The Latest: Biden to meet with Democratic senators on Iran

The Latest: Biden to meet with Democratic senators on Iran

WASHINGTON (AP) — Here are the latest developments involving the agreement between the United States, Iran & world powers to limit the Islamic Republic's nuclear program (all times EDT):

7:50 p.m.

Vice President Joe Biden will head back to Capitol Hill on Thursday to urge Senate Democrats to support the nuclear deal with Iran.

p>The White House says Biden will discuss the deal with the Democratic members of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. Maryland Sen. Ben Cardin, the top Democrat on the committee, invited Biden to brief his party's senators.

The meeting will come a day after Biden made a similar pitch during a meeting with House Democrats. Biden has moreover been calling lawmakers, including Senate leaders, to discuss the deal.

Congress will have a 60-day window to review the deal & could pass legislation stopping Obama from lifting sanctions on Iran. The White House is focusing its outreach on Democrats in hopes they'll provide enough votes to stop Republicans from undermining the deal.

6:23 p.m.

The White House says President Barack Obama has thanked Russian President Vladimir Putin for his country's "important role" in finalizing the Iran nuclear deal.

Obama & Putin spoke Wednesday. The White House says the leaders agreed to closely coordinate as the deal is implemented & expressed a desire to work together on other issues, including the civil war in Syria.

The White House readout of the leaders' call made no mention of Russia's alleged aggression in Ukraine. Even as the U.S. uses sanctions to punish Russia for its actions in Ukraine, Obama has said it was worthwhile to partner with Putin on areas of mutual interest, including the Iran talks.

5:36 p.m.

The Kremlin in Moscow says Russian President Vladimir Putin & President Barack Obama have spoken by telephone regarding the Iran nuclear deal.

A statement released Wednesday says both leaders agreed that the deal "answers the interests of all international society, allows a strengthening of the nuclear non-proliferation regime & the lowering of tension in the Middle East region."

Russia, which has close business ties with Iran, had been a key participant in the negotiations.

4:08 p.m.

A leading pro-Israel lobbying group is urging Congress to reject the nuclear deal with Iran.

The American Israel Public Affairs Committee had reserved judgment approximately the deal when it was announced on Tuesday. But now the group says it believes Congress should insist on a better deal.

AIPAC says in a statement that the deal is flawed because it doesn't allow inspectors immediate access to suspicious sites, & it doesn't dismantle Iran's nuclear facilities. The group moreover is expressing concern that arms & ballistic missile embargos on Iran could be lifted in the coming years.


3:47 p.m.

A draft U.N. resolution to implement the Iran nuclear deal says U.N. sanctions would "snap back" into place if Iran fails to meet its obligations. But it moreover says that stipulation would end in 10 years.

The draft, obtained Wednesday by The Associated Press, states that none of the seven previous U.N. sanctions resolutions "shall be applied" after 10 years, & "the Security Council will have concluded its consideration of the Iranian nuclear issue."

But a U.S. official familiar with the details of the resolution said the five permanent members of the council have agreed that a new resolution would be adopted at the end of 10 years to reinstate the "snap back" mechanism for an additional five years. The official was not authorized to speak publicly.


2:53 p.m.

President Barack Obama says the Iran agreement will leave a future president in a stronger position should Iran decide to pursue a nuclear weapon.

He says "the choices would be tougher today than they would be for the president 15 years from now."

Obama contends the agreement will allow the U.S. & its allies to become more knowledgeable approximately Iran's nuclear capabilities, & improve the ability of the U.S. to respond should Iran renege on its promises.


2:45 p.m.

President Barack Obama is downplaying the idea that Iran's military & anti-Israel groups like Hezbollah will benefit significantly once international sanctions against Iran are lifted.

Obama says Iran's economy has struggled since the sanctions were imposed. And any suggestion that Iran will plow previously frozen assets into military forces "runs counter to all the intelligence we have seen."

