Republicans in the United States continue to criticize President Barack Obama's preliminary agreement to restrain Iran's nuclear development program.
Mitt Romney, who lost the 2012 presidential election to Obama, told the television show Fox News Sunday the prospective deal the United States and five other world powers negotiated with Iran is "not the kind of deal that will protect us and people around the world."
Romney called for stricter economic sanctions than the West and the United Nations have imposed on Iran in an effort to keep Tehran from developing a nuclear weapon. Romney said "a bad deal is not as good as no deal."
Senator John McCain, who Obama defeated in the 2008 election also attacked the agreement.
"It is undeniable that the version of the nuclear agreement outlined by the Obama administration is far different from the one described by Iran's Supreme leader: on inspections, sanctions relief and other critically important issues," a McCain statement said Saturday."
Kerry urges patience
Speaking on Sunday news shows, U.S. Secretary of State Kerry said the framework deal with Iran is what the United States said it was. He added the Russians have issued a statement saying the facts about the deal, as expressed by the United States, are accurate.
Kerry urged congressional opponents of an emerging nuclear deal with Iran to “hold their fire” until they see a final agreement later this year. He said the Obama administration should be free to negotiate without interference until the June deadline for a final deal.
Kerry said he will brief lawmakers over the next two days as part of the Obama administration's effort to beat back a move among lawmakers to require congressional approval to ease sanctions on Iran.
Iran and the world powers have set the end of June as their next deadline to reach a final agreement.
Obama declared during a press conference at the close of the Summit of the Americas in Panama that partisan wrangling over the nuclear negotiations with Iran has gone too far. "It needs to stop," he said.
Obama said that when he hears some members of Congress, including McCain, suggest that Kerry "is somehow less trustworthy in the interpretation of what's in a political agreement than the supreme leader of Iran, that is an indication of the degree to which partisanship has crossed all boundaries."
“We saw this with the letter sent by the 47 senators, who communicate directly to the supreme leader of Iran, the person that they say can not be trusted at all, warning him not to trust the United States government," Obama added.
The president said he is still “absolutely positive” the framework agreement is the best way to prevent Iran from getting a nuclear weapon. And he added if the final negotiations do not produce a tough enough agreement, the United States can back away from it.
McCain said last week the suggestion by the Iranian supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, that Iran would not allow unlimited inspections “a major setback,” adding that it was the supreme leader, not President Hassan Rouhani or Iran's foreign minister, who sets Iranian policy.
The Senate Foreign Relations Committee is set to debate and begin voting Tuesday on amendments to legislation calling for Congress to have a say on the nuclear agreement.
Iran and six world powers reached a framework agreement earlier this month. The U.S. and Iran have both released their own bullet-point interpretations of the framework agreement, since officials said they could not agree on a comprehensive document.
The U.S. government and many of its allies believe Iran's nuclear program is aimed at producing a weapon, despite Iran's insistence that the program is for civilian energy purposes.