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Tom Cotton: Obama sent 'signal of weakness' by extending Iran talks
Rep. Tom Cotton, R-Ark., attends the 40th annual Conservative Political Action Conference in National Harbor, Md., Thursday, March 14, 2013. Credit: AP

Tom Cotton: Obama sent 'signal of weakness' by extending Iran talks

Sen. Tom Cotton (R-Ark.) said President Barack Obama made a grave error by extending the Iran nuclear talks for at least another day, and said that decision shows Iran has the upper hand in the negotiations.

"The fact that the president is willing to go back on his own words from just a few weeks ago and extend past the March 31 deadline sends a signal of weakness to the Iranians, and that's the problem we've had since the beginning of these negotiations over a year ago," Cotton said on Fox News.

"We were in a position of strength because of the sanctions that Congress had imposed on Iran, and that the world was following," he added. "But the president lifted those sanctions just to bring Iran to the negotiating table, and we've continually given away the best cards we hold."

Instead of continuing the talks, the U.S. should have pulled the plug on them and started to reimpose sanctions, Cotton said.

"The best approach would be to walk away now, to reinstate those suspended sanctions, and then to impose new sanctions to get back to a position of strength so we can negotiate a better deal," he said.

The State Department said Tuesday afternoon that the talks would be extended because "enough progress" had been made to continue. Still, officials indicated there were still major obstacles to overcome before reaching a framework agreement that could be fleshed out by the summer.

Outstanding issues include how far Iran can advance its nuclear program in the last five years of the deal, what United Nations sanctions would be eased, and which of those sanctions would be permanently lifted.

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