The Obama administration should go back to the negotiating table with Iran and force the Islamic republic to accept a “better” nuclear deal, Sen. Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.) said on Monday.

In his first public remarks since Thursday evening’s bombshell announcement that he would break with the White House and oppose the agreement, the likely next Senate Democratic leader said that the international pact “fell short.”

{mosads}“Some say the only answer to this is war. I don’t believe so,” Schumer said during a press conference in Rochester, N.Y.

“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.”

Former aides to Obama have ripped Schumer for coming out in opposition to the deal, and former Obama campaign manager and White House adviser David Plouffe slammed the senator shortly after his comments became public.

In a message on Twitter, Plouffe linked to an earlier version of this story, described Schumer as naive and said Senate Democrats would miss Harry Reid, the Democratic leader Schumer is poised to succeed in the next Congress. 




Schumer’s decision last week to oppose the deal upended the congressional debate over the agreement, and made it much more likely that legislation to kill it will get through both chambers of Congress. Still, Obama could easily veto that legislation, and the deal’s opponents have yet to show that that they can corral the two-thirds majorities in both chambers to override that veto.

The Obama administration has explicitly warned against Schumer’s line of argument.

The alternative to the agreement is not “some sort of unicorn arrangement involving Iran’s complete capitulation,” Secretary of State John Kerry testified in the Senate last month. 

“The choice we face is between an agreement that will ensure Iran’s nuclear program is limited, rigorously scrutinized and peaceful, or no deal at all,” Kerry added.

On Friday, Schumer dismissed the notion that his ascendancy to the position of top Senate Democrat would be jeopardized by his stance — as some liberal activists have urged.

He also said batted away suggestions that he would be able to strong-arm fellow Democrats to oppose the agreement.

This is not going to be one of those things where you can force anybody to vote,” he said. “This is a decision of conscience. It was for me and I will respect that in every one of my colleagues.” 

This story was updated at 8 p.m.

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