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Poll: Rouhani Approval Ratings Down

President Hassan Rouhani’s approval rating has fallen just below 50 percent, according to a new poll by the U.S.-based Information and Public Opinion Solutions (IPOS). The latest survey, conducted February 14-15, found that Rouhani’s approval has slipped to 49 percent from 59 percent in November 2014.

 

The following chart is further breakdown of the range of opinions towards Rouhani’s performance.The latest poll allowed respondents five choices while the November 2014 poll only gave respondents three choices — approval, neutral or no approval.
 
 
The president’s job approval rating did not vary in a statistically significant way according to gender, educational level and location of respondents. But Rouhani’s rating differs significantly across age groups. Rouhani polled the best among Iranians age 59 and above.
 
 
IPOS conducted the survey on February 14-15, which consisted of a random sample of 735 Iranians.
 
Click here for more information.
 

Netanyahu Speech: Obama & Iran React

The following is a three-part series detailing Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s speech to Congress and reactions from U.S. and Iranian leaders.

Part 1 - Netanyahu Speech: The Text

Part 2 - Netanyahu Speech: Obama, US React

 

Netanyahu Speech: The Text

On March 3, 2015, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu criticized a potential nuclear deal with Iran in an address to Congress in Washington, D.C. “We've been told that no deal is better than a bad deal,” he said. “Well, this is a bad deal. It's a very bad deal. We're better off without it.” Netanyahu’s visit was controversial, since House Speaker John Boehner reportedly invited the prime minister without consulting the White House. On February 25, National Security Advisor Susan Rice said Netanyahu’s visit “injected a degree of partisanship” into the nuclear negotiations. More than 50 Democratic lawmakers decided not to attend the speech. The following are excerpts from Netanyahu’s address.

My friends, I've come here today because, as prime minister of Israel, I feel a profound obligation to speak to you about an issue that could well threaten the survival of my country and the future of my people: Iran's quest for nuclear weapons.

We're an ancient people. In our nearly 4,000 years of history, many have tried repeatedly to destroy the Jewish people. Tomorrow night, on the Jewish holiday of Purim, we'll read the Book of Esther. We'll read of a powerful Persian viceroy named Haman, who plotted to destroy the Jewish people some 2,500 years ago. But a courageous Jewish woman, Queen Esther, exposed the plot and gave for the Jewish people the right to defend themselves against their enemies.

The plot was foiled. Our people were saved.

Today the Jewish people face another attempt by yet another Persian potentate to destroy us. Iran's Supreme Leader Ayatollah Khamenei spews the oldest hatred, the oldest hatred of anti-Semitism with the newest technology. He tweets that Israel must be annihilated -- he tweets. You know, in Iran, there isn't exactly free Internet. But he tweets in English that Israel must be destroyed. 

For those who believe that Iran threatens the Jewish state, but not the Jewish people, listen to Hassan Nasrallah, the leader of Hezbollah, Iran's chief terrorist proxy. He said: If all the Jews gather in Israel, it will save us the trouble of chasing them down around the world. 

But Iran's regime is not merely a Jewish problem, any more than the Nazi regime was merely a Jewish problem. The 6 million Jews murdered by the Nazis were but a fraction of the 60 million people killed in World War II. So, too, Iran's regime poses a grave threat, not only to Israel, but also the peace of the entire world. To understand just how dangerous Iran would be with nuclear weapons, we must fully understand the nature of the regime. 
 
The people of Iran are very talented people. They're heirs to one of the world's great civilizations. But in 1979, they were hijacked by religious zealots -- religious zealots who imposed on them immediately a dark and brutal dictatorship. 

That year, the zealots drafted a constitution, a new one for Iran. It directed the revolutionary guards not only to protect Iran's borders, but also to fulfill the ideological mission of jihad. The regime's founder, Ayatollah Khomeini, exhorted his followers to "export the revolution throughout the world."

I'm standing here in Washington, D.C. and the difference is so stark. America's founding document promises life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. Iran's founding document pledges death, tyranny, and the pursuit of jihad. And as states are collapsing across the Middle East, Iran is charging into the void to do just that.

Iran's goons in Gaza, its lackeys in Lebanon, its revolutionary guards on the Golan Heights are clutching Israel with three tentacles of terror. Backed by Iran, Assad is slaughtering Syrians. Back by Iran, Shiite militias are rampaging through Iraq. Back by Iran, Houthis are seizing control of Yemen, threatening the strategic straits at the mouth of the Red Sea. Along with the Straits of Hormuz, that would give Iran a second choke-point on the world's oil supply.
 
Just last week, near Hormuz, Iran carried out a military exercise blowing up a mock U.S. aircraft carrier. That's just last week, while they're having nuclear talks with the United States. But unfortunately, for the last 36 years, Iran's attacks against the United States have been anything but mock. And the targets have been all too real. 

Iran took dozens of Americans hostage in Tehran, murdered hundreds of American soldiers, Marines, in Beirut, and was responsible for killing and maiming thousands of American service men and women in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Beyond the Middle East, Iran attacks America and its allies through its global terror network. It blew up the Jewish community center and the Israeli embassy in Buenos Aires. It helped Al Qaida bomb U.S. embassies in Africa. It even attempted to assassinate the Saudi ambassador, right here in Washington, D.C.

In the Middle East, Iran now dominates four Arab capitals, Baghdad, Damascus, Beirut and Sanaa. And if Iran's aggression is left unchecked, more will surely follow.

So, at a time when many hope that Iran will join the community of nations, Iran is busy gobbling up the nations.

We must all stand together to stop Iran's march of conquest, subjugation and terror.

Now, two years ago, we were told to give President Rouhani and Foreign Minister Zarif a chance to bring change and moderation to Iran. Some change! Some moderation!
 
Rouhani's government hangs gays, persecutes Christians, jails journalists and executes even more prisoners than before.

Last year, the same Zarif who charms Western diplomats laid a wreath at the grave of Imad Mughniyeh. Imad Mughniyeh is the terrorist mastermind who spilled more American blood than any other terrorist besides Osama bin Laden. I'd like to see someone ask him a question about that.

Iran's regime is as radical as ever, its cries of "Death to America," that same America that it calls the "Great Satan," as loud as ever.

Now, this shouldn't be surprising, because the ideology of Iran's revolutionary regime is deeply rooted in militant Islam, and that's why this regime will always be an enemy of America.

Don't be fooled. The battle between Iran and ISIS doesn't turn Iran into a friend of America.

Iran and ISIS are competing for the crown of militant Islam. One calls itself the Islamic Republic. The other calls itself the Islamic State. Both want to impose a militant Islamic empire first on the region and then on the entire world. They just disagree among themselves who will be the ruler of that empire.

In this deadly game of thrones, there's no place for America or for Israel, no peace for Christians, Jews or Muslims who don't share the Islamist medieval creed, no rights for women, no freedom for anyone.
 
So when it comes to Iran and ISIS, the enemy of your enemy is your enemy.

The difference is that ISIS is armed with butcher knives, captured weapons and YouTube, whereas Iran could soon be armed with intercontinental ballistic missiles and nuclear bombs. We must always remember -- I'll say it one more time -- the greatest dangers facing our world is the marriage of militant Islam with nuclear weapons. To defeat ISIS and let Iran get nuclear weapons would be to win the battle, but lose the war. We can't let that happen.

But that, my friends, is exactly what could happen, if the deal now being negotiated is accepted by Iran. That deal will not prevent Iran from developing nuclear weapons. It would all but guarantee that Iran gets those weapons, lots of them. 

