US Senators Concerned Over Iran Talks

US Senators Concerned Over Iran TalksUS Senators Concerned Over Iran Talks

The US should not rush to finish a nuclear deal with Iran simply to meet a deadline that would allow a shorter congressional review period, said Senator Bob Corker, chairman of a committee that will be pivotal in deciding an agreement's fate in Congress.

Iran and the six major powers (the US, Britain, France, Russia, China and Germany) have been in talks since late June, trying to complete the deal that would place temporary restrictions on Iran's nuclear work in exchange for relief from economic sanctions.

Corker, a Tennessee Republican who leads the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, said the talks have been "going on a negative trend for some time," Bloomberg reported.

Under the potential deal, "we've gone from dismantling their program to managing proliferation," Corker said on CBS's "Face the Nation" broadcast Sunday. "That's the biggest concern."

Iran says its nuclear program is peaceful, denying the allegation that it may have sought to develop a nuclear weapons capability.

Corker said he had spoken to Secretary of State John Kerry on Saturday to urge patience.

If President Barack Obama sends the Iran deal to Congress by July 9, lawmakers will have 30 days to review it, hold hearings and vote to approve or disapprove it. If there is no agreement sent to Congress by July 9, the review period gets extended to 60 days, a period that would include Congress' typical August recess.

Blocking the deal would require a two-thirds vote in both houses of Congress, because Obama would be expected to veto any attempt to stop the accord.

In Vienna on Sunday, Kerry said "difficult issues" remain to strike the deal, and that the US is "willing to walk away" if Iran does not compromise.

  Position of Strength

Senator Tom Cotton, an Arkansas Republican, criticized what he called the "condescending tone" of Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif. "They think they're negotiating from a position of strength," Cotton said on ABC's "This Week" on Sunday.

Cotton, a long-time critic of the US approach to Iran, said the US has already made too many concessions, including letting Iran keep its ballistic missile program and uranium.

Senator Ben Cardin, the top Democrat on the Foreign Relations Committee, said the best outcome for the US would be an agreement that ensures full inspections, and that inspectors will need to know what Iran has done in the past. Iran has ruled out any extraordinary monitoring measures by the International Atomic Energy Agency over its nuclear activities, including inspections of its nuclear facilities.  

"The best option is a strong agreement," Cardin, a Maryland Democrat, said on "This Week." "The Congress will do an independent oversight."