In Washington on Tuesday, President Barack Obama threatened to walk away from a nuclear deal with Iran if it fails to keep tabs on the country’s compliance, as the negotiations were extended past their original Tuesday deadline amid sharp disagreements.
The president said that while he hopes that the P5 + 1 countries can achieve an agreement, “I’ve said from the start, I will walk away from the negotiations if in fact it’s a bad deal.” Obama specifically said that a dispute over inspection of Iran’s nuclear sites could prevent a deal from happening.
Congressional Republicans have predicted for months that the U.S. will end up with a bad deal. No one has been more critical of the talks than Florida Sen. Marco Rubio.
“Once again, the Obama Administration has given into Iran’s obfuscation and stalling tactics,” Rubio said in a prepared statement on Tuesday. “In April, the President announced to the world that the United States had reached ‘a historic understanding with Iran.’ Now, as the Iranian leadership attempts to walk back the key provisions of that deal, we’re told a few more days are required to negotiate a deal that was supposedly concluded months ago. The events of recent weeks have shown that it is clearer than ever that Iran is not serious about resolving longstanding concerns regarding its illicit nuclear program. Another week of negotiations at this point is just another week for further U.S. concessions. Tehran knows this. Our allies and partners in the Middle East see this because they’ve experienced it before.”
Rubio said those paying attention to the negotiations “already know” that the deal is not in the best interests of the U.S.
“It will not keep Americans safer. It will only embolden the world’s foremost sponsor of terrorism as it expands its influence and sows instability across the Middle East. It will provide billions of dollars to a regime that brutalizes its citizens and acts like a criminal gang by kidnapping American citizens and effectively holding them for ransom.”
But Rubio’s colleague from Florida, Democratic Sen. Bill Nelson, criticized the premature skepticism.
“Isn’t it interesting that people have pronounced their judgment on the agreement and the agreement is still being negotiated?” he said rhetorically at a press conference in Tampa on Tuesday. “It would seem to me that common sense would tell you you wait until the agreement is done. And it may not get done. What may happen is that they agree to disagree but to continue the negotiations.”
A member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, Rubio has been an aggressive supporter of U.S. intervention overseas, such as in Libya. He’s been extremely critical of President Obama’s foreign policy moves overall, and has used his foreign policy knowledge as a reason why GOP primary voters should prefer him rather than candidates such as Jeb Bush, Chris Christie or Scott Walker in the primaries next year.
“If the President were serious about negotiating a deal that advances our security and protects our allies, such as Israel, he would walk away from the table and impose new sanctions on Iran until the regime comes to the table ready to negotiate seriously,” Rubio said Tuesday. “If he instead chooses to conclude a deal that ensures that Iran will be a nuclear threshold state, I am confident that a majority of both houses of Congress will join me in opposing it, which will lay the foundation for our next President to undo this disaster.”
Nelson agrees that any deal that ensures Iran will get a nuclear weapon anytime soon isn’t going to work.
“The U.S. is going to insist on the frequent and unannounced inspections,” he said. “And if Iran is holding up saying that they don’t want that, that’s going to be a nonstarter for America.”