Obama says Iran needs to 'make a decision' on nuclear deal

American president says negotiators have given Iran terms to pursue peaceful nuclear power but allows for verification

American president says negotiators have given Iran terms to pursue peaceful nuclear power but allows for verification

WASHINGTON – President Barack Obama said Monday that Iran has to decide about a nuclear deal with world powers as an impending deadline nears.

"The issues now are sufficiently narrowed and sufficiently clarified, where we're at a point where they need to make a decision," Obama said during a joint press conference with German Chancellor Angela Merkel.

He added that the P5+1 group of world powers, supported by a coalition of countries, “are presenting to them a deal that allows them to have peaceful nuclear power but gives us the absolute assurance that is verifiable that they are not pursuing a nuclear weapon.”

Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei reportedly issued a fatwa, or religious ruling, forbidding the use of nuclear weapons in Oct. 2003, which Obama said should allow Iranian negotiators to reach an agreement.

“If that is true, there should be the possibility of getting a deal. They should be able to get to yes,” Obama said, referring to the ruling. “But we don't know if that's going to happen. They have their hard-liners, they have their politics.”

Negotiators from the P5+1 group of world powers and Iran have a little more than a month to finalize a political framework agreement ahead of an end of June deadline for a final accord.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has come out hard against a prospective deal with the Islamic Republic, warning that any agreement would be used by Tehran to covertly acquire a nuclear weapon.

The issue has driven a wedge between Washington and Tel Aviv with Netanyahu set to address a joint session of Congress March 3 where he is expected to urge American lawmakers to implement new sanctions on Iran – a move opposed by the Obama administration.

“I don't want to be coy. The prime minister and I have a very real difference around Iran's sanctions,” Obama said. “Angela agrees with me, and David Cameron agrees with me, and the others who are a member of the negotiations agree that it does not make sense to sour the negotiations a month or two before they're about to be completed.”

Obama has said that he would not meet with Netanyahu when he comes to Washington, citing the proximity to Israel’s March 17 elections.

“As much as I love Angela, if she was two weeks away from an election, she probably would not have received an invitation to the White House, and I suspect she wouldn't have asked for one,” Obama said as his comment elicited laughter.

Copyright © 2015 Anadolu Agency