Sen. Corker: Plane Shootdown Should Be Catalyst for Action

Sunday, 20 Jul 2014 10:39 AM

By Greg Richter

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Sen. Bob Corker of Tennessee, the ranking Republican on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, hopes that the shootdown of a Malaysia Airlines passenger jet last week will finally be the catalyst to get the United States and Europe to act against Russia.

Appearing on "Fox News Sunday," Corker called the loss of 298 lives a tragedy, noting, "What is also tragic is the response the West has given up to this point."

The United States believes Russian-backed rebels in eastern Ukraine shot down the airliner, believing it to be a Ukrainian military cargo plane. A tweet from one of the militants about shooting down a plane was deleted after it was discovered that only civilians were onboard.

Journalists on the scene described drunken separatist fighters stacking the bodies of victims like cordwood on the backs of trucks and placing them in Soviet-era refrigerated train cars. International crash inspectors have been allowed only limited access to the crash site, and the planes flight recorders reportedly have been sent to Moscow.

Corker said he hopes those reports will finally "galvanize" the west to push back on Russian President Vladimir Putin as he said it should have months ago. Russia already has taken over the Crimean Peninsula earlier this year and has troops amassed along its border with the rest of Ukraine, where many residents speak Russian and are more aligned with that country.

Turning to Iran, where a four-month extension in nuclear talks was announced on Saturday, Corker said it has long been known an extension would be made. He added, however, "We should be real clear: There will be no more extensions."

Corker said the Iran deal, aimed at keeping the country from getting nuclear weapons, likely will be the biggest issue [faced by] the United States during the presidency of Barack Obama.

Sen. Bob Menendez, the New Jersey Democrat who chairs the Foreign Relations Committee, also expressed concern over the negotiations. He said that while he agrees with the administration that no deal is better than a bad deal, "we are continuously moving in a direction that a bad deal may very well be viewed as a good deal."

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