President Barack Obama said he thinks there’s no more than a 50% chance of striking a comprehensive deal with Iran over its nuclear weapon program, but that diplomatic negotiation is the best way to proceed.
“If you ask me what is the likelihood that we’re able to arrive at the end state … I wouldn’t say that it’s more than 50-50,” Obama said at a Brookings Institute forum Saturday, a departure from his hopeful rhetoric to ease American and Israeli concerns about a final deal. “But we have to try.”
“If at the end of six months it turns out we can’t make a deal,” Obama said, “we are no worse off.” The six-month interim deal, which diplomats agreed on with Iran officials last month, temporarily stalls the nation from enriching uranium to produce weapons-grade material, the Associated Press reports. Obama also vowed U.S. sanctions will be reinstated and tightened if Iran doesn’t follow through.
The U.S. will join Britain, France, Germany, China and Russia next year to negotiate a plan to remove Iran’s ability to produce nuclear weapons. American diplomats have worked to ease Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s concerns over the deal. Netanyahu is scheduled to address Obama’s forum Sunday, calling last month’s interim pact the “deal of the century” for Iran. Secretary of State John Kerry has pledged to keep Israel in close consultation as they work towards a deal.