Sen. Robert Menendez (D-N.J.) dropped a line to Secretary of State John Kerry, who landed in Vienna today for the final Iran nuclear negotiations ahead of a Tuesday deadline, to see if the top diplomat just happened to notice Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei’s red lines.
Khamenei’s speech on state television, which was tweeted to the English-speaking audience, demanded that “all financial and economic sanctions imposed by the U.N. Security Council, the U.S. Congress or the U.S. government should be lifted immediately when we sign a nuclear agreement,” that “inspection of our military sites is out of the question and is one of our red lines,” and that freezing Iranian research and development “for a long time, like 10 or 12 years, is not acceptable.”
Only days before, Menendez noted to Kerry, the Iranian parliament voted to ban access to military sites, documents and scientists as part of any future deal with the P5+1 countries.
“These demands are unacceptable – they presuppose that the government of Iran will act in good faith, when it has shown itself in the past to be an untrustworthy negotiating partner,” Menendez wrote. “The Iranian regime had spent decades deceiving the international community, it stands in violation of its international commitments, and it continues to deny the International Atomic Energy Agency access to its facilities and answers to questions about its nuclear-related military activities.”
“Given Iran’s past deceptions, the restrictions on Iran’s nuclear program must not be lifted until the Iranian regime has demonstrably met their obligations under any prospective deal. Furthermore, significant limitations on research and development and resolution of military dimensions of Iran’s program, through access to scientists, documents and places and anytime, anywhere inspections are critical to the viability of a nuclear agreement with Iran.”
Menendez reminded Kerry that the secretary of State has repeatedly said “no deal is better than a bad deal.”
“A deal that allows sanctions to be lifted before Iran’s government meets their obligations, without intrusive inspections to safeguard against a continued covert nuclear program, and that leaves Iran as a threshold nuclear state, is a bad deal that threatens the national security of America and our allies, and must be rejected,” said the senator, who has been a thorn in the administration’s side leading Democrats against any deal that gives dangerous concessions to the Islamic Republic.
“I ask that you clarify whether these newly-imposed Iranian conditions are understood to be objectives that must be met at the P5+1 negotiations for any agreement to be achieved. If Iranian negotiators intend to adhere to the provisions demanded by Ayatollah Khamenei and Iran’s parliament, I urge you to suspend the current negotiations with Iran.”