Obama Says His Legacy Is On The Line In Iran Deal

| by Amanda Andrade-Rhoades

President Barack Obama revealed in an interview with The Atlantic that he has a “personal interest” in ensuring the pending nuclear deal with Iran is put in place, securing his legacy.

“Look, 20 years from now, I’m still going to be around, God willing,” Obama said. "If Iran has a nuclear weapon, it’s my name on this. 

"I think it’s fair to say that in addition to our profound national security interests, I have a personal interest in locking this down."

The United States, along with France, Great Britain, Russia, Germany and China, is working to shrink Iran’s uranium enrichment program in exchange for reducing economic sanctions against the Middle Eastern nation. Negotiators hope the deal, which has been repeatedly stalled, will be sealed by June 30. 

Obama acknowledged that other countries in the Middle East may want to develop their own nuclear programs, although they generally accept international monitoring of Iran’s facilities. Obama said earlier, “Their covert — presumably — pursuit of a nuclear program would greatly strain the relationship they’ve got with the United States.”

Obama went on to defend the deal and stated that Iran would not receive billions of dollars because of the reduced sanctions. “It is not a mathematical formula whereby [Iranian leaders] get a certain amount of sanctions relief and automatically they’re causing more problems in the neighborhood,” he said.

Although Obama described Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, Iran's supreme leader, as “anti-Semetic,” he said it didn’t change Khamenei’s role as a leader. “Well, the fact that you are anti-Semitic, or racist, doesn’t preclude you from being interested in survival," Obama said. "It doesn’t preclude you from being rational about the need to keep your economy afloat; it doesn’t preclude you from making strategic decisions about how you stay in power. And so the fact that the supreme leader is anti-Semitic doesn’t mean that this overrides all of his other considerations.”

Obama also touched on his often fraught relationship with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who said before his re-election that he would not allow the creation of a Palestinian state. 

"When I am then required to come to Israel’s defense internationally, when there is anti-Semitism out there, when there is anti-Israeli policy that is based not on the particulars of the Palestinian cause but [is] based simply on hostility, I have to make sure that I am entirely credible in speaking out against those things, and that requires me then to also be honest with friends about how I view these issues,” Obama said. “Now that makes, understandably, folks both in Israel and here in the United States uncomfortable.”


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Sources: The Hill, The Atlantic / Image via summonedbyfells/Flickr