Obama Slams GOP Letter on Nuclear Deal

Obama Slams GOP Letter on Nuclear DealObama Slams GOP Letter on Nuclear Deal

US President Barack Obama slammed the Republican senators who penned a letter attempting to warn Iran that any pending nuclear agreement will face their scrutiny.

“I think what we’re going to focus on right now is actually seeing whether we’re going to get a deal or not. Once we do, if we do, we’ll be able to make the case to the American people, and I’m confident we’ll be able to implement it,” Obama said on Monday ahead of a meeting with European Council President Donald Tusk, CNN reported.

Nearly every Senate Republican has signed on to an open letter to Iran's officials warning that without their approval, any nuclear deal signed by Obama will be null and void after he leaves office.

But a top Iranian negotiator and Democrats slammed the letter, calling it a purposeful attempt to undermine the delicate negotiations as they reach a pivotal deadline later this month.

"We believe this letter has no legal value and is indeed just a propaganda ploy," Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif said in a statement.     

  Attempt to Undercut President

US Vice President Joe Biden joined in the chorus of voices speaking out against the letter, which he decried as "expressly designed to undercut a sitting president in the midst of sensitive international negotiations" and "beneath the dignity of (the Senate), an institution I revere" in a statement.

"This letter sends a highly misleading signal to friend and foe alike that our commander-in-chief cannot deliver on America's commitments—a message that is as false as it is dangerous," Biden said.

"Honorable people can disagree over policy. But this is no way to make America safer or stronger."

The letter, authored by Senator Tom Cotton and signed by 47 Republican senators, states that the US Constitution requires any international treaty to be ratified by a two-thirds vote in the Senate, and "anything not approved by Congress is a mere executive agreement." It also notes that presidents are barred from serving more than two terms in office and that the Obama administration ends in 2017.

"What these two constitutional provisions mean is that we will consider any agreement regarding your nuclear… program that is not approved by Congress as nothing more than an executive agreement" between Obama and Iran, the senators write. "The next president could revoke such an executive agreement with the stroke of a pen and future Congresses could modify the terms of the agreement at any time."

Cotton defended the letter during an appearance on CNN's "The Lead" on Monday.

"I support a good deal that stops Iran from getting a nuclear weapon today, tomorrow, 10 years from now, and forever," he told host Jake Tapper.

Iran denies its nuclear work may have any military objectives, saying the program is solely for peaceful applications.

The letter could have the added effect of further complicating already delicate talks between Iran and the major powers, including the US, on a final nuclear deal to resolve the long-running dispute over Tehran's nuclear program.

Democrats on Monday accused Republicans of attempting to do just that, with White House press secretary Josh Earnest calling the letter a "continuation of a partisan strategy to undermine the president's ability to conduct foreign policy."

"To essentially throw sand in the gears here is not helpful, and is not, frankly, the role our founding fathers envisioned for Congress to play when it comes to our foreign policy," he said.

  Political Stunt

Senate Democratic Leader Harry Reid disparaged Cotton's letter on the Senate floor, saying it was aimed at "sabotaging" the Iran talks.

"This letter is a hard slap not only in the face the United States, but our allies," Reid said, as Cotton -- who happened to be presiding over the Senate -- looked on. "This is not a time to undermine the commander-in-chief purely out of spite."

Senate Minority Whip Dick Durbin agreed, calling it a "cynical effort by Republican senators to undermine sensitive international negotiations" in a statement.

"It weakens America's hand and highlights our political divisions to the rest of the world," he said.

"Understand that if these negotiations fail, a military response to Iran developing their nuclear capability becomes more likely," Durbin said. "These Republican senators should think twice about whether their political stunt is worth the threat of another war in the Middle East."