- The Washington Times - Friday, July 17, 2015

The White House said Friday that Congress would devastate the U.S. leadership role in the world if lawmakers vote to reject the Obama administration’s historic nuclear deal with Iran.

“For the United States, because of a congressional action, to isolate our country on such an important issue, would be devastating to our standing in the world,” said White House press secretary Josh Earnest. “If Congress killed this agreement, it would have a terrible impact.”

The U.S. struck the deal in cooperation with Russia, China, Germany, France and the United Kingdom.

Republicans and some Democrats are expressing serious concerns about the agreement, which will lift economic sanctions against Tehran in exchange for imposing limits on Iran’s nuclear program. President Obama said it’s the best way to ensure that Iran cannot build a nuclear weapon for at least the next 10 years.

Mr. Earnest said international sanctions “would collapse” if the U.S. kills the agreement.

“Iran would still obtain the financial benefits of sanctions relief,” he said. “Iran will get all the benefits of this deal without having to give up anything.”

Such action by Congress would “allow Iran to get off scot-free,” Mr. Earnest said.

President Obama met Friday at the White House with Saudi Arabian Foreign Minister Adel al-Jubeir for about an hour to discuss the agreement and other issues. Saudi Arabia is among the Middle East allies concerned that the agreement will give Iran more money to sponsor further terrorist attacks in the region.

Mr. Earnest acknowledged that it’s unusual for the president to meet with a foreign dignitary who’s not a head of state and said the meeting resulted from a personal request by Saudi King Salman.

The president’s spokesman also said the administration isn’t trying to disregard Congress by requesting the U.N. Security Council to approve the agreement before Congress can review it. Congress has 60 days to debate the accord.

• Dave Boyer can be reached at dboyer@washingtontimes.com.

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