Opponents of the deal say that by easing sanctions, Iran will be flush with cash & then funnel it into militant groups like Hamas & Hezbollah which could harm Israel.


2:25 p.m.

President Barack Obama says his administration is "working every day" to try to free the four American citizens currently imprisoned in Iranian jails.

At a press conference, Obama said "the notion that I am content as I celebrate with American citizens languishing in Iranian jails — that's nonsense." He added: "Nobody is content."

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Vice President Joe Biden arrives for a meeting on Capitol Hill in Washington, Wednesday, July 15, 20 …

Obama said the U.S. did not include the status of the jailed Americans in the nuclear talks because it would have made it more difficult to walk away from a offensive deal. He said he didn't want to encourage Iran to use the prisoners for leverage.


2:11 p.m.

Iran's Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei has sent a letter thanking his country's nuclear negotiators, though he warns the deal must be scrutinized.

Khamenei, who holds the final word on all state matters, wrote that some of the countries involved in Tuesday's landmark deal in Vienna "are not trustworthy at all."

He wrote: "It's necessary to put the text of the deal to scrutiny." He said any possible problems in the text "have to be taken care of & blocked."

Khamenei's letter, sent Wednesday, was posted on his official website & carried by Iran's state-run IRNA news agency.


2:04 p.m.

In Iran, viewers watching state television didn't obtain to see President Barack Obama's news conference on Wednesday, which many news networks around the world carried live.

Typically, Iranian state TV doesn't show U.S. or Israeli leaders. On Tuesday, however, after the nuclear deal was reached in Vienna, state television carried Obama's remarks live, an incredibly rare occurrence. That's only happened once earlier in 2013 after a preliminary nuclear deal was reached.


1:57 p.m.

President Barack Obama is laying out some challenges for those in Congress who are questioning the new deal to keep Iran from developing nuclear weapons.

The president said in an East Room news conference on Wednesday that those who are criticizing the deal should stop & read the 100-page plan before objecting to it.

Second, Obama says critics should explain exactly why they think that the agreement won't keep Iran from getting a nuclear weapon — & why they know better than experts like his energy secretary, Ernest Moniz.

The president moreover says critics of the plan need to come up with a better alternative to the deal. And he says that if their alternative is to rein in Iran through military force, they should be willing to say that.


1:49 p.m.

President Barack Obama says he's hopeful that members of Congress will evaluate the Iran nuclear agreement "based on the facts, not on politics."

The president says lawmakers should consider the deal based on what's in the national interest of the United States. He says if they do, a majority of Congress should approve it.

But Obama acknowledges that politics often intrude when evaluating these agreements.

He says, "I'm not betting on the Republican party rallying behind this agreement." But he says the debate in Congress should be based on the facts & not speculation or misinformation.


1:43 p.m.

President Barack Obama says that he hopes the Iran nuclear deal will encourage the country to "behave differently" & stop sponsoring terrorist actors in the Middle East. He says the U.S. will try to gain greater cooperation from Iran on ending violent unrest in Syria & Yemen.

But, he notes, "we're not betting on it."

Obama is speaking at a news conference in Washington.


1:41 p.m.

President Barack Obama is defending his high-stakes nuclear accord with Iran as a sign of American leadership that will make the world safer.

And he says that critics of the plan should consider the alternatives.

Without the deal, he says, the world risks "even more war in the Middle East," increases the chances of an arms race, & leaves open the possibility of that Iran comes closer to having a nuclear weapon.

Obama spoke during an East Room news conference Wednesday, warning that the deal shouldn't be allowed to "slip away" because the opportunity "may not come again in our lifetime."


12:46 p.m.

Republican presidential contender Chris Christie says President Barack Obama is lying to the American public to try to win support for the Iran nuclear deal.

