Sen. Mark Kirk (R-IL) compared the negotiated framework announced by the United States and its international partners on Thursday to contain Iran’s nuclear program to an event that helped spark World War II.
According to Roll Call reporter Niels Lesniewki, Kirk said, “Neville Chamberlain got a better deal from Adolf Hitler,” referring to the former British Prime Minister, who in 1938 signed the so-called Munich Agreement with German leader Adolf Hitler. Chamberlain ceded a region of Czechoslovakia to Germany in return for peace, but in 1939 Hitler violated the accord by invading Poland, thus sparking World War II.
Kirk made the comparison less than an hour after America’s allies and President Barack Obama laid out the broad parameters of a deal that would require Iran to suspend over two-thirds of its installed centrifuges and submit to a regime of international inspectors for at least 10 years. Should Iran meet these conditions, the international community and the United States would lift economic sanctions against the Persian nation.
While many Democrats praised the tentative accord, Republicans generally condemned it, albeit in far less inflammatory terms than Kirk.
Potential GOP presidential candidate Gov. Scott Walker (WI) promised to undo the deal “even if our trading partners did not want to reimpose the sanctions.” House Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) called the framework an “alarming departure from the White House’s initial goals” and Sen. Tom Cotton (R-AR) vowed to “work with Senate colleagues to protect America from this very dangerous proposal.” Cotton, a freshman senator, made headlines last month for spearheading a letter to Iran, warning its leaders that any final agreement will be thrown out by a new administration.
Meanwhile, Sen. Bob Corker (R-TN) — the chairman of the Foreign Relations Committee — pledged to “wait to see the specific details of today’s announcement.” But he stressed that any final agreement must be approved by Congress. Corker has announced that his committee will vote on legislation requiring the administration to submit any final Iran nuclear deal for congressional review. Negotiators said they expect to reach a final, verifiable agreement by June 30th.
The push to allow Congress to weigh in on a negotiated settlement to Iran’s disputed nuclear program has strong bipartisan support and may even have enough votes to withstand a presidential veto.
Last month, the Senate unanimously approved a non-binding amendment to the budget to reimpose sanctions on Iran if the country violated the interim agreement that has paused its nuclear activities and any final deal it reaches with the United States and its negotiating partners. The amendment was co-sponsored by Kirk and Sherrod Brown (D-OH), but differs from legislation introduced by Kirk and Sen. Robert Menendez (D-NJ) to impose harsh sanctions against Iran if it does not sign-on to a negotiated agreement or fails to comply with the terms of any possible deal. More than three-hundred House members have also signed a letter to Obama insisting that any deal would require Congressional approval and warning that they would not vote to roll back sanctions if the administration circumvents the legislative body.
The Obama administration, meanwhile, has been actively lobbying Democrats to oppose these measures, arguing that they would only provide Iran’s hardliners with an excuse to end the negotiations — potentially moving the two nations closer to a military confrontation. It also argues that past nonproliferation agreements were reached and enforced without Congressional approval.