- The Washington Times - Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Sen. Marco Rubio said Tuesday that he is skeptical of the deal that world powers recently stuck with Iran over its disputed nuclear program and said a group of lawmakers are working out the details on a new legislative package of sanctions against Iran.

Mr. Rubio, Florida Republican and member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, said a bipartisan coalition of senators appears poised to move forward with legislation that would tighten sanctions if Iran fails to live up to its end of the six-month agreement it struck last week with the so-called P5+1 group of nations — the U.S., the U.K., Russia, China, France and Germany.

“I think the point of debate now would be whether those sanctions would be triggered by either a lack of compliance with the agreement that is in place, or at the expiration of this existing agreement, if a new one that has not been reached,” Mr. Rubio said. “That is a subject that is still being debated, and there is no finality to it in terms of the group that is looking at it.”

The White House has expressed concern that the legislation could torpedo the agreement that was reached with Iran on Nov. 23, which over the long run aims to prevent Iran from ever being able to obtain a nuclear weapon.

Mr. Rubio, a potential 2016 presidential contender, made the remarks during a question-and-answer session at the Chatham House in London, where he said in an address that the U.S. and Britain must continue to stand together on the world stage and warn that the growing threat from Iran threatens regional stability in the Middle East and global security.

Mr. Rubio said U.S. and British allies in the region are not convinced about Iran’s commitment to ending its disputed nuclear program — criticizing the Iranian regime for sponsoring terrorism, repressing its people and aiming its “verbal and political firepower at Israel, at America and Europe.”

“I am personally skeptical of the interim agreement that the P5+1 have concluded with Iran,” he said. “I am convinced that Iran’s ultimate goals of these negotiations has been to achieve relief from the pressures of international sanctions, while retaining the option of developing a nuclear weapon.”

He said North Korean has taken advantage of similar agreements in the past, exploiting talks to create the time and space to eventually go nuclear.

Mr. Rubio said the U.S. should keep the military option on the table, but the most preferential option is to ensure that the pain and the price of sanctions are so “high economically for pursuing this weapons ambition that they are not willing to pay it.”

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