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Sen. Cruz: US is repeating N. Korea failures with Iran

Hours after Obama’s foreign policy speech, potential presidential candidate criticizes administration on nukes and peace process

Rebecca Shimoni Stoil is the Times of Israel's Washington correspondent.

Senator Ted Cruz, R-Texas, speaking on the Senate floor. (photo credit: AP/Senate TV/File)
Senator Ted Cruz, R-Texas, speaking on the Senate floor. (photo credit: AP/Senate TV/File)

WASHINGTON — Hours after US President Barack Obama delivered a landmark foreign policy speech in which he talked up the administration’s success in bringing Iran to the negotiations table, Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) panned Obama’s Iran strategy, warning that the president is repeating the mistakes that led to a nuclear North Korea.

Cruz spoke to reporters Wednesday afternoon from Warsaw, Poland, a day after he met with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu as well as other Israeli political leaders in Jerusalem.

“Perhaps the most striking aspect of my entire time in Israel was the unanimity of opinions on the gravity of the threat that Iran presents” as well as what he described as the “ineffectiveness” of the administration’s policies toward Tehran.

“I believe we are repeating the same mistakes of the Clinton administration in the 1990s regarding North Korea,” Cruz warned. “Even in the best case scenario, this deal would leave Iran on the threshold of a nuclear breakout…that sets the stage for the next movement in which there is trouble across the globe for Iran to pull the trigger, develop the nuclear weapons and announce it as a fait accompli.”

“Repeating the mistakes of North Korea in the context of Iran is a foolish and dangerous path,” he added.

Although no deal has yet been struck in Geneva by the P5+1 member states and Iran, the parties are slated to meet again in June for continued talks. Cruz complained that the deal that is emerging “fails in its attempt” to dismantle Iran’s nuclear infrastructure, and that it accepts the Iranian negotiating point that Tehran has a “right to enrich” uranium.

“Iran’s bad conduct in my view has rendered its desire to enrich uranium utterly unacceptable,” Cruz complained, adding that additionally, the slowly emerging parameters of the deal seemed not to restrict Iran’s Intercontinental Ballistic Missile (ICBM) development program.

“They are being developed for one purpose only – to project force to the United States and Europe,” Cruz warned. “And yet the Geneva deal allows Iran to complete developing ICBM technology, which is profoundly bad for Israel’s security and for America’s.”

Describing Iran as “the single greatest national security threat both to Israel and to the United States,” Cruz faulted the Senate’s Democratic leadership for working “at the behest of the administration” to block the Menendez-Kirk bill, which would set conditions for a comprehensive agreement.

The first-term senator said that while he supports that legislation, he would prefer to reinstate all of the original sanctions against Iran, and then make any future lifting of sanctions dependent on Iran dismantling all of its centrifuges and handing over its stockpiles of enriched uranium.

Cruz, who is frequently named as a potential Republican contender for the presidency, attacked Obama’s defense of his administration’s foreign policy achievements, saying instead that when “you look to the last five years, the most consistent pattern on foreign policy we have seen with the Obama administration is America receding from leadership in the world.” The Texas senator said that America’s void has been filled by other nations, naming Iran, China and Russia as specific examples.

According to Cruz, Russian President Vladimir Putin’s “aggressiveness is driven in part by what he perceives as weakness on the part of the US president.” This, he argued, combined with what he described as tepid support for the Ukraine, sends a message “to other allies that America can not necessarily be counted on to live up to our treaty commitments.”

After Obama talked up increasing America’s international partnerships, Cruz complained that the administration has, in fact, exhibited “a tendency to alienate our allies.”

“Consistently, this administration has hectored and criticized Israel which is our strongest ally while not placing the blame for the failure of the peace talks on the Palestinian leaders,” Cruz added. “The Obama administration has been far too quick to place the blame on Israel instead of acknowledging that one of two parties is not engaged in good faith negotiations.”

Cruz reiterated his criticism of Kerry’s comments made last month in which he warned that Israel could turn into an ‘apartheid state’, this time labeling the statement as “inaccurate, deeply offensive and quite harmful.”

Although the State Department later acknowledged that Kerry should not have used the word “apartheid”, Cruz said Wednesday that Kerry’s comments were “consistent with the broader pattern of this administration, a pattern that has undermined the United States’ relationship with our friend Israel.”

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