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47 GOP Senators Tell Iran They May Not Honor A Nuclear Deal

Freshman Republican Sen. Tom Cotton of Arkansas wrote the letter — co-signed by 46 of his GOP colleagues — to the leaders of Iran.
Lauren Victoria Burke AP
Freshman Republican Sen. Tom Cotton of Arkansas wrote the letter — co-signed by 46 of his GOP colleagues — to the leaders of Iran.

Congressional Republicans who don't like the deal President Obama is trying to negotiate to end Iran's nuclear program are now trying a new tactic: telling Iranians that they won't honor it after Obama leaves office.

The letter was authored by freshman Arkansas Sen. Tom Cotton and co-signed by 46 of his GOP colleagues, including Majority Leader Mitch McConnell.

Obama, at a White House photo opportunity Monday, said he is proceeding with negotiations. "I think it's somewhat ironic to see some members of Congress wanting to make common cause with the hard-liners in Iran," he said. "It's an unusual coalition."


The missive is addressed "to the Leaders of the Islamic Republic of Iran" and starts out by explaining how the Constitution works, how Congress ratifies international treaties, and how while the president serves a four-year term, members of the Senate serve six.

"As applied today, for instance, President Obama will leave office in January 2017, while most of us will remain in office well beyond then — perhaps decades," the letter reads. "What these two constitutional provisions mean is that we will consider any agreement regarding your nuclear-weapons program that is not approved by Congress as nothing more than an executive agreement between President Obama and Ayatollah Khamenei. The next president could revoke such an executive agreement with the stroke of a pen and future Congresses could modify the terms of the agreement at any time."

Senate Democrats howled that the letter shreds the long-standing tradition that politics end "at the water's edge," and that the U.S. president is always given deference in foreign policy matters.

"It's unprecedented for one political party to directly intervene in an international negotiation with the sole goal of embarrassing the president of the United States," Minority Leader Harry Reid said. "Do you so dislike President Obama that you would take this extraordinary step? Obviously so."

Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif, meanwhile, said in a press release that the letter "has no legal value and is mostly a propaganda ploy."


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