On the heels of criticism over his handling of the stand-off with Syria, President Obama is facing pressure from Congress to stand his ground with Iran — in the run-up to the U.N. General Assembly session in New York where Hassan Rowhani will make his debut visit as Iran’s president.
Rowhani has sent signals over the last few weeks that he’s willing to engage the U.S. in talks over his country’s nuclear program. Obama revealed in an interview a week ago that he and the newly elected Iranian leader have been exchanging letters.
The communication raised the possibility that Obama, or perhaps Secretary of State John Kerry, might meet on the sidelines of the U.N. session, and jump-start a new round of talks aimed at convincing Iran to abandon any pursuit of nuclear weapons and open up its program to inspectors.
Kerry is expected to meet with Iran’s new Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif during a U.N. gathering Thursday.
Sens. Bob Menendez, D-N.J., and Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., though, urged Obama to tread cautiously.
“Like you, we viewed the election of Hassan Rouhani as an indicator of discontent amongst the Iranian people and we have taken note of recent diplomatic overtures by Iran,” they wrote. “However, whatever nice words we may hear from Mr. Rouhani, it is Iranian action that matters.”
They wrote that a “credible and verifiable agreement” would be welcomed but “we also recall, however, Iran’s prior use of negotiations as a subterfuge for progress on its clandestine nuclear program, as well as Iran’s continued financing of terrorist activities.”
They continued: “Iran is not a friend whose word can be taken as a promise. The test of Iranian seriousness must be verifiable action by Iran to terminate its nuclear weapons program.”
Fox News has the full article