The Obama administration on Monday accused Senate Republicans of looking for war and undermining U.S. negotiations with Iran, charging that the GOP fundamentally misunderstands its role by acting outside “the role our Founding Fathers envisioned Congress to play when it comes to foreign policy.”
A group of 47 Republicans senators Monday sent an open letter to Iranian leaders, warning them that any deal struck with President Obama won’t last once he leaves office. The U.S. and its international partners continue to seek a deal to halt Iran’s nuclear weapons program but many members of Congress are skeptical of the negotiations and believe Tehran would not live up to the terms of any final agreement.
But by inappropriately inserting themselves into the negotiations, Republicans are greatly increasing the possibility of military conflict with Iran, White House press secretary Josh Earnest told reporters Monday afternoon.
“The president is trying to explore this diplomatic option with Iran, alongside our international partners, because it is in the best interest of the United States,” he said. “The rush to war, or, at least, the rush to the military option that many Republicans are advocating is not at all in the best interest of the United States.”
In the first official reaction from Tehran, Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif dismissed the GOP senators’ letter as a “publicity ploy” that “totally contradicts international law,” the Iranian news service IRNA reported Monday.
The report said that Mr. Zarif, a key figure in the nuclear negotiations with Secretary of State John Kerry, said the letter lacks any legal value.
“I should bring one important point to the attention of the authors and that is, the world is not the United States, and the conduct of inter-state relations is governed by international law, and not by U.S. domestic law,” the minister said, according to IRNA.
Mr. Earnest went on to say that the GOP is acting outside constitutional guidelines on foreign policy.
In their letter, Republicans told Tehran not to assume any agreement with Mr. Obama will last beyond 2017.
“We will consider any agreement regarding your nuclear-weapons program that is not approved by the Congress as nothing more than than an executive agreement between President Obama and Ayatollah Khamenei,” the senators wrote. “The next president could revoke such an executive agreement with the stroke of a pen and future Congresses could modify the terms of the agreement at any time.”