Fri, Mar 13, 2015 - Page 7 News List

Republicans ‘flat wrong’ on deal with Iran: Kerry

Reuters, WASHINGTON

US Secretary of State John Kerry, left, talks to US Senate Foreign Relations Committee Chairman Bob Corker while arriving at a committee meeting in Washington on Wednesday.

Photo: Bloomberg

US Secretary of State John Kerry told US Republicans legislators who control the US Congress on Wednesday that they would not be able to modify any nuclear agreement struck between the US and Iran.

Kerry said he responded with “utter disbelief” to an open letter to Iran on Monday signed by Republican senators only that said that any deal would last only as long as US President Barack Obama, a Democrat, remains in office.

“When it says that Congress could actually modify the terms of an agreement at any time is flat wrong,” Kerry, who has been negotiating a deal to rein in Iran’s nuclear program in exchange for easing sanctions, told the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. “You do not have the right to modify an agreement reached executive-to-executive between leaders of a country.”

However, US Senator Rand Paul told Kerry that any deal would need approval by Congress if it affected US sanctions against Iran.

Paul accused the Obama administration of trying to bypass Congress.

“The letter was to Iran, but it should have been cc’d to the White House because the White House needs to understand that any agreement that removes or changes legislation will have to be passed by us,” Paul said.

The White House has described the letter as “reckless” and “irresponsible,” saying that the letter interfered with efforts by six major powers to negotiate with Iran and prevent it from building a nuclear bomb.

The negotiations, which are to resume in Lausanne, Switzerland, next week, are at a critical juncture as the sides try to meet an end-of-the-month target for an interim deal, with a final deal in June.

“We have been clear from the beginning: We are not negotiating, a quote, legally binding plan; we are negotiating a plan that will have in it capacity for enforcement,” Kerry said. “The letter erroneously asserts this is a legally binding plan. It is not. We do not even have diplomatic relations with Iran.”

“It is incorrect when it says that Congress can actually modify terms of an agreement at any time. That is flat wrong,” Kerry said.

After the hearing US Senator Bob Corker, a Republican and chairman of the committee, said: “I want to follow up a bit on what he meant by that.”

The letter was an unusual intervention by US legislators into foreign policy, which is mainly the responsibility of the president’s administration.

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