House to Obama: Iran must have ‘no pathway to a bomb’

Negotiations over Iran’s nuclear program are set to continue later this week, but politics at home may complicate discussions. After reports of a potential deal to reduce Iran’s nuclear centrifuges by 40 percent for 10 years, President Obama received a bipartisan letter signed by 367 members of the House insisting that Iran have “no pathway to a bomb.” Judy Woodruff reports.

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  • JUDY WOODRUFF:

    The Iran nuclear talks are set to resume later this week with the goal of reaching a deal before a deadline at the end of the month. But politics at home are complicating U.S. diplomatic efforts abroad.

  • JOSH EARNEST, White House Press Secretary:

    We do believe that we have made important progress over the last few weeks.

  • JUDY WOODRUFF:

    The latest White House assessment came as a congressional letter to President Obama was made public. It was signed by 367 members of the U.S. House of Representatives, Democrats and Republicans alike.

    Dated March 20, the letter said: "A final comprehensive nuclear agreement must constrain Iran's nuclear infrastructure so that Iran has no pathway to a bomb, and that agreement must be long-lasting."

    White House spokesman Josh Earnest seemed to mirror those demands in his own remarks.

  • JOSH EARNEST:

    What we will insist on is making sure that we cut off every pathway to a nuclear weapon that Iran has and that they agree to and submit to historically intrusive inspections into their nuclear program. And if Iran is not able to make those commitments, then there will be no deal that is reached.

  • JUDY WOODRUFF:

    It's been reported that the U.S. and Iran are working on a deal for a 40 percent reduction in Iran's nuclear centrifuges for 10 years, in exchange for phased-out economic sanctions.

    But over the weekend, France appeared to take a harder line, insisting that a deal must prevent Iran from maintaining any ability to build a nuclear bomb.

  • LAURENT FABIUS, Foreign Minister, France (through interpreter):

    As long as we do not agree on everything, then the agreement doesn't exist, but we are working on it.

  • JUDY WOODRUFF:

    Today, Iran's deputy foreign minister pushed the U.S., France and four other powers to find a common position in order to reach a deal. Then, it would fall to the International Atomic Energy Agency, or IAEA, to monitor compliance. That group is conducting its own investigation of Iran's program as the negotiations proceed.

    The so-called P5-plus-one talks resume Wednesday, with an end-of-month deadline just days away.

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