Obama phones Netanyahu to reaffirm ‘shared goal’ on Iran
November 24th, 2013
05:34 PM ET
5 months ago

Obama phones Netanyahu to reaffirm ‘shared goal’ on Iran

Washington (CNN) - President Barack Obama called Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Sunday to discuss the recent bilateral agreement that dials back Iran’s ability to work toward a nuclear weapon. Since the deal was announced on Saturday, Netanyahu has been a harsh critic of the plan.

Josh Earnest, a White House spokesman, said the call was aimed at ensuring Netanyahu knew that the United States “remains completely committed to closely consulting with Israel through this process.”

The president, Earnest said, “also reiterated that the United States and Israel are committed to the same goal, which is ensuring that Iran never obtains a nuclear weapon.”

Earlier on Sunday, Netanyahu slammed the deal crafted by six world powers and Iran.

“What was concluded in Geneva last night is not a historic agreement, it's a historic mistake," the prime minister said. "It's not made the world a safer place. Like the agreement with North Korea in 2005, this agreement has made the world a much more dangerous place.”

Netanyahu, who has long been critical of the talks with Iran, said the agreement allowed Iran to “continue its enrichment of uranium” while only “taking only cosmetic steps, which it could reverse easily within a few weeks, and in return, sanctions that took years to put in place are going to be eased.”

In a written statement about the call, the White House acknowledged that Netanyahu has “has good reason to be skeptical about Iran’s intentions,” but said Obama pledged the international community will “use the months ahead to pursue a lasting, peaceful and comprehensive solution that would resolve the international community’s concerns regarding Iran’s nuclear program.”

“The President and Prime Minister agreed to stay in close contact on this issue as the P5+1 and Iran negotiate a long-term solution over the next six months,” the statement said.

On Saturday, six world powers and Iran announced a six-month agreement to deal with Iran’s nuclear aspirations and the international communities concern about the country developing a nuclear bomb.

In addition to slowing Iran’s nuclear ability, the agreement loosens the sanctions the international community has levied on the country. Those sanctions that have sufficiently damaged the nation’s economy.

In a briefing with reporters, Earnest credited the sanctions with allowing a deal to come together.

“Because of those sanctions, Iran had taken advantage of a diplomatic opportunity,” he said. “Those sanctions are what brought the Iranian regime to the table.

The historic deal, while heralded by many, has been panned by some Democrats and Republicans on Capitol Hill.

Sen. Chuck Schumer of New York, an important Democratic voice on Iran, said the deal disproportionately favors Iran, and he predicted bipartisan support in Congress for new sanctions. Likewise Rep. Eliot Engel, a New York Democrat and ranking member of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, said the sanctions have been working and the new agreement "makes it very difficult to continue the sanctions."

Republicans have also been critical, with some – such as Sen. John Cornyn of Texas – saying the deal is just a way for the Obama administration to distract from the botched rollout of Obamacare, the president’s signature health care law.

Earnest, who made these comments aboard Air Force One as the President headed to the West Coast for a string of fundraisers, said while he didn’t want to address Cornyn directly, that “there are many people who took a rather dim view of that perspective, both towards its plausibly and towards what it says about our foreign policy priories in this country.”

Instead, Earnest said the White House wants “to work closely with Congress” on the next steps with Iran and that “most senators recognize there is an important role for Congress to play as we move forward.”

Working with Iran is something Obama has said he would do since he was first elected in 2008.

In a CNN/YouTube debate in 2008, Obama was asked if he would meet separately, without precondition, with leaders from “Iran, Syria, Venezuela, Cuba and North Korea” – all rouge nations with little diplomatic interaction with the United States.

“I would,” he said. “And the reason is this: the notion that somehow not talking to countries is punishment to them-which has been the guiding diplomatic principle of this administration - is ridiculous.”

During his first inaugural address, Obama made a similar pledge, stating “to those who cling to power through corruption and deceit and the silencing of dissent, know that you are on the wrong side of history, but that we will extend a hand if you are willing to unclench your fist.”

On Sunday, Earnest revisited those remarks as proof that a deal with Iran is something Obama has wanted and aimed to achieve since he was first elected.

“There was a robust debate during the President’s first run at this office back in 2007 about the wisdom of bilateral communications between the U.S. and Iran,” Earnest said. “I only raise that to remind you that these kinds of conversations are something that the President has long advocated.”

– CNN's Ashley Killough contributed to this report.


Filed under: Benjamin Netanyahu • Iran • President Obama
soundoff (14 Responses)
  1. Rick McDaniel

    Entirely smoke screen.........and Netanyahu knows it. If Obama was sincere, the U.S. would not have gone behind the back of Israel, with this "deal".

    November 24, 2013 06:04 pm at 6:04 pm |
  2. dwicjan

    Netanyahu is just a war monger. We, the USA, need to let the Israeli government know that we are tired of their sabre rattling speech. Don't believe that this will stop anytime soon but we must keep trying.

    November 24, 2013 06:20 pm at 6:20 pm |
  3. Stuffit

    Did Netanyahu reply that he saw how the charlatan community organizer screwed over his own citizens with Obozocare and call him a LIAR.

    November 24, 2013 07:52 pm at 7:52 pm |
  4. Kinard

    I'm hoping this works out, and if it does I'd like to see an apology from the Israeli Prime Minister. It seems we've never had a moments peace in this region.

    November 24, 2013 08:49 pm at 8:49 pm |
  5. simplyput

    The president has long advocated dialogue with Iran, and Israel has long disagreed. Time will tell who knows best when dealling with Iran...Israel or Ms Jarrett?

    November 24, 2013 08:53 pm at 8:53 pm |
  6. Tigas

    "Don't worry Neti! I'll just draw red lines all over the place. Those Iranian won't know what hit them!"

    November 24, 2013 09:07 pm at 9:07 pm |
  7. Gurgyl

    Enough of this Israel idiocy. Well, these guys were dictating for decades. Enough. They want all middle-east enemies to USA. Quit. Israel plays politics.

    November 24, 2013 09:41 pm at 9:41 pm |
  8. deedeemao

    It must have taken a huge amount of restraint of the part of the Israelli Prime Minister to not give our fraudulent, clueless and incompetant fool of a president a piece of his mind.

    November 24, 2013 10:32 pm at 10:32 pm |
  9. S. B. Stein

    Israel is our only consistent ally in the area. We need to make sure that Israel isn't going to be adversely affected by this or at least has no major issue with this. Given that Russia and China are involved, this seems to be the best we can get. We need to have something stronger to make it harder for Iran not comply with this new agreement.

    November 24, 2013 11:25 pm at 11:25 pm |
  10. Iamnotfooled

    Look he didn't win the noble peace prize for nothing. Let him try. If they don't obey the rules well......................

    November 25, 2013 02:02 am at 2:02 am |
  11. stormchaser101

    It's time for Bebe and the warmongers to go.Give peace a chance.

    November 25, 2013 05:58 am at 5:58 am |
  12. Marie MD

    To all the politicians on the intelligence committee who are shouting from the rooftops against our President . . . . . .the fact that the flake from MN is on the committee completely disavows anything you say.

    November 25, 2013 06:17 am at 6:17 am |
  13. Tony in Maine

    Fortunately for the world, Netanyahu is not "in charge" of US foreign policy despite what he and half of Congress believe.

    When will the media and report that Bebe is a neocon in the mold of those who love war as long as it's against Muslims.

    November 25, 2013 07:11 am at 7:11 am |
  14. TONE

    This guy Netanyahu is just a war monger that need to be put in his place.

    November 25, 2013 08:25 am at 8:25 am |