Tags: Barack Obama | Iran | War on Terrorism | Robert Menendez | Iran | nuclear | weapons

Sen. Menendez: WH 'Talking Points' on Iran Are 'Straight Out of Tehran'

By    |   Wednesday, 21 Jan 2015 08:59 PM

A senior State Department official admitted Wednesday that the Obama administration's goal in talks with Iran is not to shut down its contested nuclear program but to delay its acquisition of nuclear weapons.

During a tense exchange with New Jersey Democrat Robert Menendez and other lawmakers at a Senate Foreign Relations Committee hearing, Deputy Secretary of State Tony Blinken said the administration was seeking a deal to restrain Tehran's nuclear breakout capability without eliminating its nuclear weapons program, the Washington Free Beacon reported.

Blinken also raised the possibility that the nuclear talks — already delayed twice — could be extended past the June 30 deadline if more time is required to conclude an agreement with Tehran.

"We might want a little more time," Blinken said. "I wouldn't want to rule it out."

Critics of the U.S.-Iran negotiations have argued that the interim nuclear deal reached with Tehran in November 2013 did little to stop Iran's nuclear program and permitted the regime to continue some of its most objectionable activities, which have included work on ballistic missiles and uranium enrichment.

Menendez asked Blinken directly if the agreement the administration was working to achieve with Iran wasn't really an attempt to limit Iran's "breakout" capability (having the skills and weapons parts necessary to rapidly build an atomic bomb once the Supreme Leader orders it) rather than halting its nuclear program in its tracks.

"Is that a fair statement, yes or no?" Menendez demanded.

Blinken responded that it was.

"I have to be honest with you, the more I hear from the administration and its quotes, the more it sounds like talking points that come straight out of Tehran. And it feeds to the Iranian narrative of victimization when they are the ones with original sin," Menendez said.

"We're not eliminating Iran's ability to break out," Menendez added. "We're just getting alarm bells."

The "bottom line," Menendez told Blinken, is "they get to cheat in a series of ways — and I'll call it cheat, you won't — but they get to cheat in a series of ways."

Blinken's opposition to Congress weighing in on a nuclear agreement with Iran drew bipartisan skepticism, the Free Beacon reported.

Foreign Relations Committee Chairman Bob Corker, a Tennessee Republican, criticized the White House for seeking to "stiff-arm every effort" and "push away Congress, who represents more fully this nation than the negotiators."

Sen. Tim Kaine, a freshman Virginia Democrat who is usually a reliable ally of the Obama administration, expressed concern that the United States is ignoring Tehran's nuclear deception. Kaine said the administration was giving up too much to Iran, especially on the subject of centrifuges used in uranium enrichment.

Kaine said Tehran has made it plain that "this is not a negotiation about Iran dismantling a nuclear weapons program," yet the number of centrifuges being contemplated in this deal "is not consistent with a purely civilian program."

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A senior State Department official admitted Wednesday that the Obama administration's goal in talks with Iran is not to shut down its contested nuclear program but to delay its acquisition of nuclear weapons.
Robert Menendez, Iran, nuclear, weapons, Obama, administration, talking points
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2015-59-21
Wednesday, 21 Jan 2015 08:59 PM
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