November 24th, 2013
01:51 AM ET
8 months ago

Iran nuclear deal: President Barack Obama's legacy moment on Iran

Washington (CNN) - These are troubled times for President Barack Obama.

He's a lame duck president. The latest CNN/ORC poll has his approval rating at 41% - the lowest of his presidency. And the Affordable Care Act, his signature legislation, has been hobbled by the botched and much maligned rollout of the signup website.


So, the historic deal that Iran reached with six world powers over Tehran's nuclear program couldn't come at a better time.

"Today, diplomacy opened up a new path toward a world that is more secure," Obama said in a televised address from the East Room of the White House, after the deal was announced. "A future in which we can verify that Iran's nuclear program is peaceful and that it cannot build a nuclear weapon."

But will the agreement be enough to help distract the public from the Obamacare rollout debacle and potentially improve his image?

Perhaps. Perhaps not.

In a CNN/ORC poll released Thursday, 56% of Americans said they'd favor the kind of interim deal with Iran that was eventually reached. Another 39% said they'd oppose it.

The agreement - described as an "initial, six-month" deal - includes "substantial limitations that will help prevent Iran from creating a nuclear weapon," according to the president.

"Simply put, they cut off Iran's most likely paths to a bomb," he said.

But there are drawbacks as well.

The deal complicates Obama's relationship with Israel, a key ally in the region. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu strongly oppose any deal, and the Israeli government had strong words Sunday.

"The current deal... is more likely to bring Iran closer to having a bomb," Intelligence Minister Yuval Steinitz, a close Netanyahu associate said. "Israel cannot participate in the international celebration, which is based on Iranian deception and the world self-delusion."

A senior administration official told reporters, "You can be sure that President Obama will speak to Prime Minister Netanyahu" on Sunday.

The President also faces skepticism from Congress, where there were talks of increased sanctions as recently as this week.

The deal says that the U.S. will provide $6 to $7 billion in sanction relief in exchange. And Obama can do so by executive order - bypassing Congress altogether.

Reactions poured in late Saturday night, with Republicans slamming the administration for appeasing the Iranian regime.

"This deal appears to provide the world's leading state sponsor of terrorism with billions of dollars in exchange for cosmetic concessions that neither fully freeze nor significantly roll back its nuclear infrastructure," said Sen. Mark Kirk, R-Illinois.

U.S.-Iranian relations have been thawing for months now, since the election of Hassan Rouhani as Iran's seventh president in June. A senior administration official confirmed Saturday that since the election, U.S. and Iranian officials have been holding private, previously secret discussions to generate ideas for the wider nuclear negotiations.

The détente climaxed in a telephone conversation between Obama and Rouhani this fall during the United Nations General Assembly - the highest contact between leaders of the two countries since the Islamic revolution that led to the Iranian hostage crisis in 1979.

"While today's announcement is just a first step, it achieves a great deal," Obama said. "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,"

Ultimately, however, the outcome - and part of Obama's legacy - hinges on what happens next: Negotiations will continue over the next six months to reach a comprehensive solution to the Iran's nuclear program.

"The success of interim deals will be measured in months and years, not in minutes," said Karim Sadjadpour, a leading researcher on Iran for the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace.

All eyes, of course, will be on the president through then.

–CNN's Jim Acosta, Jim Sciutto, and Chelsea J. Carter contributed to this report.


Filed under: Iran • President Obama
soundoff (18 Responses)
  1. messup

    "Prevaricator-in-Chief" has spoken! Like ACA, "We have to pass it, to see what's in it!" Once again, this nuke deal will be full of holes.
    His "fellow travelers" are now fanning out across America and all blogs in support of Decimating Israel!
    (American)Progressive New Left Activists have populated this article with their favorite venom and preferred tactic...a time tested "messenger vs. message" meme.
    See, PNLA's want Israel to completely "just walk away from Israel!" Period. Forget their past, present and future...American PNLA's want to continue beating into the ground, everything Jewish State. Why? Because, so goes PNLA's favorite line of reasoning, "Palestinians were historically inhabitants of the region" way before creation of a Jewish state. This, a verifiably false statement.
    Thoughtful debate and arguments, contrary to this statement, are dismissed by PNLA's with derision and defamation of its "messenger" (favorite Alinsky tactic). If the "messenger" is dismissed as a "wing nut" or better yet "Teabagger" then no need to even give "the message" any such credence...the "messenger" was destroyed.
    See, PNLA's can't debate FACTS, because their notebooks are filled with blank pages.
    Israel deserves Israel and its People's Right to life, liberty and pursuit of freedom...regardless what American Communists have decided.Pray. Amen. God Bless America. Join A Tea Party, urgently. Iran should've allowed inspection teams access to their most secretive nuclear operations...which they didn't, ergo sanctions and debilitation to all Iranians. This hasn't a good ending, sorry.

