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Supreme Leader: Letter to American Youth

In reaction to the Charlie Hebdo attacks, Iran’s supreme leader appealed to American and European youth to not blindly accept stereotypes of Muslims. Ayatollah Ali Khamenei urged them to study Islam for themselves in the following unusual letter.

 

In the name of God, the Beneficent the Merciful

To the Youth in Europe and North America,

The recent events in France and similar ones in some other Western countries have convinced me to directly talk to you about them. I am addressing you, [the youth], not because I overlook your parents, rather it is because the future of your nations and countries will be in your hands; and also I find that the sense of quest for truth is more vigorous and attentive in your hearts.

I don’t address your politicians and statesmen either in this writing because I believe that they have consciously separated the route of politics from the path of righteousness and truth.

I would like to talk to you about Islam, particularly the image that is presented to you as Islam. Many attempts have been made over the past two decades, almost since the disintegration of the Soviet Union, to place this great religion in the seat of a horrifying enemy. The provocation of a feeling of horror and hatred and its utilization has unfortunately a long record in the political history of the West.

Here, I don’t want to deal with the different phobias with which the Western nations have thus far been indoctrinated. A cursory review of recent critical studies of history would bring home to you the fact that the Western governments’ insincere and hypocritical treatment of other nations and cultures has been censured in new historiographies.

The histories of the United States and Europe are ashamed of slavery, embarrassed by the colonial period and chagrined at the oppression of people of color and non-Christians. Your researchers and historians are deeply ashamed of the bloodsheds wrought in the name of religion between the Catholics and Protestants or in the name of nationality and ethnicity during the First and Second World Wars. This approach is admirable.

By mentioning a fraction of this long list, I don’t want to reproach history; rather I would like you to ask your intellectuals as to why the public conscience in the West awakens and comes to its senses after a delay of several decades or centuries. Why should the revision of collective conscience apply to the distant past and not to the current problems? Why is it that attempts are made to prevent public awareness regarding an important issue such as the treatment of Islamic culture and thought?

You know well that humiliation and spreading hatred and illusionary fear of the “other” have been the common base of all those oppressive profiteers. Now, I would like you to ask yourself why the old policy of spreading “phobia” and hatred has targeted Islam and Muslims with an unprecedented intensity. Why does the power structure in the world want Islamic thought to be marginalized and remain latent? What concepts and values in Islam disturb the programs of the super powers and what interests are safeguarded in the shadow of distorting the image of Islam? Hence, my first request is: Study and research the incentives behind this widespread tarnishing of the image of Islam.

My second request is that in reaction to the flood of prejudgments and disinformation campaigns, try to gain a direct and firsthand knowledge of this religion. The right logic requires that you understand the nature and essence of what they are frightening you about and want you to keep away from.

I don’t insist that you accept my reading or any other reading of Islam. What I want to say is: Don’t allow this dynamic and effective reality in today’s world to be introduced to you through resentments and prejudices. Don’t allow them to hypocritically introduce their own recruited terrorists as representatives of Islam.

Receive knowledge of Islam from its primary and original sources. Gain information about Islam through the Qur’an and the life of its great Prophet. I would like to ask you whether you have directly read the Qur’an of the Muslims. Have you studied the teachings of the Prophet of Islam and his humane, ethical doctrines? Have you ever received the message of Islam from any sources other than the media?

Have you ever asked yourself how and on the basis of which values has Islam established the greatest scientific and intellectual civilization of the world and raised the most distinguished scientists and intellectuals throughout several centuries?

I would like you not to allow the derogatory and offensive image-buildings to create an emotional gulf between you and the reality, taking away the possibility of an impartial judgment from you. Today, the communication media have removed the geographical borders. Hence, don’t allow them to besiege you within fabricated and mental borders.

Although no one can individually fill the created gaps, each one of you can construct a bridge of thought and fairness over the gaps to illuminate yourself and your surrounding environment. While this preplanned challenge between Islam and you, the youth, is undesirable, it can raise new questions in your curious and inquiring minds. Attempts to find answers to these questions will provide you with an appropriate opportunity to discover new truths.

Therefore, don’t miss the opportunity to gain proper, correct and unbiased understanding of Islam so that hopefully, due to your sense of responsibility toward the truth, future generations would write the history of this current interaction between Islam and the West with a clearer conscience and lesser resentment.

