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Obama administration talks tough but needs to follow through on Iran: Corker

- The Washington Times - Sunday, November 24, 2013

Sen. Bob Corker said Sunday the overnight deal reached in Geneva to curb Iran's nuclear program in exchange for a gradual easing of economic sanctions will be useless if Congress does not hold the Islamic Republic's "feet to the fire" to make sure its leaders do not feel as if they have scored a win.

"They're spiking the football in the end zone," Mr. Corker, Tennessee Republican and ranking member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, told "Fox News Sunday."

The deal, announced early Sunday, followed an intensive diplomatic push by Secretary of State John F. Kerry and five foreign ministers to close the deal curbing Iran's suspected nuclear weapons program. But as the parties moved toward an agreement in recent days, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu expressed deep skepticism that Iran would abandon its nuclear ambitions.

Late Saturday night at the White House, President Obama said that the tentative pact will "cut off Iran's most likely paths to a bomb" and that the United States and its partners will not proceed with new sanctions that would scuttle the deal.

Critics say the deal rewards Iranian leaders by keeping the status quo in place instead of cracking down on its nuclear program.

"You have now given them a permission slip to continue enrichment," Rep. Mike Rogers, Michigan Republican and chairman of the Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence, said Sunday on CNN's State of the Union."

Mr. Corker said Congress must take an aggressive role in reaching a broader diplomatic deal going forward, since he does not trust the administration to deliver on oversight duties.

"This administration is long on announcements but very short on follow-through," Mr. Corker said.

The agreement is aimed at freezing Iran's nuclear program for six months while offering the Iranians $7 billion in relief from crippling economic sanctions. If the six-month interim deal holds, the parties would negotiate final-stage agreements to ensure Iran does not build nuclear weapons.

Sen. Benjamin L. Cardin, Maryland Democrat and fellow Foreign Relations Committee member, also talked tough on Iran, saying there will be repercussions if its leaders do not live up to their end of the deal. He said that any chicanery on their part would "not be acceptable" to Congress or the American people and that sanctions may be reimposed.

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