    November 24, 2013 01:59 am at 1:59 am |
  2. screenshot

    Reblogged this on Screenshots News and commented:
    Trending tweets this evening about the Iran nuclear agreement indicated a general sense of distrust and wariness, cynicism about the arrangement. Israel is NOT happy at all about it.

    November 24, 2013 02:08 am at 2:08 am |
  3. Seth A Drekin

    Not everything is about politics you hack,

    November 24, 2013 02:46 am at 2:46 am |
  4. J.V.Hodgson

    Ok several nations including Russia and china and the major European nations think this is a reasonable deal and for me the run down of the plutonium re-actor is the key element Republicans who have no idea of the exact details of the plan a how it will be implemented don't like it already.... based on what other than most of them would prefer a war with Iran for domestic political reasons ( defense spending etc) than a diplomatic solution. More sanctions will do absolutely zero to stop Iran being able to get the right quality of enriched uranium for a bomb as long as that plutonium reactor functions.
    Republicans need a lesson on nuclear physics, before criticizing the deal.
    Regards,
    Hodgson.

    November 24, 2013 03:55 am at 3:55 am |
  5. don in albuquerque

    Thank You Mister President!!!!!!!!!!!!

    November 24, 2013 07:04 am at 7:04 am |
  6. Marie MD

    NEWSFLASH, President Obama finds the cure for cancer. Teaklans find another deadly disease and unleash it on the world to make him look bad (aka death panels).

    November 24, 2013 07:45 am at 7:45 am |
  7. Rick McDaniel

    This is not a deal. It is an agreement, that has to be approved. There is a huge difference between the two.

    November 24, 2013 08:43 am at 8:43 am |
  8. MF3

    Here is a deal that is good for the average Joe in the US will bring the oil prices down and stimulate our sluggish economy, but the republicans don't like it! they don't seem to know who elected them!

    November 24, 2013 08:53 am at 8:53 am |
  9. Tampa Tim

    Republicans want another war so badly, they will not be happy.

    November 24, 2013 09:11 am at 9:11 am |
  10. Lizzie

    MF3, keep dreaming

    November 24, 2013 09:58 am at 9:58 am |
  11. A True Conservative

    Is everything about HIS legacy? It seems to me that if politicians worried more about the next generation than about their own legacy we would all be much better off.

    November 24, 2013 10:05 am at 10:05 am |
  12. don in albuquerque

    @screenshot-When was Israel happy about anything?

    November 24, 2013 10:07 am at 10:07 am |
  13. Lizzie

    J.V.Hodgson, you should listen to the European news or read their newspapers and then you would see, that they are not to happy about the deal.

    November 24, 2013 10:37 am at 10:37 am |
  14. Oliver

    Why is it OK for USA to have nukes but not Iran??? Oh, that's right...we have them only as deterrents!!! Malarkey...we have them because we can. The country has no business involving itself in the affairs of a sovereign nation. If Iran wants nukes, let Iran have nukes!!!

    November 24, 2013 11:42 am at 11:42 am |
  15. Stuffit

    Will this be another disaster for the American people and the people of the world like his other legacy "achievements". The man is completely untrustworthy and the biggest failure America has ever had.

    November 24, 2013 01:06 pm at 1:06 pm |
  16. barryinlasvegas

    This is not going to be the legacy he wants because history will show he sold out America so he could try and save himself politically from the wrath of Obamacare.

    November 24, 2013 02:55 pm at 2:55 pm |
  17. granny

    Wouldn't be counting on this for another try at a legacy, obamacare didn't work out so good

    November 24, 2013 06:26 pm at 6:26 pm |
  18. Steve- Illinois

    LOL Another "legacy."

    November 24, 2013 11:28 pm at 11:28 pm |