Let me explain why. While the final deal has not yet been signed, certain elements of any potential deal are now a matter of public record. You don't need intelligence agencies and secret information to know this. You can Google it. 
 
Absent a dramatic change, we know for sure that any deal with Iran will include two major concessions to Iran.

The first major concession would leave Iran with a vast nuclear infrastructure, providing it with a short break-out time to the bomb. Break-out time is the time it takes to amass enough weapons-grade uranium or plutonium for a nuclear bomb.

According to the deal, not a single nuclear facility would be demolished. Thousands of centrifuges used to enrich uranium would be left spinning. Thousands more would be temporarily disconnected, but not destroyed.

Because Iran's nuclear program would be left largely intact, Iran's break-out time would be very short -- about a year by U.S. assessment, even shorter by Israel's.

And if -- if Iran's work on advanced centrifuges, faster and faster centrifuges, is not stopped, that break-out time could still be shorter, a lot shorter.

True, certain restrictions would be imposed on Iran's nuclear program and Iran's adherence to those restrictions would be supervised by international inspectors. But here's the problem. You see, inspectors document violations; they don't stop them.

Inspectors knew when North Korea broke to the bomb, but that didn't stop anything. North Korea turned off the cameras, kicked out the inspectors. Within a few years, it got the bomb.

Now, we're warned that within five years North Korea could have an arsenal of 100 nuclear bombs.

Like North Korea, Iran, too, has defied international inspectors. It's done that on at least three separate occasions -- 2005, 2006, 2010. Like North Korea, Iran broke the locks, shut off the cameras. 
 
Now, I know this is not gonna come a shock -- as a shock to any of you, but Iran not only defies inspectors, it also plays a pretty good game of hide-and-cheat with them. 

The U.N.'s nuclear watchdog agency, the IAEA, said again yesterday that Iran still refuses to come clean about its military nuclear program. Iran was also caught -- caught twice, not once, twice -- operating secret nuclear facilities in Natanz and Qom, facilities that inspectors didn't even know existed. 

Right now, Iran could be hiding nuclear facilities that we don't know about, the U.S. and Israel. As the former head of inspections for the IAEA said in 2013, he said, "If there's no undeclared installation today in Iran, it will be the first time in 20 years that it doesn't have one." Iran has proven time and again that it cannot be trusted. And that's why the first major concession is a source of great concern. It leaves Iran with a vast nuclear infrastructure and relies on inspectors to prevent a breakout. That concession creates a real danger that Iran could get to the bomb by violating the deal.

But the second major concession creates an even greater danger that Iran could get to the bomb by keeping the deal. Because virtually all the restrictions on Iran's nuclear program will automatically expire in about a decade. 
 
Now, a decade may seem like a long time in political life, but it's the blink of an eye in the life of a nation. It's a blink of an eye in the life of our children. We all have a responsibility to consider what will happen when Iran's nuclear capabilities are virtually unrestricted and all the sanctions will have been lifted. Iran would then be free to build a huge nuclear capacity that could product many, many nuclear bombs. 

Iran's Supreme Leader says that openly. He says, Iran plans to have 190,000 centrifuges, not 6,000 or even the 19,000 that Iran has today, but 10 times that amount -- 190,000 centrifuges enriching uranium. With this massive capacity, Iran could make the fuel for an entire nuclear arsenal and this in a matter of weeks, once it makes that decision. 

My long-time friend, John Kerry, Secretary of State, confirmed last week that Iran could legitimately possess that massive centrifuge capacity when the deal expires. 

Now I want you to think about that. The foremost sponsor of global terrorism could be weeks away from having enough enriched uranium for an entire arsenal of nuclear weapons and this with full international legitimacy. 

And by the way, if Iran's Intercontinental Ballistic Missile program is not part of the deal, and so far, Iran refuses to even put it on the negotiating table. Well, Iran could have the means to deliver that nuclear arsenal to the far-reach corners of the earth, including to every part of the United States. 
 
So you see, my friends, this deal has two major concessions: one, leaving Iran with a vast nuclear program and two, lifting the restrictions on that program in about a decade. That's why this deal is so bad. It doesn't block Iran's path to the bomb; it paves Iran's path to the bomb.

So why would anyone make this deal? Because they hope that Iran will change for the better in the coming years, or they believe that the alternative to this deal is worse?

Well, I disagree. I don't believe that Iran's radical regime will change for the better after this deal. This regime has been in power for 36 years, and its voracious appetite for aggression grows with each passing year. This deal would wet appetite -- would only wet Iran's appetite for more.

Would Iran be less aggressive when sanctions are removed and its economy is stronger? If Iran is gobbling up four countries right now while it's under sanctions, how many more countries will Iran devour when sanctions are lifted? Would Iran fund less terrorism when it has mountains of cash with which to fund more terrorism?

Why should Iran's radical regime change for the better when it can enjoy the best of both world's: aggression abroad, prosperity at home?

This is a question that everyone asks in our region. Israel's neighbors -- Iran's neighbors know that Iran will become even more aggressive and sponsor even more terrorism when its economy is unshackled and it's been given a clear path to the bomb.
 
And many of these neighbors say they'll respond by racing to get nuclear weapons of their own. So this deal won't change Iran for the better; it will only change the Middle East for the worse. A deal that's supposed to prevent nuclear proliferation would instead spark a nuclear arms race in the most dangerous part of the planet.

This deal won't be a farewell to arms. It would be a farewell to arms control. And the Middle East would soon be crisscrossed by nuclear tripwires. A region where small skirmishes can trigger big wars would turn into a nuclear tinderbox. 

If anyone thinks -- if anyone thinks this deal kicks the can down the road, think again. When we get down that road, we'll face a much more dangerous Iran, a Middle East littered with nuclear bombs and a countdown to a potential nuclear nightmare.

Ladies and gentlemen, I've come here today to tell you we don't have to bet the security of the world on the hope that Iran will change for the better. We don't have to gamble with our future and with our children's future.

We can insist that restrictions on Iran's nuclear program not be lifted for as long as Iran continues its aggression in the region and in the world.

Before lifting those restrictions, the world should demand that Iran do three things. First, stop its aggression against its neighbors in the Middle East.

Second, stop supporting terrorism around the world.
And third, stop threatening to annihilate my country, Israel, the one and only Jewish state.

Thank you.

If the world powers are not prepared to insist that Iran change its behavior before a deal is signed, at the very least they should insist that Iran change its behavior before a deal expires.

If Iran changes its behavior, the restrictions would be lifted. If Iran doesn't change its behavior, the restrictions should not be lifted.

If Iran wants to be treated like a normal country, let it act like a normal country.

My friends, what about the argument that there's no alternative to this deal, that Iran's nuclear know-how cannot be erased, that its nuclear program is so advanced that the best we can do is delay the inevitable, which is essentially what the proposed deal seeks to do?

Well, nuclear know-how without nuclear infrastructure doesn't get you very much. A racecar driver without a car can't drive. A pilot without a plan can't fly. Without thousands of centrifuges, tons of enriched uranium or heavy water facilities, Iran can't make nuclear weapons.

Iran's nuclear program can be rolled back well-beyond the current proposal by insisting on a better deal and keeping up the pressure on a very vulnerable regime, especially given the recent collapse in the price of oil.

Now, if Iran threatens to walk away from the table -- and this often happens in a Persian bazaar -- call their bluff. They'll be back, because they need the deal a lot more than you do.

And by maintaining the pressure on Iran and on those who do business with Iran, you have the power to make them need it even more.
 
