Pope praises Iran deal before UN

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Pope Francis offered his clearest praise yet for the international nuclear deal with Iran, in a speech before the United Nations General Assembly.

The deal “is proof of the potential of political good will and of law, exercised with sincerity, patience and constancy,” the pope said before a gathering of hundreds of global diplomats, according to an English translation of his prepared remarks.

“I express my hope that this agreement will be lasting and efficacious, and bring forth the desired fruits with the cooperation of all the parties involved,” he added.

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“There is urgent need to work for a world free of nuclear weapons, in full application of the Non-Proliferation Treaty, in letter and spirit, with the goal of a complete prohibition of these weapons.”

Francis’s comments about the nuclear pact came before an extended portion on the “negative effects of military and political interventions,” which appeared to echo the Obama administration’s assertion that the only alternative to the agreement is military action.

Francis’s comments on Friday were his most substantive yet in support of the pact, which sets limits on Iran’s nuclear ability in exchange for the lifting of international sanctions.

Though Francis and the Vatican had previously offered support for the agreement, the pontiff had largely ignored the Iran deal during his landmark address to a joint meeting of Congress a day earlier. 

Instead, he gave vague reference to countries bridging “historic differences linked to painful episodes of the past,” which many interpreted as praise for the U.S.’s diplomatic reconciliation with Cuba — a maneuver that was facilitated in large part by the Vatican.

The pope’s position puts him at odds with every Republican in Congress and a handful of Capitol Hill Democrats, who voted to block the agreement from going into place earlier this year.

Across the country, the American public has been generally skeptical that Iran will live up to its side of the agreement, despite a vigorous public relations effort from the White House.