear arms race in one of the most volatile regions in the world.  We do not want the possibility of a nuclear weapon falling into the hands of terrorists.  And we do not want a regime that has been a state sponsor of terrorism being able to feel that it can act even more aggressively or with impunity as a consequence of its nuclear power.

That’s why we have worked so diligently to set up the most crippling sanctions ever with respect to Iran.  We do believe that there is still a window that allows for a diplomatic resolution to this issue, but ultimately the Iranians’ regime has to make a decision to move in that direction, a decision that they have not made thus far.

And as I emphasized, even as we will continue on the diplomatic front, we will continue to tighten pressure when it comes to sanctions, I reserve all options, and my policy here is not going to be one of containment.  My policy is prevention of Iran obtaining nuclear weapons.  And as I indicated yesterday in my speech, when I say all options are at the table, I mean it.

Having said that, I know that both the Prime Minister and I prefer to resolve this diplomatically.  We understand the costs of any military action.  And I want to assure both the American people and the Israeli people that we are in constant and close consultation.  I think the levels of coordination and consultation between our militaries and our intelligence not just on this issue but on a broad range of issues has been unprecedented.  And I intend to make sure that that continues during what will be a series of difficult months, I suspect, in 2012.

So, Prime Minister, we welcome you and we appreciate very much the friendship of the Israeli people.  You can count on that friendship always being reciprocated from the United States.

PRIME MINISTER NETANYAHU:  Thank you.

PRESIDENT OBAMA:  Thank you.

PRIME MINISTER NETANYAHU:  Mr. President, thank you for those kind words.  And thank you, too, for that strong speech yesterday.  And I want to thank you also for the warm hospitality that you’ve shown me and my delegation.

The alliance between our two countries is deeply appreciated by me and by everyone in Israel.  And I think that, as you said, when Americans look around the Middle East today, they see one reliable, stable, faithful ally of the United States, and that’s the democracy of Israel.

Americans know that Israel and the United States share common values, that we defend common interests, that we face common enemies.  Iran’s leaders know that, too.  For them, you’re the Great Satan, we’re the Little Satan.  For them, we are you and you’re us.  And you know something, Mr. President — at least on this last point, I think they’re right.  We are you, and you are us.  We’re together.  So if there’s one thing that stands out clearly in the Middle East today, it’s that Israel and America stand together.

I think that above and beyond that are two principles, longstanding principles of American policy that you reiterated yesterday in your speech — that Israel must have the ability always to defend itself by itself against any threat; and that when it comes to Israel’s security, Israel has the right, the sovereign right to make its own decisions.  I believe that’s why you appreciate, Mr. President, that Israel must reserve the right to defend itself.

And after all, that’s the very purpose of the Jewish state  — to restore to the Jewish people control over our destiny.  And that’s why my supreme responsibility as Prime Minister of Israel is to ensure that Israel remains the master of its fate.

So I thank you very much, Mr. President, for your friendship, and I look forward to our discussions.  Thank you, Mr. President.

PRESIDENT OBAMA:  Thank you very much.

Thank you, everybody.

END
11:02 A.M. EST

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