WASHINGTON — Three Colorado House members said they oppose the Obama administration’s Iranian nuclear deal. But none have taken the extra step of vowing to sink the agreement by supporting legislation that would impose even tougher sanctions on Tehran.
In a sharply-worded statement, Rep. Mike Coffman (R-Aurora) suggested the accord was misguided.
“The only way to get the Iranians to stop developing a nuclear weapon is to promote regime change and the best way to do that is to make the economic sanctions much tougher, not weaker,” said Coffman.
“The Iranian government must be forced into a position of choosing whether to retain power and give up their nuclear ambitions or lose power as a consequence of their economy completely collapsing,” Coffman added.
Rep. Cory Gardner (R-Yuma) said the deal was “disturbing” and vowed to seek stronger curbs on Iran’s nuclear ambitions.
“Six months from now when this temporary deal has expired, Iran’s incentive to walk away from the negotiating table or demand new concessions will be higher than ever. I applaud my Senate colleagues on both sides of the aisle who have said they plan on working on tougher sanctions when the return in December,” he said in a statement.
A spokesman for Rep. Doug Lamborn said the Colorado Springs Republican was wary of the agreement.
“Bottom line, it’s a bad deal,” interim spokesperson Justin Johnson said in a phone interview. “Certainly (he) doesn’t think it does anything that would stop Iran’s nuclear program. We give them real relief in exchange for no corrective changes to their ability to develop enriched uranium.”
Spokespeople for Senators Mark Udall and Michael Bennet as well as the other five members of the Colorado congressional delegation did not respond to a phone call or email message for comment.
The accord gives Iran a suspension from economic sanctions Western countries have imposed on it and affirms the country’s right to enrich uranium, a key material in making a nuclear bomb. In exchange, the country is required to halt its heavy-water reactor facility, allow inspectors to police its nuclear facilities, and stop installing new centrifuges.
Secretary of State John Kerry played a key role in brokering the agreement with Iran and five Western nations in Geneva, Switzerland over the weekend. But Kerry and President Obama have come under criticism from Israel and several Republican and Democratic leaders for ceding too many concessions to Iran.
Sen. Robert Menendez (D-N.J.), chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, said the agreement “does not proportionally reduce Iran’s nuclear program for the relief it is receiving.”
Rep. Ed Royce (R-Ca.), chairman of the House Committee on Foreign Affairs, said Kerry “should soon come before the committee to discuss the man concerns with this agreement.”
Yet few in Congress have called for scrapping the diplomatic accord right away. Torpedoing the agreement would be unlikely in any case. Both chambers of Congress would need to muster a two-thirds majority for increasing sanctions against Iran if Obama vetoed the legislation.
Menendez said his panel is considering legislation that would increase economic sanctions on Tehran if talks to halt the country’s nuclear program collapse.
Congress has been on Thanksgiving recess since last Friday and is not scheduled to return until early next month.