Kerry urged not to be too anxious for Iran breakthrough

Nov. 10, 2013 at 1:22 PM

WASHINGTON, Nov. 10 (UPI) -- The chairman of the U.S. Senate Foreign Relations Committee said Sunday he was concerned the Obama administration was too anxious to strike a deal with Iran.

Sen. Bob Menendez, D-N.J., said on ABC's "The Week" that he was worried the White House would soften its stance on Iran's nuclear program more than it should in order to come away with a foreign policy victory.

"My concern is that we seem to want the deal almost more than the Iranians," said Menendez. "And you can't want the deal more than the Iranians, especially when the Iranians are on the ropes."

Menendez said Obama and Secretary of State John Kerry needed to stick to the position of the United Nations and the rest of the world that Iran must halt its uranium enrichment and provide open access to international nuclear inspectors.

Menendez took issue with Iran's stance that it had the right under international law to carry out uranium enrichment, which is necessary for the development of nuclear bombs. "There is a right to a peaceful, civilian nuclear program, undoubtedly," he said. "Canada and Mexico have nuclear programs, but they don't enrich domestically. So this suggestion that there is this right to enrichment domestically is problematic."

Menendez said proposed new sanctions against Iran would likely continue to move forward, but with wording that would suspend them if the United States and Iran reached an acceptable agreement.

New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, an early favorite for the Republican presidential nomination in 2016, was asked by ABC how he saw the Obama administration's management of the Iran talks proceeding. But he deferred comment, saying he was not in the same diplomatic loop as Kerry.

"We have to let Secretary Kerry do his work," Christie said. "Once we see the produce of that work, we can all make a judgement."

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