President Obama defended the nuclear deal with Iran this afternoon, saying it "represents a powerful display of American leadership and diplomacy."
"It shows what we can accomplish from a position of strength," the president added today in a news conference in the East Room of the White House just one day after announcing the significant nuclear agreement with Iran.
In response to a question from ABC News’ Jonathan Karl, Obama said the only options for dealing with Iran’s nuclear capability were through diplomacy or through war.
“I’m hearing a lot of talking points being repeated about ‘This is a bad deal. This is a historically bad deal.’…What I haven’t heard is what is your preferred alternative?” he said. “There really are only two alternatives here. Either the issue of Iran obtaining a nuclear weapon is resolved diplomatically through a negotiation or it's resolved through force, through war. Those are -- those are the options.”
Obama said he expects a "robust" discussion in Congress over the deal and expressed his hope that "everyone in Congress also evaluates this agreement based on the facts."
“This nuclear deal meets the national security interests of the United States and our allies. It prevents the most serious threat – Iran obtaining a nuclear weapon – which would only make the other problems that Iran may cause even worse. This deal makes our country and the world safer and more secure," he said. "This deal is our best means of ensuring Iran does not get a nuclear weapon.”
The president acknowledged it's "possible" that Iran could try to cheat on the terms of the deal, but said the U.S. and its allies have established snapback procedures to re-implement sanctions if needed.
The historic nuclear deal provides economic sanctions relief to Iran in exchange for the dismantling of the country's nuclear program. It would extend the "breakout" timeline for Iran to develop a nuclear bomb from current estimates of two to three months to one year, over the course of 10 years.
Obama said he it does not give him "pause" to see leaders like Syrian President Bashar al-Assad praise the deal.
The president also noted Assad and others are "trying to spin the deal in a way that they think is favorable to what their constituencies want to hear. That’s what politicians do. That’s been the case throughout."
The accord announced on Tuesday has already met resistance on Capitol Hill from Republican and some Democratic lawmakers. President Obama will now focus on selling the plan to the American public and wary lawmakers.
Vice President Joe Biden traveled to Capitol Hill Wednesday morning to brief House Democrats on the deal.
“I’m here to answer questions and explain what the deal is and I’m confident they’ll like it when they understand it all,” Biden said.
Congress will have 60 days to weigh in on the deal. President Obama has said he would veto a resolution expressing disapproval of the deal if it passes Congress.