Sen. Tom Cotton (R-Ark.), who has emerged as a key critic of the Obama administration’s moves to secure a nuclear deal with Iran, vowed Friday to keep a framework agreement from materializing.
“I’m going to do everything I can to stop these terms from becoming a final deal,” Cotton said Friday on CNN’s “The Lead,” noting it is unclear when the deal would attempt to lift international sanctions.
Secretary of State John Kerry has suggested sanctions would be relaxed in phases, while Iran’s leaders have described them in more immediate terms, Cotton noted.
“That’s why this deal still may not be consummated by June,” Cotton said.
Cotton suggested lawmakers could counter the administration’s efforts by not allowing congressionally mandated sanctions to be waved, imposing new sanctions and pushing for legislation allowing Congress to review any deal reached with Iran.
The framework outlined Thursday scales back Iran’s installed centrifuges, extends the breakout time to produce a bomb from several months to a year and puts facilities under international inspection.
However, while it would limit Iran’s stockpile of nuclear material, it would not close any of Iran’s nuclear facilities and would allow it to produce enriched low-level uranium at its Natanz facility.
“It was not a framework, it was just a detailed list of American concessions that is going to put Iran on the path to a nuclear weapon, whether they followed the terms…or they violate the terms,” Cotton said.
“Iran may not accept them in the first place because Iran has continued to string along our negotiators,” Cotton added, noting Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Khamenei would have input on the deal.
Asked if taking military action would be preferable to the deal, Cotton said there are “lots of kinds of military action,” citing military bombardment in the 1990s under then-President Clinton.
President Obama said Thursday that the agreement was “historic” and provided the best option to derail Iran’s ability to secure a nuclear weapon, hoping to assuage concerns in a deeply skeptical Congress and international community ahead of the final June 30 deadline.
Secretary of Energy Ernest Moniz, who was part of the U.S. team negotiating the framework in Switzerland along with five other world leaders, argued Friday that the plan would curb Iran’s bomb-making ability.
“There are four pathways that have been identified to a bomb. We have blocked all of those pathways for a considerable period of time,” Moniz said on the same CNN program, mentioning Iran’s moves with uranium, plutonium and covert activities.
“The alternative to this deal is a better deal with continued pressure through the credible threat of military force and more sanctions, and, if necessary, having to take military action,” Cotton said on CNN.
“There are grave reservations about the path the president is taking us down, on both sides of the aisle.”
By The Hill