Obama tells Congress to take note after UN okays Iran deal

President says pact proves diplomacy best option; Iranian envoy accuses Israel of fearing peace; Jerusalem ambassador says passage marks ‘sad day’

Iran's envoy to the UN Gholamali Khoshroo speaks during a Security Council meeting after a vote on the Iran resolution at UN headquarters in New York, July 20, 2015. (AFP/Jewel Samad)
Iran's envoy to the UN Gholamali Khoshroo speaks during a Security Council meeting after a vote on the Iran resolution at UN headquarters in New York, July 20, 2015. (AFP/Jewel Samad)

US President Barack Obama on Monday hailed the passage of a UN Security Council resolution backing his nuclear deal with Iran, saying he expected a skeptical Congress to follow suit.

At the same time, Iran’s envoy to the United Nations derided Israel for spreading “Iranophobia,” and treating peace “as an existential threat.” And Jerusalem’s ambassador slammed the “tragedy” of the unanimous Security Council approval of the agreement, which paves the way to lifting long-standing sanctions on Iran.

Obama said he hoped the passage earlier Monday would “send a clear message that the overwhelming number of countries” recognize that diplomacy is “by far our strongest approach to ensuring that Iran does not get a nuclear weapon.

“There is broad international consensus around this issue,” Obama added. “My working assumption is that Congress will pay attention to that broad basic consensus.”

The UN Security Council earlier unanimously adopted a resolution endorsing the historic deal on Iran’s nuclear program and cleared a path to lift the sanctions crippling its economy.

The 15-0 approval of the deal clears a hurdle for the landmark pact, which will now go before the US Congress where it may face an uphill battle for confirmation.

Among those in the session were Iranian ambassador Gholamali Khoshroo, who condemned Israeli efforts to torpedo the deal.

The “Israeli regime, following its general policy to stoke tension in the region, has done whatever is in its power to sabotage and defeat any effort towards resolving the standoff over Iran’s nuclear energy program,” he said, according to a transcript by the Tasnim News Agency. “In so doing, it proves once more that it doesn’t see peace in our region in its interest and considers peace as an existential threat to itself.”

Jerusalem has tried to spread “Iranophobia” in both the Middle East and the world, “to serve this nefarious purpose,” the Iranian envoy continued.

“Thus, we alert our friends and neighbors not to fall into their trap,” he added.

While praising the deal, Khoshroo criticized the international sanctions on Iran which, he claimed, were “grounded on nothing but baseless and pure speculation and hearsay.” He said Iran will not quickly forget the world’s past relations with the Islamic Republic.

“In engaging with E3/EU+3, the Iranian people have had the foresight to move forward, without losing sight of the past,” he said, referring to the six world powers that negotiated the agreement.

“Therefore, while we hope that the Security Council will open a new chapter in its relations with Iran, we cannot accept or forget its previous treatment of Iran, starting from its inaction in the face of Saddam’s aggression and the use of chemical weapons to its more recent treatment of the Iranian peaceful nuclear program.”

Tehran “is resolute in fulfilling its obligations,” he stated, and “we expect that our counterparts remain also faithful to theirs.”

‘A very sad day’

Speaking in the UN — although not in the Security Council — Israeli envoy Ron Prosor lamented the international support for the Iran deal.

“Today’s a very sad day. Not only for Israel, but for the entire world, even if at this moment the international community refuses to see the tragedy,” he said. “It’s a sad day, because the international community is taking its first steps to lift sanctions on Iran without waiting to see if it complies with even one obligation.”

The UN just “awarded a great prize to the most dangerous country in the world,” Prosor said of the resolution.

Israeli envoy to the UN Ron Prosor addressing the UN Security Council, November 11, 2014. (Courtesy of the Israeli Mission to the UN)
Israeli envoy to the UN Ron Prosor addressing the UN Security Council, November 11, 2014. (Courtesy of Israeli Mission to the UN)

“In future years, the consequences of this mistake will become clear to all. But for Israel, tomorrow is already too late,” Prosor continued.

The UN vote came shortly after the European Union approved the nuclear deal, okaying the pact between the five permanent members of the Security Council plus Germany and Iran, which lifts punishing economic sanctions on Tehran in exchange for temporary curbs on nuclear activity. Ambassadors from the so-called P5+1 touted the deal in a Security Council debate following the vote.

On condition that Iran respects the agreement to the letter, seven UN resolutions — passed since 2006 to sanction Iran — will be gradually terminated, according to the text of the deal, reached in Vienna last week.

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