Obama hails 'historic understanding' with Iran

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US President Bararck Obama gestures while making a statement at the White House in Washington, DC, on April 2, 2015 after a deal was reached on Iran's nuclear program

US President Bararck Obama gestures while making a statement at the White House in Washington, DC, on April 2, 2015 after a deal was reached on Iran's nuclear program (AFP Photo/Nicholas Kamm)

Washington (AFP) - US President Barack Obama touted an "historic understanding" with Iran Thursday, telling critics it would prevent Tehran from building a nuclear weapon and ease one of the most pressing threats to national security.

"I am convinced that if this framework leads to a final comprehensive deal, it will make our country, our allies and our world safer," Obama said in the White House Rose Garden.

Obama sketched a regimen of "the most robust and intrusive inspections" ever negotiated, coupled with dramatic curbs on Iran's ability to enrich uranium.

In return, he said, the United States would agree to end years of sanctions that have crippled the Iranian economy.

"This deal is not based on trust. It's based on unprecedented verification," Obama said. "If Iran cheats, the world will know it."

Stating that sanctions had brought Iran to the negotiating table, Obama warned that "if Iran violates the deal, sanctions can be snapped back in place."

The US president wasted no time in trying to sell the deal to skeptical allies around the world and a hostile Congress at home.

Obama said he would call Israel's Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu later Thursday and invited key Arab allies to a summit at the presidential retreat at Camp David this spring.

In an unusual coinciding of interests, Israel and Saudi Arabia have both expressed fears that the deal could provide cover for Iran to seek a bomb.

Netanyahu went as far as making his case directly to the US Congress and the American people in March, infuriating Obama and the administration at large.

Obama warned that without a deal, the US would be faced with military action as the only way to curb Iran's activities.

"If Congress kills this deal, not based on expert analysis and without offering any reasonable alternative, then it's the United States that will be blamed for failure of diplomacy. International unity will collapse and the path to conflict will widen," he said.

"A diplomatic solution is the best way to get this done and offers a more comprehensive and lasting solution. It is our best option by far."

Obama said he would soon reach out to Republican lawmakers.

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