U.S. President Barack Obama is brushing off taunts from Iran and political complaints in the United States about the international deal to restrain Tehran's nuclear program.
In an interview aired Sunday on CNN, Obama dismissed the importance of a tweet from Iran's supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, showing an apparent silhouette of the American leader with a gun to his own head.
"I think that he tweeted that," Obama said, "in response to me stating a fact, which is, is that if we were confronted with a situation in which we could not resolve this issue diplomatically, that we could militarily take out much of Iran's military infrastructure. I don't think that's disputable."
What 'we need to do'
Obama told CNN's Fareed Zakaria, "Superpowers don't respond to taunts. Superpowers focus on what is it that we need to do in order to preserve our national security and the national security of our allies and our friends."
Obama said he was "not interested in a Twitter back and forth with the supreme leader. What I'm interested in is the deal itself and can we enforce it."
Obama said U.S. political opponents of the deal with Tehran, particularly Republican lawmakers in Congress, are aligned with hard-line opponents of the pact inside Iran, a description rejected by those calling for its defeat in the United States.
"What I said is absolutely true, factually," Obama said. "The truth of the matter is, inside of Iran, the people most opposed to the deal are the Revolutionary Guard, the Quds Force, hardliners who are implacably opposed to any cooperation with the international community."
The pact would bar Iran from building a nuclear weapon in exchange for lifting sanctions imposed by the United Nations and Western nations that have hobbled Iran's economy.
U.S. critics have mostly attacked the deal as endangering Israel's security and say that international verification of Iran's compliance is weak.
The U.S. Congress, now on a summer break, is set to vote on the deal when it returns to Washington in September. There is substantial announced opposition to the deal in Congress, mostly Republicans and some Democrats, and the House of Representatives and Senate could both reject its approval.
But Obama has vowed to veto any rejection, which would force each of the two legislative chambers to muster a two-thirds vote to override his veto.
At least 58 House lawmakers, a mix of Republicans and Democrats, are in the midst of a visit to Israel during the congressional recess on a trip paid for by the charitable arm of the American Israel Public Affairs Committee, which is lobbying against the deal.
Advocacy groups are spending millions of dollars in ad campaigns to call for approval or rejection of the accord that was crafted with Tehran by the Britain, France, Germany, Russia, China and the U.S.
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