US President Barack Obama said a letter from Republican senators to Iranian leaders is ironic because, in his words, some members of Congress appear to want to align themselves with “hardliners” in Iran.
The president termed this “an unusual coalition.”
Forty-seven Republicans, including Senate leaders and several potential 2016 presidential candidates, wrote an open letter to Iran’s leader, warning any deal with Obama might not be honored in future. In the letter, Republicans said that without congressional approval, any deal between Iran and the US would be merely an agreement between Obama and Iran’s Supreme Leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei.
Obama said he will concentrate on seeing whether negotiators with Iran can strike a deal.
Earlier, the White House responded angrily, accusing the senators of interference and continuing a “partisan strategy to undermine the president’s ability to conduct foreign policy and advance our national security.
“It raises significant questions about the intent or the aims of the authors,” said spokesman Josh Earnest, who accused the senators of establishing a “back channel” with hardliners in Tehran.
With a March deadline looming, negotiators are furiously working to agree to a deal that would curb Iran’s nuclear program in return for reducing Western sanctions.
The deal is seen as a key foreign-policy goal of the Obama administration.
Earnest also accused Republicans of supporting airstrikes against Iran’s facilities that the White House says would only temporarily set back Iran’s program.
“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 interests of the United States,” added Earnest.