Sen. Menendez: ‘Insurance’ Needed In Case Nuke Deal With Iran Falls Apart

December 2, 2013 - 3:41 PM


Sen. Bob Menendez

Sen. Bob Menendez (D-NJ) (AP photo)

( – Sen. Bob Menendez (D-N.J.), chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, said Sunday that the U.S. should be ready to reimpose economic sanctions against Iran as an “insurance policy” in case the six-month interim nuclear deal negotiated by the White House and five other nations falls apart.

“As one of the architects of the sanctions regime we’ve had on Iran, this is exactly the process that has brought Iran to the negotiating table,” Menendez told CBS News’ “Face the Nation” host John Dickerson.

“Well look, I think creating a sanctions regime that is an insurance policy and also creates leverage for us is incredibly important,” he added.

Menendez said that he was “concerned” about some elements of the deal, which does not force Iran to dismantle any of its 18,000 centrifuges even though the United Nations Security Council has adopted six resolutions since 2006 requiring Iran to stop enriching uranium.

“For example, already in that text as it relates to what is defined as a comprehensive solution, there is some suggestion that we are going to define what a mutually agreeable [uranium] enrichment program is. So we’ve already ceded a way from U.N. Security Council resolutions that say no enrichment,” he pointed out.

The New Jersey Democrat also said that he was worried about a “sunset clause” in the agreement that would allow Iran to “enrich uranium without any consequence and without any limitations” – the same outcome that the U.N. resolutions and economic sanctions, including the freezing of $8 billion of Iranian assets, were imposed to prevent.

“There is a provision here that envisions in a comprehensive solution a sunset clause that would say that after a period of time, which is not defined, that the Iranians would be treated as any non-nuclear weapons state,” Menendez noted. “That means that they could, after that period of time, enrich uranium without any consequence and without any limitations. They could seek plutonium track without any limitations. Those are real concerns.

“Now I hope the deal can be successful. Obviously diplomacy is something we want to see work,” he said. “But we need to be ready to move forward” in case it doesn’t.