Sen. Tom Cotton (R-Ark.), a steady critic of the Obama administration's effort to negotiate a nuclear agreement with Iran, argued Thursday that despite the administration's announcement of a deal, President Barack Obama has instead announced capitulation.
"There is no nuclear deal or framework with Iran; there is only a list of dangerous U.S. concessions that will put Iran on the path to nuclear weapons," Cotton said. "Iran will keep a stockpile of enriched uranium and thousands of centrifuges — including centrifuges at a fortified, underground military bunker at Fordo."
Sen. Tom Cotton (R-Ark.) said the only thing the Obama administration announced today is a series of concessions to Iran. The Senate is expected to push later this month on a bill that would require Congress to approve an Iran nuclear agreement. Image: AP Photo/Danny Johnston
"Iran will also modernize its plutonium reactor at Arak," he addd. "Iran won't have to disclose the past military dimensions of its nuclear program, despite longstanding U.N. demands."
Cotton also claimed that Iran will get sanctions relief "up front," although a fact sheet describing the deal says those sanctions will be phased out only after Iran implements the deal. At the same time, this issue is confused, as a top Iranian official indicated that he believes the sanctions will be eased immediately.
Cotton also said key parts of the deal would expire in 10 to 15 years, and said North Korea was able to obtain the bomb after signing a similar agreement.
"These concessions also do nothing to stop or challenge Iran's outlaw behavior," he said. "Iran remains the world's worst state sponsor of terrorism. Iranian aggression is destabilizing the Middle East. And Iran continues to hold multiple Americans hostage."
"I will work with my colleagues in the Senate to protect America from this very dangerous proposal and to stop a nuclear arms race in the world's most volatile region," he added.
The Senate is expected to react to the agreement by holding an April 14 vote in the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, on a bill that would require Congress to review the deal.
"Rather than bypass Congress and head straight to the U.N. Security Council as planned, the administration first should seek the input of the American people," said Committee Chairman Bob Corker (R-Tenn.). "There is growing bipartisan support for congressional review of the nuclear deal, and I am confident of a strong vote on the Iran Nuclear Agreement Review Act when the Senate Foreign Relations Committee takes it up on April 14."
One wildcard there, however, is the decision of Sen. Bob Menendez (D-N.J.) to step down as the top Democrat on the committee. Taking his place is Sen. Ben Cardin (D-Del.), who seems much more open to supporting the deal that Menendez, who openly opposed it.