My friends, for over a year, we've been told that no deal is better than a bad deal. Well, this is a bad deal. It's a very bad deal. We're better off without it.

Now we're being told that the only alternative to this bad deal is war. That's just not true. 

The alternative to this bad deal is a much better deal.

A better deal that doesn't leave Iran with a vast nuclear infrastructure and such a short break-out time. A better deal that keeps the restrictions on Iran's nuclear program in place until Iran's aggression ends. 

A better deal that won't give Iran an easy path to the bomb. A better deal that Israel and its neighbors may not like, but with which we could live, literally. And no country has a greater stake -- no country has a greater stake than Israel in a good deal that peacefully removes this threat.

Ladies and gentlemen, history has placed us at a fateful crossroads. We must now choose between two paths. One path leads to a bad deal that will at best curtail Iran's nuclear ambitions for a while, but it will inexorably lead to a nuclear-armed Iran whose unbridled aggression will inevitably lead to war. 
 
The second path, however difficult, could lead to a much better deal, that would prevent a nuclear-armed Iran, a nuclearized Middle East and the horrific consequences of both to all of humanity.

You don't have to read Robert Frost to know. You have to live life to know that the difficult path is usually the one less traveled, but it will make all the difference for the future of my country, the security of the Middle East and the peace of the world, the peace, we all desire. 

My friend, standing up to Iran is not easy. Standing up to dark and murderous regimes never is. With us today is Holocaust survivor and Nobel Prize winner Elie Wiesel. 

Elie, your life and work inspires to give meaning to the words, "never again."

And I wish I could promise you, Elie, that the lessons of history have been learned. I can only urge the leaders of the world not to repeat the mistakes of the past.

Not to sacrifice the future for the present; not to ignore aggression in the hopes of gaining an illusory peace. 

But I can guarantee you this, the days when the Jewish people remained passive in the face of genocidal enemies, those days are over.

We are no longer scattered among the nations, powerless to defend ourselves. We restored our sovereignty in our ancient home. And the soldiers who defend our home have boundless courage. For the first time in 100 generations, we, the Jewish people, can defend ourselves.

This is why -- this is why, as a prime minister of Israel, I can promise you one more thing: Even if Israel has to stand alone, Israel will stand.

But I know that Israel does not stand alone. I know that America stands with Israel.

I know that you stand with Israel.

You stand with Israel, because you know that the story of Israel is not only the story of the Jewish people but of the human spirit that refuses again and again to succumb to history's horrors.

Facing me right up there in the gallery, overlooking all of us in this (inaudible) chamber is the image of Moses. Moses led our people from slavery to the gates of the Promised Land.
And before the people of Israel entered the land of Israel, Moses gave us a message that has steeled our resolve for thousands of years. I leave you with his message today, (SPEAKING IN HEBREW), "Be strong and resolute, neither fear nor dread them."

My friends, may Israel and America always stand together, strong and resolute. May we neither fear nor dread the challenges ahead. May we face the future with confidence, strength and hope.

May God bless the state of Israel and may God bless the United States of America.

Click here for the full transcript
 

Netanyahu Speech: US Reacts

 

On March 3, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu warned against a potential nuclear deal with Iran in an address to Congress in Washington, D.C. Administration officials and several Democratic lawmakers were critical of the speech. President Barack Obama claimed that Netanyahu "has not offered any kind of viable alternative" to diplomacy that would prevent Iran from developing nuclear weapons. Several Republican lawmakers, however, praised Netanyahu's speech. "It was the most powerful and significant speech I've seen by any foreign leader during the 22 years I have been in Congress," said Rep. Peter King (R-NY). The following are excerpted reactions from U.S. officials and lawmakers to Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's speech to Congress. 

Administration Officials

President Barack Obama     
                   
“The Prime Minister appropriately pointed out that the bond between the United States of America is unbreakable, and on that point I thoroughly agree.  He also pointed out that Iran has been a dangerous regime and continues to engage in activities that are contrary to the interests of the United States, to Israel, and to the region.  And on that, we agree.  He also pointed out the fact that Iran has repeatedly threatened Israel and engaged in the most venomous of anti-Semitic statements.  And no one can dispute that.
 
“But on the core issue, which is how do we prevent Iran from obtaining a nuclear weapon, which would make it far more dangerous and would give it scope for even greater action in the region, the Prime Minister didn’t offer any viable alternatives.  So let’s be clear about what exactly the central concern should be, both for the United States and for Israel.
 
“I’ve said since before I became President that one of my primary goals in foreign policy would be preventing Iran from getting nuclear weapons.  And with the help of Congress and our international partners, we constructed an extraordinarily effective sanctions regime that pressured Iran to come to the table to negotiate in a serious fashion.  They have now been negotiating over the last year, and during that period, Iran has, in fact, frozen its program, rolled back some of its most dangerous highly enriched uranium, and subjected itself to the kinds of verifications and inspections that we had not previously seen.  Keep in mind that when we shaped that interim deal, Prime Minister Netanyahu made almost the precise same speech about how dangerous that deal was going to be.  And yet, over a year later, even Israeli intelligence officers and, in some cases, members of the Israeli government, have to acknowledge that, in fact, it has kept Iran from further pursuing its nuclear program.
 
“Now, the deal that we are trying to negotiate that is not yet completed would cut off the different pathways for Iran to advance its nuclear capabilities.  It would roll back some elements of its program.  It would ensure that it did not have what we call a breakout capacity that was shorter than a year’s time.  And it would subject Iran to the most vigorous inspections and verifications regimes that have ever been put in place.
 
“And the alternative that the Prime Minister offers is no deal, in which case Iran will immediately begin once again pursuing its nuclear program, accelerate its nuclear program, without us having any insight into what they’re doing, and without constraint.  And his essential argument is that if we just double down on sanctions, Iran won’t want to do that.
 
“Well, we have evidence from the past decade that sanctions alone are not sufficient to prevent Iran from pursuing its nuclear ambitions.  And if it, in fact, does not have some sense that sanctions will be removed, it will not have an interest in avoiding the path that it’s currently on.
 
“So the bottom line is this:  We don’t yet have a deal.  It may be that Iran cannot say yes to a good deal.  I have repeatedly said that I would rather have no deal than a bad deal. But if we’re successful in negotiating, then, in fact, this will be the best deal possible to prevent Iran from obtaining a nuclear weapon.  Nothing else comes close.  Sanctions won’t do it.  Even military action would not be as successful as the deal that we have put forward.
 
“And I think it is very important not to be distracted by the nature of the Iranian regime’s ambitions when it comes to territory or terrorism -- all issues which we share a concern with Israel about and are working consistently with Israel on.  Because we know that if, in fact, they obtain a nuclear weapon, all those problems would be worse.
 
“So we’re staying focused on the central issue here:  How do we prevent Iran from getting a nuclear weapon.  The path that we’ve proposed, if successful, by far is the best way to do that.  That’s demonstrable.  And Prime Minister Netanyahu has not offered any kind of viable alternative that would achieve the same verifiable mechanism to prevent Iran from getting a nuclear weapon.
 
“So I would urge the members of Congress who were there to continue to express their strong support for Israel’s security, to continue to express their strong interest in providing the assistance Israel needs to repel attacks.  I think it's important for members of Congress, on a bipartisan basis, to be unified in pushing back against terrorism in the region and the destabilizing efforts that Iran may have engaged in with our partners.  Those are all things in which this administration and Israel agree.
 
