Obama, Netanyahu, Iran: What You Need to Know
Israeli PM to speak to Congress on Iran as Kerry works for nuke deal
By Matt Cantor,  Newser User
Posted Mar 2, 2015 7:53 AM CST
In this Feb. 8, 2015, file photo, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu attends the weekly Cabinet meeting in his Jerusalem office.   (AP Photo/Sebastian Scheiner, File)

(Newser) – Over the next two days, Washington will be a study in contrasts. Today, President Obama and two key advisers will push for a diplomatic means of avoiding a nuclear Iran; tomorrow, in a controversial speech to Congress, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu will push back against the plan, the New York Times reports. To set the scene:

  • Netanyahu left Tel Aviv yesterday for what he called "a fateful, even historic, mission" for which he is "an emissary of all Israel's citizens, even those who do not agree with me, and of the entire Jewish people," Reuters reports. His speech will likely call for boosted sanctions against Iran, but Obama has suggested he would veto any bill giving Congress a chance to legislate on the matter. This weekend, Netanyahu offered conciliatory words, saying he "respected" Obama and that "strength will prevail over differences of opinion."
  • Obama will meet Reuters for an interview this afternoon, while National Security Adviser Susan Rice and UN Ambassador Samantha Power speak to the American Israel Public Affairs Committee, a group Netanyahu will also address, the Times reports. The paper sees the meetings as a chance for the administration to reaffirm its support for Israel.

  • Indeed, John Kerry yesterday noted on ABC's This Week that Netanyahu "is welcome to speak in the United States, obviously. And we have a closer relationship with Israel right now in terms of security than at any time in history," Reuters reports. Kerry tomorrow will join international officials in Switzerland as they look to outline an Iranian deal by the month's end, the Washington Post reports.
  • Kerry has been working closely—too closely, according to some Iranian lawmakers—with Iran's foreign minister to hammer out a deal, the Times reports. "He has made a huge investment of his time and energy in the talks, and his personal, hands-on involvement in recent months has been crucial to building momentum toward a deal," says an analyst. But some worry that Iran could read Kerry's "eagerness" as an opening to seek more concessions.
  • Meanwhile, the UN's nuclear agency says Iran is coming up short on providing essential information, Reuters reports. "The (IAEA) is not in a position to provide credible assurance about the absence of undeclared nuclear material and activities in Iran, and therefore to conclude that all nuclear material in Iran is in peaceful activities," the agency's chief says.