Obama Warns of ’Rockets on Tel Aviv’ if Iran Deal Blocked
US President Barack Obama warned Tuesday that if the Congress shoots down the Iranian nuclear deal, America will eventually be pressured into a military strike against Tehran’s nuclear facilities, which will in turn increase terror against the Zionist entity, The Time of Israel website reported.
During the two-hour meeting with Jewish leaders, Obama said it was legitimate for opponents of the deal to lobby lawmakers to reject it, but added that a discussion focused on personal attacks, rather than the merits of the deal, could jeopardize the coherence of the American Jewish community and ultimately the resilience of US-Zionist relations, Greg Rosenbaum, the chair of the National Jewish Democratic Council who was present at the meeting, said.
In a bid to convince the US Jewish community to support the deal, Obama and Vice President Joe Biden hosted 20 Jewish leaders from across the political and religious spectrum at the White House’s Cabinet Room, hours after Zionist Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu urged members of the Jewish Federations of North America in a video address to fight the deal.
Speaking to the so-called ‘Israel Diplomatic Correspondents Association’ after the meeting with the American President, Rosenbaum said that Obama had meticulously tried to debunk the arguments against the Iran deal, while acknowledging that the agreement was “by no means perfect.”
Some of the opponents of the deal have complained that the administration has been portraying them as warmongers, by asserting that the only alternative to the deal — signed last month in Vienna between Iran and six world powers — is war, according to several officials who attended the meeting. Obama replied that he truly believes that if the deal will be rejected by Congress, the ultimate result will be a military strike, Rosenbaum said.
“If Congress succeeds in killing the deal and Iran were to subsequently walk away from the agreement and start enriching uranium again to weapons-grade levels, the opponents of the deal will pressure the US government into launching a preemptive strike against the Islamic Republic’s nuclear facilities,” the president was said to have argued.
“But the result of such a strike won’t be war with Iran,” Rosenbaum said, quoting the president.
“Iran is not going to launch a full-fledged assault on America, knowing that its military, with an annual budget of $15 billion, stands no chance against the US Army and its budget of close to $600 billion,” Obama said.
“Rather, Iran’s terrorist proxies will attack American and Israeli targets, for instance by ramming aircraft carriers or arming terrorist groups along Israel’s borders,” he further added.
“They will fight this asymmetrically. That means more support for terrorism, more Hezbollah rockets falling on Tel Aviv,” Rosenbaum quoted Obama as saying. “I can assure that Israel will bear the brunt of the asymmetrical response that Iran will have to a military strike on its nuclear facilities.”
During the White House briefing, Obama indicated that he was ready and willing to meet Netanyahu and discuss “in more than general terms,” upgrading Washington’s military assistance to the Zionist entity, but that the Zionist leader has been unwilling to do so at this point, Rosenbaum said.
Obama also implied that he had offered a meeting with Netanyahu – similar to his meeting with leaders of the Arab Gulf states – but that the latter had rebuffed the overture, according to Rosenbaum.
“The president believes that Netanyahu refuses to hold discussions about financial compensation because he intends to fight the deal,” he said.
Obama said he was under no illusion that he could convince all Jewish leaders to agree with him on the Iran issue, and that opponents have a legitimate right to spend as much money as they wish in lobbying against the agreement.
“If, however, the debate is not held on the merits of the deal but with name-calling, invective, and misleading and false facts, I fear you are going to weaken the coherence of the Jewish community and ultimately the strength of the US-Israel relationship,” Obama said, according to Rosenbaum.
In a separate appeal to American Jews, the Zionist Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, a fierce opponent of the July 14 accord, pushed back in a webcast on Tuesday against the Obama administration’s argument that the agreement was the only way to avoid eventual war with Iran.
The Republican-led US House of Representatives will vote on whether to reject the agreement when lawmakers return to Washington in September, party leaders said on Tuesday, setting up a showdown with the president.