(November 10, 2014 / JNS) The U.S. Senate has the right and duty to examine any nuclear deal reached with Iran, U.S. Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) said, vowing that the Senate would block a “bad deal” with the Islamic Republic.
In Graham’s view, a bad deal is any agreement that permits Iran to enrich uranium.
“Today, there are new bosses in Washington,” Graham said in interview with Israel Hayom, referencing the Republican Party’s recent retaking of a Senate majority. “The biggest losers, after the midterm elections, are Hamas, Hezbollah, and the Iranian nuclear program.”
Graham said he intends to submit a bill in January to the new Senate majority leader, expected to be U.S. Sen. Mitch McConnell (R-K.Y.), that would require President Barack Obama to allow the Senate to review any agreement with Iran on the nuclear issue.
“With Iran, we do not want to end up getting the same result we got with North Korea, which ultimately, despite the negotiations and the agreements, became a nuclear power,” Graham said. “It is very important that the Senate examine the agreement [with Iran]. Today, a majority of senators from both parties oppose the idea that Iran will enrich uranium.”
So what kind of agreement would Graham accept?
“If the agreement is good for the U.S., Israel, and other U.S. partners and if it protects the national security of the U.S.—then we will support it,” he said. “However, if the agreement is bad, then we will oppose it, and I will personally make sure it does not pass.”
The New York Times, however, reported before the midterm elections that Obama plans to bypass Congress on the Iran nuclear issue.
“The U.S. Senate has not only the right, but also the duty, to examine the agreement,” Graham said. “It is Congress which voted for the sanctions against Iran and it is Congress which is supposed to cancel them, if needed. I find it strange that the president said it was necessary to go to Congress regarding action in Syria and Iraq, but does not need Congress in the case of an agreement with Iran. I assure you that the Senate intends to engage in a tough fight to bring the agreement before us. The regime of the ayatollahs is the big loser of the midterm elections.”
Regarding the dangers that would be posed by a “bad” nuclear agreement with Iran, Graham said, “One must understand that a bad deal with Iran could change the face of the world. I don’t think there is a single Israel who could sleep well at night knowing that Iran is capable of developing a nuclear bomb.”
Graham also expressed concern that the Obama administration views a nuclear agreement with Iran as a potential legacy achievement.
On Sunday, U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry met in Muscat, Oman, with Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif and former European Union foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton (the representative of the six world powers negotiating with Iran) in a bid to make progress in the negotiations ahead of the Nov. 24 deadline for a final agreement.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, like Graham, warned against a “bad deal” with Iran.
“Better no deal than a bad deal that leaves Iran with a capacity to enrich uranium for a nuclear bomb,” Netanyahu said Friday.
Netanyahu said the battle against Islamic State “should not come at the expense of the efforts to prevent Iran from acquiring nuclear weapons.” Yet the Wall Street Journal reported last week that President Barack Obama recently wrote a letter to Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, expressing shared interest in the fight against Islamic State jihadists in Syria and Iraq.
“[The Iranian and Islamic State threats] should be pursued independently and not linked to one another,” said Netanyahu.
Khamenei, meanwhile, tweeted over the weekend, “This barbaric, wolflike & infanticidal regime of #Israel which spares no crime has no cure but to be annihilated.”
Graham, a member of the Senate Committee on Appropriations, said he recently told U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon that the U.S. would halt funding for the U.N. Human Rights Council (UNHRC) if the body continues to fixate on Israel. The UNHRC is currently investigating Israel’s role in the 50-day summer war in Gaza, but is not looking into the actions of the Palestinian terror group Hamas.
“I don’t think American taxpayers want to help [the UNHRC] with this agenda,” Graham said.
—With reporting by Israel Hayom’s Boaz Bismuth, Eli Leon, and Shlomo Cesana.