Top Senate Democrats Criticise The Iran Nuclear Deal

The White House found broad bipartisan scepticism Sunday
on the deal reached between six world powers and Iran, and top Democrats criticised the Obama administration for what they saw as a disproportional deal that favours Iran.

Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.), one of the White House’s key Senate allies, said in a statement that the disproportional nature of the agreement made it “more likely” that the Senate would move to impose new sanctions on Iran.

“Iran simply freezes its nuclear capabilities while we reduce the sanctions,” Schumer said.

“It was strong sanctions, not the goodness of the hearts of the Iranian leaders, that brought Iran to the table, and any reduction relieves the psychological pressure of future sanctions and gives them hope that they will be able to gain nuclear weapon capability while further sanctions are reduced. A fairer agreement would have coupled a reduction in sanctions with a proportionate reduction in Iranian nuclear capability.”

Sen. Bob Menendez (D-N.J.), the chair of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, similarly criticised what he perceived as a more one-sided deal that benefits Iran. However, he said that he expected any further sanctions legislation would provide for a six-month window on the interim agreement, allowing for negotiators to work on a permanent deal.

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) hasn’t issued a statement on the deal. A spokesman didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment Sunday morning. Reid did say on the Senate floor last week that he was committed to moving forward on new sanctions legislation, putting pressure on negotiators in Geneva.

The White House also faced scepticism on the House side. Rep. Eliot Engel (D-N.Y.), the ranking member on the House Foreign Affairs Committee, said he was “concerned” the agreement does not “require Iran to completely halt its enrichment efforts or dismantle its centrifuges.”

In a statement, House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) also expressed his doubts about the deal, but he stopped short of outright opposition.

“The lingering question, however, is whether the negotiating partners will work equally hard to preserve the strong international sanctions regime until that goal is achieved,” Boehner said.

“Otherwise, we will look back on the interim deal as a remarkably clever Iranian move to dismantle the international sanctions regime while maintaining its infrastructure and material to pursue a break-out nuclear capability.”

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