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US Congress pressuring Obama as Iran talks drag out


Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., called on the administration to “press pause” on the discussions, after negotiators announced they would miss the June 30 deadline and extend talks another week.

“President Obama and Secretary of State Kerry should use the opportunity to pause negotiations, take a step back and re-examine the point of the talks in the first place,” McConnell wrote in an op-ed for Politico.

He and other GOP lawmakers worry the administration’s negotiating position is weakening, giving more ground to the Iranian regime by the day.

“The Administration’s deadlines and redlines with Iran are all moving in the wrong direction, and the backpedaling is a major threat to our security. Achieving a nuclear deal at all costs is not only short-sighted, it is dangerous,” House Armed Services Committee Chairman Rep. Mac Thornberry, R-TX, said Wednesday.

Sen. Mark Kirk, R-Ill., called for dismantlement of the Iranian regime’s “vast nuclear program” and “complete transparency and accountability on any future sanctions relief to Iran.”

Some Republican lawmakers also are fuming over a comment Monday by an anonymous administration official. The official was quoted suggesting international inspectors shouldn’t have access to “every military site” in Iran, “because the United States of America wouldn’t allow anybody to get into every military site.”

Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., and Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., said in a statement: “With the Iranian nuclear negotiations in a critical phase, this statement should alarm us all.”

“There is no place in this negotiation for moral equivalence. That thinking was wrong in the Cold War, and it is wrong today. Iran is not like any other nation, least of all the United States. Iran has a proven record of cheating on its nuclear program,” they said.

A key disagreement between the P5+1 negotiators and the Iranian regime is over how much access inspectors would have to Iranian nuclear sites, as the regime’s officials try to bar inspectors from military sites. McCain and Graham, as well as McConnell, said it’s imperative that inspectors have complete access.

“The standard needs to be ‘go anywhere, anytime’ — not go ‘some places, sometimes,'” House Foreign Affairs Committee Chairman Ed Royce, R-Calif., said in a statement.

President Barack Obama seemed to agree that robust inspections are critical, when he addressed the nuclear talks during a press conference on Tuesday. He told reporters he would “walk away” from negotiations if a bad deal is in the works, and cited the need for comprehensive inspections.

“The question is whether he will actually enforce this red line,” McCain and Graham said.

A report by the National Council of Resistance of Iran (NCRI) unveiled last week showed that the regime’s Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei has declared international monitoring of its military sites to be a red line not to be crossed.

The report documented how for the past two years in negotiations with the world powers the regime each time called for “trust building” instead of “transparency”. There has been a deliberate effort on the part of Tehran to marginalize the issue of “transparency” regarding the possible military dimensions (PMD) of its nuclear program, the report said.

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