President Barack Obama’s legislative victory last week to advance his U.S.-Iran nuclear agreement is far from over, according to U.S. Sen. Tom Cotton, R-Arkansas, who says new benchmarks and an upcoming Presidential election could still undo the deal.
Appearing on Talk Business & Politics with Roby Brock, Cotton said the International Atomic Energy Agency (IEA) will receive data from Iran that could impact the President’s agreement.
“There will be an immediate test in the next four months,” said Cotton. “In October, Iran has to come clean with all of the past military work of its nuclear program to the International Atomic Energy agency. Then in December, the IEA has to issue its report.”
Cotton said he will be watching to make sure the IEA does not “whitewash” that report. He also said the side deals that are part of the agreement could also result in a change of policymaker perspective on the Iranian deal.
“[T]he IEA also has two side deals with Iran governing its past military work and its nuclear program. We still have not seen the text of those side deals. I therefore believe that the Obama administration is not complying with federal law – federal law, which President Obama signed earlier this year requiring him to submit all of those deals to Congress before he could wave sanctions,” Cotton said.
He noted that the language of the side deals could stall the lifting of sanctions against Iran. When asked if diplomacy could bring Iran into a league of acceptable nations, Cotton said as long as Iran is under ayatollah rule and no potential allied military threat, it would be difficult. Cotton argued that Iran paused its nuclear program more than a decade ago when U.S. forces invaded Iraq and toppled Sadaam Hussein.
“It did stop when there was a credible threat of military force on both of its borders. Unfortunately, over time, that threat diminished, and then under Barack Obama that threat, I would argue, more or less disappeared,” he said. “So Iran – if they face a credible threat of military force – they might be willing to give more of their nuclear programs and they would probably be less aggressive in conventional actions as well. But that’s the only language the ayatollahs speak – is the threat of force.”
The state’s junior senator also predicted that a change in the Presidency could also alter the agreement and U.S. relations with Iran.
“Even if sanctions are lifted in early next year, say in February or March, that’s only 10 or 11 months until we have a new President. And I would suggest that most international companies who might look at Iran as a promising market are going to be reluctant when they see a 2-to-1 majority among the American people and a near three-fifths majority in both the House and the Senate opposing this deal to rush into Iran, to change the facts on the ground, to give them tens of billions of dollars and more in new economic might when they know everything may change in January 2017,” he said.
BOOZMAN TALKS ABOUT POLITICAL CHALLENGE
U.S. Sen. John Boozman, R-Ark., said the affiliation between President Obama and his newly announced Democratic challenger, Conner Eldridge, is political “fair game.” Boozman, who defeated incumbent Sen. Blanche Lincoln in 2010, is likely to face former U.S. Attorney Conner Eldridge in 2016. Eldridge is the only other announced candidate for the U.S. Senate next year.
When asked if it was fair to link Eldridge to Obama by nature of his federal prosecutor appointment, Boozman said it was.
“It is what it is. I think if you work for the President, if you work for Eric Holder, people like that, if you supported them in the last two elections and felt strongly with their policies – I think it is what it is,” he said.
“We talk about Washington being broken. It is broken. But it’s broken because of the President, because of his policies and because of Sen. Harry Reid leading the Senate… I think if you have somebody that’s voted for the President the last couple of times, been very supportive of his candidacy, again, I think that’s fair game,” said Boozman, who added that he intended to focus on his job and not the early election cycle.
Boozman said under the leadership of Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky, there have been many more votes allowing amendments to bills than under his predecessor, Reid. Boozman also pointed to fixes to the Affordable Care Act and No Child Left Behind as current year accomplishments as well as improvements for veterans regarding suicide prevention programs.