Menendez: Iran deal 'preserves' nuclear program instead of ending it

Sen. Bob MenendezRobert (Bob) MenendezDems urge tech companies to remove 3D-gun blueprints Dem senators introduce resolution calling on Trump to stop attacking the press Booming economy has Trump taking a well-deserved victory lap MORE (D-N.J.) on Tuesday said the multinational deal with Iran preserves Tehran's nuclear ambitions instead of ending them.

"The deal ultimately legitimizes Iran as a threshold nuclear state," Menendez, who stepped down as the top Democrat on the Foreign Relations Committee earlier this year amid corruption charges, said on MSNBC's "The Rundown." "The deal doesn't end Iran's nuclear program, it preserves it."

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The New Jersey senator, a long-time critic of the negotiations, refuted President Obama's claim that the deal allows for 24/7 access to inspect any site believed to be violating the deal.

Host Jose-Diaz Balart asked Menendez if lifting United Nations Security Council sanctions, in addition to removing ballistic missile restrictions in eight years or sooner, is too beneficial for Iran.

"The reality is, there's a reason why Iran wants that," Menendez said. "It wants to continue to deploy its terrorism throughout the region, as it is presently doing, even in desperate economic straights."

The Democrat also criticized Obama for not explicitly saying the U.S. will not allow Iran to make a nuclear weapon.

"In a decade from now, when most of the elements of this program are over, Iran is going to be able to move forward," he said. "It has a significant part of its infrastructure in place, it can reassemble that and off we go."

Republican members of Congress have already signaled they will try to kill the deal, with Sen. Tom Cotton (R-Ark.) echoing Menendez's comments that the deal isn't tough enough on Iran.

"The American people are going to repudiate this deal, and I believe Congress will kill the deal," Cotton said earlier on MSNBC.

Legislation passed in May states that Congress has 60 days to review the deal, and decide whether to accept or reject it.