US Senators Divided on Nuclear Talks

US Senators Divided on Nuclear Talks US Senators Divided on Nuclear Talks

Two key US lawmakers split Sunday on the value of the ongoing nuclear negotiations with Iran.

"This negotiation was lost at the start," said Sen. Ron Johnson, chairman of the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee, on "Fox News Sunday", the Hill reported.

"Let's see what the negotiation produces," countered Sen. Bill Nelson, who also sits on Homeland Security and is the top Democrat on the Senate Commerce Committee. "Let's hope there's an alternative to war."

The talks to strike a deal on Iran's nuclear program came into the spotlight last week when Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu spoke against any agreement during a speech before a joint session of Congress.

US Lawmakers have been divided over Netanyahu's speech. More than 50 Democrats boycotted the remarks and many on the left criticized the decision of Speaker of the US House of Representatives John Boehner to invite Netanyahu without first consulting President Barack Obama or Democratic leaders.

The political split continued Sunday.

Johnson called Netanyahu's remarks "extraordinary" and "courageous."

Nelson disagreed, saying it wasn't "right" for the Israeli leader to "come and try to kill a negotiation while the very negotiation is going on."

Senators have also split over a bill that would allow lawmakers to weigh in on a final Iran nuclear deal.

The White House has already issued a veto threat for the bipartisan bill introduced by Sens. Bob Corker and Bob Menendez. The measure would give Congress two months to review and vote on any final deal with Iran.

Johnson on Sunday backed the effort. The Iranian parliament will get to vote on any decision, he reasoned.

"I think the United States Congress should have that exact same input into the process," he said.

Nelson preached patience. His stance on the bill "depends on the context of the whole deal, which we don't know until March 24 when the administration will announce if their negotiations are successful or not."

Johnson said he believes any deal that allows the Iranians to enrich uranium, even for civilian purposes, will lead to Iranian nuclear weapons. Iran denies its nuclear program may have any military objectives, saying the work is solely for peaceful purposes.    

"Here's what Iran is, they're evil," he claimed, encouraging strong economic sanctions. "We do not want an economically strong Iran."   

Nelson said "the key" to the deal will be getting Iran to agree to "intrusive and unannounced inspections" of its nuclear program.