Republicans slammed President Obama on Wednesday for missing a crucial deadline in the nuclear negotiations with Iran.
Obama reportedly refused to conclude the talks with Iran after negotiators in Switzerland were unable to complete a framework agreement by Tuesday’s deadline. Secretary of State John Kerry reportedly conducted a video conference call with the president on Tuesday night to brief him on progress made with the nuclear deal – informing him that they would be unable to meet the deadline because the Iranians were “intransigent.”
“They were turning our own deadline against us to see if we would give ground,” a senior official told the New York Times. Iran was ultimately instructed to ignore the deadline.
“We continue to make progress but have not reached a political understanding,” State Department spokeswoman Marie Harf said. “Therefore, Secretary Kerry will remain in Lausanne until at least Thursday morning to continue the negotiations.”
GOP leaders heavily criticized President Obama for his leniency with the negotiation deadline, expressing concerns that Tehran may have the upper hand.
“Deadlines have to mean something," Republican Arkansas Sen. Tom Cotton told CNN. "When you are negotiating and you have deadlines, you have to show that you are serious and then walk away from the table and then come back in a position of strength, not a position of weakness." Cotton was the author of the controversial letter, signed by 47 Republican senators, that was sent to Iranian leaders regarding the deal last month.
Republican Sens. Lindsey Graham (South Carolina) and John McCain (Arizona), both of whom have been vocal skeptics of the negotiations, said in a statement that the delays don’t look very good for the deal that will ultimately come.
“It is clear the negotiations are not going well. At every step, the Iranians appear intent on retaining the capacity to achieve a nuclear weapon,” the statement read. “Without significant change, we have little confidence the negotiations will end well.”
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