Top lawmakers expressed doubts Sunday about an imminent agreement to limit Iran’s nuclear program, saying President Obama faces major resistance in Congress if negotiators complete a deal as soon as Monday.
“This is going to be a very hard sell for the administration,” Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said on “Fox News Sunday” when asked about the likelihood of Congress signing off on a deal. “We already know that it’s going to leave Iran as a threshold nuclear state.”
Mr. McConnell spoke after diplomats said Sunday that negotiators in Vienna were expected to reach a provisional agreement to curb Tehran’s nuclear program in return for tens of billions of dollars in sanctions relief.
Because the talks have missed two deadlines, Congress will have 60 days to review the deal, requiring Mr. Obama to wait before lifting economic sanctions against Iran.
House Speaker John A. Boehner said no deal “is better than a bad deal.”
“From everything that’s leaked from these negotiations, the administration’s backed away from almost all of the guidelines that they set up for themselves,” the Ohio Republican said on CBS’s “Face the Nation.”
Sen. Bob Corker, Tennessee Republican and chairman of the Senate Committee on Foreign Relations, said lawmakers would try to ensure that Iran is held accountable for any violations of the agreement.
“At the end of the day I think people understand that if this is a bad deal that is going to allow Iran to get a nuclear weapon, they would own this deal if they voted for it, and so they’ll want to disapprove it,” Mr. Corker said on NBC’s “Meet the Press.” “On the other hand, if we feel like we’re better off with it, people will look to approve it.”
Sen. Bob Menendez of New Jersey, the top Democrat on the Foreign Relations Committee, said on ABC’s “This Week” that he’s concerned about the pending deal because the U.S. has gone from making sure Iran does not have nuclear capability to controlling it.
Mr. Menendez said Mr. Obama must ensure the agreement deters Iran’s program for the long term, “because in 12 to 13 years we will be exactly back to where we are today except that Iran will have $100 [billion] to $150 billion more in its pocket and promoting terrorism throughout the Middle East.”