- The Washington Times - Tuesday, March 10, 2015

Responding to a statement from Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr. that GOP senators’ March 9 letter to Iranian leaders was “beneath the dignity” of the Senate, Sen. Tom Cotton of Arkansas said Tuesday that Mr. Biden has been wrong on foreign policy for decades.

“Joe Biden, as Barack Obama’s own secretary of defense has said, has been wrong about nearly every major foreign policy and national security decision in the last 40 years,” Mr. Cotton said on MSNBC’s “Morning Joe,” alluding to a line from a book by former Defense Secretary Robert Gates.

“Moreover, if Joe Biden so respects the dignity of the institution of the Senate, he should be insisting that the president submit any deal to approval of the Senate, which is exactly what he did on numerous deals during his time in the Senate,” Mr. Cotton said.

Mr. Cotton led the open letter, signed by 46 other Senate Republicans, to Iranian leaders warning that any nuclear deal that is not submitted to Congress could only last until the next administration — drawing rebukes from congressional Democrats and Mr. Biden, as well as a response from President Obama.

“I think it’s somewhat ironic to see some members of Congress wanting to make common cause with the hard-liners in Iran. It’s an unusual coalition,” Mr. Obama said Monday.

Mr. Cotton responded Tuesday by saying that there are “nothing but hardliners in Tehran.”

“They’ve been killing Americans for 35 years. They killed hundreds of troops in Iraq,” said Mr. Cotton, who served in Iraq and Afghanistan. “Now, they control five capitals in the Middle East. [There are] nothing but hardliners in Tehran, and if they do all those things without a nuclear weapon, imagine what they’ll do with a nuclear weapon.”

Negotiations between Iran and the P5+1 — the U.S., Russia, China, France, Germany, and Britain — are scheduled to resume next week. The countries are looking to halt Tehran’s uranium-enrichment program for at least a decade in exchange for the loosening of some sanctions, though Congress would have to approve lifting many of the stiffer ones.

Asked what an acceptable deal would look like to him, Mr. Cotton said “complete nuclear disarmament by Iran.”

“Iran has a very clear and simple path — they can simply disarm their nuclear weapons program and allow complete, intrusive inspections,” he said. “As Prime Minister [Benjamin] Netanyahu said last week, if they want to be treated like a normal nation, they should act like a normal nation, [instead of] the world’s leading state sponsor of terrorism.”

Mr. Cotton said that the United States has to have “a credible threat of military force on the table.”

“But the real alternative, as Prime Minister Netanyahu said, to a bad deal, is a better deal,” he said. “With more sanctions, with confronting Iran, with only giving them the choice of the deal that would completely disarm their nuclear weapons program.”

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