US Senator Bob Menendez (D-NJ).
(photo credit: REUTERS)
WASHINGTON – Senate Foreign Relations Committee ranking member Bob Menendez (D-New Jersey), author of legislation that would trigger new sanctions on Iran if negotiations fail to reach agreement on its nuclear program, harshly criticized the Obama administration's current position in the talks on Monday night as "simply not good enough."
"It is not a good deal if it leaves Iran as a threshold nuclear state, or if Iran decides to kick out inspectors," Menendez told the American Israel Public Affairs Committee policy conference. "It’s not a good deal if Iran proceeds on a covert path and we have no more than a year to respond. It’s not enough time for us to do anything other than exercise a military option."
The senator, who also supports a new bill that would require a congressional vote of approval for US President Barack Obama to lift US sanctions, took overt swipes at senior administration officials involved in the negotiations.
Criticizing National Security Advisor Susan Rice, who spoke moments before him
to the conference, for calling Prime Minister Benyamin Netanyahu's visit to Washington "destructive to the fabric of the relationship" between Israel and the United States, Menendez took issue and said he will be proud to personally escort the premier into the House chamber on Tuesday.
"Prime Minister Cameron of Great Britain came to Washington in January – and lobbied Congress against Iran sanctions," he said. "It seems to me that if it’s okay for one prime minister to express his views, it should be good for all prime ministers."
Menendez has had an openly hostile relationship with the White House ever since the president threatened twice to veto his bill.
“Here we are, near the end of negotiations, and the goal posts have moved from dismantlement to reconfiguration, Menendez said. "From a peaceful nuclear program to just enough to detect break out. From no right-to-enrichment to getting an alarm system."