Obama union speech, continued Iran focus

2014-01-29 07:25
US President Barack Obama delivers the State of the Union address before a joint session of Congress. (Jewel Samad, AFP)

US President Barack Obama delivers the State of the Union address before a joint session of Congress. (Jewel Samad, AFP)

Multimedia   ·   User Galleries   ·   News in Pictures Send us your pictures  ·  Send us your stories

Washington - US President Barack Obama sought on Tuesday to protect diplomatic advances that brought Iran to the table for nuclear talks from Congress’s attempts to slap more sanctions on Tehran.

In his annual State of the Union message to Congress, Obama called on Congress to give a chance to diplomatic efforts to resolve Iran's nuclear programme and vowed to veto any new sanctions.

Diplomacy and tough sanctions led Tehran to halt progress on its nuclear programme for the first time in more than a decade, giving Obama a chance to tout progress in a speech beset with repeated calls for action on stalled plans in other areas. Still, success on Iran remains far from certain, with Obama warning: "These negotiations will be difficult. They may not succeed."

Iran started scaling back its nuclear activities last week, and the United States and the European Union have eased some sanctions, under a short-term agreement reached in November to allow for talks to reach a longer-term deal.

"For the sake of our national security, we must give diplomacy a chance to succeed", Obama said, noting he would call for new sanctions if negotiations fail.

"But if Iran's leaders do seize the chance, then Iran could take an important step to rejoin the community of nations, and we will have resolved one of the leading security challenges of our time without the risk of war."

'Made in the USA'

The remarks on Iran were among the most extensive foreign policy points in an address primarily focussed on economic inequality at home. The Republican chairperson of the House panel on foreign affairs, Ed Royce, bristled at Obama's veto threat and insisted that the Iran deal "hardly makes us more secure".

He also chided the president for not even mentioning the North Korean nuclear threat. Obama vowed continued support of Afghanistan after 2014, and repeated calls for Afghan President Hamid Karzai to sign the security agreement with the United States that he has been reluctant to ink.

"After 2014, we will support a unified Afghanistan as it takes responsibility for its own future", Obama said. If Karzai signs the security agreement, the US will keep a "small force of Americans" in Afghanistan to help with training and counterterrorism operations, Obama said, without specifying how many US troops might remain.

The White House has said if Afghanistan does not sign the agreement it would consider pulling out of the country completely. "For while our relationship with Afghanistan will change, one thing will not: our resolve that terrorists do not launch attacks against our country", he said. Obama also called on Congress to lift restrictions on transferring detainees from the prison at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba so that it can be closed this year.

"With the Afghan war ending, this needs to be the year Congress lifts the remaining restrictions on detainee transfers and we close the prison at Guantanamo Bay, because we counter terrorism not just through intelligence and military action, but by remaining true to our constitutional ideals, and setting an example for the rest of the world", Obama said.

He mentioned only in passing the controversy over extensive spying by the National Security Agency, noting ordinary people need to have confidence that their privacy is not being violated by US surveillance efforts. Obama said he would work with Congress to reform surveillance programmes under a plan he outlined this month.

He also said he would seek congressional authority to negotiate streamlined trade treaties, asking Congress to pass so-called fast-track legislation. "New trade partnerships with Europe and the Asia-Pacific will help [US exporters] create more jobs", he said, and "open new markets to new goods stamped Made in the USA".

The proposed Trans-Pacific Partnership, including the United States and countries from Asia and the Americas could be the first beneficiary if Congress re-authorises fast-track authority, under which trade treaties can be submitted without amendment for passage by both chambers. A proposed free-trade deal is also being negotiated with the European Union.

- SAPA

Read more on:    nsa  |  eu  |  hamid karzai  |  barack obama  |  us  |  afghanistan  |  iran  |  iran nuclear programme
NEXT ON NEWS24X

Read News24’s Comments Policy

24.com publishes all comments posted on articles provided that they adhere to our Comments Policy. Should you wish to report a comment for editorial review, please do so by clicking the 'Report Comment' button to the right of each comment.

Comment on this story
1 comment
Add your comment
Comment 0 characters remaining
 

Inside News24

 
 
Traffic
Lottery
 
  • Thursday Hermanus - 10:13 AM
    Road name: R43 Eastbound
    HEAVY DELAYS between Hermanus and Stanford due to holiday traffic volumes
  • Thursday Caledon - 10:04 AM
    Road name: R316 Westbound
    HEAVY DELAYS between the R326 Highway and Caledon due to holiday traffic volumes
 
More traffic reports...
 

Jobs in Cape Town [change area]

Property [change area]

Travel - Look, Book, Go!

Escape winter, head to Mauritius

Escape winter by spending 7 nights in Mauritius' tropical bliss from R13 215 per person sharing. Includes return flights, airport transfers and accommodation. Book now!

Kalahari.com - shop online today

Get many eggs in one basket!

Gaming bundles: 2 Super Hits games for R99, 3 Disney games for R99 and more + exclusive accessory bundles only available on kalahari.com. While stocks last. Shop now!

25% off bestselling books!

The Real Meal Revolution by Tim Noakes, Jeffrey Archer’s Be Careful What You Wish for, Man’s Search for Meaning by Victor E. Frank and many more titles. Shop now!

Up to 25% off electronics

Buy top electronics and save up to 25%. Such as kalahari.com’s 1# selling product the gobii eReader, Patriot X Porter flash drive, Asus Nexus 7” 3G tablet, Samsung Galaxy SIII, Lenovo G580 Notebook and many more. Shop now!

DStv HD PVR Decoder now R949

The DStv HD PVR Decoder has further revolutionised the television experience with lifelike viewing, sharper images, more vibrant colours and precision picture quality. Now R949, save R550. Offer valid while stocks last. Shop now!

Up to 30% off appliances & homeware

Save up to 30% on appliances and homeware this Easter! Offer valid while stocks last. Shop now.

OLX Free Classifieds [change area]

Samsung Galaxy s4

Mobile, Cell Phones in South Africa, Western Cape, Cape Town. Date October 24

Best bargain in big bay

Real Estate, Houses - Apartments for Sale in South Africa, Western Cape, Cape Town. Date October 25

VW Golf 6, 1.6 Trendline (Excellent condition)

Vehicles, Cars in South Africa, Western Cape, Cape Town. Date October 25

Samsung Galaxy Y

The Samsung Y (Young) is tiny but powerful with Android...

From R1499.00

I'm shopping for:

Horoscopes
Aquarius
Aquarius

You may be required to travel or get information for your job. This may be restricting in some way or something may slow things...read more

There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.
 
English
Afrikaans
isiZulu

Hello 

Create Profile

Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.


Please provide a username for your profile page:

This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire 24.com network.

Settings

Location Settings

News24 allows you to edit the display of certain components based on a location. If you wish to personalise the page based on your preferences, please select a location for each component and click "Submit" in order for the changes to take affect.








Facebook Sign-In

Hi News addict,

Join the News24 Community to be involved in breaking the news.

Log in with Facebook to comment and personalise news, weather and listings.