A Senate Democrat vows that “there’s no way that Congress is not going to weigh in” on the nuclear deal with Iran.
Sen. Tim Kaine (D-Va.) is an original co-sponsor of the Corker-Menendez bill to require congressional approval of a deal. The legislation is expected to move forward when Congress returns from spring break next week.
“Look, Iran is not a friend. Iran right now is a deep enemy. So the question isn’t are they a friend or an enemy. It’s whether you want to have an adversary with a nuclear weapon or without a nuclear weapon,” Kaine told CNN this morning. “The diplomatic effort underway has been to make sure this adversary does not have a nuclear weapon. ”
“And while I strongly that Congress needs to say grace over an ultimate deal that touches on Congressional sanctions, I do see many elements of the framework announced Thursday that are quite positive. Now, they have to be reduced to a deal that can be verified by the end of June. But the administration’s diplomatic effort here has, I think, produced some positives thus far and we need to just continue to monitor that.”
Kaine acknowledged that the success of the deal hinges on inspections. “The inspections are the guarantee that Iran doesn’t cheat,” he said.
“And frankly the inspections also gives us significant intel so if they were to cheat we could take more targeted military action against them. And so this is not about trusting Iran. This is about depriving them of a nuclear weapon so that they can’t harm Israel or other nations in the region or in the world,” he added.
The senator questioned the commitment in the deal framework for Iran to slash their stockpile of enriched uranium. “How are they going to do it? Can we trust them to do it? Can we inspect them to make sure that 300 is the limit? But if that sticks in an ultimate deal, that is a huge concession by Iran,” he said.
Kaine stressed “the stakes are high… but also fundamentally this is negotiation about what must Iran do to get out from under Congressional sanctions.”
“I think it strengthens the hand of the negotiators to say here’s the rules under which Congress is going to consent to this deal. We have to sell it. Frankly, I think it already has led to some strengthening of the deal, and we’ll see going forward. But I think if Congress establishes clear rules for the road about how we will engage, that will not weaken our negotiating hand, it will strengthen it.”