Secretary of State John Kerry has come under fire from both sides of the Senate for his handling of the nuclear talks with Iran, after it was announced there would be another extension to the delicate negotiations.
Illinois Republican Sen. Mark Kirk, who claims that Kerry's possible deal with Iran is dangerously weak, told Politico,
"We're definitely getting played by the Iranians."
And outgoing Democratic Senate Foreign Affairs Committee chairman Robert Menendez said in a statement, "It is disappointing and worrying that after a year of serious talks with Iran that we do not have a deal."
But Dianne Feinstein, the outgoing chairwoman of the Senate Intelligence Committee, defended the delay, saying, "Sufficient progress has been made in the negotiations to justify an extension.
"I urge my colleagues in Washington to be patient, carefully evaluate the progress achieved thus far, and provide U.S. negotiators the time and space they need to succeed."
After six world powers had met with Iranian negotiators, Kerry declared in Vienna on Monday that there would be a seven-month extension in the efforts to contain Iran's nuclear program and prevent the Middle East nation from creating a nuclear weapon.
Although the talks were already extended in July, Kerry said, "We have come a long way in a short period of time. In these last days in Vienna, we have made real and substantial progress, and we have seen new ideas surface."
But the lack of obvious progress in the talks has moderate Democrats concerned that Kerry's determined efforts to reach a settlement are not going anywhere, especially since he told "60 Minutes" back in September 2013 that a deal might be reached in three months, according to Politico.
"It is difficult to square the comments of Kerry and others that progress was made this week, and they are close to a final deal, with the need for seven more months of negotiations," a former White House official told the political news website.
But the Obama administration says there is no rush to get the deal done because the U.S., along with China, Russia, Great Britain, France and Germany, can continue putting pressure on Iran through economic sanctions, which are hurting Iran's bottom line.
Kirk, however, pointed out that a new round of sanctions relief, made in return for a continued cap on its nuclear activity, gives Iran "another $5 billion in their coffers to support their nuclear weapons program," Politico said.
Kirk and Menendez have introduced a bipartisan Senate bill aimed at increasing U.S. sanctions against Iran if it attempts to drag out the current nuclear negotiations. The bill, which has 60 co-sponsors — including 17 of Democrats — has been held up by outgoing Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid.
Following the midterm shellacking of the Democrats, Kirk said that "now that we've gotten rid of Harry," he cannot block the vote. The legislation needs 67 votes to override a presidential veto.
"We're not there yet," Kirk said, adding, "I'll be working hard with the new Republican majority.'
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