Menendez joins GOP in slamming Iran briefing

Greg Nash

The chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee on Thursday joined Republicans in slamming the Obama administration's request to delay sanctions on Iran.

Sen. Bob Menendez (D-N.J.) said a briefing by Secretary of State John Kerry and others Wednesday failed to convince him that a proposed deal with Iran to loosen sanctions in exchange for a temporary freeze of the country's nuclear program was worth pursuing. Republicans left the briefing determined to push forward with new sanctions but Democrats had until now declined to weigh in.

“I just don’t think there was enough specificity to know whether what they’re pursuing is a good deal or not,” Menendez said. 

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He reiterated his desire to move legislation that could somehow increase the pressure on Iran without undermining the administration's diplomatic negotiations. Kerry has argued that passing new sanctions now would show “bad faith” to the Iranians and could put a deal out of reach.

“I'm thinking about a way to both bridge the administration's desire not to upset their stated purpose but at the same time thinking of a way forward that continues to send a message to Iran,” he told The Hill. “I do believe that there can be a dual track approach of robust diplomacy and the right calibrated sanctions, under a calibrated set of circumstances that can provide an opportunity for the diplomacy to be tested but doesn’t ultimately undermine our overall sanctions regime.”

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