Obama lambasts US senators over Iran nuclear letter

March 10, 2015 8:42 am
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Secretary of State John Kerry (2nd L) stands next to Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif (2nd R) during a round of nuclear negotiations on March 2, 2015, in Montreux, Switzerland /AFP
Secretary of State John Kerry (2nd L) stands next to Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif (2nd R) during a round of nuclear negotiations on March 2, 2015, in Montreux, Switzerland /AFP

, WASHINGTON, Mar 10- Barack Obama pilloried Republicans over an incendiary letter to Iran’s leaders that warned a nuclear deal with the United States could be scrapped by the next president.

Forty seven Senate Republicans — including several potential 2016 presidential candidates — made the unprecedented move of directly and publicly addressing leaders of the Islamic Republic in a bid to scupper the sensitive talks.

“It has come to our attention while observing your nuclear negotiations with our government that you may not fully understand our constitutional system,” the letter said.

Republicans warned any deal agreed before Obama leaves office in 2017 is “nothing more than an executive agreement between President Barack Obama and (supreme leader) Ayatollah Khamenei.”

“The next president could revoke such an executive agreement with the stroke of a pen and future Congresses could modify the terms of the agreement at any time,” they added.

Obama reacted by saying he would make his case to voters.

“I think it is somewhat ironic to see some members of Congress wanting to make common cause with hardliners in Iran,” Obama said. “It is an unusual coalition.”

“What we are going to focus on right now is actually seeing whether we can get a deal,” added Obama.

“Once we do, if we do, then we’ll be able to make the case to the American people.”

– Biden slams ‘dangerous’ move –

Vice President Joe Biden, a former senator with decades of experience in Congress, opened fire with a harsher edge saying Republicans put the United States in peril with their misstep.

“The letter sent on March 9th by forty seven Republican Senators to the Islamic Republic of Iran, expressly designed to undercut a sitting President in the midst of sensitive international negotiations, is beneath the dignity of an institution I revere.

“This letter, in the guise of a constitutional lesson, ignores two centuries of precedent and threatens to undermine the ability of any future American president, whether Democrat or Republican, to negotiate with other nations on behalf of the United States,” he said.

“This letter sends a highly misleading signal to friend and foe alike that our commander-in-chief cannot deliver on America’s commitments — a message that is as false as it is dangerous.

“Honorable people can disagree over policy. But this is no way to make America safer or stronger,” Biden added.

It is rare for bitter US partisan divides to bleed over to a party actively undermining foreign policy.

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