Congress: Heated Debate on New Sanctions

Several U.S. lawmakers have challenged the Obama administration’s approach to nuclear talks with Iran. President Obama "expects us to stand idly by and do nothing while he cuts a bad deal with Iran," House Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) told Republicans on January 21. "Two words: Hell no...We're going to do no such thing." To force Tehran’s hand at the negotiating table, Sens. Mark Kirk (R-IL) and Bob Menendez (D-NJ) have introduced bipartisan legislation that would impose new sanctions on Iran if no nuclear deal is reached by July 6.

But administration officials and several lawmakers, mostly Democrats, have warned that new legislation could derail talks. President Obama has repeatedly pledged to veto any new sanctions bill. And Seyyed Abbas Araqchi, a top Iranian negotiator, recently warned that “if more pressure is exerted, we will leave the negotiating table."
 
The following are excerpted remarks from U.S. lawmakers and administration officials.
 
Supporters of New Sanctions 
 
Sen. Bob Menendez
 
“The more I hear from the administration and its quotes, the more it sounds like talking points that come straight out of Iran...And it feeds to the Iranian narrative of victimization, when they're the ones with original sin."
 – Jan. 21, 2015, during a Senate hearing

House Speaker Rep. John Boehner (R-OH)
 
"[President Obama]expects us to stand idly by and do nothing while he cuts a bad deal with Iran," House Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) told Republicans on January 21. "Two words: Hell no...We're going to do no such thing."
 – Jan. 21, 2015 according to the press
 
Sen. Mark Kirk (R-IL)

 
Sen. Tom Cotton (R-AR)
 
“The surest way to preserve peace is to prepare for war…thus, it may be up to Congress to restore the credible threat of force.”
 – Jan. 13, 2015, according to the press
 
“We need a shift in policy to a clear-eyed and hard-nosed policy of strength based on America’s interests and the threat posed by Iran. The goal must be clear — regime change.”
 
“The United States should cease all appeasement, conciliation and concessions toward Iran, starting with these sham nuclear negotiations.”
 
“What started as an unwise policy has now descended into a dangerous farce.”
 
“One can only suspect an unspoken entente between the Obama administration and Iran: the U.S. won’t impose new sanctions on Iran and we will allow it to build threshold nuclear capabilities while Iran won’t assemble a bomb until 2017.”
– Jan. 13, 2015, according to the press
 
Sen. Bob Casey (D-PA)
 
“I think you have to continue to maintain that pressure [through sanctions]. And I worry that … the Iranian regime, they think that they’re scoring points, they’re getting momentum. They look at the international stage and frankly look a lot better maybe than they did months ago because they have been engaged in negotiations and dialogue…So I worry that, over time, these sanctions, the current sanctions, have less significance.”
 – Jan. 13, 2015, according to the press
 
Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL)
 
"These negotiations that are going on now are really not going to bear fruit.”
 
"I always hope that I wake up one morning and read that the supreme leader in Iran has become a normal person, but he is a radical cleric that shares a radical view of his theology.”
 
"[The negotiations] are nothing but an effort to buy time to gain some sanctions relief, but not give up any irreversible concessions on the part of the Iranian government."
 – Jan. 18, 2015, according to the press
 
Rep. Erik Paulsen (R-MN)
 
“With the most recent foreign policy news being focused on countries like Cuba, North Korea, and Syria, attention has been diverted from the very real threat that a nuclear Iran presents to a safer and more peaceful world. Throughout recent negotiations with the United States, Iranian leaders have received sanction relief in exchange for a lot of talk but little action.
 
“I support efforts to achieve a long-term, verifiable agreement that ends Iran’s nuclear weapons program, but I fear that Iran’s intentions are to obfuscate, delay, and extend the clock while it continues down the path of nuclear weapons capability.
 
“Because of its longtime history of arming and supporting terrorist organizations, a nuclear-armed Iran is not only a threat to our strongest Middle East ally, Israel, but also the United States.
 
“As a Member of Congress, I have strongly advocated for economic sanctions. These sanctions have had their intended effect on the Iranian economy and ultimately brought Iran to the negotiating table. Now is not the time for sanctions relief but for increased economic pressure. As we enter the new year, Congress should pass additional sanctions to further make it clear the world will not tolerate a nuclear-armed Iran.”
 – Dec. 30, 2014, in a statement
 
Rep. Ted Deutch (D-FL)
 
“I also reject the premise that negotiations over Iran’s nuclear weapons program would be derailed by Congress passing carefully-crafted sanctions that only take effect if the regime fails to live up to its international obligations. After all, it was sanctions that drove Iran to the negotiating table in the first place.”
 – Jan. 20, 2015, in a statement
 
Opponents of New Sanctions
 
Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-CA)
“I strongly support the president’s call to Congress to refrain from imposing additional sanctions on Iran. New sanctions now would violate the interim agreement, collapse the negotiations and take us out of lockstep with the international community.
 
