Marco Rubio Willing To Defy European Allies On Possible Iran Deal

Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla. speaks at the International Association of Firefighters (IAFF) Legislative Conference and Presidential Forum in Washington, Tuesday, March 10, 2015. (AP Photo/Pablo Martinez Monsivais)
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WASHINGTON (AP) — Florida Sen. Marco Rubio says that if elected president, he would “absolutely” defy stalwart European allies if necessary in order to revoke an Iranian nuclear deal he might inherit from President Barack Obama.

Rubio, who is on the cusp of announcing a run for the Republican presidential nomination, says the next commander in chief “should not be bound” by Obama’s potential agreement, even if European negotiating partners stand behind the deal.

“The United States, although it’s less than ideal, could unilaterally re-impose more crushing and additional sanctions,” Rubio said in an interview with The Associated Press Tuesday. He said he would also “use the standing of the United States on the global stage to try to encourage other nations to do so.”

The U.S. is negotiating the high-stakes nuclear deal with Iran alongside three European allies: Britain, France and Germany. Russia and China are also part of the U.S.-led negotiating team.

If the U.S. were to break with the international coalition, it would put Washington at odds with European countries that are strong partners on a vast array of international issues, including Russia’s aggression in Ukraine and the campaign against Islamic State militants in Iraq and Syria. It could also leave Russia and China in a stronger position to take advantage of economic opportunities in Iran.

Rubio is among the 47 senators who signed a letter to Iranian leadership last week warning that Congress could upend a deal. His comments go beyond that, clarifying the actions he would take as president and in the face of opposition from U.S. negotiating partners.

Rubio said the only possible deal he could accept is one that would fully disband Iran’s enrichment capacity. The agreement taking shape would limit Iran’s uranium enrichment and other nuclear activity for at least a decade, but slowly lift the restrictions over several years.

The letter was also signed by Sens. Ted Cruz of Texas and Rand Paul of Kentucky, both of whom are also expected to seek the Republican nomination. Former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush and current Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker, another pair of likely 2016 candidates, issued statements suggesting the senators were justified in sending the letter.

The letter infuriated the White House, which sees a diplomatic deal as the best way to dismantle Iran’s nuclear program. Obama has also staked enormous political capital at home and abroad on his ability to deliver a deal.

A senior American official said the GOP letter came up in discussions Monday between Secretary of State John Kerry and Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif, as well as in an early gathering of senior U.S. and Iranian negotiators. The sides face two deadlines: an end-of-March date for a preliminary deal, and a June deadline for a comprehensive agreement that fills in the blanks.

A senior Iranian official suggested Tuesday that a deal is near. The U.S. was less upbeat, with officials saying the sides had made progress but still had a ways to go in eliminating differences over what Iran had to do for a gradual end to sanctions.

The U.S. and its allies contend Iran is seeking a nuclear weapon, while Tehran insists its program is for peaceful purposes.

With negotiators barreling toward the March deadline, the nuclear talks have increasingly become a political football on Capitol Hill and in the early stages of the 2016 presidential campaign.

Rubio, a freshman senator, is seeking to use his foreign policy experience to set himself apart in the crowded Republican presidential field. Rubio serves on the high-profile Senate Foreign Relations Committee and has been a frequent critic of the Obama administration’s foreign policy.

Even as Rubio vowed to revoke an Iran deal, he said it was unlikely Tehran would be able to live up to any commitments it makes long enough for a deal to be passed on to the next U.S. president.

“I have zero doubt that between now and the next president, Iran will violate some condition of this deal,” he said. “The challenge will be whether the European community and our allies around the world are willing to look the other way and ignore them or are willing to re-impose sanctions.”


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Copyright 2015 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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Notable Replies

  1. Marco Rubio: Advocating a “go it alone” policy ala George W. Bush. We are painfully aware of how that worked out for America… Indeed, we are still paying the price.

  2. Marco Rubio doesn’t have foreign policy experience. He’s a freshman senator from Florida with experience in the state legislature. It would be a economic disaster not to up hold an agreement between this administration and the Iranians as well as the five other nations involved. Iran has it’s hardliners but even among them after all the political rhetoric they aren’t going to launch a nuclear attack on Israel. Israel has nuclear weapons they would retaliate. It would be a disastrous mistake. There’s no upside. Iran knows the cost of a Nuclear Nuclear state, the up keep of a nuclear weapon and the costs. They have no use for Iran. Not to mention the trade sanctions. Saddam Hussein knew this as well and he was not building a nuclear weapon. Of course we know that the Iraq war was not about nuclear arms.

  3. I have yet to hear this man make any sense of the most pressing issues upon which he has staked a policy position.The fact that anyone considers him “presidential” is patently ludicrous. Latest fiasco occurred when questioning Kerry recently…sounded like an uninformed school boy on a scavenger hunt.

  4. Someone needs to explain to Rubio how sanctions work.

  5. “The United States, although it’s less than ideal, could unilaterally re-impose more crushing and additional sanctions,” Rubio said in an interview with The Associated Press Tuesday. He said he would also “use the standing of the United States on the global stage to try to encourage other nations to do so.”

    At which point the other nations on the “global stage” will look at how you just reneged on your country’s word and pulled out of a previously negotiated agreement, stabbing some of you’re country’s closest allies, who had stood by your nation during the negotiations of that agreement, in the back and recognizing you as the untrustworthy weasel you are will tell you to “Fuck off.”

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