The Obama administration is looking to strike a nuclear deal with Iran and, according to a Republican member of Congress, some in the administration have begun to talk like the ink is dry.
“There have been conversations about ‘After the deal getting done’ by many” the lawmaker says, to the effect that, “after the Iran deal gets done, then we can begin to focus on Assad.” The Iran deal the administration is currently negotiation with its allies would lift international sanctions on Iran and almost certainly allow the country to retain some ability to enrich uranium.
Jake Sullivan, who left Vice President Joe Biden’s staff in August to take a post at Yale Law School, has been briefing Republican senators on the negotiations.
The White House and others, the member says, are already thinking about problems a deal might create. ”We know they’re going to be enriching, so how do you square that with Saudi Arabia and other places?” asks the lawmaker, who emphasized that he was personally uncertain whether a deal would come to fruition soon.
The U.S.’s relationship with Saudi Arabia has been strained of late, and suffered a particular setback last August when President Obama abruptly decided against a military intervention in Syria. The lawmaker described the Saudis’ Prince Bandar as “beside himself” in meeting as he waited for a call from the White House about military plans. “They were watching CNN,” said the lawmaker, “and they realized there was going to be no call.”
The administration’s interim agreement with Iran expires on November 24, and Republicans on Thursday plan to hold a vote on a measure that would require the president to seek approval from Congress for any new deal with Tehran.
The White House has contended that its desire to reach a deal with Iran hasn’t impacted U.S. policy toward the removal of Bashar Assad, the Iranian client holding onto power in Syria — a claim the lawmaker says is categorically false.
On Tuesday, Republican senators sent the president a letter expressing alarm about the “weak and dangerous deal” they believe the administration is negotiating and said that the administration is disregarding “clear expressions from the Senate emphasizing the need for a multi-decade agreement” that would require Iran to stop enriching uranium and fully dismantle its nuclear infrastructure.
Every Republican senator but two — Kentucky’s Rand Paul and Arizona’s Jeff Flake — signed the letter.