“We have a responsibility to support the diplomatic negotiations and see them through. If they fail to achieve a deal, then we should consider sanctions and next steps, but we shouldn’t prejudge that outcome.”
 – Jan. 20, 2015 in a statement
 
Rep. David Price (D-NC)
 
“If my colleagues are serious about restraining Iran’s nuclear ambitions, they will resist the temptation to intervene and instead let our negotiators finish the job.”
 
“While the JPOA is only a temporary agreement, Iran has complied with it and verifiably frozen and rolled back its nuclear program, demonstrating that it is willing to take negotiations seriously.
 
Congress could play an important oversight role while negotiators work to build on this progress and secure a verifiable and lasting nuclear agreement with Iran. But acting peremptorily to demand specific concessions from Iran could destabilize the diplomatic balance needed for negotiations to both continue and ultimately succeed. It would be unwise, for example, to lay out unrealistic or overly-specific requirements for a final agreement to be acceptable to Congress.”
 
“Imposing new or less flexible economic sanctions – which has been proposed by a number of my congressional colleagues, including Senators Kirk and Menendez – could do great damage to our prospects for a nuclear agreement with Iran. New punitive action could strengthen Iranian hard-liners and make their withdrawal from the negotiations more likely. Acting unilaterally could also undermine the stability of our international alliance, and thereby actually weaken the existing international sanctions regime.”
 
“The existing sanctions are, of course, a major reason that Iran is at the negotiating table, and Congress should stand ready to reimpose and strengthen them should Iran violate the terms of the JPOA or any future nuclear agreement. But taking punitive action now could send a message that Congress does not stand behind the negotiators.”
 – Jan. 20, 2015, in an op-ed for The Guardian
 
Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-OH)
 
"There's not a rush on [passing a sanctions bill]. I mean these negotiations are going forward, I don't want to disrupt the negotiations. ... Our long-term allies are saying 'Don't do this.' So I don't know what the hurry is.”
 – Jan. 20, 2015, according to the press
 
Sen. Tim Kaine (D-VA)
 
"We all want the same thing. We want a non-nuclear Iran, and we prefer to get there diplomatically rather than by any other outcome. So this is really a question of strategy rather than end-goal.”
“I don’t want to do anything that makes people question whether we are negotiating fairly,” referencing new sanctions legislation
 – Jan. 20, 2015, according to the press
 
Sen. Dick Durbin (D-IL)
 
"I think there are some [Democrats] who are more anxious and want to create some incentive for the Iranians to do the right thing by putting pressure on them.”
"Others, like myself, feel that this is a once-in-a-political-lifetime opportunity (to get a deal with Iran). I just don't want to jeopardize the negotiations."
 – Jan. 21, 2015, according to the press

Sen. Jeff Flake (R-AZ)
 
 “We often say that the purpose of sanctions is to get parties to the table. They are at the table, and so I'm confused by the notion that some would want to impose additional sanctions while negotiations are going on.”
– Jan. 21, 2015 during a Senate hearing
 
Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY)
 
“Are you ready to send ground troops into Iran? Are you ready to bomb them? Are you ready to send in 100,000 troops? I’m a big fan of trying to exert and trying the diplomatic option as long as we can. If it fails, I will vote to resume sanctions and I would vote to have new sanctions. But if you do it in the middle of negotiations, you’re ruining it.”
– Jan. 26, 2015 at a presidential forum
 
“My fear is that in eagerness, you know, to put more sanctions on those who are overly eager … could get us to a point where there are only two solutions: either Iran gets a bomb or there’s war, whereas right now we have a third solution which is a little better.”
 
“I’ve been talking with many Republicans and many Democrats to try to try find a way forward that does not ruin the chance for negotiations. I voted for sanctions in the past with the intention and the hope that we could find a peaceful outcome to this where Iran does not develop nuclear weapons.”
 
“My fear is that if new sanctions are placed on that, the sanctions coalition will break up.”
 – Jan. 20, 2015, according to the press
 
Administration officials
 
President Barack Obama
 
Congress “needs to show patience” while negotiations are underway because “the chances that this will become a military confrontation is heightened” if lawmakers try to pass new sanctions now.
 
