Forget Meet the Press—Obama just addressed concerns about the Iran deal on Quora

Hang on, I gotta finish this post.
Hang on, I gotta finish this post.
Image: AP Photo/Patrick Semansky
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In his 2008 presidential bid, Barack Obama, then a US senator from Illinois, used the Internet to catapult himself onto the national scene—and changed political campaigning in the process. Deep into his second term in the White House, he is still using the web in groundbreaking ways for a world leader. Take, for example, the questions he has been fielding about the Iran nuclear deal on Quora, the insider question-and-answer site.

Quora, like a Yahoo Answer that you actually might find helpful, is popular among influencers in the tech and startup world—Mark Zuckerberg and Marc Andreessen are on it, as are other CEOs and industry luminaries who have used it to answer questions about their companies and their personal lives. It’s a place where anyone with a question on any topic, be it about astrophysics or career choices, and get an answer from an expert in that field. Imagine, then, if you submitted a question about a deal in Congress, and the expert who answered was POTUS.

Here’s what the president had to say about the Iran nuclear deal, a pact which Democrats have started to clear the way for in the Senate. His answers are worth reading in full, but we put together some interesting snippets below. Read on—it’s like a fireside chat, but you can tweet it.

What is it about the Iran nuclear deal that keeps them from getting nuclear weapons?

Under this agreement, Iran is never allowed to build a nuclear weapon — period.

Every single pathway Iran could use is effectively blocked by this deal. Here’s how: It takes either enriched uranium or plutonium to build a nuclear weapon. The only site where Iran can create weapons-grade plutonium is at its Arak reactor. Under this deal, the core of the Arak reactor will be pulled out, filled with concrete, and replaced with one that will not produce weapons-grade plutonium. Furthermore, the spent fuel from that reactor will be shipped out of the country and Iran will not build any new heavy-water reactors for at least 15 years.

Can Iran’s leaders be trusted?

Whether it’s supporting terrorist groups like Hezbollah, continued threats directed at Israel, human rights abuses, or the unjust detention of American citizens, I understand exactly the kind of dangerous and repressive regime we’re dealing with in Iran.

So let me be clear: This agreement is not based on trust. It’s based exclusively on unprecedented verification. Never before has a nuclear non-proliferation agreement included such a robust and far-reaching monitoring and transparency regime.  Under this agreement, Iran is prohibited from ever pursuing a nuclear weapon — and we will be in the strongest position ever to make sure that Iran follows through.

Would a rejection of the Iran nuclear deal by Congress be a vote for war?

The congressional vote on the Iran nuclear agreement is the most consequential foreign policy debate our country has had since the invasion of Iraq in 2003. So thank you for asking this question, it’s an important one.

As Commander-in-Chief, I have no greater responsibility than keeping our country safe, and supporting the men and women who put their lives on the line for our country. When I took office, there were nearly 180,000 troops in Iraq and Afghanistan. We’ve worked hard to bring almost all of them home. So it is with them in mind that I weigh questions of war and peace. Congress should too — because that is a question Members are facing this week when they decide whether they will reject the Iran nuclear agreement.

Two of the posts contain a link to the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action worked out by western and Iranian negotiators. (The White House had posted the plan on Medium, a blogging platform that the Obama administration joined in 2014.)

Obama is no stranger to social media—this isn’t even his first foray into Quora. The 44th president has taken questions on the fast-growing site before, from users who wanted to know how Obamacare will affect young people and what it’s like to play basketball with the ruler for the free world. Obama, for the record, says he may be getting older, but he still thinks he has a decent jump shot.