WASHINGTON (JTA) — President Barack Obama said Republican senators who wrote Iran’s leaders to warn them that the United States might not always abide by a nuclear deal were effectively in a coalition with that country’s hard-liners.
“I think it’s somewhat ironic to see some members of Congress wanting to make common cause with the hard-liners in Iran,” Obama said Monday at a news conference following reports of the letter from 47 GOP senators. “It’s an unusual coalition.”
The letter sent Monday argues that without congressional approval, any agreement concerning Iran’s nuclear capabilities is “nothing more than an executive agreement between President Obama and Ayatollah Khamenei. 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.”
In response, Javad Zarif, Iran’s foreign minister, said future U.S. governments would be bound by international law, if not domestic law. A number of U.S. foreign policy scholars, among them conservatives, said reneging on an agreement, even one not approved by the Senate, would be difficult.
The letter stirred outrage from the administration and among Senate Democrats, who called it an unprecedented interference in the executive’s foreign policy prerogative.
Vice President Joe Biden, who served for decades as a U.S. senator representing Delaware, said it was “beneath the dignity of an institution I revere.”
Sen. Harry Reid (D-Nev.), the minority leader, told Politico it was “juvenile.”
“The judgment of my Republican colleagues seems to be clouded by their abhorrence of President Obama,” he said.