President Obama phoned Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Sunday, promising to consult with him on ongoing efforts to curb Iran’s nuclear program.
Obama told Netanyahu that he wanted to begin consultations “immediately” on Iran, after diplomats struck a temporary deal in Geneva to begin placing limits on Iran’s nuclear ambitions in exchange for sanctions relief.
According to a White House readout of the call, the two “reaffirmed their shared goal of preventing Iran from obtaining a nuclear weapon.” Obama reiterated that the six-month deal will provide an opportunity to strike a “lasting, peaceful, and comprehensive solution” to Iran’s nuclear ambitions.
Even as Israel criticized the deal, Obama told Netanyahu that the U.S. “will remain firm in our commitment to Israel, which has good reason to be skeptical about Iran’s intentions.”
The two agreed to stay in close contact over the next six months as talks progressed.
The deal places new limits on Iran’s nuclear capabilities by capping its stockpile and halting work on a new reactor at its Arak site, as well as the construction of new centrifuges. The two sides disagree on whether the agreement allows Iran to enrich its uranium and whether it takes any military action against the country off the table.
In exchange, the U.S. and international partners agreed to temporarily relax economic sanctions on Iran, specifically in the sale of its crude oil, automotive sector and other parts of the economy.
The deal has been met with skepticism from lawmakers in both parties. Republicans and Democrats have said the deal is disproportionately favorable to Iran, and have doubted that country’s willingness to actually adhere to the terms of deal. Top senators have indicated that they would use the six-month negotiation period to craft a new set of harsher sanctions that could go in place if talks falter.