Rep. Brad Sherman (D-Calif.) on Thursday slammed the Obama administration for arguing that a diplomatic pact will prevent Iran from building nuclear weapons, calling it a “preposterous argument.”
Sherman’s remarks came during an exchange in Congress with Deputy Secretary of State Tony Blinken. The lawmaker said Iran had proven itself untrustworthy during previous nuclear negotiations.
“Obviously, they’re willing to break the law,” Sherman said, noting Tehran’s repeated violations of past U.N. mandates and diplomatic treaties.
Blinken argued Iran would not manufacture nuclear arms if it were bound by the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty. The Obama administration hopes Iran will slow or stop its quest for nuclear weapons in exchange for reducing sanctions.
“The bottom line is that even after certain obligations are completed by Iran, it cannot become a nuclear weapons state,” Blinken said. “It will be legally bound under the Non-Proliferation Treaty not to make or acquire a nuclear weapon.”
Sherman said there was no guarantee that legal punishment would deter Tehran, saying international pressure had failed to halt Iran’s nuclear efforts in the past.
“I fear that you have misled this committee in telling us that, once Iran has the rights of a non-nuclear state, subject to the additional protocol, that you’ll be able to stop sneak-out, because you’ve said first that, well, they can’t develop a nuclear weapon as that would be illegal,” Sherman said. “That’s a preposterous argument.”
Blinken retorted that Iran would face penalties from the international community for breaking its word.
“If Iran makes an agreement, it will make it with the full knowledge that if it violates the agreement, there will be severe consequences,” he said.
Under the outline of a potential nuclear agreement leaked Thursday, Iran would reduce its supply of centrifuges by 40 percent. It would then possess 6,000 centrifuges, down from the roughly 10,000 it has now.
Secretary of State John KerryJohn KerryEquilibrium/Sustainability — Presented by The American Petroleum Institute — Illegal pot farms dry up Western creeks Overnight Energy & Environment — Presented by Climate Power — Interior returns BLM HQ to Washington Biden confirms 30 percent global methane reduction goal, urges 'highest possible ambitions' MORE is finalizing the draft’s details with Iranian representatives in Lausanne, Switzerland. Britain, China, France, Germany and Russia are aiding U.S. efforts on the deal.
President Obama said he hopes any bargain with Iran lasts for at least a decade.