“But when it comes to this nuclear deal, let’s wait until there’s actually a deal on the table that Iran has agreed to, at which point everybody can evaluate it; we don’t have to speculate.  And what I can guarantee is that if it's a deal I’ve signed off on, I will be able to prove that it is the best way for us to prevent Iran from getting a nuclear weapon.
 
“And for us to pass up on that potential opportunity would be a great mistake.  It's not one that I intend to make, and I will take that case to every member of Congress once we actually have a deal.”
—March 3, 2015 in comments to the press
 
“[W]e (Israel and the United States) actually share a goal, which is making sure Iran does not have a nuclear weapon. That’s something that I committed to when I was still a senator. It is a solemn pledge I made before I was elected president and everything that I’ve done over the course of the last several years in relation to Iran has been in pursuit of that policy. There is a substantial disagreement in terms of how to achieve that. And what it boils down to is what’s the best way to ensure that Iran is not developing a nuclear weapon.
 
“Prime Minister Netanyahu thinks that the best way to do that is either through doubling down on more sanctions or through military action, ensuring that Iran has absolutely no enrichment capabilities whatsoever. And there’s no expert on Iran or nuclear proliferation around the world that seriously thinks that Iran is going to respond to additional sanctions by eliminating its nuclear program.
 
“What we’ve said from the start is by organizing a strong sanctions regime, what we can do is bring Iran to the table. And by bringing Iran to the table, force them to have a serious negotiation in which a) we are able to see exactly what’s going on inside of Iran b) we’re able to create what we call a breakout period, a timeline where we know if they were to try to get a nuclear weapon it would take them a certain amount of time.
 
“And the deal that we’re trying to negotiate is to make sure that there’s at least a year between us seeing them try to get a nuclear weapon and them actually being able to obtain one.
“And as long as we’ve got that one-year breakout capacity, that ensures us that we can take military action to stop them if they were stop it.
 
“Now, we’re still in the midst of negotiations. What I’ve said consistently is, we should let these negotiations play out. If, in fact, Iran is agree, willing to agree to double-digit years of keeping their program where it is right now and, in fact, rolling back elements of it that currently exist …
 
“Now, Iran may not agree to the rigorous inspection demands that we’re insisting on. They may not agree to the low levels of enrichment capabilities they would have to maintain to ensure that their breakout is at least a year. But if they do agree to it, it would be far more effective in controlling their nuclear program than any military action we could take, any military action Israel could take and far more effective than sanctions will be.
 
“And we know that because during the period in which we applied sanctions for over a decade, Iran went from about 300 or a couple of hundred centrifuges to tens of thousands of centrifuges in response to sanctions.”
—March 2, 2015 in an interview with Reuters
 
Democrats

Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-CA)
 
“The unbreakable bonds between the United States and Israel are rooted in our shared values, our common ideals and mutual interests.  Ours is a deep and abiding friendship that will always reach beyond party. Americans stand shoulder to shoulder with the Israeli people.  The state of Israel stands as the greatest political achievement of the 20th century, and the United States will always have an unshakable commitment to Israel’s security.
 
“That is why, as one who values the U.S. – Israel relationship, and loves Israel, I was near tears throughout the Prime Minister’s speech – saddened by the insult to the intelligence of the United States as part of the P5 +1 nations, and saddened by the condescension toward our knowledge of the threat posed by Iran and our broader commitment to preventing nuclear proliferation.
 
“Today, Prime Minister Netanyahu reiterated something we all agree upon: a nuclear armed Iran is unacceptable to both our countries.  We have all said that a bad deal is worse than no deal, and stopping the spread of nuclear weapons is the bedrock of our foreign policy and national security.  As President Obama has said consistently, all options are on the table for preventing a nuclear-armed Iran.”

— March 3, 2015 in a statement

Rep. Jared Huffman (D-CA)
 
“This is a prime minister who's never seen a war he didn't want our country to fight.”
— March 3, 2015 to the press
 
Rep. John Yarmuth (D-KY)
 
"This speech was...fear-mongering at its ultimate."
 
"Prime MInister Netanyahu basically said that the only acceptable deal was a perfect deal, or an ideal deal."
— March 3, 2015, according to the press
 
Rep. Steve Cohen (D-TN)
 
"This speech is high theater for a re-election campaign in Israel and a political tool wielded against our president and his administration by the speaker of the House."
— March 3, 2015, according to the press
 
Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY)
 
"I have always believed that the best solution is a strong and verifiable diplomatic deal, but whether any deal is truly verifiable and achievable is a serious question that needs to be answered. I am hopeful a good deal can be made, and I have no doubt Congress will pass sanctions quickly if the right deal can't be reached."
— March 3, 2015, according to the press
 
Republicans

Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-FL)
 
The speech was “phenomenal” in clearly stating “why this deal is going to be very damaging for world security, U.S. interests in Israel.”
— March 3, 2015 to the press
 
Rep. Peter King (R-NY)

The speech was “electrifying.”
— March 3, 2015 to the press
 
"It was the most powerful and significant speech I've seen by any foreign leader during the 22 years I have been in Congress."
— March 3, 2015 to the press
 
Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX)
 
"The speech today by Prime Minister Netanyahu was Churchillian in its clarity and in its resolve to respond to the greatest national security threat on the face of the planet."
— March 3, 2015, according to the press

Netanyahu Speech: Iran Reacts
 
Iranian officials sharply criticized Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's speech to the U.S. Congress on March 3, in which he argued against a potential nuclear deal with Iran. Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif accused Netanyahu of distorting reality and running a “popularity contest” in the United States. He also argued Netanyahu lacks the “moral authority” to make allegations against Iran. And Foreign Ministry Spokeswoman Marziyeh Afkham called the address a "deceitful show." The following are excerpted remarks from Iranian officials about Netanyahu's speech.

Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei

Khamenei's official Twitter account, though not mentioning Netanyahu's speech directly, released several tweets criticizing Israel during the prime minister's trip to Washington.
 
President Hassan Rouhani

“The only one who is angry and upset about the course of negotiations is an occupying regime that sees its survival in war and invasion,” referring to Israel.
 
“People in the world, as well as the Americans, are much more perceptive than to trust the words of advice from a regime that has a long reputation for causing conflict and crisis.” 
 
“The very same regime that has sought nuclear weapons contrary to international law and away from international observers; which has produced atomic bombs and by refusing to sign the NPT will not allow the IAEI to visit its nuclear facilities.”
– March 4, 2015, according to the press

"Americans and the people of the world are more intelligent than to listen to advice from an ever-warmongering regime."
 
"[Israel] claims to speak of peace and warns of future threats while it is the creator of the greatest danger for the region."
– March 4, 2015, according to the press
 
"A malicious person reveals his true nature and says that if America does not stand with us, we will unilaterally act. His remarks are ludicrous and foolish. Israel is an illegitimate regime that has no geographical or strategic depth, and it because of its crimes it is disgusted in the Islamic world. This regime intends to make threats on our nation. We need strength, and the enemy should be aware of our power."
– March 4, 2015, according to the press
 
Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif

 
 
The following are excerpts from an interview with NBC News’ Ann Curry.
 
Nuclear Allegations
 
“Mr. Netanyahu has been-- proclaiming, predicting that Iran will have a nuclear weapon with-- within two, three, four years, since 1992. He has been on the record time and again that Iran will build a nuclear weapon within two years-- since, as I said, 1992. In 2012, he went before the General Assembly and said, ‘Iran will have a nuclear weapon within one year.’ It seems that he wants to stick to his one year-- forever. Iran is not about building nuclear weapon. We don't wanna build nuclear weapons. We don't believe that nuclear weapons bring security to anybody, certainly not to us.”
 
