Sen. Rand Paul of Kentucky said Wednesday that he’s skeptical of the reported framework of a deal on Iran’s nuclear program but that he’s going to keep an open mind and that he prefers negotiating to war.
“The sincerity of the Iranians does make a big difference, and if they’re immediately saying that the agreement doesn’t mean what President Obama says, that is a big problem,” Mr. Paul, who announced his candidacy for president Tuesday, said on NBC’s “Today” program.
“I’m going to keep an open mind and look at the agreement — I do believe that negotiation is better than war. I’ve been a big proponent of negotiation,” he said. “But I also say that the law is very specific in this: I voted to put sanctions on Iran. Sanctions can only be relieved by Congress voting to remove those, and so that’s why I’ve signed onto the Corker bill, which would actually say that any kind of permanent reduction or relief from sanctions has to be voted on in Congress.”
Other potential 2016 GOP hopefuls, such as Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker and former Texas Gov. Rick Perry, have said they would undo a deal on Iran’s nuclear program brokered by Mr. Obama. An independent group is already out with an ad campaign hammering Mr. Paul over his stance on Iran with attacks the Kentucky Republican’s team has labeled false.
Mr. Paul appeared to downplay the threat of Iran in a 2007 radio interview with Alex Jones, but the senator said Wednesday that things have changed since then.
“What I would say is that there has always been a threat of Iran gaining nuclear weapons, and I think that’s greater now than it was many years ago,” he said. “I think we should do everything we can to stop them. I’ve voted for sanctions to try to stop them. I’m somewhat skeptical of the president’s agreement; however, I am in favor [of] negotiations over war, and I think I’ve been one of the reasonable people in our party who has not been beating the drums for war.”
“And so I think my position on Iran is one that reflects the events and reflects the current history with regards to Iran,” Mr. Paul said.