Printed on: November 26, 2013

Obama defends Iran deal

WASHINGTON (AP) -- Pushing back hard, President Barack Obama forcefully defended the temporary agreement to freeze Iran's disputed nuclear program Monday, declaring that the United States "cannot close the door on diplomacy."

The president's remarks followed skepticism of the historic accord expressed by some U.S. allies abroad as well as by members of Congress at home, including fellow Democrats.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, one of the fiercest opponents of the six-month deal, called it a "historic mistake" and announced he would be dispatching a top envoy to Washington to try to toughen the final agreement negotiators will soon begin hammering out.

Obama, without naming names, swiped at those who have questioned the wisdom of engaging with Iran.

"Tough talk and bluster may be the easy thing to do politically, but it's not the right thing to do for our security," he said.

Administration officials say key technical details on the inspections and sanctions relief must still be worked out before it formally takes effect.