WASHINGTON — One of the ironic things about the Iran nuclear deal is that it has left skeptics torn over whether to trust Iranian supreme leader Ali Khamenei against the word of the United States government.
The Obama administration and leaders of Iran are selling the deal to their respective countries, each playing up the elements most favorable to them. There is no final accord, but rather a framework backed by global powers to eventually (the timing is unclear) lift economic sanctions on Iran while cutting off its paths to building a nuclear bomb and imposing international inspections.
Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) is one of the skeptics who thinks the U.S. is getting a raw deal in part because Khamenei has said the sanctions ought to be lifted immediately, a demand the U.S. disagrees with.
“The fact is there are stark differences between John Kerry’s version of what this agreement is, and what the ayatollah — who doesn’t stand for election — says about what the agreement is,” McCain told a scrum of reporters Tuesday in the Capitol.
Is the Iranian leader’s version more believable?
“I don’t know,” McCain said. “But it certainly shouldn’t be dismissed out of hand. I don’t know who’s more believable. But I know that there are stark differences.”
TPM also asked McCain about his latest war of words with former rival President Barack Obama, who recently said the senator’s criticism of Kerry as “delusional” reveals the extent to which “partisanship has crossed all boundaries.”
“The president has this habit of personalizing his disagreements and it’s just in keeping with that,” McCain responded. “Same thing he says about the prime minister of Israel with other members of the Senate. It’s unfortunate.”