Tags: Barack Obama | Iran | Israel | Middle East | War on Terrorism | iran | nuclear

GOP on Obama's Threat to Veto Iran Sanctions: a 'Schoolyard Bully'

By    |   Friday, 16 January 2015 08:46 PM

Republicans slammed President Barack Obama's warning that Congress could destroy continuing nuclear negotiations with Iran if tougher sanctions are imposed, with Indiana Rep. Luke Messer charging that "the president is almost getting to the point of being a schoolyard bully with his repeated veto threats."

"What Congress has to do is pass the bills that we believe are right for our country and for the world and let the president do whatever he decides to do," the second-term congressman told Newsmax.

House Speaker John Boehner called Iran "a state sponsor of terror with an abysmal human rights record, and yet President Obama is so committed to his negotiations with this regime that he is vowing to veto tougher sanctions.

"No White House threat will stop us from doing the right thing to protect the United States and its allies," he said.

At a news conference at the White House with British Prime Minister David Cameron, President Obama urged Congress to show patience in allowing the talks to proceed without the threat of further sanctions.

"I am asking Congress to hold off because our negotiators, our partners, those who are most intimately involved in this, assess that it would jeopardize" the talks, Obama said. "My main message to Congress is just hold your fire."

The United States lifted some sanctions against Tehran in February of last year under the preliminary weapons deal negotiated the previous year. The talks involve the "P5-plus-one countries," which include the five permanent members of the United Nations Security Council, along with Russia and Germany.

But talks to reach a final deal have dragged on for months — and negotiators now have a March target date to reach a framework accord, with the deal to be completed by the end of June.

Many U.S. lawmakers, Republicans and Democrats alike, have called for tougher sanctions to keep up pressure on Iran. New Jersey Sen. Robert Menendez, the ranking Democrat on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, said he had a "fundamental disagreement" with the White House on the issue.

Long a supporter of tougher sanctions on Tehran, Menendez and GOP Sen. Mark Kirk of Illinois are sponsoring legislation that would impose restrictions if no nuclear deal is reached by a June 30 deadline.

The bill would, however, allow Obama to put the sanctions off for 30 days if an agreement was imminent.

"Iran sanctions were signed into law four times with bipartisan, veto-proof majorities in the Senate and the House," Kirk said on Friday. "If anything can stop Iran from getting nuclear weapons, it is maintaining the united bipartisan front in Congress to end Iran’s uranium enrichment and plutonium paths to the bomb.

"Now is the time to stand united against Iran’s nuclear threat, not to divide into partisan corners," he said.

Kirk's colleague in the House, Rep. Adam Kinzinger, said Obama was "desperate for a deal, and the Iranian regime knows he'll give up almost anything to get one.

"The Senate and House must act on new sanctions to ensure the president does not surrender to Iran's nuclear ambitions and allow uranium enrichment," said Kinzinger, a member of the House Foreign Affairs Committee. "The last thing the world needs is a nuclear arms race in the Middle East."

Florida Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, another committee member who once chaired the panel, blasted Obama for making "a mistake from the onset to ease sanctions.

"Congress must do everything in its power to correct this wrong and apply stricter sanctions until Iran decides to fully dismantle its nuclear infrastructure, cease its enrichment, and halt its support for terrorism," she said.

"Ever since the negotiations began, the president has negotiated from a position of weakness — and the Iranians have succeeded in delaying the talks in order to receive more concessions and acquire billions of dollars of frozen assets, which have improved its economy and removed the leverage we once had."

Ros-Lehtinen likened Obama's veto threat with his announcement last month to normalize diplomatic relations with Cuba after more than a half-century. Some travel restrictions were eased on Friday.

"That the president is willing to normalize diplomatic relations with a state sponsor of terrorism like Cuba and his unwillingness to hold Tehran accountable for its illicit activities, which undermine our national security interests, could foreshadow the administration’s orchestrated plan to normalize its relationship with another rogue regime like Iran," she said.

Messer told Newsmax that the president was wrong and that Congress had been more than patient with Tehran.

"We can no longer afford to trust the words coming from Iran without verification," he said. "Trusting the words of an untrustworthy regime is not diplomacy; it's appeasement.

"We've been working for two decades to eliminate the threat of a nuclear Iran — and given the president's track record on foreign affairs, I'm not confident that he'll be able to bring this latest round over the finish line."

Last year, Messer helped obtain signatures from 76 other House freshmen from both parties to a letter demanding the Obama administration do all it could to stop Iran from obtaining nuclear weapons.

He also reflected on comments Friday about Tehran that Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu made when he visited Jerusalem last year when he served on the Foreign Affairs Committee.

"History shows that Iran responds to strength, not weakness," Messer told Newsmax. "There's been very little in their actions that can give anyone confidence that they will keep their word.

"I don't think the president's comments are helpful," he added. "Quite frankly, they're not only out of step with the majority of Americans, but they're out of step with the majority of his own party."

The Associated Press and Reuters contributed to this report.

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Republicans slammed President Obama's warning that Congress could destroy continuing nuclear negotiations with Iran if tougher sanctions are imposed, with Indiana Rep. Luke Messer charging that "the president is almost getting to the point of being a schoolyard bully."
iran, nuclear, nukes, obama, veto, threats, GOP, Republicans
Friday, 16 January 2015 08:46 PM
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