Barack Obama photo

Interview with Monica Malpass of Action News

August 27, 2015

Malpass. Mr. President, given the 30 history of mistrust with Iran, how can you be certain they'll comply with this agreement and is it worth risking the relationship the US has with Israel, since they're vehemently opposed?

The President. Well I don't think that we can be certain that Iran will comply which is why we've set it up, so we can catch them if they cheat. But our central security priority here is to make sure Iran does not get a nuclear weapon. That would not just be dangerous for us, but it'd be dangerous for Israel and dangerous for the world. And almost every nuclear expert who's looked at this deal has been persuaded that in fact this is the best way for us to assure ourselves and the world that Iran will not get a nuclear weapon because we shut down a whole bunch of their facilities, they ship out in rich uranium that they already have and they do so for at least a 15 year period, they can't introduce advanced centre fusions that could produce weapons grade material and that doesn't mean that suddenly we have a good relationship with Iran. It does mean that we have taken off the table what poses a game changer, a great threat to us and we've done so without initiating a new military conflict in the Middle East. And that, I think, is something that should be embraced by all sides, as it is by practically every country in the world.

Malpass. If Joe Biden, the vice president, decides to run for president, it'll be tricky to decide who to support I assume between him and Hilary Clinton, would you concede that it's easier for you if he doesn't run?

The President. What I would say is that both are— Joe and Hillary are wonderful people, great friends. Joe's been as good a vice president as I think we've seen in American history and been at my side in every tough decision I've made. Hilary Clinton was one of our best secretaries of state and helped work on a whole range of really important issues, including the Iran deal with the outset—setting up the sanctions that put pressure on Iran that forced them to the table. So, you know, the truth is though is the great thing about American democracy is it's not up to me, I'm just one voter. It's going to be up to the American people. My job over the next 14, 15 months is to stay focused on creating jobs, making sure the economic recovery that's been taking place continues, dealing with big challenges like climate change and making sure that Iran doesn't get a nuclear weapon.

Malpass. Speaking of the economy, what would you say to hard working Philadelphians who lost their jobs in 2008, saw their 401Ks disintegrate for the most part, are just starting to feel like their recovering and this week here we go a similar problem, a major economic correction. Is this the exception or the rule, can you do something actively about it?

The President. Well you know, as a rule I don't count it on the stock market going up and down, that's the nature of these markets. I think its more important to look at the long term trend lines that we've seen. I mean we've had more than five years now of private sector job growth every single month, over 13 million jobs created. And, you know, the American economy has actually proved to be more resilient, come back faster better, stronger than any of the advanced countries around the world, whether it's Europe, China, Japan. And I think that's a testimony to some good decisions that we've made, but in order to continue that progress, it's important that Congress doesn't stand in the way. And there are a couple things they are gonna need to do to continue economic progress. Number one, make sure that we pass a budget without shutting down the government, making sure that we don't have mindless cuts to critical areas like infrastructure and education, not screwing around with the debt limit like they did a couple years ago that caused all kinds of chaos and panic. As long as we stay focused on our fundamentals, doing what we know works, then the American economy will continue to grow will continue to improve. And then we've got to make sure that our workers, our people, our children are trained for those jobs in the future and that's why education, job training, things like that are so important and why we can't neglect those investments either.

Malpass. We've had another violent incident this week that was deadly in Virginia. It's been a rough summer and a rough several years in the U.S. from rogue gunmen. What else will you be doing with gun control to stop this violence?

The President. Well, as I've said in the past, it breaks my heart every time when you read about or hear about these kinds of incidents. Obviously the current investigation is still taking place. What we know is that the number of people who die from gun related incidents around this country dwarfs any deaths that happen through terrorism. We're willing to spend trillions of dollars to prevent terrorist activities but we haven't been willing, so far at least, to impose some common sense gun safety measures that could save some lives. And right now Congress is bottlenecked in it but you're seeing state legislators and cities take action in some places and I hope that that grass roots movements to say that people can, you know, have guns for hunting and for protection but that we can also have some common sense rules like background checks. That those things will make a difference, my hope is that public pressure continues to grow.

Malpass. Thank you Mr. President.

The President. Thank you so much.

Barack Obama, Interview with Monica Malpass of Action News Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project

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