“I will veto a bill that comes to my desk, and I will make this argument to the American people as to why I am doing so. I respectfully request for them to hold off for a few months to see if we have the possibility of solving a big problem without resorting potentially to war.”
“It’s my team that’s at the table. We are steeped in this stuff day in and day out. We don’t come to these assessments blindly.”
 
“If Iran proves unable to say yes [to a deal]… then we’re going to have to explore other options, and I would be the first to come to Congress and say we need to tighten the screws.”
 – Jan. 16, 2015, according to the press
 
Our diplomacy is at work with respect to Iran, where, for the first time in a decade, we’ve halted the progress of its nuclear program and reduced its stockpile of nuclear material.  Between now and this spring, we have a chance to negotiate a comprehensive agreement that prevents a nuclear-armed Iran; secures America and our allies – including Israel; while avoiding yet another Middle East conflict.  There are no guarantees that negotiations will succeed, and I keep all options on the table to prevent a nuclear Iran.  But new sanctions passed by this Congress, at this moment in time, will all but guarantee that diplomacy fails – alienating America from its allies; and ensuring that Iran starts up its nuclear program again.  It doesn’t make sense.  That is why I will veto any new sanctions bill that threatens to undo this progress.  The American people expect us to only go to war as a last resort, and I intend to stay true to that wisdom.
 – Jan. 20, 2015, in his State of the Union address
 
U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Samantha Power
 
“Some members of Congress believe that the time has come to ratchet up sanctions on Iran. They argue that this is the most effective way to achieve the goal of getting Iran to give up its nuclear program. We in the administration believe that, at this time, increasing sanctions would dramatically undermine our efforts to reach this shared goal.”
 
"Some members of Congress believe that the time has come to ratchet up sanctions on Iran….They argue that this is the most effective way to achieve the goal of getting Iran to give up its nuclear program."
 
"We in the administration believe that, at this time, increasing sanctions would dramatically undermine our efforts to reach this shared goal.”
 
"We are still at the negotiating table for one reason, and one reason alone…We assess that we still have a credible chance of reaching the agreement we want."
 
“If new sanctions were imposed, Iran would be able to blame the U.S. for sabotaging the negotiations and causing the collapse of the process, and we would lose the chance to peacefully resolve a major national security challenge.”
 – Jan. 12, 2015, in a speech at the University of Louisville
*Quotes from Arkansas News and Reuters
 
State Department Deputy Spokesperson Marie Harf
 
"Even with a trigger [for new sanctions], if there's a bill that's signed into law, and it is US law, in our mind it is a violation of the Joint Plan of Action— which, as we've said, could encourage Iran to violate it.”
 
"A sanctions bill, trigger or not, that is passed and signed into law by the president, which we've said we will not do... would be a violation of the JPOA.”
 
“[If a deal does not come to pass] we could put initial sanctions on Iran in 24 hours."
"Sanctions alone do not stop Iran's nuclear program. It was through negotiations that we got to the Joint Plan of Action.”
 – Jan. 20, 2015, according to the press
 
Under Secretary of the Treasury for Terrorism and Financial Intelligence David Cohen
 
“We believe that new sanctions are not needed at this time...To the contrary, new sanctions at this time, even with a delayed trigger, are more likely to undermine, rather than enhance, the chances of achieving a comprehensive agreement."
 – Jan. 21, 2015, during a Senate hearing
 
Deputy Secretary of State Anthony Blinken
 
“It is our considered judgment and strongly held view that new sanctions, at this time, are both unnecessary and far from enhancing the prospects for successful negotiations, risk fatally undermining our diplomacy. There is nothing to be gained and everything to be lost by acting precipitously.”
 – Jan. 21, 2015 during a Senate hearing
 
“The U.S. Congress has played a vital role in getting us to where we are today and will undoubtedly play an important role going forward. Sanctions were instrumental in bringing Iran to the table. But Iran’s program continued until negotiations made the Joint Plan of Action (JPOA) possible. Sanctions did not stop the advance of Iran’s nuclear program. Negotiations did, and it is in our interest not to deny ourselves the chance to achieve a long-term, comprehensive solution that would prevent Iran from acquiring a nuclear weapon.”
 
