Invoking the Cold War peacemaking initiatives of former US Presidents John F Kennedy and Ronald Reagan, Obama said if Congress blocked the deal, it would accelerate Tehran's path to a bomb and severely damage America's credibility.

Obama stated "Alternatives to military actions will have been exhausted once we reject a hard-won diplomatic solution that the world almost unanimously supports."
He added, "Let's not mince words. The choice we face is ultimately between diplomacy or some form of war. Maybe not tomorrow, maybe not three months from now, but soon."

Obama's speech was part of a push to promote the July 14 agreement between Iran and six world powers put together over 18 months of negotiations. The six agreed to lift economic sanctions on Iran in return for curbs on its nuclear program, which Tehran said was for peaceful energy purposes only. The White House has pressured Congress to support the deal as they return home for an August recess. To counter an opposition effort that has spent millions on advertisements, Obama asked the audience to contact their representatives and ask them to support the pact.

The Congress has until September 17 to vote on the deal. If it passes and survives a Presidential Veto, a resolution rejecting it would cripple the agreement by eliminating Obama's ability to waive many sanctions.

The leaders of the Senate said they had agreed to begin their recess today, but start debate on a resolution of disapproval on the Iran deal as soon as they return to Washington on September 8.

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