The leaders of Britain, France and Germany on Thursday defended the Iran nuclear deal agreed in July between Iran and major powers as the debate in U.S. Congress heated up due to fierce opposition to the agreement among Republican lawmakers.
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Under the July 14 agreement, sanctions on Iran will be lifted in exchange for at least a decade of curbs on Tehran's nuclear program, which Western powers and their allies fear has been a cover for Tehran to acquire the capability to produce atomic weapons. Iran denies that allegation.
In an an op-ed published by the Washington Post on Thursday, European leaders David Cameron, Francois Hollande and Angela Merkel noted that U.S. Congress is set to vote on the agreement next week, and described the deal as "a crucial opportunity at a time of heightened global uncertainty to show what diplomacy can achieve."
Earlier this week, support for the deal among U.S. Senators reached the critical mass necessary to ensure a presidential veto of any resolution against it would be upheld, making any further debate of the deal in Congress moot.
Still, on Thursday, U.S. House of Representatives Speaker John Boehner said fellow Republicans would press their fight against the nuclear deal, no matter what happens with votes related to the agreement in the House and Senate this week. Republicans "will use every tool" they can to stop the agreement announced on July 14 between the United States, five other world powers and Tehran, and to delay its implementation, he told reporters.
In their piece, the three European heads of state highlighted their concern for Israel's security, as well as regional stability, writing that the Iranian nuclear program "posed a serious threat — not only to the security of Iran’s neighbors and for Israel, but also to our countries."
They also noted that their view of the Iranian regime has not changed. "This is not an agreement based on trust or on any assumption about how Iran may look in 10 or 15 years," wrote the leaders, adding that "Iran will have strong incentives not to cheat," and that violating the deal would be a "losing option" for the Islamic Republic.
Cameron, Hollande and Merkel said that they "condemn in no uncertain terms that Iran does not recognize the existence of the state of Israel," as well as "the unacceptable language that Iran’s leaders use about Israel." During an address to Iranian citizens on Wednesday, Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei said that Israel will not exist in 25 years.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has staunchly criticized the deal, and said on Wednesday that Iran's anti-Israel rhetoric leaves no room for imagination regarding their true intentions.