“Just as we have asked Iran to uphold its commitments under the JPOA, we have lived up to our commitment of providing Iran with limited relief – about $14 to $15 billion from the start of the JPOA through this June. But that relief is dwarfed by the vast amounts denied to Iran under the existing sanctions regime. For example, in 2014 alone, oil sanctions deprived Iran of more than $40 billion in oil revenue – well over twice the estimated value of the relief under the JPOA. And what oil revenues Iran is allowed to generate go into heavily restricted accounts that now encumber more than $100 billion dollars. Virtually the entire sanctions architecture remains in place. Indeed, throughout the existence of the JPOA, sanctions pressure on Iran has not decreased – it has increased.
 
"Congress is now considering legislation to impose additional sanctions on Iran, to be triggered by the failure of negotiations. I know that the intent of this legislation is to further increase pressure on Iran and, in so doing, to strengthen the hand of our negotiators to reach a comprehensive settlement. While the administration appreciates that intent, it is our considered judgment and strongly held view that new sanctions, at this time, are unnecessary and, far from enhancing the prospects for successful negotiations, risk fatally undermining our diplomacy and unraveling the sanctions regime so many in this body have worked so hard to establish."
 
“Those who are best placed to know – the diplomatic professionals who have been leading these negotiations and dealing directly with the Iranians and our international partners for the past several years – believe that the risks [of imposing new sanctions] are real, serious and totally unnecessary. That is their best judgment. Why run those risks and jeopardize the prospects for a deal that will either come together – or not – over the next two months? Why not be patient for a few more months to fully test diplomacy? There is nothing to be gained – and everything to be lost – by acting precipitously.”
 – Jan. 27, 2015 during a Senate hearing
 
Former Administration Officials
 
Former National Security Advisor Brent Scowcroft
 
“I think that the system, the regime, in Iran is different. We don't know how different and we don't know what the results will be. But this is -- their behavior is quite different from when Ahmadinejad was head of the government. And it seems to me that ought to try to take advantage of that.
 
The foreign minister has served in the U.N., at NATO. He's familiar with the West. The president -- they're talking different. And the mullahs are not nearly as vociferous as they were before.
 
Does that mean anything? We don't know. But it seems to me it's worth testing.
 
And I think two things are likely to happen if we increase the sanctions. They will break the talks. And a lot of the people who have now joined us in the sanctions would be in danger of leaving because most of the people who joined us in sanctions on Iran didn't do it to destroy Iran. They did it to help get a nuclear solution.”
 – Jan. 21, 2015, in testimony to the Senate Armed Services Committee
 
Former National Security Advisor Zbigniew Brzezinski
 
“I think the breaking off of the negotiations or the collapse of the negotiations would rest and reverse the painful and difficult process of increasing moderation with then Iranian political life.
 
We're dealing with an old generation of revolutionaries, extremists and so forth. But there is in Iranian society significant change, which every visitor to Iran now notices, toward a more moderate attitude, a more moderate lifestyle, a more tempting inclination to emulate some Western standards, including even how in Tehran women are dressed.
 
All of that I think indicates that Iran is beginning to evolve into what it traditionally has been, a very civilized, important historically country. But we have to be very careful not to have this dramatic and suddenly reversed.
 
Not to mention the negative consequences for global stability that this would have. And the reduction and a willingness in Iranian, a willingness in some fashion to prevent the extremists and the fanatics that are attempting to seize control over the Muslim world from prevailing.”
 – Jan. 21, 2015, in testimony to the Senate Armed Services Committee
 

State of the Union: Obama on Iran

On January 20, President Barack Obama warned Congress that he would veto any new sanctions bill that “threatens to undo” diplomatic progress with Iran.  New sanctions would risk “alienating America from its allies” and push Iran to ramp up its nuclear program, he argued. The following is an excerpt from Obama’s State of the Union speech.

 
Our diplomacy is at work with respect to Iran, where, for the first time in a decade, we’ve halted the progress of its nuclear program and reduced its stockpile of nuclear material.  Between now and this spring, we have a chance to negotiate a comprehensive agreement that prevents a nuclear-armed Iran; secures America and our allies – including Israel; while avoiding yet another Middle East conflict.  There are no guarantees that negotiations will succeed, and I keep all options on the table to prevent a nuclear Iran.  But new sanctions passed by this Congress, at this moment in time, will all but guarantee that diplomacy fails – alienating America from its allies; and ensuring that Iran starts up its nuclear program again.  It doesn’t make sense.  That is why I will veto any new sanctions bill that threatens to undo this progress.  The American people expect us to only go to war as a last resort, and I intend to stay true to that wisdom.
 
Click here for the full text.
 

