Monday, March 24, 2014

Senate Dems Join House in Pressing Obama again about Final Iran Nuclear Deal



March 18, 2014: A spokesman of European Union foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton points at a news conference in Vienna .REUTERS
Senate Democrats are joining House lawmakers in pressing President Obama again on nuclear negotiations with Iran, insisting the president hold Tehran to iron-clad international agreements and keep them apprised of developments including the need for new sanctions.

The letter was signed Friday by 23 Democratic senators and is nearly identical to the one recently sent by 216 House Republicans and 179 House Democrats.

“As negotiations progress, we expect your administration will continue to keep Congress regularly apprised of the details,” the Senate letter reads. “And because any long-term sanctions relief will require congressional action, we urge you to consult closely with us … so that we can act swiftly to consider additional sanctions.”

While lawmakers from both chambers also said they have no desire for military conflict, they argued the United States “must keep all options on the table to prevent this dangerous regime from acquiring nuclear weapons.”

The United States and other world leaders reached an interim deal in November with Iran that calls for the rouge country to agree to inspections as it halts or scales back parts of its nuclear program to get below bomb-making capacity, in exchange for the easing of some international sanctions.

The White House has since then succeeded in stopping Congress from voting to imposing more sanctions, asking instead for additional time for a diplomatic solution to prevail.

"I am convinced that we should only relieve pressure on Iran in return for verifiable concessions that will fundamentally dismantle Iran's nuclear program," committee Chairman Sen. Robert Menendez, D-N.J., said during a Senate hearing last month.

However, the July 20 deadline for the temporary deal is fast approaching. And hopes for a final agreement appear to be dwindling now that Russia -- an ally of Iran and a potential go-between in the nuclear talks -- has angered world powers by annexing the Crimea region of Ukraine.

The lawmakers expressed support for Obama, calling themselves a “partner” in bringing Iran to the negotiating table. But they warned of Iran’s history of “delay” and “deception.” And they expressed deep concern about that country’s state sponsorship of terrorism, “horrendous” human rights record and its threats against U.S. ally Israel.

“We do not seek to deny Iran a peaceful nuclear energy program, but we are gravely concerned that Iran's industrial-scale uranium enrichment capability and heavy water reactor being built … could be used for the development of nuclear weapons,” said the Senate Democrats’ letter, signed by such strong Obama supporters as Michigan’s Carl Levin and Missouri’s Claire McCaskill.

The lawmakers called for Tehran to "fully and verifiably" implement its Safeguards Agreement with the International Atomic Energy Agency.

FoxNews' Kara Rowland contributed to this report. 



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