Obama Promises to Keep Military Option Against Iran Open if Nuclear Deal Is Agreed

In letter to Congress, the U.S. president vows to bolster security assistance to Israel.

ברק רביד - צרובה
Barak Ravid
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Obama in the Oval Office of the White House, August 7, 2015.
Obama in the Oval Office of the White House, August 7, 2015.Credit: AP
ברק רביד - צרובה
Barak Ravid

U.S. President Barack Obama sent personal letters to several undecided members of Congress as part of his attempt to convince them to support the nuclear deal with Iran.

In the letters, Obama made personal assurances to provide Israel with additional security aid and to act unilaterally, including by military action if needed, to prevent Iran from breaking out to a nuclear bomb.

Such a letter was sent on August 19 to Jewish Representative Jerrold Nadler (D-N.Y.), the New York Times reported on Friday. Obama wrote that the U.S. would act outside the nuclear agreement to curb Iranian aggression. Also, Obama assured that the U.S. would gradually reimpose economic sanctions on Iran should the Islamic Republic try to violate the agreement.

In the letter Obama pledged to enhance security cooperation with Israel: provide Israel with additional funding for missile defense systems; to expedite joint missile defense projects and to develop tunnel detection technologies that Israel requires. Obama also promised to increase cooperation with Israel against Iran's actions in the region, especially with respect to arms deliveries to Hezbollah and Iranian involvement in Syria.

The letter Obama sent also includes a commitment to keep the military option on the table. "Should Iran seek to dash toward a nuclear weapon, all of the options available to the United States - including the military option - will remain available through the life of the deal and beyond," Obama wrote.

The letters are a part of Obama's attempts to provide undecided Senators and Congressmen assurances that would allow them to vote in favor of the deal. The White House focuses on trying to convince Jewish lawmakers or Congressmen from districts with a large Jewish constituency that have expressed concern about the agreement reached with Iran.

So far, 25 Democratic Senators have announced their support for the deal, and six more are expected to make a similar statement soon. Obama would need the backing of at least 34 Senators to maintain his presidential veto and protect the deal if Congress rejects votes to reject it during the September vote.

As part of his efforts Obama is scheduled to address the American Jewish community next week on Friday at 9 P.M., Israel time (2 P.M. EST). The live webcast, which will be followed by a question and answer session with the president, will be broadcast to hundreds of Jewish communities across the U.S. and is hosted by the Jewish Federations of North America. A similar speech was given by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu two weeks ago in which he called on U.S. Jews to unite behind the Israeli government and oppose the deal with Iran.

In the meantime, Israel is trying to use Thursday's rocket fire from Syria in its diplomatic campaign against the nuclear deal with Iran. Netanyahu has instructed the Foreign Ministry to file a formal complaint with the foreign ministries of the six world powers behind the deal with Iran – the U.S., Russia, China, Britain, France and Germany.

A missive to be sent of Friday to Israeli ambassadors in the six capitals states that credible intelligence shows that the rockets were launched by Islamic Jihad militants in direct instructions from Iranian Revolutionary Guard officials.

"This is another clear and blatant demonstration of Iran’s continued and unabating support and involvement in terrorist attacks against Israel," it states. "This attack has also occurred before the ink on the JCPOA nuclear agreement has even dried and provided a clear indication of how Iran intends to continue to pursue its destabilizing actions and policies as the international sanctions regime is withdrawn in the near future. The international community led by the p5+1 cannot enable Iran to gain respectability and political legitimacy from the JCPOA, while in parallel it continues to actively and directly perpetrate terror throughout the region."

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