White House, Democrats angry about GOP letter on Iran nuke talks

By Amy R. Connolly  |  March 10, 2015 at 2:51 PM
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WASHINGTON, March 10 (UPI) -- The White House and congressional Democrats reacted angrily Tuesday to a letter signed by 47 Republican senators warning Iran that any nuclear arms agreement will last only as long as President Obama is in office.

The White House called the open letter to Iran Monday an attempt to undermine foreign policy and Obama's nuclear negotiations with the country and warned it may cripple Iran's willingness to strike a deal. Vice President Joe Biden railed against the letter.

"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 wrote.

"I cannot recall another instance in which Senators wrote directly to advise another country -- much less a longtime foreign adversary -- that the president does not have the constitutional authority to reach a meaningful understanding with them."

The letter warned Iranian leaders, in part, any agreement not approved by Congress would be "a mere executive agreement."

"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," it read.

The author, freshman Sen. Tom Cotton, R-Ark., fired back at the critics, saying the letter was merely meant to educate Iranian leaders.

"We're simply trying to say that Congress has a constitutional role to approve any deal, to make sure that Iran never gets a nuclear weapon. Not today, not tomorrow, not ten years from now," he told ABC News

A senior United States official told the New York Times the letter would likely not stop any possible agreement with Iran but could make it harder to blame Iran if such a deal falls through.

"The problem is if there is not an agreement, the perception of who is at fault is critically important to our ability to maintain pressure, and this type of thing would likely be used by the Iranians in that scenario," said the official, who spoke anonymously.

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