President Barack Obama and Vice President Joe Biden have warned the United States could be facing a “major crisis” if it fails to reach a comprehensive deal with Iran over its nuclear program.
Obama and Biden both met with Iranian President Hassan Rouhani in New York on Tuesday, where they also pledged to take a hard line on Tehran’s nuclear program as part of the framework agreement that will be finalized later this month.
They were joined by Secretary of State John Kerry, Secretary of Defense James Mattis and Secretary of Homeland Security John Kelly.
Both sides are also expected to discuss how to prevent Iran from acquiring a nuclear weapon.
The leaders made clear the United Sates commitment to diplomacy and the agreement is still subject to congressional approval.
However, they also warned of a potential “major” crisis if it does not reach a deal, according to the White House.
The two presidents said that while the United states has “many things in common with Iran” — including its willingness to engage with the international community and cooperate in combating terrorism — there is also a “growing concern” that the country’s pursuit of nuclear weapons is accelerating.
The U.S. has the world’s largest economy, but its military spending is about 1 percent of the world total and the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) is active in every region of the globe.
Obama also said that Iran is “making significant progress” on implementing the agreement reached between Tehran and world powers.
The United States has “some tools in our toolbox” to deter Iran from pursuing a nuclear weapons capability, but they are not enough to stop it, he said.
“This deal is the first step in a long road,” Biden said, adding that the president also plans to announce new sanctions against Iran.
Obama has been working to push Congress to approve a deal that would freeze Iran’s nuclear weapons program in exchange for sanctions relief.
The president has called for a comprehensive nuclear deal with Tehran, but the Senate has not passed a measure to that effect.
The White House also said it will soon publish an assessment of the impact of the nuclear deal.