As negotiations drag on and wariness in Congress grows, a key opponent of the administration’s Iran policy said he thinks there are enough votes to quash a bad deal.
State Department spokesman Mark Toner told reporters Wednesday that “obviously, difficult issues, as we discussed yesterday and the day before, remain.”
“They’re trying to surmount those issues and work towards a comprehensive agreement,” he said. “But we’re not there yet.”
Sen. Robert Menendez (D-N.J.) told CNN that he thinks the P5+1 negotiators in Vienna are headed for “a good bad deal.”
“And what’s the problem with that? The problem with that is what the administration said at the beginning that I totally embrace is that no deal is better than a bad deal. I don’t think there’s such a thing as a good bad deal. It’s either a good deal or a bad deal,” Menendez said.
“I’m afraid that our red lines to the Iranians seem to be green lights.”
The senator reminded all that “we started these negotiations saying Iran cannot have the capacity for nuclear weapons.”
“We started talking about that we need to dismantle some of Iran’s illicit nuclear infrastructures. We started saying that there is no right to enrich, and what do we have so far from what I can see? We have the Iranians having an implicit ability to go ahead and enrich. We have a nuclear infrastructure that despite the world powers sitting on the other side of the table, the Iranians have been able to keep most of their infrastructure in place. And at 10 to 15 years they will have a clear pathway towards, if they choose to, towards pursuing a nuclear bomb,” he said. “That is not where the national interest of the United States is nor of our ally, the state of Israel.”
Asked if Congress is poised to shoot down a bad deal, Menendez said “it depends upon what the deal was.”
“We’ll have to see. I’ll reserve judgment, even though I’m concerned about where we’re headed about what the deal looks like,” he said. “If it’s a bad deal, I think there’s votes in the Senate to say it’s a bad deal.”