US Senator Ready to Defy European Allies on Iran

US Senator Ready to Defy European Allies on IranUS Senator Ready to Defy European Allies on Iran

Eying the Republican presidential nomination, US Senator Marco Rubio said on Tuesday he would "absolutely" defy European allies if necessary to revoke any Iranian nuclear deal he might inherit from President Barack Obama.

In an interview with the Associated Press, Rubio said the next US president "should not be bound" by a potential Obama administration agreement, even if European negotiating partners stand behind the deal.

"The United States, although it's less than ideal, could unilaterally re-impose more crushing and additional sanctions," Rubio said. He said he would also "use the standing of the United States on the global stage to try to encourage other nations to do so."

The US is negotiating the high-stakes nuclear deal with Iran alongside three European allies: Britain, France and Germany. Russia and China are also parties to international negotiations on Tehran's nuclear program.

If the US were to break with the international coalition, it would put Washington at odds with European countries that are strong partners on a vast array of international issues. It could also leave Russia and China in a stronger position to take advantage of economic opportunities in Iran.

Rubio is among the 47 senators who signed a letter to Iranian officials last week warning that the US Congress could undo a deal.

Rubio said the only possible deal he could accept is one that would fully disband Iran's enrichment capacity. The agreement taking shape would limit Iran's uranium enrichment and other nuclear activity for a specified period of time, but gradually lift the restrictions over several years.

Even as Rubio vowed to revoke an Iran deal, he claimed it was unlikely Tehran would be able to live up to any commitments it makes long enough for a deal to be passed on to the next US president.

"I have zero doubt that between now and the next president, Iran will violate some condition of this deal," he said. "The challenge will be whether the European community and our allies around the world are willing to look the other way and ignore them or are willing to re-impose sanctions."

The US administration and the UN nuclear agency have repeatedly confirmed that Iran has met all its commitments under an interim nuclear deal it signed with the P5+1 (the five permanent members of the UN Security Council plus Germany) in late November.