Key Democratic Senator Backs Nuclear Deal Review

Key Democratic Senator Backs Nuclear Deal Review   Key Democratic Senator Backs Nuclear Deal Review

Senator Charles Schumer, the next in line to become Senate Democratic leader, is demanding that the US Congress review and approve any nuclear deal struck with Iran.

Schumer, who will replace Senate Democratic Leader Harry Reid at the end of next year, says President Barack Obama must submit the deal to Congress despite the administration's reluctance to do so, the Hill reported Monday.

"This is a very serious issue that deserves careful consideration and I expect to have a classified briefing in the near future. I strongly believe Congress should have the right to disapprove any agreement and I support the Corker bill which would allow that to occur," he said in a statement. Senate Foreign Relations Committee Chairman Bob Corker has introduced legislation requiring Congress to review any comprehensive nuclear agreement with Iran before the president can waive or suspend sanctions on Iran, according to a description of the bill posted on his website.  

The foreign relations panel is expected to approve it on April 14, after Congress returns from a two-week recess.  

The Iran Nuclear Agreement Review Act would require the administration to submit a final deal to Congress for a two-month review period prior to waiving sanctions.  

The bill lost some momentum last week, however, when Senator Bob Menendez, a cosponsor of the bill who served until recently as the top Democrat on foreign relations, stepped down from his post to fight federal bribery charges, a case that could drag on for months.  

His successor, Senator Ben Cardin, has been more circumspect about supporting Corker's bill.  

"The more unity we can have among Democrats and the White House, the stronger US foreign policy will be," Cardin told the New York Times, sending a signal he wants to see Corker bill toned down.  

The pending diplomatic understanding with Iran would require it reduce its centrifuges in operation almost by half and dramatically cut its stockpile of low-enriched uranium over the next 15 years.The deal is not expected to be finalized until June.  

"We want a good deal negotiated. But before (the Obama administration) starts unraveling the (sanctions on Iran) that Congress put in place, we want to make sure that they show us the deal," Corker said in a statement before the recess.

Senate Republicans need to round up 67 votes for the bill to override an expected presidential veto.

  Senate Planning Iran Vote

Republican Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell on Monday criticized the landmark framework agreement on Iran's nuclear program, confirming that lawmakers opposed to the pact planned a formal response to the agreement, AFP reported.

"The administration needs to explain to Congress and the American people why an interim agreement should result in reduced pressure" on Iran while it continues supporting militia groups operating in the region that the US calls terrorists, McConnell said in a statement following last week's marathon talks in the Swiss city of Lausanne, which produced a joint statement outlining the key parameters of a long-term settlement to the 12-year dispute over Tehran's nuclear program.

McConnell repeated his pledge to examine legislation proposed by Corker and Menendez.

"Under no terms should the administration suspend sanctions, nor should the United Nations remove sanctions, until the Iranians reveal all aspects of the possible military dimensions of its previous research," McConnell added in his statement. Tehran says its nuclear activities are totally for peaceful purposes, denying the program may have any military dimensions.