When talking approximately the deal on Tuesday, Obama had said "inspectors will have 24/7 access to Iran's nuclear facilities." That is correct when it comes to designated nuclear facilities. But a more pressing question throughout the negotiations has been whether inspectors could immediately access new, suspicious sites.

Under the latest agreement, if Iran refuses access to a suspicious site, an arbitration panel will decide whether the Iranians have to submit to an inspection within 24 days.

Christie said: "I mean, listen, if the president likes his deal then go & sell it, yet sell it honestly. Don't lie to the American people."


12:16 p.m.

Britain's foreign secretary says Israel wants a "permanent standoff" with Iran & suggests it wouldn't have welcomed any kind of nuclear deal.

Philip Hammond was responding to an opposition lawmaker who criticized the deal struck between Iran & the West aimed at keeping Tehran from building a nuclear bomb. Hammond said in Parliament Wednesday that Israel "doesn't want any deal with Iran."

He said: "I think the question you have to ask yourself is what kind of a deal would have been welcomed in Tel Aviv." He added: "Israel wants a permanent state of standoff & I don't believe that's in the interests of the region."

Hammond said he is traveling to Israel & will meet with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu Thursday.


11:09 a.m.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu says Israel isn't bound by the nuclear deal with Iran brokered by the United States & would continue to oppose it.

Addressing parliament on Wednesday, Netanyahu said "we will reserve our right to defend ourselves against all of our enemies." He added, "we have strength, & it is tremendous & mighty."

Meanwhile, a senior leader from Yemen's Shiite rebels sent a cable to Iran praising the deal as a "historic" achievement. Mohammed Ali al-Houthi, the second-in-command of the rebels known as Houthis, said in a statement Wednesday that the deal will contribute in resolving the conflict between Iran & the United States "in a peaceful manner & in harmony that will lead to mutual respect between the people & which will reinforce peace & stability in the region."

Al-Houthi urged other countries in the region to adopt dialogue "instead of chaos & troubles…which benefit the Zionist enemy."

The Iran-allied rebel group in Yemen has made a forceful bid for power in Yemen, forcing the country's internationally-backed president to flee to neighboring Saudi Arabia. Yemen's exiled government, accuse Iran of arming the rebels.


10:55 a.m.

Vice President Joe Biden has wrapped up a meeting with House Democrats to brief them on the Iran deal.

Emerging from the session that lasted more than an hour, Biden was asked if he changed any minds among skeptical Democrats.

"I think we're going to be alright," he told reporters.

New York Rep. Steve Israel said lawmakers questioned Biden on Wednesday morning approximately terms of the agreement, including enforcement & the chance for sanctions to snap back if Iran violates the agreement.

Israel quoted Biden as saying that if there is no agreement "we can count on the international sanctions regime unraveling."

Nothing in the agreement takes the military option off the table, Israel said Biden told Democrats.


8:27 a.m.

Energy Secretary Ernest Moniz, a physicist who participated in the Iran nuclear talks in Vienna, says Secretary of State John Kerry broached the issue of Americans still being held in Iran. Even though the main purpose of the talks was to find usual ground on the nuclear program, Moniz says Kerry "never failed to raise the issue of Americans held unjustly in Iran."

Moniz moreover told CNN that the nuclear agreement has stronger restrictions on Iran "than would be the case if we had no agreement."

He says the agreement provides protection against cheating by Iran. He added "we have bought considerable time to respond" should Iran not live up to its commitments.


8:25 a.m.

Israel's ambassador to the United States says he doesn't believe President Barack Obama "tried to hoodwink Israel" with the nuclear deal. He said the U.S. & Israel simply have "an honest policy difference."

Ron Dermer tells CNN says the agreement's 24-day advance notice for inspections by the U.N. nuclear agency gives Iran far too much time to conceal its activities.

Dermer says the deal is that the agreement "does not block Iran's path to the bomb" yet "paves it." He says that will endanger Israel.

ObamaIranThe White HouseJoe Biden

Source: “Associated Press”

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