Top US scientists praise Iran deal
More than two dozen top US scientists, among them nuclear researchers and Nobel prize winners, in a letter to President Barack Obama on Saturday praised the Iran nuclear deal as major security achievement, The New York Times reported.
The two-page letter, from some of the world's most knowledgeable nuclear experts, could prove to be a shot in the arm for Obama, who has launched a major effort to sell the deals to skeptical members of the US Congress.
The letter tells the US president that the Iran deal "will advance the cause of peace and security in the Middle East and can serve as a guidepost for future nonproliferation agreements."
The Iran accord, the scientists said, has "more stringent constraints than any previously negotiated nonproliferation framework."
There were 29 signatories of the letter in all, some of whom are physicists who have held top level military security clearances. Others have advised Congress, the White House or federal agencies, on military security.
Among those who signed the letter are Leon Cooper of Brown University; Sheldon Glashow of Boston University; David Gross of the University of California, Santa Barbara; Burton Richter of Stanford; and Frank Wilczek of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, all Nobel laureates.
The so-called P5+1: Britain, France, Germany, Russia, China and the United States signed an agreement last month with Iran aimed at ensuring Tehran does not acquire a nuclear bomb, in return for relief from crippling sanctions.
As part of the deal, the International Atomic Energy Agency will have to verify that Iran does indeed scale down its facilities, clearing a path towards ending UN, US and EU sanctions.
The White House has mounted an intense lobbying campaign to convince reluctant members of the Republican-controlled Congress to back the deal.
'Deal could lead to Syria talks'
Defending the dea, President Barack Obama said a constructive relationship with Iran could be a by-product of the deal to limit its nuclear programme, but it won't happen immediately, If at all.
The US President told CNN in an interview Sunday that Iran's "nuclear problem" must be dealt with first.
He said the agreement reached last month by the US and five other world powers to remove crippling economic sanctions on Iran in exchange for restrictions on its nuclear programme achieves that goal "better than any alternative."
Republican lawmakers largely disagree with the president's assessment that the deal blocks Iran's path to a nuclear weapon, as do some of Obama's own Democrats.
Obama says resolving the Iranian nuclear issue makes it possible to open broader talks with Iran on other issues. He named Syria as an example.
"Is there the possibility that having begun conversations around this narrow issue that you start getting some
broader discussions about Syria, for example, and the ability of all the parties involved to try to arrive at a political transition that keeps the country intact and does not further fuel the growth of ISIL and other terrorist organisations. I think that's possible," Obama said, referring to the Islamic State group by one of its acronyms. "But I don't think it happens immediately."
|I'm not going to anticipate failure now because I think we have the better argument.|
Obama was interviewed last Thursday, hours before Chuck Schumer, the Senate's leading Jewish Democrat, announced he would oppose the agreement.
Congress is expected to vote in September on a measure disapproving the deal, which Obama has promised a swift veto. Lawmakers would then have to find enough votes to override the president.
The interview is set to air as Obama vacations on the Massachusetts island of Martha's Vineyard.
He was not expected to spend much, if any, time reaching out to lawmakers on the Iran nuclear deal while he is away from Washington.
In the interview, Obama did not answer directly when asked whether he would have to use military force to prevent Iran from getting a nuclear weapon if the deal falls through.
"I have a general policy on big issues like this not to anticipate failure," Obama said. "And I'm not going to anticipate failure now because I think we have the better argument."