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Clinton backs nuclear deal; Republicans lambast it

Democratic hopeful accuses critics of collective amnesia; Lindsey Graham: ‘No chance Congress will back agreement’

Hillary Clinton, April 1, 2015 in New York City. (Andrew Burton/Getty Images/AFP)
Hillary Clinton, April 1, 2015 in New York City. (Andrew Burton/Getty Images/AFP)

Democratic presidential frontrunner Hillary Clinton endorsed the landmark accord reached Tuesday in Vienna, aimed at resolving a 13-year standoff over Iran’s nuclear ambitions, while Republican hopefuls blasted the Obama administration over the deal.

Speaking in a private meeting with US House Democrats on Tuesday, Clinton said she “applauds the effort and the result,” Vox quoted a source in the room as saying.

“She endorsed it. Full-throated,” Virginia Rep. Gerry Connolly told the Associated Press.

Rep. Steve Israel of New York said Clinton supported the core elements of the deal. She had told lawmakers that Congress has an obligation to review all the details, he added.

As secretary of state during President Barack Obama’s first term, Clinton helped set in motion the talks with Iran, and her support for the accord may help garner support among House Democrats when it is brought before Congress.

With the deal between the world powers now finalized, Congress has 60 days to assess the accord and decide whether to pursue legislation imposing new sanctions on Iran or prevent Obama from suspending existing ones. Obama vowed Tuesday to veto any legislative attempt to block the deal.

According to Vox, Clinton added that Republicans critical of Obama failed to recall the advancement of the Islamic nation’s nuclear program during president George W. Bush’s eight-year term.

Democratic presidential candidate Sen. Bernie Sanders (AP/Jacquelyn Martin)
Democratic presidential candidate Sen. Bernie Sanders (AP/Jacquelyn Martin)

Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders, who is lagging behind Clinton in the Democratic race, also congratulated the Obama administration on the deal, claiming it may lead to a significant US policy change regarding the Middle East.

“This is a victory for diplomacy over saber-rattling and could keep the United States from being drawn into another never-ending war in the Middle East,” Sanders said, adding that he planned to study the agreement’s details further to make sure that it is “effective and strong.”

Obama heralded the nuclear agreement with Iran as an opportunity for the longtime foes to move in a “new direction,” while sharply warning the US Congress that it would be irresponsible to block the accord.

“No deal means a greater chance of more war in the Middle East,” he said in early morning remarks from the White House.

Earlier on Tuesday, House Speaker John Boehner issued a warning to the White House, saying that if Republicans don’t think the newly announced nuclear deal with Iran is a good one, they will block it.

The Ohio Republican told reporters on Capitol Hill that if the agreement is as bad as he thinks it is right now, then Republicans will do everything they can to stop its implementation.

French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius (2ndR),German Minister for Foreign Affairs Frank-Walter Steinmeier (2ndL), Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov, British Foreign Secretary Philip Hammond (L), US Secretary of State John Kerry (C) and Austria's Foreign minister Sebastian Kurz (R) talk prior to their final plenary meeting at the United Nations building in Vienna, Austria July 14, 2015. (Joe Klamar/AFP)
French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius (2ndR),German Minister for Foreign Affairs Frank-Walter Steinmeier (2ndL), Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov, British Foreign Secretary Philip Hammond (L), US Secretary of State John Kerry (C) and Austria’s Foreign minister Sebastian Kurz (R) talk prior to their final plenary meeting at the United Nations building in Vienna, Austria July 14, 2015. (Joe Klamar/AFP)

Republican presidential candidates blasted Tuesday’s deal.

Sen. Marco Rubio of Florida, a leading critic of Obama’s foreign policy endeavors, said the president has “consistently negotiated from a position of weakness, giving concession after concession to a regime that has American blood on its hands, holds Americans hostage and has consistently violated every agreement it ever signed.”

Rubio added that he predicts a “significant majority” in Congress will share his skepticism and vote down the agreement.

Former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush speaks during the Iowa Republican Party's Lincoln Dinner, Saturday, May 16, 2015, in Des Moines, Iowa. (AP Photo/Charlie Neibergall)
Former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush speaks during the Iowa Republican Party’s Lincoln Dinner, Saturday, May 16, 2015, in Des Moines, Iowa. (AP Photo/Charlie Neibergall)

Fellow Florida Republican and presidential hopeful Jeb Bush blasted the Obama administration for the deal, calling it “dangerous, deeply flawed and shortsighted.”

He said the agreement merely consolidates the grip on power of “violent revolutionary clerics who rule Tehran with an iron fist.”

Bush says the agreement is not diplomacy, but “appeasement.”

Senator Lindsey Graham also weighed in on the agreement on Tuesday, saying that the deal was tantamount to declaring war on Israel and the Sunni Arab states and maintained there was “no chance” Congress would support it.

The accord sealed Tuesday morning is “incredibly dangerous for our national security, and it’s akin to declaring war on Sunni Arabs and Israel by the P5+1 because it ensures their primary antagonist Iran will become a nuclear power and allows [Iran] to rearm conventionally,” Graham told Bloomberg.

“There is no chance that this deal will be approved by Congress,” he said. Graham anticipated that “an overwhelming super majority in both the House and the Senate” would reject the deal.

Marissa Newman contributed to this report.

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