Barack Obama: 'Iran nuclear deal is part of 'new era of US diplomacy'
Responding to his critics, President Barack Obama forcefully defends the nuclear agreement with Iran, declaring that the United States "cannot close the door on diplomacy."
The president's remarks came as criticism of the deal to temporarily freeze pieces of Iran's nuclear programme came from both domestic rivals in Washington and some allies abroad, most notably Israel.
President Obama acknowledged that tough obstacles remain before the diplomacy with Iran can be deemed a success, but he insisted the potential rewards are too great to not test Tehran's willingness to strike a longer-term deal with the US and other world powers.
"If Iran seizes this opportunity and chooses to join the global community, then we can begin to chip away at the mistrust that's existed for many, many years between our two nations," Mr Obama said during an event in San Francisco.
The president used the opportunity to remind Americans that the current diplomacy with Iran is in part the result of the pledge he made at his inauguration to talk to the Islamic republic without preconditions.
"When I first ran for president, I said it was time for a new era of American leadership in the world, one that turned the page on a decade of war and began a new era of engagement with the world," he said. "As president and as commander in chief, I've done what I've said."
The weekend agreement between Iran and the so-called E3+3 countries - the United States, Britain, France, Russia, China and Germany - is to temporarily halt parts of Tehran's disputed nuclear programme and allow for more intrusive international monitoring of its facilities. In exchange, Iran gets some modest sanctions relief and a promise that no new economic penalties will be levied during the terms of the six-month deal.