Cotton goes on defense over Iran letter

Cotton goes on defense over Iran letter

Sen. Tom CottonThomas (Tom) Bryant CottonCotton warns China: Crackdown on Hong Kong would be 'grave miscalculation' Congress must address gender gap in nominations to military service academies GOP senators press Google on reports it developed a smart speaker with Huawei MORE (R-Ark.) went on the defensive Wednesday in an op-ed explaining why he led the effort to send an open letter to Iran warning that any nuclear deal reached could be voided after President Obama leaves office. 

Cotton wrote in USA Today that the letter was a response to the Obama administration seeking to bypass Congress in its negotiations with Iran, in order to reach a deal that signatories believe won't be a good one.

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"That is why this week, I, along with 46 of my fellow senators, wrote Iranian leaders to inform them of the role Congress plays in approving their agreement. Our goal is simple: to stop Iran from obtaining a nuclear weapon," Cotton wrote. 

Cotton said the administration "cares little" about what kind of accord would win congressional approval and more about reaching "some sort of deal."

"Regrettably, it appears the deal President Obama is negotiating with Iran will not be a good one. In fact, if reports are correct, it will be a bad one that will ultimately allow Iran to continue its nuclear program and ultimately develop a nuclear weapon," he wrote. 

The letter has been derided by the White House and Democrats as a partisan attempt to undermine the president and the ongoing nuclear negotiations in the weeks before they have to reach the framework for an agreement. 

The conservative Wall Street Journal editorial board also criticized the letter, calling it a "distraction" that let Obama change the subject.

The letter and its 47 signatories have also been mocked online with the hashtag "47Traitors" for reaching out directly to Iran's leaders. 

However, Cotton said in his op-ed that he was simply informing Iran that any deal reached with the administration without congressional approval would not be considered binding by law. 

"The Senate must approve any deal President Obama negotiates with Iran by a two-thirds majority vote," Cotton wrote. 

"Anything less will not be considered a binding agreement when President Obama's term expires in two years," he wrote. "This is true of any agreement, but in particular with the nuclear deal President Obama intends to strike with Iran." 

Cotton defended himself and the 46 other signatories.

"I do not take my obligations as a senator lightly. Nor do those who are signatories to the letter. If the president won't share our role in the process with his negotiating partner, we won't hesitate to do it ourselves," he said. 

"Our constituents elected us to the Senate, in part, to protect them from bad agreements like this and to help ensure their safety and security. And that is what we intend to do."