“We do not believe a bomb is in our interest. Whereas he does have a bomb. He does have two-- he has 200 nuclear weapons. He has stood against a Middle East free from weapons of mass destruction. Israel is the single most important obstacle to the creation of a nuclear-free zone in the-- in the Middle East. Why nobody makes him accountable for the behavior, rather than for the allegations? He continues to create-- to make allegations against Iran. He's in no place to do that. He doesn't have the authority, the moral authority, to do that.”
 
Support for Extremists
 
“I wanna ask Mr. Netanyahu what was he doing visiting al-Nusra-- terrorists in Israeli hospitals? Why is he supporting el-Nusra? I'm not running a-- popularity contest in the United States. But he seems to be doing that. And at the same time, he's a bedfellow to the most dangerous terrorists who are fighting against all of us in the world.”
 
“It is strange that somebody has the audacity to charge Iran, which is the only country, which is-- has supported steadily the governments in the region against a terror network that has, unfortunately, been created in our region, has helped Iraq. We came to the assistance of the Iraqi government. We came to the assistance of the Kurdish people in Iraq when they were-- when the onslaught of-- of Daesh -- against Iraq started.”
 
Policies Towards Jews and Israel
 
“Well, it is unfortunate that Mr. Netanyahu now totally-- distorts realities of today. He even distorts his own-- scripture. If-- if you read the book of Esther, you will see that it was the Iranian king who saved the Jews. If you read-- the-- the Old Testament, you will see that it was an Iranian king who saved the Jews from Babylon.”
 
“It is truly, truly regrettable that bigotry gets to the point of making allegations against an entire nation which has saved Jews three times in its history: Once during that time of-- of a prime minister who was trying to kill the Jews, and the king saved the Jews, again during the time of Cyrus the Great, where he saved the Jews from Babylon, and during the-- Second World War, where Iran saved the Jews. ”
 
“We're talking about Mr. Netanyahu, who has-- butchered-- innocent children in Gaza. We are not talking about annihilation of Jews. We never have, we never will. Because if we wanted to annihilate Jews, we have a large number of Jewish population in Iran who not only live in the country in peace, but, in fact, have a representative in Iranian parliament allocated to them, disproportionately to their number."
 
“We have said, and we will continue to say, that the [Israeli] regime is a threat to regional peace. This is the only regime with nuclear weapons. This is the only regime that has aggressed upon all of its neighbors, has-- gobbled territory of-- of its neighbor, is occupying people's territory, is violating human rights on a daily basis.”
 
Imad Mughniyah (former Hezbollah security chief)
 
ANN CURRY: “The prime minister said that he wished that someone would ask you why you laid a wreath at the grave of Imad Mughniyah. He said, who has spilled more blood, more American blood… than any other terrorist beside Osama bin Laden. Mughniyah was a Hezbollah-- commander. He is accused of the-- in-- bombings of the-- U.S. barracks, and also U.S. embassy bombings.”
 
JAVAD ZARIF: “The problem is, we're talking about a resistance to Israeli occupation, which-- was pushed out of Lebanon by a resistance movement. We're not talking about a group that came from all over the world to Syria or to Iraq to wreak havoc. We're talking about people defending their country, defending their territory against occupation. If you can go back, episodes that Mr. Netanyahu doesn't want the world to remember, Sabra and Shatila in Lebanon, bombardments of Lebanese cities, occupation of southern Lebanon, atrocities that were committed in Lebanon amounting to war crimes, these are-- areas where the Lebanese resistance fought against. They fought in their own territory for the independence of their country, for liberation of their territory from Israeli occupation. They are considered heroes in the entire Middle East. And that is where the problem lies. By portraying images that have no base in-- in truth, no base in reality, they cannot change the history.”
– March 4, 2015 in an interview with NBC News
 
U.N. Ambassador Gholamali Khoshroo
 
"In the address on Tuesday to the United States Congress by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu of Israel, we witnessed a new peak in the long-running hype over Iran’s nuclear energy program. Yet all his predictions about how close Iran was to acquiring a nuclear bomb have proved baseless.
 
"The paradox of the situation is that a government [Israel] that has built a stockpile of nuclear weapons, rejected calls to establish a nuclear-weapons-free zone in the Middle East, made military incursions into neighboring states and flouted international law by keeping the lands of other nations under occupation, now makes such a big fuss over a country, Iran, that has not invaded another country since America became a sovereign nation.
 
"Mr. Netanyahu seems to be in a state of panic at the prospect of losing this tool with which to attack Iran, as we do all in our power to address the genuine concerns of the international community and arrive at a settlement over our country’s nuclear energy program. Iran’s efforts, epitomized by the 2013 interim agreement, aim to resolve the issue with the P5-plus-1 group of countries (the five permanent members of the United Nations Security Council, plus Germany). Since Israel’s prime minister appears to be a person who thrives on chaos and conflict, we fear that he may have further plans to poison the atmosphere and sow discord among those involved in this historic effort."
– March 3, 2015 in an op-ed in The New York Times
 
Expediency Council Chairman and former President Ayatollah Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani
 
“We are facing all sorts of pressure from outside but inside the country there’s even a greater challenge. Netanyahu is threatening Obama there [in Washington] and here [in Tehran] a group of people are threatening to reveal secrets. They [the internal opponents] are echoing Netanyahu.”
–  March 3, 2015 in an address to the Interior Ministry
 
Foreign Ministry Spokeswoman Marziyeh Afkham

“Netanyahu's speech was totally a deceitful show and part of an electoral campaign made by radicals in Tel Aviv.”
 
“Netanyahu’s speech indicated his weakness and extreme isolation of the radical groups even among their supporters.”
 
"Constant lying of Netanyahu about goals and purposes of Iran’s peaceful nuclear program is very much boring and not new."
 
"The Iranophobia scenario is facing serious problem now as the (nuclear) talks are continuing and Iran's is seriously determined to settle this fake crisis.”
– March 3, 2015, according to the press
 
"Netanyahu's remarks were repeated lies; the regime's hostilities towards the Iranian nation are obvious and the regime's lies have been completely revealed on the international scene.”
 
“The regime is entangled in a whirlpool of its mistakes, extremism and spread of insecurity and Netanyahu had better respect the global community's understanding and avoid repeating such words.”
– March 4, 2015, according to the press
 
Parliamentary Speaker Ali Larijani
 
“His very speech shows the regime’s frustration and concern, and it's no surprise that it is concerned because the regime’s power has been on the decline day by day over the past three decades."
 
Netanyahu's speech was a "political show."
– March 4, 2015, according to the press
 
Judiciary Chief Ayatollah Sadeq Amoli Larijani

“Of course, [Netanyahu] has made every effort to provoke countries against Iran and spread Iranophobia in the world, which is not something new and has continued for years.”
– March 4, 2015, according to the press

Vice President and Environment Department Head Masoumeh Ebtekar

"All nations are waiting for an agreement (between Iran and the world powers) and expect that Iran play its special role in resolving regional and international issues and Netanyahu's attempts will not have any impact in this regard."
– March 3, 2015, according to the press
 

Netanyahu Speech: Iran Reacts

Iranian officials sharply criticized Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's speech to the U.S. Congress on March 3, in which he argued against a potential nuclear deal with Iran. Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif accused Netanyahu of distorting reality and running a “popularity contest” in the United States. He also argued Netanyahu lacks the “moral authority” to make allegations against Iran. And Foreign Ministry Spokeswoman Marziyeh Afkham called the address a "deceitful show." The following are excerpted remarks from Iranian officials about Netanyahu's speech.

Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei

Khamenei's official Twitter account, though not mentioning Netanyahu's speech directly, released several tweets criticizing Israel during the prime minister's trip to Washington.
 
President Hassan Rouhani

“The only one who is angry and upset about the course of negotiations is an occupying regime that sees its survival in war and invasion,” referring to Israel.
 
“People in the world, as well as the Americans, are much more perceptive than to trust the words of advice from a regime that has a long reputation for causing conflict and crisis.” 
 
“The very same regime that has sought nuclear weapons contrary to international law and away from international observers; which has produced atomic bombs and by refusing to sign the NPT will not allow the IAEI to visit its nuclear facilities.”
– March 4, 2015, according to the press

"Americans and the people of the world are more intelligent than to listen to advice from an ever-warmongering regime."
 
"[Israel] claims to speak of peace and warns of future threats while it is the creator of the greatest danger for the region."
– March 4, 2015, according to the press
 
"A malicious person reveals his true nature and says that if America does not stand with us, we will unilaterally act. His remarks are ludicrous and foolish. Israel is an illegitimate regime that has no geographical or strategic depth, and it because of its crimes it is disgusted in the Islamic world. This regime intends to make threats on our nation. We need strength, and the enemy should be aware of our power."
– March 4, 2015, according to the press
 
Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif

 
 
The following are excerpts from an interview with NBC News’ Ann Curry.
 
Nuclear Allegations
 
“Mr. Netanyahu has been-- proclaiming, predicting that Iran will have a nuclear weapon with-- within two, three, four years, since 1992. He has been on the record time and again that Iran will build a nuclear weapon within two years-- since, as I said, 1992. In 2012, he went before the General Assembly and said, ‘Iran will have a nuclear weapon within one year.’ It seems that he wants to stick to his one year-- forever. Iran is not about building nuclear weapon. We don't wanna build nuclear weapons. We don't believe that nuclear weapons bring security to anybody, certainly not to us.”
 
“We do not believe a bomb is in our interest. Whereas he does have a bomb. He does have two-- he has 200 nuclear weapons. He has stood against a Middle East free from weapons of mass destruction. Israel is the single most important obstacle to the creation of a nuclear-free zone in the-- in the Middle East. Why nobody makes him accountable for the behavior, rather than for the allegations? He continues to create-- to make allegations against Iran. He's in no place to do that. He doesn't have the authority, the moral authority, to do that.”
 
Support for Extremists
 
“I wanna ask Mr. Netanyahu what was he doing visiting al-Nusra-- terrorists in Israeli hospitals? Why is he supporting el-Nusra? I'm not running a-- popularity contest in the United States. But he seems to be doing that. And at the same time, he's a bedfellow to the most dangerous terrorists who are fighting against all of us in the world.”
 
“It is strange that somebody has the audacity to charge Iran, which is the only country, which is-- has supported steadily the governments in the region against a terror network that has, unfortunately, been created in our region, has helped Iraq. We came to the assistance of the Iraqi government. We came to the assistance of the Kurdish people in Iraq when they were-- when the onslaught of-- of Daesh -- against Iraq started.”
 
Policies Towards Jews and Israel
 
“Well, it is unfortunate that Mr. Netanyahu now totally-- distorts realities of today. He even distorts his own-- scripture. If-- if you read the book of Esther, you will see that it was the Iranian king who saved the Jews. If you read-- the-- the Old Testament, you will see that it was an Iranian king who saved the Jews from Babylon.”
 
“It is truly, truly regrettable that bigotry gets to the point of making allegations against an entire nation which has saved Jews three times in its history: Once during that time of-- of a prime minister who was trying to kill the Jews, and the king saved the Jews, again during the time of Cyrus the Great, where he saved the Jews from Babylon, and during the-- Second World War, where Iran saved the Jews. ”
 
“We're talking about Mr. Netanyahu, who has-- butchered-- innocent children in Gaza. We are not talking about annihilation of Jews. We never have, we never will. Because if we wanted to annihilate Jews, we have a large number of Jewish population in Iran who not only live in the country in peace, but, in fact, have a representative in Iranian parliament allocated to them, disproportionately to their number."
 
“We have said, and we will continue to say, that the [Israeli] regime is a threat to regional peace. This is the only regime with nuclear weapons. This is the only regime that has aggressed upon all of its neighbors, has-- gobbled territory of-- of its neighbor, is occupying people's territory, is violating human rights on a daily basis.”
 
Imad Mughniyah (former Hezbollah security chief)
 
ANN CURRY: “The prime minister said that he wished that someone would ask you why you laid a wreath at the grave of Imad Mughniyah. He said, who has spilled more blood, more American blood… than any other terrorist beside Osama bin Laden. Mughniyah was a Hezbollah-- commander. He is accused of the-- in-- bombings of the-- U.S. barracks, and also U.S. embassy bombings.”
 
JAVAD ZARIF: “The problem is, we're talking about a resistance to Israeli occupation, which-- was pushed out of Lebanon by a resistance movement. We're not talking about a group that came from all over the world to Syria or to Iraq to wreak havoc. We're talking about people defending their country, defending their territory against occupation. If you can go back, episodes that Mr. Netanyahu doesn't want the world to remember, Sabra and Shatila in Lebanon, bombardments of Lebanese cities, occupation of southern Lebanon, atrocities that were committed in Lebanon amounting to war crimes, these are-- areas where the Lebanese resistance fought against. They fought in their own territory for the independence of their country, for liberation of their territory from Israeli occupation. They are considered heroes in the entire Middle East. And that is where the problem lies. By portraying images that have no base in-- in truth, no base in reality, they cannot change the history.”
– March 4, 2015 in an interview with NBC News
 
U.N. Ambassador Gholamali Khoshroo
 
"In the address on Tuesday to the United States Congress by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu of Israel, we witnessed a new peak in the long-running hype over Iran’s nuclear energy program. Yet all his predictions about how close Iran was to acquiring a nuclear bomb have proved baseless.
 
"The paradox of the situation is that a government [Israel] that has built a stockpile of nuclear weapons, rejected calls to establish a nuclear-weapons-free zone in the Middle East, made military incursions into neighboring states and flouted international law by keeping the lands of other nations under occupation, now makes such a big fuss over a country, Iran, that has not invaded another country since America became a sovereign nation.
 
"Mr. Netanyahu seems to be in a state of panic at the prospect of losing this tool with which to attack Iran, as we do all in our power to address the genuine concerns of the international community and arrive at a settlement over our country’s nuclear energy program. Iran’s efforts, epitomized by the 2013 interim agreement, aim to resolve the issue with the P5-plus-1 group of countries (the five permanent members of the United Nations Security Council, plus Germany). Since Israel’s prime minister appears to be a person who thrives on chaos and conflict, we fear that he may have further plans to poison the atmosphere and sow discord among those involved in this historic effort."
– March 3, 2015 in an op-ed in The New York Times
 
Expediency Council Chairman and former President Ayatollah Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani
 
“We are facing all sorts of pressure from outside but inside the country there’s even a greater challenge. Netanyahu is threatening Obama there [in Washington] and here [in Tehran] a group of people are threatening to reveal secrets. They [the internal opponents] are echoing Netanyahu.”
–  March 3, 2015 in an address to the Interior Ministry
 
Foreign Ministry Spokeswoman Marziyeh Afkham

“Netanyahu's speech was totally a deceitful show and part of an electoral campaign made by radicals in Tel Aviv.”
 
