Some U.S. politicians are less than thrilled about Secretary of State John Kerry’s Monday announcement that nuclear negotiations with Iran will be extended until June.
Almost immediately after Kerry’s announcement, lawmakers critical of a nuclear deal with Iran began communicating their doubts about the extension, which is not the first. The two sides decided to give themselves more time when they did not reach a deal by late November of last year, and they pushed the deadline back again this July. But as this week’s deadline approached, Kerry reported that “serious gaps” remained between the two sides.
Sen. Mark Kirk, R.-Ill., a vocal critic of the administration’s Iran policy, said Monday that U.S. officials shouldn’t continue to provide Iran with sanctions relief as negotiations continue. “Now, more than ever, it’s critical that Congress enacts sanctions that give Iran’s mullahs no choice but to dismantle their illicit nuclear program and allow the International Atomic Energy Agency full and unfettered access to assure the international community’s security,” Kirk said in an emailed statement.
Rep. Ed Royce, chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, delivered the same message Monday afternoon. “This seven-month extension should be used to tighten the economic vice on Tehran—already suffering from falling energy prices—to force the concessions that Iran has been resisting,” the Republican from California said in a statement.
Sen. Bob Corker, R-Tenn., ranking member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, said that Congress should be involved in any final U.S. deal with Iran. “Congress must have the opportunity to weigh in before implementation of any final agreement and begin preparing alternatives, including tougher sanctions, should negotiations fail,” the chairman said in a statement.
Republican Sens. John McCain, Lindsey Graham, and Kelly Ayotte also said that sanctions should be increased and that any potential deal be put in front of Congress, according to a joint statement.