Iran letter author: ‘They’ve been killing Americans for 35 years’

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Sen. Tom CottonThomas (Tom) Bryant CottonGOP senators condemn 'vulgar' messages directed at Collins over Kavanaugh GOP turns its fire on Google Overnight Defense: Trump denies report he's looking at Mattis replacements | Inhofe officially gets Armed Services gavel | Trump revives shutdown threat MORE (R-Ark.) is pushing back against criticism that a letter co-signed by 46 GOP senators to Iranian leaders is meant to undermine President Obama’s nuclear negotiations.

During an interview on Tuesday, the freshman senator cast the move as a necessary warning that future presidents and Congresses would overturn any negotiation that doesn’t completely dismantle Iran’s capacity to build a nuclear weapon.

“They’ve been killing Americans for 35 years, they’ve killed hundreds of troops in Iran, now they control five capitols in the Middle East,” he said on MSNBC’s “Morning Joe.”

“They are nothing but hard-liners in Iran and if they do all of those things without a nuclear weapon, imagine what they would do with one.”

America and its Western allies are working with Iran on a deal to scale down the country's potential to build nuclear weapons. While early leaks about the negotiations include policies that would delay the country's production, Cotton said that the only deal worth pursuing is one that includes complete nuclear disarmament.

Cotton and other Republican senators sent an open letter to Iran on Monday that warns Tehran that the president doesn’t have the power to make a lasting deal without congressional approval. Criticism from Democrats has been scathing, as they accuse Cotton and others of trying to sandbag negotiations.

The Arkansas Republican denied those claims and said that the letter has even more support in Congress than the 46 signers.

“I talked with all Senate Republicans, we worked with many Senate Democrats, many senators didn’t sign for various reasons but many senators agree with my views even if they didn’t sign the letter,” he said.

He added on CNN’s “New Day” on Tuesday morning that he welcomes more lawmakers to join his open letter, even the prospective 2016 presidential candidates.

“We have four potential candidates in the U.S. Senate on the letter,” Cotton said.

“I welcome even Hillary ClintonHillary Diane Rodham ClintonTrump to declassify controversial text messages, documents related to Russia probe Hypocrisy in Kavanaugh case enough to set off alarms in DC Clinton: Hard to ignore 'racial subtext of virtually everything Trump says' MORE to join us because I suspect she might have reservations about this ill-fated nuclear deal as well,” he added.

An open letter to the leaders of the Islamic Republic of Iran