“Netanyahu’s speech indicated his weakness and extreme isolation of the radical groups even among their supporters.”
 
"Constant lying of Netanyahu about goals and purposes of Iran’s peaceful nuclear program is very much boring and not new."
 
"The Iranophobia scenario is facing serious problem now as the (nuclear) talks are continuing and Iran's is seriously determined to settle this fake crisis.”
– March 3, 2015, according to the press
 
"Netanyahu's remarks were repeated lies; the regime's hostilities towards the Iranian nation are obvious and the regime's lies have been completely revealed on the international scene.”
 
“The regime is entangled in a whirlpool of its mistakes, extremism and spread of insecurity and Netanyahu had better respect the global community's understanding and avoid repeating such words.”
– March 4, 2015, according to the press
 
Parliamentary Speaker Ali Larijani
 
“His very speech shows the regime’s frustration and concern, and it's no surprise that it is concerned because the regime’s power has been on the decline day by day over the past three decades."
 
Netanyahu's speech was a "political show."
– March 4, 2015, according to the press
 
Judiciary Chief Ayatollah Sadeq Amoli Larijani

“Of course, [Netanyahu] has made every effort to provoke countries against Iran and spread Iranophobia in the world, which is not something new and has continued for years.”
– March 4, 2015, according to the press

Vice President and Environment Department Head Masoumeh Ebtekar

"All nations are waiting for an agreement (between Iran and the world powers) and expect that Iran play its special role in resolving regional and international issues and Netanyahu's attempts will not have any impact in this regard."
– March 3, 2015, according to the press
 

Nuke Talks: Kerry's Latest Remarks

On March 4, 2015, Secretary of State John Kerry said that Iran and the world's six major powers - Britain, China, France, Germany, Russia, and the United States - made progress after the latest round of nuclear negotiations in Montreux, Switzerland. But he noted that "there are still significant gaps and important choices that need to be made." Kerry also emphasized that the negotiations were the most "viable, lasting alternative" to curb Iran's nuclear program. "Simply demanding that Iran capitulate is not a plan," he said. The following is a transcript of his remarks.

Before I leave Montreux, I wanted to quickly share with you where we are. From the beginning, these negotiations have been tough and intense, and they remain so.  And we’ve made some progress from where we were, but there are still significant gaps and important choices that need to be made.  The purpose of these negotiations is not to get any deal; it’s to get the right deal, one that can withstand scrutiny – the scrutiny of experts on nuclear affairs all around the world, the scrutiny of other governments, the scrutiny of people, the scrutiny of the Congress of the United States, people in America, and the scrutiny of countries in the region that are affected by it.  And so we know that.  We approach these negotiations with a full understanding of the test that will be applied to this and of the expectations that exist
 
We also want an agreement that is sustainable over time, and particularly that achieves the singular goal of proving that Iran’s nuclear program is and will remain peaceful.  We aren’t going to be distracted by external factors or politics.  We will continue to be guided by our experts, our scientists, our national interests and those of our partners and allies. 
 
Now, for all the objections that any country has to Iranian activities in the region – and believe me, we have objections and others in the world have objections – the first step is to prevent Iran from acquiring a nuclear weapon.  And we know that absent a deal, Iran will have the ability to move ahead with its nuclear program; that we know for sure, because that’s exactly what’s happened to date.  We also know that any deal that we would agree to would significantly increase the breakout time, leaving Iran further – far further than it is today – from producing enough fissile material for a weapon, while it undertakes the effort of proving to the world that the program is, in fact, peaceful.
 
Clearly, increased breakout time makes any nation in the vicinity or any nation of concern safer.  We also know that any deal that we reach would give us the intrusive access and verification measures necessary to confirm that Iran’s nuclear facilities are indeed on a peaceful path.  And that would allow us to promptly detect any attempt to cheat or to break out, and then to respond appropriately.  And contrary to some public reports, we are only contemplating a deal in which important access and verification measures will endure. 
 
We also know that the international sanctions, which many want to simply hang their hats on – they may have gotten Iran to the table, but to date they haven’t stopped Iran from advancing its nuclear program.  In fact, the first and only thing that had stopped their program from progressing in almost a decade was the Joint Plan of Action that we negotiated and we reached in November of 2013, and that has been adhered to in every single respect since then. 
 
And most importantly, as President Obama said yesterday, we know that no one has presented a more viable, lasting alternative for how you actually prevent Iran from getting a nuclear weapon.  So folks, simply demanding that Iran capitulate is not a plan, and nor would any of our P5+1 partners support us in that position.  And it’s very important to remember we have partners in this effort – France, Germany, Britain, China, Russia – all of whom have similar feelings about the importance of what must be done here.
 
So we continue to be focused on reaching a good deal, the right deal, that closes off any paths that Iran could have towards fissile material for a weapon and that protects the world from the enormous threat that we all know a nuclear-armed Iran would pose.
 
Now, we still don’t know whether we will get there, and it is certainly possible that we won’t.  It may be that Iran simply can’t say yes to the type of deal that the international community requires.  But we do know that we owe it to the American people in my case, people in the world, to try to find out.  And we will return to these talks on the 15th of March, recognizing that time is of the essence, the days are ticking by, and important decisions need to be made.  Thank you.
 
Transcript via the U.S. Department of State
 

Netanyahu Speech: US Reacts

On March 3, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu warned against a potential nuclear deal with Iran in an address to Congress in Washington, D.C. Administration officials and several Democratic lawmakers were critical of the speech. President Barack Obama claimed that Netanyahu "has not offered any kind of viable alternative" to diplomacy that would prevent Iran from developing nuclear weapons. Several Republican lawmakers, however, praised Netanyahu's speech. "It was the most powerful and significant speech I've seen by any foreign leader during the 22 years I have been in Congress," said Rep. Peter King (R-NY). The following are excerpted reactions from U.S. officials and lawmakers to Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's speech to Congress. 

Administration Officials

President Barack Obama     
                   
“The Prime Minister appropriately pointed out that the bond between the United States of America is unbreakable, and on that point I thoroughly agree.  He also pointed out that Iran has been a dangerous regime and continues to engage in activities that are contrary to the interests of the United States, to Israel, and to the region.  And on that, we agree.  He also pointed out the fact that Iran has repeatedly threatened Israel and engaged in the most venomous of anti-Semitic statements.  And no one can dispute that.
 
“But on the core issue, which is how do we prevent Iran from obtaining a nuclear weapon, which would make it far more dangerous and would give it scope for even greater action in the region, the Prime Minister didn’t offer any viable alternatives.  So let’s be clear about what exactly the central concern should be, both for the United States and for Israel.
 
“I’ve said since before I became President that one of my primary goals in foreign policy would be preventing Iran from getting nuclear weapons.  And with the help of Congress and our international partners, we constructed an extraordinarily effective sanctions regime that pressured Iran to come to the table to negotiate in a serious fashion.  They have now been negotiating over the last year, and during that period, Iran has, in fact, frozen its program, rolled back some of its most dangerous highly enriched uranium, and subjected itself to the kinds of verifications and inspections that we had not previously seen.  Keep in mind that when we shaped that interim deal, Prime Minister Netanyahu made almost the precise same speech about how dangerous that deal was going to be.  And yet, over a year later, even Israeli intelligence officers and, in some cases, members of the Israeli government, have to acknowledge that, in fact, it has kept Iran from further pursuing its nuclear program.
 
