December 8th, 2013
12:23 PM ET
9 years ago

Lawmakers concerned over Iranian enrichment, split on more sanctions

(CNN) - After President Barack Obama said he would accept a peaceful nuclear program from Iran, including modest uranium enrichment, U.S. congressmen on the Homeland Security and Intelligence committees agreed Sunday that the concession complicates further negotiations.

"We can envision a comprehensive agreement that involves extraordinary constraints and verification mechanisms and intrusive inspections but permits Iran to have a peaceful nuclear program," Obama said Saturday at the Brookings Institution’s Saban Forum in Washington.

"I wouldn't begin the process by conceding anything on enrichment,” Rep. Adam Schiff, D-California, an Intelligence Committee member, said Sunday, appearing on CNN's "State of the Union."

Rep. Mike McCaul, chairman of the Homeland Security Committee, said allowing Iran to continue to enrich uranium as a part of its nuclear program not only violates a U.N. Security Council resolution but also sets a precedent for other countries in the Middle East to start enriching uranium.

The Texas Republican drew a line between failed nuclear talks with North Korea under the George W. Bush administration - which eventually led to Pyongyang reactivating its nuclear power facilities and firing test missiles - with the uncertain outcome of current negotiations with Tehran.

"I don't want to see that same mistake happen in Iran," McCaul said.

McCaul and Schiff split on whether additional sanctions should be pushed in Congress to put pressure on the Iranians to keep up their end of the interim deal.

McCaul said another sanctions bill would provide leverage for the Obama administration as the talks continue.

But Schiff said, should Congress pass another bill, the U.S. could be perceived as dampening the agreement prematurely and risking the alliances of already-reluctant partners in the deal like China and Russia.

"We don't want to be perceived by our partners as the ones that are throttling this agreement before it has a chance to live," he said, but added that sanctions would "fly out of Congress" if Iran should renege on its end of the agreement.

Obama defends Iran deal

Obama put the odds of success for the comprehensive agreement down the road with Iran at no "more than 50-50." Schiff called that estimate "optimistic."

Last month, Iran agreed to limit its nuclear program in exchange for an easing of sanctions that have crippled the country’s economy. The temporary deal will last six months, but world leaders hope it will pave the way to a long-term guarantee that Iran won't produce nuclear weapons.

Secretary of State John Kerry will testify before members of House and Senate committees this week to urge Congress not to impose new sanctions on Iran.

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Filed under: Iran • Mike McCaul • President Obama • TV-State of the Union
soundoff (10 Responses)
  1. just asking

    what exactly did we get for the lifting of sanctions??? absolutely nothing of substance. we have the illusion of a deal.

    iran has been pursuing their nuclear ambitions in secret for decades and now that they are within sight of their goal, do you actually think they are going to throw in the towel and surrender?! the iranians have endured the sanctions all this time and have still gotten within 6 months to a year of a nuclear weapon. what kind of dream world is the obama administration living in?

    December 8, 2013 12:40 pm at 12:40 pm |
  2. rs

    Part of the problem here is saying that Iran cannot enrich uranium is like saying they cannot mix concrete or smelt ore from rock. It is a purely mechanical process that supports creating fuel for nuclear reactors- something many on both sides of the aisle support for power generation.
    Indeed, enrichment of uranium for bombs is harder, but still only a technological issue.
    It would seem better to workout among all nations a means of permitting enrichment (for fuel) that can be verified and monitored), than dictating an absolutist "no" to each and every nation we don't like or trust (today) regarding enrichment of uranium. In addition, it is an mistake to somehow believe now that the U.S., Russia, China, Israel, France, Britain, Pakistan and India (and no doubt other nations) already have the bomb, that somehow this technology can be contained through threat. It seems we need to figure out through treaty and diplomacy how to negotiate these weapons into obsolescence. The alternative (war, and quite possibly nuclear war) is far too horrible and crazy to give real thought to,

    December 8, 2013 12:53 pm at 12:53 pm |
  3. Donna

    Roughly 74 percent of the centrifuges Iran now has on hand were installed since the Obama-Biden team assumed office

    Mission Accomplished Democrats!!! If Iran gets the bomb, we know whose watch it happened under.

    December 8, 2013 01:02 pm at 1:02 pm |
  4. Gurgyl

    Most of the times these GOP thugs do NOT know as to what they are saying except just picking on President, very pathetic idiots. I bet they lose like crazy dogs. GOP is gone to dogs.

    December 8, 2013 01:14 pm at 1:14 pm |
  5. Tampa Tim

    North Korea got their bomb in 2004, even after W declared them one of the "Axis of Evil." The Bush Doctrine was a failure, and it is time for diplomacy.

    December 8, 2013 01:20 pm at 1:20 pm |
  6. Tampa Tim

    The Bush Doctrine and republicans are examples of failure. Fortunately neither will be missed.

    December 8, 2013 01:22 pm at 1:22 pm |
  7. Richard Long

    If you like your nuclear weapons program, you can keep your nuclear weapons program. Period.

    December 8, 2013 02:06 pm at 2:06 pm |
  8. Thomas

    Rep. Mike McCaul is a Rick Perry supporter , fellow Texan political fear channel promoter .

    Last month, Iran agreed to limit its nuclear program in exchange for an easing of sanctions that have crippled the country’s economy. The temporary deal will last six months, but world leaders hope it will pave the way to a long-term guarantee that Iran won't produce nuclear weapons.

    December 8, 2013 02:28 pm at 2:28 pm |
  9. Uldis

    Rouhani says Iran will not dismantle nuclear facilities!
    Only more sanctions can the dismantle nuclear facilities and stop Uranium enrichment.
    He met president of Afghanistan and prime minister of Iraq last week to get more support!!

    December 8, 2013 03:06 pm at 3:06 pm |
  10. Sam

    That ageement!? was is Nil!

    December 8, 2013 03:12 pm at 3:12 pm |