Obama to Tell Congress: Rejecting Iran Nuclear Deal Would Be a 'Historic Mistake'

The president will argue on Wednesday that the decision before Congress on Iran is the most consequential U.S. foreign policy debate since it declared war on Iraq.

ברק רביד - צרובה
Barak Ravid
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Obama delivers remarks at the White House, August 4, 2015.Credit: Reuters
ברק רביד - צרובה
Barak Ravid

WASHINGTON, D.C. - U.S. President Barack Obama will tell the American people in his address on Wednesday that a rejection of the nuclear agreement with Iran by Congress would be a "historic mistake," according to a senior White House official.

Obama's remarks will also be a response to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who repeatedly called the deal with Iran historic mistake.

On Tuesday, 24 hours ahead of his planned speech, Obama met with some 20 prominent Jewish leaders and activists. The session lasted more than two hours during which Obama laid out the key points of his remarks and the reasons why he thinks they deal with Iran should receive their support. 

The White House said that Obama described the deal as historic, and emphasized to the Jewish leaders that it would prevent Iran from obtaining nuclear weapons. He also made it clear that the U.S. will continue to support and help strengthen Israel's security.

In his address on Wednesday, according to the White House official, Obama will stress the importance of the decision facing Congress, and label it as the most consequential debate in U.S. foreign policy since the decision to declare war on Iraq.

Obama "will make the case that this should not even be a close call – this deal has the most comprehensive inspections and transparency regime that we’ve ever negotiated," the senior official said. The deal, he said, "cuts off all of Iran’s pathways to a bomb, and includes a permanent prohibition on Iran obtaining a nuclear weapon."

The senior White House official noted that Obama will point out that the same people who oppose the nuclear deal with Iran now, supported going to war with Iraq. Obama will say that "it would be an historic mistake to squander this opportunity – removing constraints on the Iranian program, unravelling the sanctions regime, and damaging American credibility," he added.