Sen. Robert Menendez (D – N.J.) wrote in an open letter to Secretary of State John Kerry today that an nuclear deal that leaves Iran “as a threshold nuclear state” would be an unacceptable deal. In his letter, Menendez stated that recent demands made by Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei are “unacceptable.”
Ayatollah Khamenei made a speech on Iranian state television in which he stated that ‘All financial and economic sanctions imposed by the U.N. Security Council, the U.S. Congress or the U.S. government should be lifted immediately when we sign a nuclear agreement,’ that ‘inspection of our military sites is out of the question and is one of our red lines,’ and that freezing Iranian research and development ‘for a long time, like 10 or 12 years, is not acceptable. Only days before, the Iranian parliament voted to ban access to military sites, documents and scientists as part of any future deal with the P5+1 countries.
These demands are unacceptable – they presuppose that the government of Iran will act in good faith, when it has shown itself in the past to be an untrustworthy negotiating partner. If Iranian negotiators intend to adhere to the provisions demanded by Ayatollah Khamenei and Iran’s parliament, I urge you to suspend the current negotiations with Iran.
A deal that allows sanctions to be lifted before Iran’s government meets their obligations, without intrusive inspections to safeguard against a continued covert nuclear program, and that leaves Iran as a threshold nuclear state, is a bad deal that threatens the national security of America and our allies, and must be rejected.
The letter to Kerry comes after the introduction of legislation to extend the Iran Sanctions Act of 1996, which is set to expire next year. The renewal legislation, which was introduced by Menendez and Sen. Mark Kirk (R – Ill.), would “renew the Act’s critical sanctions measures designed to defund the Iranian regime’s nuclear program and support for terrorism, thereby ensuring that Congress retains leverage to snap back sanctions if Iran cheats on any nuclear agreement. The legislation would also require the Administration to report to Congress whether any Iran sanctions relief has supported terrorism, nuclear or missile proliferation, or human rights violations, or has enriched any senior Iranian official’s personal finances.”
Menendez has been an outspoken critic of the Obama administration’s diplomatic outreach to Iran, and has been instrumental in passing legislation to ensure that any deal is subject to legislative oversight. The law he helped pass, known as the Menendez-Corker bill, passed both the Senate and the House of Representatives with overwhelming bipartisan majorities. It gives Congress at least 30 days to review a nuclear agreement with Iran to ensure that it fully addresses the threat of the Islamic Republic’s nuclear program.
Last week, Menendez’s co-sponsor, Sen. Bob Corker (R – Tenn.) wrote a letter to President Barack Obama expressing his concern over the “breathtaking” retreats the administration has taken from its “original goals and statements … during negotiations with Iran.”
[Photo: SenatorMenendezNJ / YouTube ]