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Politics

Defusing opposition to Iran deal next task for Obama

WASHINGTON -- While hopes are high for the nuclear deal reached by Iran and six other countries, U.S. President Barack Obama still has to win over skeptical legislators at home and wary allies overseas.

     Both chambers of the U.S. Congress are held by the Republican Party, which has been critical of Obama's approach. House Speaker John Boehner blasted the deal in a statement Tuesday, saying it "will only embolden Iran -- the world's largest sponsor of terror."

     Congress will probably try to block the lifting of unilateral sanctions imposed by the U.S., but Obama is expected to veto any such measures. Overriding a veto requires a two-thirds majority in each chamber, so the deal is likely to go through, but leaving so many legislators opposed to the agreement could bring trouble later. Obama will likely need to convince Congress that cooperation with Iran is necessary to stamp out the Islamic State militant group.

     Israel, the main U.S. ally in the Middle East, also condemned the deal, with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu calling it a "historic mistake." Iran, a Shiite state, views Israel as an enemy, accusing it of oppressing Palestinian Muslims. Israel sits within ballistic missile range of Iran. For Israel, a deal delaying Iran's acquisition of nuclear weapons should be good news, but it worries that lifting the sanctions would allow Iran to regain strength.

     Saudi Arabia and other pro-U.S. oil producers along the Persian Gulf are also wary of a rapprochement between Washington and Tehran. A Saudi official said the deal could make the Middle East more dangerous, Reuters reported Tuesday.

     Saudi Arabia and the other five members of the Cooperation Council for the Arab States of the Gulf are largely ruled by Sunni governments hostile to the rise of Shiite Iran. Obama invited the leaders of six Gulf countries to a summit in May to explain the talks, but four declined to attend, including Saudi King Salman. Obama plans to call Netanyahu and Salman to discuss the deal soon, U.S. officials said Tuesday.

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