By Alexander Bolton - 05/28/14 05:13 PM EDT
Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) says President Obama has undermined Israel’s national security by doing little to stop Iran from developing nuclear weapons and advanced missile technology.
Cruz delivered his sharp critique of Obama after meeting with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and other senior officials during a trip to Israel and Eastern Europe.
He called the possibility of Iran developing nuclear weapons and systems to deliver them the “gravest national security threat facing Israel and facing the United States.”
Cruz met with about a dozen senior leaders in Israel, including Netanyahu, Knesset Speaker Yuli Edelstein and Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon.
“Every single leader across the political spectrum in Israel viewed the current deal being negotiated in Geneva, in the words of Prime Minister Netanyahu, a very, very bad deal. A historic mistake,” he said.
Cruz said he supports legislation introduced by Senate Foreign Relations Committee Chairman Bob Menendez (D-N.J.) and Sen. Mark Kirk (R-Ill.) imposing stricter sanctions on Iran if it violates an interim multilateral deal seeking to curb its development of nuclear capabilities.
He said a bipartisan majority of senators support the bill but blamed Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) for “blocking a vote at the behest of the Obama administration.”
Cruz said the Menendez-Kirk bill does not go far enough but he believes it is important to have a bipartisan statement against “the deal negotiated in Geneva that sets the stage, I believe, for Iran to acquire nuclear weapons capability.”
Cruz said the United States should re-impose sanctions immediately and then outline a clear path for Iran to alleviate them. He said Iran should dismantle its nuclear centrifuges and hand over its stockpile of enriched uranium, goals not included in the long-term deal under negotiation by world powers in Geneva.
“I believe we’re repeating the same mistakes of the Clinton administration in the 1990s with respect to North Korea,” he said.
Like former President Clinton in his talks with North Korea, Cruz said Obama has agreed to ease sanctions on Iran in return for vague promises to end nuclear development. He said billions of dollars flowed into North Korea after Clinton softened sanctions and the regime of Kim Jong-il used the money to speed its weapons program.
Cruz noted that the United States’s lead negotiator with Iran, Wendy Sherman, also negotiated what he called the “failed” nuclear deal with North Korea.
A Democratic National Committee (DNC) spokesman accused Cruz of seeking a return to the foreign policy days of former President George W. Bush.
“Senator Cruz must long for the days when an American president rushed to war and asked questions later,” said Michael Czin, a DNC spokesman.
Czin argued the Obama administration has implemented the toughest sanctions in Iran’s history.
“Under President Obama, the U.S. has provided record-high levels of security assistance funding and Israel’s Prime Minister Netanyahu just credited the Obama administration for their efforts to rid chemical weapons from Syria,” he said. “Today, Israel is safer and more secure as a result of the Obama Administration’s efforts.”
— This story was updated at 7:09 p.m.