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Republicans Skeptical of Iran Nuclear Deal

By    |   Sunday, 24 November 2013 07:09 AM EST

Republicans are skeptical about the Geneva announcement over Iran's nuclear program, saying it will not stop Tehran's advance to achieve a nuclear weapon.

South Carolina Republican Sen. Lindsey Graham tweeted: "Unless the agreement requires dismantling of the Iranian centrifuges, we really haven't gained anything," according to  Roll Call.

Republican Rep. Ed Royce of California, chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee said, the deal meant Tehran would be able to keep key elements of its nuclear weapons-making capability while the U.S. would begin dismantling sanctions built up over years.

Saying that Iran is "spiking the football" over an interim deal to ease sanctions over it's nuclear enrichment program, Republican Sen. Bob Corker of Tennessee said he is crafting legislation to hold administration's and international community's feet the fire over next six months to ensure interim deal is not the norm.

The Obama administration is "long on announcements, but very short on follow-through," Sen. Bob Corker, R-Tenn., said on "Fox News Sunday." But he said that while he'd like to a diplomatic solution, Congress must weigh in.

"America has not learned its lesson from 1994 when North Korea fooled the world. I am skeptical that this agreement will end differently," said California Republican Howard "Buck" McKeon, chairman of the House Armed Services Committee.

Sen. Mark Kirk, R-Ill, called Iran's concessions under the deal "cosmetic" partly because Tehran could continue to test long-range ballistic missiles.

"I will continue working with my colleagues to craft bipartisan legislation that will impose tough new economic sanctions if Iran undermines this interim accord or if the dismantlement of Iran's nuclear infrastructure is not underway by the end of this six-month period," Kirk said.

Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., said that by "allowing the Iranian regime to retain a sizable nuclear infrastructure, this agreement makes a nuclear Iran more likely. There is now an even more urgent need for Congress to increase sanctions until Iran completely abandons its enrichment and reprocessing capabilities."

House Majority Leader Eric Cantor, R-Va., said he remained concerned that the "deal does not adequately halt Iran's enrichment capabilities," according to The Washington Post.

But the ranking Democrat on the committee, Rep. Adam Smith of Washington, described the announcement as a "positive step in the right direction."

New York Democrat Rep. Eliot Engel, a veteran House Foreign Affairs Committee member, however, was prepared to give the administration the benefit of the doubt, though he cautioned: "If Tehran thinks that this agreement will simply afford it another six months to stall for more time and position itself for a breakout capacity, it is sadly mistaken."

"The claim that this deal will set back Iran's pursuit of nuclear weapons is false," said Frederick Fleitz, Chief Analyst and founder of, writing in the National Review.

But liberal-leaning analyst Fred Kaplan, writing in Slate, saw the deal as a "triumph" that "contains nothing that any American, Israeli, or Arab skeptic could reasonably protest."

The New York Times reported that both Jimmy Carter's national security adviser Zbigniew Brzezinski and Brent Scowcroft, who served in that capacity under George H. W. Bush, sent a joint letter to key lawmakers backing the Obama administration's Iran policy: "The apparent commitment of the new government of Iran to reverse course on its nuclear activities needs to be tested."

Prior to the Geneva announcement, both Democratic Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid and New Jersey Democrat and Senate Foreign Relations Chairman Sen. Bob Menendez had been pushing for a vote after the Thanksgiving recess for tougher sanctions.
It is unclear how the latest news will affect these plans.

In Geneva, Secretary of State John Kerry told reporters  that the president would veto additional sanctions at this time.

Former Obama administration National Security Council staffer Gary Samore cautioned that the Geneva deal signed Sunday with Iran by six world powers — based on a blueprint hammered out in clandestine talks between Washington and Teheran over the past year — is not likely to end concerns about an Iranian atomic bomb.

"At the end of six months, we may see another half step and six more months of negotiations — ad infinitum," Samore, now president of United Against Nuclear Iran, told The New York Times.

Republican Sen. John Cornyn of Texas tweeted that it was "amazing" what the White House "will do to distract attention" from Obamacare.

Related stories:

Iran Gets $4.2 Billion in Last Minute Deal on Nukes
US and Iran: A Long, Complicated History

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Reaction among U.S. lawmakers to the Geneva announcement over Iran's nuclear program fell mostly along partisan lines, with Republicans skeptical that the deal will halt Tehran's advance to achieve a nuclear weapon, while Democrats backed the administration's efforts. South...
Sunday, 24 November 2013 07:09 AM
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