Rubio says Obama sending a 'terrible' message on Iran

“I'm not going to negotiate in public, senator, with all due respect,” she told Rubio. “All I can do is repeat what the president of the United States has said, which is we respect the right of the Iranian people to access peaceful nuclear energy in the context of Iran meeting its obligations. The test will be meaningful, transparent and verifiable actions.”

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She went on to describe the zero-enrichment option as the administration's “maximalist” position. She suggested it might be flexible as the two countries renew negotiations following President Obama's phone call to President Hassan Rouhani Friday.

“You know, a negotiation begins with everybody having their maximalist position,” Sherman told Rubio. “And we have ours, too, which is, they have to meet all of their obligations under the NPT [Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons] and the U.N. Security Council resolutions.

And they have their maximalist position. And then you begin a negotiation.”

Sherman's comments come after the foreign minister of Lithuania, which currently holds the rotating presidency of the European Union, told Reuters that the six major powers negotiating with Iran on its nuclear program might ease their long-standing demand that Iran suspend all enrichment. The United States and its partners are eager to respond in kind to President Hassan Rouhani's diplomatic overtures since his election in June.

“I believe part of the game is that, if the Iranians prove that whatever they are doing is peaceful, it will, as I understand, be possible for them to conduct it,” Linas Linkevicius reportedly said. “It's conditional. It is not a done deal, but nevertheless, it is a possibility to explore.”

Rubio said Iran should only be allowed to have such rights when it demonstrates that it's not after a nuclear weapon.

“On the contrary,” Rubio said, “we need to be much stronger in drawing a very clear line on what is acceptable and what is not because we are dealing with a government run by dangerous, evil liars.”

His stance tacks closely with that of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who reaffirmed his firm opposition to allowing Iran to retain uranium enrichment during his address to the U.N. earlier this week.

“To be meaningful,” Netanyahu said, “a diplomatic solution would require Iran to … cease all uranium enrichment … and remove from Iran's territory the stockpiles of enriched uranium.”

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