WASHINGTON - US President Barack Obama told CNN he does not remember a time in which a foreign leader interfered in American politics the way Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has been doing in his efforts to thwart the nuclear deal with Tehran.
In an interview scheduled to air on Sunday, Fareed Zakaria asked the president whether it was "appropriate of a foreign head of government to inject himself into an American affair," to which the president responded he does not recall such an example.
He asserted that "on the substance, the prime minister is wrong on this. I think that the basic assumptions that he's made are incorrect. If, in fact, my argument is right that this is the best way for Iran not to get a nuclear weapon, then that's not just good for the United States, that is very good for Israel."
In another clip from the interview recorded on Thursday, Obama elaborated on his comment that "Iran's hardliners were making common cause with the Republicans," saying both share the same "ideological commitment not to get a deal done."
Iran's "nuclear problem" must be dealt with first, the president said. The agreement reached last month by the US and five other world powers to remove crippling economic sanctions on Iran in exchange for restrictions on its nuclear program achieves that goal "better than any alternative," he added.
"Is there the possibility that having begun conversations around this narrow issue that you start getting some broader discussions about Syria, for example, and the ability of all the parties involved to try to arrive at a political transition that keeps the country intact and does not further fuel the growth of ISIS and other terrorist organizations. I think that's possible," Obama said, referring to the Islamic State group by one of its acronyms. "But I don't think it happens immediately."
"I have a general policy on big issues like this not to anticipate failure," Obama said. "And I'm not going to anticipate failure now because I think we have the better argument."
The two-page letter was signed by some of the world's top nuclear weapons and arms control, including Nobel laureates, nuclear scientists and former White House science advisers.
The Associated Press contribured to this report.