“Now, the deal that we are trying to negotiate that is not yet completed would cut off the different pathways for Iran to advance its nuclear capabilities.  It would roll back some elements of its program.  It would ensure that it did not have what we call a breakout capacity that was shorter than a year’s time.  And it would subject Iran to the most vigorous inspections and verifications regimes that have ever been put in place.
 
“And the alternative that the Prime Minister offers is no deal, in which case Iran will immediately begin once again pursuing its nuclear program, accelerate its nuclear program, without us having any insight into what they’re doing, and without constraint.  And his essential argument is that if we just double down on sanctions, Iran won’t want to do that.
 
“Well, we have evidence from the past decade that sanctions alone are not sufficient to prevent Iran from pursuing its nuclear ambitions.  And if it, in fact, does not have some sense that sanctions will be removed, it will not have an interest in avoiding the path that it’s currently on.
 
“So the bottom line is this:  We don’t yet have a deal.  It may be that Iran cannot say yes to a good deal.  I have repeatedly said that I would rather have no deal than a bad deal. But if we’re successful in negotiating, then, in fact, this will be the best deal possible to prevent Iran from obtaining a nuclear weapon.  Nothing else comes close.  Sanctions won’t do it.  Even military action would not be as successful as the deal that we have put forward.
 
“And I think it is very important not to be distracted by the nature of the Iranian regime’s ambitions when it comes to territory or terrorism -- all issues which we share a concern with Israel about and are working consistently with Israel on.  Because we know that if, in fact, they obtain a nuclear weapon, all those problems would be worse.
 
“So we’re staying focused on the central issue here:  How do we prevent Iran from getting a nuclear weapon.  The path that we’ve proposed, if successful, by far is the best way to do that.  That’s demonstrable.  And Prime Minister Netanyahu has not offered any kind of viable alternative that would achieve the same verifiable mechanism to prevent Iran from getting a nuclear weapon.
 
“So I would urge the members of Congress who were there to continue to express their strong support for Israel’s security, to continue to express their strong interest in providing the assistance Israel needs to repel attacks.  I think it's important for members of Congress, on a bipartisan basis, to be unified in pushing back against terrorism in the region and the destabilizing efforts that Iran may have engaged in with our partners.  Those are all things in which this administration and Israel agree.
 
“But when it comes to this nuclear deal, let’s wait until there’s actually a deal on the table that Iran has agreed to, at which point everybody can evaluate it; we don’t have to speculate.  And what I can guarantee is that if it's a deal I’ve signed off on, I will be able to prove that it is the best way for us to prevent Iran from getting a nuclear weapon.
 
“And for us to pass up on that potential opportunity would be a great mistake.  It's not one that I intend to make, and I will take that case to every member of Congress once we actually have a deal.”
—March 3, 2015 in comments to the press
 
“[W]e (Israel and the United States) actually share a goal, which is making sure Iran does not have a nuclear weapon. That’s something that I committed to when I was still a senator. It is a solemn pledge I made before I was elected president and everything that I’ve done over the course of the last several years in relation to Iran has been in pursuit of that policy. There is a substantial disagreement in terms of how to achieve that. And what it boils down to is what’s the best way to ensure that Iran is not developing a nuclear weapon.
 
“Prime Minister Netanyahu thinks that the best way to do that is either through doubling down on more sanctions or through military action, ensuring that Iran has absolutely no enrichment capabilities whatsoever. And there’s no expert on Iran or nuclear proliferation around the world that seriously thinks that Iran is going to respond to additional sanctions by eliminating its nuclear program.
 
“What we’ve said from the start is by organizing a strong sanctions regime, what we can do is bring Iran to the table. And by bringing Iran to the table, force them to have a serious negotiation in which a) we are able to see exactly what’s going on inside of Iran b) we’re able to create what we call a breakout period, a timeline where we know if they were to try to get a nuclear weapon it would take them a certain amount of time.
 
“And the deal that we’re trying to negotiate is to make sure that there’s at least a year between us seeing them try to get a nuclear weapon and them actually being able to obtain one.
“And as long as we’ve got that one-year breakout capacity, that ensures us that we can take military action to stop them if they were stop it.
 
“Now, we’re still in the midst of negotiations. What I’ve said consistently is, we should let these negotiations play out. If, in fact, Iran is agree, willing to agree to double-digit years of keeping their program where it is right now and, in fact, rolling back elements of it that currently exist …
 
“Now, Iran may not agree to the rigorous inspection demands that we’re insisting on. They may not agree to the low levels of enrichment capabilities they would have to maintain to ensure that their breakout is at least a year. But if they do agree to it, it would be far more effective in controlling their nuclear program than any military action we could take, any military action Israel could take and far more effective than sanctions will be.
 
“And we know that because during the period in which we applied sanctions for over a decade, Iran went from about 300 or a couple of hundred centrifuges to tens of thousands of centrifuges in response to sanctions.”
—March 2, 2015 in an interview with Reuters
 
Democrats

Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-CA)
 
“The unbreakable bonds between the United States and Israel are rooted in our shared values, our common ideals and mutual interests.  Ours is a deep and abiding friendship that will always reach beyond party. Americans stand shoulder to shoulder with the Israeli people.  The state of Israel stands as the greatest political achievement of the 20th century, and the United States will always have an unshakable commitment to Israel’s security.
 
“That is why, as one who values the U.S. – Israel relationship, and loves Israel, I was near tears throughout the Prime Minister’s speech – saddened by the insult to the intelligence of the United States as part of the P5 +1 nations, and saddened by the condescension toward our knowledge of the threat posed by Iran and our broader commitment to preventing nuclear proliferation.
 
“Today, Prime Minister Netanyahu reiterated something we all agree upon: a nuclear armed Iran is unacceptable to both our countries.  We have all said that a bad deal is worse than no deal, and stopping the spread of nuclear weapons is the bedrock of our foreign policy and national security.  As President Obama has said consistently, all options are on the table for preventing a nuclear-armed Iran.”

— March 3, 2015 in a statement

Rep. Jared Huffman (D-CA)
 
“This is a prime minister who's never seen a war he didn't want our country to fight.”
— March 3, 2015 to the press
 
Rep. John Yarmuth (D-KY)
 
"This speech was...fear-mongering at its ultimate."
 
"Prime MInister Netanyahu basically said that the only acceptable deal was a perfect deal, or an ideal deal."
— March 3, 2015, according to the press
 
Rep. Steve Cohen (D-TN)
 
"This speech is high theater for a re-election campaign in Israel and a political tool wielded against our president and his administration by the speaker of the House."
— March 3, 2015, according to the press
 
Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY)
 
"I have always believed that the best solution is a strong and verifiable diplomatic deal, but whether any deal is truly verifiable and achievable is a serious question that needs to be answered. I am hopeful a good deal can be made, and I have no doubt Congress will pass sanctions quickly if the right deal can't be reached."
— March 3, 2015, according to the press
 
Republicans

Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-FL)
 
The speech was “phenomenal” in clearly stating “why this deal is going to be very damaging for world security, U.S. interests in Israel.”
— March 3, 2015 to the press
 
Rep. Peter King (R-NY)

The speech was “electrifying.”
— March 3, 2015 to the press
 
"It was the most powerful and significant speech I've seen by any foreign leader during the 22 years I have been in Congress."
— March 3, 2015 to the press
 
Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX)
 
"The speech today by Prime Minister Netanyahu was Churchillian in its clarity and in its resolve to respond to the greatest national security threat on the face of the planet."
— March 3, 2015, according to the press

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