US President Barack Obama
US President Barack Obama Reuters

US President Barack Obama delivered a live address to the American public Wednesday, urging them to support the recently-signed deal with Iran over its nuclear program - and to lobby their members of Congress to vote for it at an upcoming vote.

Obama began and ended citing former President John F. Kennedy, noting his role in facing down the Soviet Union during the Cold War.

"Less than 20 years after the end of World War Two, the prospect of nuclear war was all too real. With all the threats we face today it's hard to appreciate how dangerous the world was.

"Strength, in his view, included powerful armed forces and a willingness to stand up for our values around the world, but he rejected the prevailing opinion among many security experts which claimed security relied on a constant war footing."

America, he noted, "won the Cold War without firing a shot at the Soviets."

That, he said, is his policy vis-a-vis Iran.

"The agreement now reached between the international community and the Islamic Republic of Iran builds on this principle of strong diplomacy."

He acknowledged the deal "does not resolve all our problems with Iran, it does not achieve a warming between our two countries," but insisted that it "permanently prohibits Iran from developing a nuclear weapons," once again claiming it cuts off all of Iran's "pathways to a nuclear bomb."

Obama accused those opposed to the deal of practicing partisan politics - and claimed his opposition were the same people who supported America's costly war in Iraq.

"We're going to hear a lot of voices against this deal, backed by tens of millions in advertising. And if the rherotic in these ads sounds familiar, it should - because many of the same people who argued for the war in Iraq are arguing against the Iran nuclear deal."

He noted his opposition to the Iraq war back in 2002-2003, along with its enormous costs, and blamed the campaign on a "mentality" which "prefers war to diplomacy."

"Ironically, the single greatest beneficiary in the region of that war was the Islamic Republic of Iran, which saw its strategic position strengthened by the removal of its longstanding enemy Saddam Hussein," he noted.

The President emphasized that there was "no disagreement..." on the danger posed by a nuclear Iran.

"The question then is not whether to prevent Iran from obtaining a nuclear weapon, but how."

Though all options - including military action - were always on the table, he stressed his "preference" for a peaceful resolution - and repeatedly accused opponents of wanting war instead.

Obama went on to address some of the key points leveled by opponents of the deal, claiming they had already proven themselves wrong.

He insisted that Iran will be unable to acquire either the plutonium or uranium necessary for nuclear weapons for another 10-15 years under the deal, which he said guarantees "24/7 monitoring" of nuclear sites, with inspectors having full access and a "permanent right to inspect any suspicious facilities in Iran."

This claim will raise eyebrows given that Iranian officials have repeatedly said inspectors will not be allowed access to sensitive military facilities - including key nuclear weapons sites.

Obama also claimed the threat of a sanctions "snap back" would keep Iran in check - despite Tehran voicing confidence, backed by independent experts, that rolling back sanctions into place will be impossible to achieve once the door is opened.

He also said that inspectors could gain access to any sites in "as little as 24 hours," while dismissing the fact that Iran could delay those visits by 24 days as immaterial, claiming it was still impossible to hide all evidence of illegal nuclear activities in that period.

Even if Iran objected, the US could force them to allow access for inspectors, he said - though he did not elaborate how.

Nevertheless, Obama lauded the deal as "the strongest non-proliferation agreement ever negotiated."

He also sniped repeatedly at Israel's dogged opposition to the deal - until finally taking several open shots at Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu, who has been the deal's most vocal critic.

Israel, Obama claimed, is alone in opposing the deal - ignoring opposition by Gulf Arab states.

"Every nation in the world which has commented publicly, with the exception of the Israeli government, has supported it," he said.

And that opposition is misplaced, he insisted.

"I've had to make a lot of tough calls as president, but whether this deal is good for American security is not one of those calls. It's not even close," Obama insisted, going on to add that it was also good for Israel's security.

Acknowledging many aspects of the treaty will expire in 10-15 years, he dismissed concerns, claiming that by then the US will be in better position to oppose Iran's march to nuclear weapons.

