News / USA

US Officials Defend Iran Nuclear Talks Before Skeptical Lawmakers

US Officials Defend Iran Nuclear Talks Before Skeptical Lawmakersi
X
February 04, 2014 11:03 PM
Tensions between lawmakers and the Obama administration surfaced at a U.S. Senate hearing Tuesday on the negotiations aimed at limiting Iran's nuclear program. VOA's Michael Bowman reports U.S. officials sought to assure a skeptical Senate Foreign Relations Committee that diplomacy can succeed, and that Iran will be amply punished if it fails.
Michael Bowman
A U.S. Senate hearing has further exposed tensions between lawmakers and the Obama administration about international negotiations to limit Iran’s nuclear program.  U.S. officials sought to reassure skeptical legislators of both parties that diplomacy can succeed, and that Iran will be amply punished if it fails.

Senate Foreign Relations Committee Chairman Robert Menendez wanted to know if a final accord with Iran would freeze its ability to make a nuclear weapon or eliminate it entirely.

“A final agreement that mothballs [halts] Iran’s [nuclear] infrastructure, but preserves their ability to easily break out [become a nuclear-armed nation] is not a final agreement I can support,” he said.

Menendez has crafted a bill spelling out additional sanctions against Iran if talks break down.  The measure has put him in conflict with fellow-Democrat President Barack Obama, who has pledged to veto any measure that could torpedo negotiations.  Menendez feared Iran would wriggle free of sanctions while retaining its nuclear weapons capacity.

“We need to guard against wanting a deal so much that we concede more than we gain.  At the end of the day, Iran can no longer be a nuclear weapons-threshold state,” he said.

Other senators were more blunt.  Republican James Risch called the interim nuclear agreement a “disaster” and said he was “disgusted” by limited sanctions relief for Iran.

“You have got business people flooding in there, ready to do business [with Iran], going back to business as usual with the Iranians," he said. "Whose job is it going to be to put the genie back in the bottle [restart sanctions] when this thing [diplomacy] fails?”

Appearing before the committee, Under Secretary of State for Political Affairs Wendy Sherman stressed that no final accord would be soft on Tehran.

“We remain in control over whether to accept the terms of a final deal or not," she said. "We have made it clear to Iran that if it fails to live up to its commitments, or if we are unable to reach agreement on a comprehensive solution, we would ask Congress to ramp up new sanctions immediately.”

Several senators expressed concern if the time it took to enact new sanctions Iran could accelerate its nuclear program.  U.S. Treasury Under Secretary David Cohen responded that the economic relief Tehran currently enjoys was small and reversible.

“If Iran fails to meet its commitments under the joint plan, we can revoke this limited sanctions relief and, at a minimum, reinstate the suspended sanctions,” he said.

Not all senators are equally pessimistic about diplomacy with Iran.  Democratic Senator Tim Kaine said he was prepared to vote for military action, if needed, to keep Iran nuclear weapons free.  But he argued for a good-faith pursuit of diplomacy before drastic measures are contemplated.

You May Like

Sydney Hostage-taker Failed to Manipulate Social Media

Gunman forced captives to use personal Facebook, YouTube accounts to issue his demands; online community helped flag messages, urged others not to share them More

UN Seeks $8.4 Billion to Help War-Hit Syrians

Effort aimed at helping Syrians displaced within their own country and those who've fled to neighboring ones More

Who Are the Pakistani Taliban?

It's an umbrella group of militant organizations whose objective is enforcement of Sharia in Pakistan 'whether through peace or war' More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Putin: Russian Economy to Rebound in 2 Yearsi
X
December 18, 2014 5:13 PM
Russian President Vladimir Putin held his annual end-of-the-year news conference Thursday, tackling questions on the Russian economy, the crisis in Ukraine and Russian relations with the west. VOA's Jeff Custer reports.
Video

Video Putin: Russian Economy to Rebound in 2 Years

Russian President Vladimir Putin held his annual end-of-the-year news conference Thursday, tackling questions on the Russian economy, the crisis in Ukraine and Russian relations with the west. VOA's Jeff Custer reports.
Video

Video Nigerians Fleeing Boko Haram Languish in Camp Near Capital

In its five-year effort to impose Islamic law in northeastern Nigeria, the Boko Haram extremist group has killed thousands of people and forced hundreds of thousands to flee. Some of those who ran for their lives now live in squalor on the edges of the capital, Abuja. Chris Stein reports for VOA.
Video

Video Detained Turkish Journalists Follow Teachings of US-Based Preacher

The Turkish government’s jailing of critical journalists has sparked international condemnation and is being seen as an effort to undermine the followers of an ailing Turkish preacher based in the United States. VOA religion reporter Jerome Socolovsky has more.
Video

Video Will Pakistan School Shooting Galvanize Pakistan Against Extremism?

The attack on a military school in Pakistan’s northwest city of Peshawar left 141 dead, including 132 children. Strong statements of condemnation poured in from across the world. The country announced three days of mourning, and the leadership, both political and military, promised retribution. VOA's Ayesha Tanzeem looks at how likely the Pakistani government is to clamp down on all extremist groups.
Video

Video ‘Anti-Islamization’ Marches Increase Tensions In Germany

Anti-immigrant rallies in Germany have been building in recent weeks, peaking Monday night in the city of Dresden where tens of thousands of people turned out to demonstrate against what they call the ‘Islamization’ of the West. Germany has offered asylum to more Syrian refugees than any other country, and this appears to have set off the protests. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video Aceh Rebuilt Decade After Tsunami, But Scars Remain

On December 26, 2004 there was an earthquake in the Indian Ocean so powerful it caused the Earth’s axis to wobble a few centimeters. Onshore on the island of Sumatra, the resulting tsunami was devastating. A decade later, VOA Correspondent Steve Herman reports from Banda Aceh, Indonesia, where although there is little remaining evidence of the physical devastation, the psychological scars among survivors remain.
Video

Video Refugees Living in Kenya Long for Peace in the Home Countries

Kenya is host to numerous refugees seeking safe haven from conflict. Immigrants from Somalia face challenges in their new lives in Kenya. Ahead of International Migrants Day (December 18) Lenny Ruvaga has more for VOA News from the Kenyan capital.
Video

Video Turkey's Authoritarianism Dismays Western Allies

The Turkish government has been defiant in the face of criticism at home and abroad for its raids targeting opposition media. The European Union on Monday expressed dismay after President Recep Tayyip Erdogan lashed out at Brussels for criticizing his government's action. Turkey's bid to be considered for EU membership has been on hold while critics accuse the NATO ally of increasingly authoritarian rule. Zlatica Hoke reports.

All About America

AppleAndroid