(JNS.org) In his annual State of the Union address, U.S. president Barack Obama said he plans to “veto any new sanctions bill” that could “undo (the) progress” of the diplomacy underway to prevent Iran from acquiring nuclear weapons.

U.S. President Barack Obama gave the 2015 State of the Union address on Tuesday. Credit: Wikimedia Commons.

U.S. President Barack Obama gave the 2015 State of the Union address on Tuesday. Credit: Wikimedia Commons.

“For the first time in a decade, we’ve halted the progress of (Iran’s) nuclear program and reduced its stockpile of nuclear material. Between now and this spring, we have a chance to negotiate a comprehensive agreement that prevents a nuclear-armed Iran; secures America and our allies — including Israel; while avoiding yet another Middle East conflict,” Obama said.

In November 2013, Iran and the P5+1 powers (U.S., U.K., France, Russia, China, and Germany) signed an interim nuclear deal that limited new Western sanctions against Iran and provided a window for negotiations for a comprehensive deal. But the deadline for a final deal has been extended several times, with the latest deadline being June 30, 2015.

“There are no guarantees that negotiations will succeed,” Obama said in his speech. “I will keep all options on the table to prevent a nuclear Iran. But new sanctions…will all but guarantee that diplomacy fails — alienating America from its allies; and ensuring that Iran starts up its nuclear program again. It doesn’t make sense. That is why I will veto any new sanctions bill that threatens to undo this progress. The American people expect us to only go to war as a last resort, and I intend to stay true to that wisdom,” he said.

In his Tuesday address Obama also alluded to the recent terror attacks at the kosher supermarket and the Charlie Hebdo magazine in Paris, France.

“We stand united with people around the world who’ve been targeted by terrorists — from a school in Pakistan to the streets of Paris. We will continue to hunt down terrorists and dismantle their networks, and we reserve the right to act unilaterally, as we’ve done relentlessly since I took office to take out terrorists who pose a direct threat to us and our allies,” Obama said.

“As Americans, we respect human dignity. It’s why we speak out against the deplorable anti-Semitism that has resurfaced in certain parts of the world,” he added.

Obama also addressed his decision to reform America’s relationship with Cuba, and the release of Jewish-American Alan Gross from a Cuban jail in December. Gross was present at Obama’s State of the Union address.

“Our shift in Cuba policy has the potential to end a legacy of mistrust in our hemisphere; removes a phony excuse for restrictions in Cuba; stands up for democratic values; and extends the hand of friendship to the Cuban people. And this year, Congress should begin the work of ending the embargo. As His Holiness, Pope Francis, has said, diplomacy is the work of ‘small steps.’ These small steps have added up to new hope for the future in Cuba. And after years in prison, we’re overjoyed that Alan Gross is back where he belongs. Welcome home, Alan,” Obama said.

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