North Carolina Republican Sen. Richard Burr, the chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee, criticized the international agreement to prevent Iran from developing a nuclear weapon, saying on Thursday that it could result in a nuclear arms race in the Middle East.
“It’s unsettling that this agreement allows for key elements of Iran’s nuclear program to remain in place. Congress needs to weigh in on any decision to soften sanctions on a country whose leader has recently said ‘death to America,’ while simultaneously requesting additional nuclear capability,” Burr said in a statement issued after the agreement was announced. “This deal could lay the foundation for a nuclear arms race in the most unstable region in the world. America must remain vigilant, given Iran’s dubious track record and the fact that the framework requires that no nuclear facilities close.”
The deal reached by Iran, the United States and the European Union calls for Iran to not build any new facilities for enriching uranium for 15 years. Iran also will reduce by two-thirds its installed centrifuges, and will put limits on its enrichment of uranium.
U.S. Rep. David Price, a Democrat from Chapel Hill, said the agreement made the world safer and warned against letting “domestic politics stand in the way of preventing an Iranian nuclear weapon.”
“Members of Congress will need to scrutinize this agreement carefully. Unfortunately, some seem to have prejudged it, undermining the president’s efforts and proposing unilateral congressional action that could undo the progress made by our negotiators and risk grave consequences,” Price said.
“If the United States upends this agreement, Iran would likely pursue its nuclear ambitions uninhibited by international oversight, and the multinational sanctions regime that brought the Iranians to the negotiating table could collapse altogether,” he said in a statement.
Sen. Thom Tillis, a Republican, joined with Burr and other members of their party in criticizing the agreement, saying it took “several steps back in our efforts to priorities the safety and security of the U.S., Israel and our allies. Tillis said Iran cannot be trusted to drop its “nuclear weapons ambitions.”
“In light of today’s preliminary framework for an agreement between the United States and Iran, it’s clear that the Obama administration is willing to settle for any deal instead of prioritizing a fundamentally effective deal,” Tillis said in a statement after the agreement was reached. “I am extremely concerned with the administration’s willingness to destabilize our relationships with our Middle East allies and engage in negotiations from a position of weakness, not strength.”