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Thursday, November 28, 2013

Democrat Menendez slams Obama on Iran sanctions

Senate Foreign Relations Committee Chairman Robert Menendez (D-NJ) slammed President Obama on Wednesday for his opposition to new sanctions against Iran.

Menendez said he appreciated President Barack Obama’s ultimate goal to find a diplomatic solution with Iran. But he will keep pressing for fresh sanctions that take effect if the country stops cooperating with Western powers, seeking to increase pressure on Iran to reach a permanent nuclear deal.
And Menendez (D-N.J.) made it clear he did not look kindly on White House press secretary Jay Carney’s recent description of the continued push for congressional sanctions as a “march to war.”
“What I don’t appreciate is when I hear remarks out of the White House spokesman that say … if we’re pursuing sanctions we’re marching the country off to war. I think that’s way over the top, I think that’s fear-mongering,” Menendez said on NPR’s “All Things Considered.”
Menendez didn’t dispute that he and other senators might be playing “bad cop” to the Obama administration’s “good cop,” pushing for the Senate to enact a fresh round of penalties on Iran while Obama warns against “tough talk and bluster.”
“We consistently hear about how we have to worry about the hard-liners in Iran. And it seems that the Iranians get to play good cop-bad cop, [Iranian President] Rouhani as the good cop, the hard-liners as the bad cop,” Menendez said.
He described a dual-track diplomacy with the White House that would say to Iran: “‘Hey look. This is what’s coming if you don’t strike a deal.’ And at the same time the administration would say, ‘But if we strike a deal those sanctions will never go into effect.’”
Menendez and other powerful Democrats like Sen. Chuck Schumer (N.Y.) have not been shy with their criticism of an interim deal struck by Secretary of State John Kerry that temporarily rolls back sanctions on Iran in return for a slowdown of the country’s nuclear program. They are vowing to work with Republicans on a fresh wave of sanctions when the Senate returns on Dec. 9, which Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) said he will “take a look” at.
I would love to see Menendez and Schumer start standing up to Obama. But given the last five years, it's hard to believe that's really going to happen.

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