Rubio calls deals with Cuba, Iran signs of 'weakness'

Rubio calls deals with Cuba, Iran signs of 'weakness'

Sen. Marco RubioMarco Antonio RubioTensions swirl around Iran as administration to brief Congress Tensions swirl around Iran as administration to brief Congress Ending the Cyprus arms embargo will increase tensions in the Eastern Mediterranean MORE on Friday blasted President Obama’s “dangerous” twin outreaches to Iran and Cuba, which he called symptoms of a broader policy of “weakness and concession.”

“The concessions to Iran and Cuba both endanger our nation,” the Florida Republican and presidential candidate said in remarks at the Foreign Policy Initiative.

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“I believe they represent the convergence of nearly every flawed strategic, moral and economic notion that has driven President Obama’s foreign policy, and as such are emblematic of so many of the crises he has worsened around the world.”

The remarks came as American diplomats were preparing to raise their flag above the U.S. Embassy in Havana for the first time in more than five decades.

Cuban dissidents have not been invited to the flag-raising ceremony on Friday, which Rubio called a sign of “just how backward this policy shift has turned out to be."

“Cuba’s dissidents have fought for decades for the very democratic principles President Obama claims to be advancing through these concessions,” he said. “Their exclusion from this event has ensured it will be little more than a propaganda rally for the Castro regime.”

Rubio has long advanced a muscular foreign policy vision and has been one of the biggest critics of the administration's historic establishment of ties with Cuba. 

He turned to the subject on Friday, a week after a well-received appearance in the GOP's first presidential debate. His poll numbers, however, appear stuck in second gear, and the focus on foreign policy may be an effort to turn the momentum around.

In his speech, Rubio laid out a three-part plan to reverse course both on Cuba and Iran.  

If elected president, he would “give the Castros a choice” of either reforming its human rights and political systems or losing U.S. engagement, he said.

Rubio would also restore Cuba to the list of state sponsors of terror and “do everything in my power” to support the pro-democracy movements there and attempt to undermine the Castro government.

As for Iran, he would “quickly reimpose” sanctions “beginning on day one,” he said.

He would also ensure that U.S. forces “are positioned to signal readiness” to Iran and demand that any talks about Iran's nuclear program be contingent on Iran’s reforms for its non-nuclear behavior, such as support of terrorism and human rights abuses.

“Iran will never be allowed to build a nuclear weapon if I become president — not now, not decades from now,” he said.