Kerry pushes back against Schumer on Iran

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Secretary of State John Kerry pushed back Monday against opponents of the Iran nuclear deal — including Sen. Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.) — who say the Obama administration should scrap the accord and negotiate a better one.

Kerry warned that if Congress rejects the deal, as Schumer has urged, there is no chance of reaching a stronger agreement with Tehran.

“Iran will not come back to the table because they’ll say: Who are we supposed to negotiate with? We just negotiated with the chief executive,” Kerry said during a roundtable with regional reporters at the White House complex, according to The Buffalo News.

“It is absolutely mistaken for somebody to assert that: ‘Oh, we’ll get a better deal,’” Kerry added.

Kerry and Secretary of Energy Ernest Moniz, who led the U.S. negotiating team, delivered a comprehensive rebuttal of Schumer’s rationale for rejecting the agreement.

Hours earlier, Schumer made his first comments since announcing his opposition to the pact last Thursday.

He called on the administration to force Iran’s leaders back to the negotiating table and reach a stronger agreement. The New York senator believes the current pact falls short of cutting off Tehran’s path to a nuclear weapon.

“Some say the only answer to this is war. I don’t believe so,” Schumer said during a press conference. “I believe we should go back and try to get a better deal,” he added. “The nations of the world should join us in that.”

Kerry responded that while critics like Schumer might not want war, rejecting the accord could ultimately lead to armed conflict.

“I don’t believe that any senator is asking for war,” he said. “I’m hoping not. … But I can tell you that President Obama and I and Ernie Moniz and all the people engaged in thinking through all the security options here believe that ultimately [congressional rejection of the deal] leads to a conflict.”

The White House is mounting a furious lobbying effort to build support for the deal among lawmakers and the public ahead of a congressional vote next month.

Schumer’s opposition has angered Obama’s allies, because he is widely expected to become Senate Democratic leader in the next Congress and could sway some of his cohorts to reject the agreement.

His announcement hasn’t led to a Democratic revolt against the deal, but the White House is doing all it can to counter his arguments.

The roundtable with regional newspapers included at least three outlets from Schumer’s home state of New York: The Buffalo News, the Syracuse Post-Standard and Newsday.

Tags Charles Schumer Ernest Moniz John Kerry
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