Menendez: Deal ‘doesn’t end Iran’s nuclear program — it preserves it’

Sen. Bob Menendez (D-N.J.), a senior member of the Foreign Relations Committee, on Tuesday criticized the Iran nuclear deal unveiled by the Obama administration.

“I’m concerned the redlines we drew have turned into green-lights; that Iran will be required only to limit rather than eliminate its nuclear program, while the international community will be required to lift the sanctions, and that it doesn’t provide for anytime-any-place inspections of suspected sites,” he said in a statement.

{mosads}”The bottom line is: The deal doesn’t end Iran’s nuclear program — it preserves it,” he said.

Menendez has been a Democratic leader on Iran sanctions in the Senate and could be a key factor in whether Republicans can convince 13 Democrats to help them reject the agreement.

He highlighted concessions the administration has made during the negotiations, which began in 2014.

“We began by saying the Iranians could not have the capacity for nuclear weapons; they had no right to enrich; and they needed to dismantle their illicit nuclear infrastructure,” he said.

“But the agreement allows them an implicit ability to continue enrichment, keep their nuclear infrastructure in place, and have a pathway to pursuing a nuclear bomb in 10 to 15 years,” he said.

“I’m also troubled that the agreement lifts the arms embargo in five years, which is something we should never capitulate on because it allows Iran to earn billions of dollars in newly-available oil revenues to continue to fund terrorism and further destabilize the overall situation in the Middle East,” he said.

However, he did not indicate whether he would reject or support the deal when it comes up for a vote in Congress later this summer.

“We must look at the totality of the agreement and determine if, like Tom Friedman said last week, this is the best bad deal that can be achieved,” he said.

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