Geneva Nuke Talks: Limited Progress

On January 18, the world’s six major powers and Iran made limited progress in talks on Tehran’s controversial nuclear program. Representatives from Iran and the so-called P5+1 countries —Britain, China, France, Germany, Russia and the United States— met after five days of diplomacy that included meetings between Secretary of State John Kerry and Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif. “The mood was very good, but I don't think we made a lot of progress,” said French negotiator Nicolas de la Riviere. His Iranian counterpart, Abbas Araqchi said his team remains “hopeful” despite gaps in positions. The next round of talks is slated for February.

The two sides have twice extended self-imposed deadlines to reach a final deal. The goal is to conclude the framework of a deal by March and technical details by June 30. The following are excerpted remarks by officials on the latest round of diplomacy.
 
 
Iran
 
Deputy Foreign Minister Abbas Araqchi
 
“It's too soon to say if we are able to make any progress or not. We are still trying to bridge the gaps between the two sides. We try our best, and as I have always said, as diplomats we are always hopeful.”
 
Discussions were “good” and “intensive.”
 
“We reviewed all subjects on the table and we had very serious and business-like negotiations.”
 
“We are still trying to bridge the gap between the two sides.”
 
“problems, chasms and differences also exist.”
 
“We remain hopeful, and I think that if the other side has the necessary good will and determination it will be possible to reach a deal.”
January 18 to reporters
 
European Union
 
“They had serious and useful meetings chaired by E.U. political director Helga Schmid and decided to meet again in early February.”
—January 18 in a statement
 
France
 
Top negotiator and political director Nicolas de la Riviere 
 
“The mood was very good, but I don't think we made a lot of progress.”
—January 18 to reporters
 
Russia
 
Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov
 
“The meeting was very useful. We had detailed discussions. The talks will soon be resumed.”
—January 18 to reporters
 
China
 
Ministry of Foreign Affairs Arms Control Department Director General Wang Qun
 
Talks were “very pragmatic and in-depth… with existing consensus expanded.”
 
“Time is running short.”
 
“All parties must “adopt a pragmatic and a flexible approach” to reach “resolute political decisions.”
—January 18 to reporters
 

US, UK Leaders Rally Against New Sanctions

On January 16, President Barack Obama and U.K. Prime Minister David Cameron urged U.S. lawmakers not to pass new sanctions legislation. New penalties from Congress would “put at risk the valuable international unity that has been so crucial,” Cameron warned at a joint press conference at the White House.

Cameron also acknowledged that he had called a couple of U.S. Senators to tell them about the U.K. position on sanctions— an extremely unusual step for a U.K. prime minister. U.K. officials said that Cameron also had plans to contact Senate Foreign Relations Chairman Bob Corker, who is working on legislation to require Congressional review of a deal, and Senator Mark Kirk, who has co-authored a bill that would impose new sanctions if talks falter. Cameron also reportedly has plans to speak with Senate Armed Services Chairman John McCain.
 
During the press conference, Obama reiterated his threat to veto any new sanctions legislation. His comments come one day after a meeting with Democratic senators in which he reportedly clashed with Senator Menendez, who has co-authored a sanctions bill with Senator Kirk.  
 
The following are excerpted remarks by Obama and Cameron.
 
President Barack Obama
 
“I am asking Congress to hold off because our negotiators, our partners, those who are most intimately involved in this assess that it would jeopardize. My main message to Congress is just hold your fire.”
 
Congress “needs to show patience” while negotiations are underway because “the chances that this will become a military confrontation is heightened” if lawmakers try to pass new sanctions now.
 
“I will veto a bill that comes to my desk, and I will make this argument to the American people as to why I am doing so. I respectfully request for them to hold off for a few months to see if we have the possibility of solving a big problem without resorting potentially to war.”
“It’s my team that’s at the table. We are steeped in this stuff day in and day out. We don’t come to these assessments blindly.”

“If Iran proves unable to say yes [to a deal]… then we’re going to have to explore other options, and I would be the first to come to Congress and say we need to tighten the screws.”
 
“We may not get there, but we have a chance to resolve the nuclear issue peacefully.”
 
U.K. Prime Minister David Cameron
 
"I have contacted a couple of senators this morning, and I may speak to one or two more this afternoon."
 
But the calls are "not in any way... to tell the American Senate what it should or should not do."
 
“It’s the opinion of the United Kingdom that further sanctions, or further threat of sanctions at this point, won’t actually help to bring the talks to a successful conclusion, and they could fracture the international unity.”
 
*Quotes via Bloomberg, Politico and CBS

 

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