In contrast, "by killing this deal Congress would  not only pave Iran's path to a bomb, it would accelerate it."

He also dismissed concerns over sanctions relief, claiming Iranian debts, foreign adventures in the region and "expectations" by the Iranian people of improvements to their quality of life meant most of the money would have to be spent benignly, even if "some of that money will flow to activities that we object to."

Indeed his speech included several references to the "will" of the Iranian people - despite the fact that Iran is a brutal dictatorship which crushes any forms of dissent to the ruling regime.

He also assured the United States would protect Israel's conventional military edge to ensure Iran's military "will never match Israel's."

In a not-so-subtle poke at Netanyahu, Obama mocked critics who claim that "there's a better deal"

"Those making this argument are either ignorant of Iranian society, or they're just not being honest with the American public," he said.

"Those who say we can just walk away from this deal and maintain sanctions are selling a fantasy.

"We cannot dictate the foreign, economic and energy policies of every major power in the world."

"The choice we face is ultimately between diplomacy and some form of war," he insisted - and warned that while America would ultimately win such a war, it would be very costly.

He also warned against taking the "offensive, incendiary" rhetotic of Iran seriously.

"Just because Iranian hardliners chant 'death to America' does not mean that's what all Iranians believe. In fact, it's those hardliners who have been most opposed to the deal - they're making common cause with the Republican caucus," he fired.

He says he shares critics' "sincere affinity for our friend and ally Israel," but repeated his administration's position that Israel's fears are misplaced.

"When the Israeli government is opposed to something people in the United States take notice - and they should.

"No one can blame the Israeli public for having extreme skepticisim of a regime like Iran," he continued, noting Tehran's record of holocaust denial, support for terrorism and overt anti-Semitism.

"In such a dangerous neighborhood Israel has to remain vigilant... so we have to take seriously concerns in Israel. But the fact is - partly due to American military and intelligence assistance... Israel can defend itself against any conventional danger, whether from Iran directly or from its proxies," he insisted, while again claiming the deal would end any nuclear threat.

"I recognize Netanyahu disagrees strongly, and I respect his sincerity, but I believe he is wrong," Obama declared, insisting that the deal is "in America's interest and Israel's interests."

Opponents were merely "playing on people's feels and magnifying threats," he stated, and ended by urging US citizens to "shut out the noise" and urge their Congressional representatives to support the deal.

Obama's remarks were a response to Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu, who in a live webcast Tuesday urged American Jews to oppose the deal.

That same day, Obama met with some 20 prominent Jewish leaders and activists to outline the key points of his remarks and the reasons why he thinks they deal with Iran should receive their support, according to Haaretz

The White House said that Obama described the deal as historic, and emphasized to the Jewish leaders that it would prevent Iran from obtaining nuclear weapons. He also made it clear that the U.S. will continue to support and help strengthen Israel's security.

In his address on Wednesday, according to the White House official, Obama will stress the importance of the decision facing Congress, and label it as the most consequential debate in U.S. foreign policy since the decision to declare war on Iraq.

Obama "will make the case that this should not even be a close call – this deal has the most comprehensive inspections and transparency regime that we’ve ever negotiated," the senior official said.

The deal, added the official, "cuts off all of Iran’s pathways to a bomb, and includes a permanent prohibition on Iran obtaining a nuclear weapon."

The senior White House official noted that Obama will point out that the same people who oppose the nuclear deal with Iran now, supported going to war with Iraq. Obama will say that "it would be an historic mistake to squander this opportunity – removing constraints on the Iranian program, unraveling the sanctions regime, and damaging American credibility," he added.

Obama's public address is part of a PR-blitz advocating for the deal by the White House. It comes on the same day as an interview with Secretary of State John Kerry, in which Kerry - the US's lead negotiator with Iran - dismissed Israeli concerns as "emotional" and irrational.