U.S. President Barack Obama said Saturday that partisan wrangling over nuclear negotiations with Iran and on other foreign policy matters has gone too far.
"It needs to stop," he declared during a press conference at the close of the Summit of the Americas in Panama.
He said that when he heard some members of Congress, like Republican Senator John McCain suggested that Secretary of State John Kerry "is somehow less trustworthy in the interpretation of what's in a political agreement than the supreme leader of Iran, that's 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't be trusted at all-warning him not to trust the United States government," said Obama.
The president said he's still “absolutely positive” that the framework agreement was the best way to prevent Iran from getting a nuclear weapon. And he added that if the final negotiations did not produce a tough enough agreement, the U.S. could back away from it.
He said that instead of working to make the nuclear deal better, Republican critics seemed out to sink it.
Senator McCain last week said that comments by Iran's supreme leader had suggested that Iran and the Obama administration were on different pages.
McCain called the supreme leader's suggestion 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 really calls the shots in Iran.
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 the West have set a June 30 deadline to work out their disagreements, though Ayatollah Khamenei said Thursday it would not be "the end of the world" if that deadline were extended.
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.