Some Republican senators who have signed a warning letter to Iran’s leaders admit the move was a “bad idea”, according to a report.
Earlier this week, 47 Republican senators signed an open letter warning the Islamic Republic of Iran that a nuclear deal being negotiated with the United States and other countries might only stick while President Barack Obama was in office.
The letter has drawn strong criticism from the Obama administration and congressional Democrats, who have dismissed it as a GOP effort to sabotage the nuclear talks between Iran and the P5+1 countries – the US, Britain, France, China, Russia, and Germany, which have now entered a sensitive final stage.
But some Republicans, including those who signed on, are wondering if the move was a good strategy, according to a report by the Daily Beast.
They tacitly acknowledge that the Iran letter has injected partisanship into the nuclear negotiations, shifting the narrative from the content of the emerging deal to domestic partisan squabbles.
“… now, the Obama administration and its Capitol Hill partisans are cynically trying to push the conversation away from policy, and towards a deeply political pie fight over presidential and congressional prerogatives,” a Senate Republican aide, whose boss signed the letter, told the Daily Beast.
“I immediately knew that it was not something that, for me anyway, in my particular role, was going to be constructive,” said Republican Sen. Bob Corker, the chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee and one of the driving forces of Iran sanctions in the US Senate.
Sen. Jeff Flake, an Arizona Republican who declined to sign the letter, told reporters Tuesday that the Iranian nuclear issue was “too important to divide us among partisan lines,” adding, “Introducing this kind of letter, I didn’t think would be helpful.”
Some congressional staffers have attempted to frame the letter as a “cheeky” reminder of the congressional powers.
“The administration has no sense of humor when it comes to how weakly they have been handling these negotiations,” a top GOP Senate aide told the Daily Beast.
Tom Cotton (pictured below), a freshman senator from Arkansas, drafted the much-criticized letter. He has claimed that the letter has more support in the US Congress than the Republican senators who have signed it.
Meanwhile, tens of thousands of Americans have signed a petition to the White House demanding treason charges against the 47 Republican senators who signed the controversial letter.
The petition has collected over 165,000 people in just two days, by far exceeding the 100,000 signatures required for the White House to respond.
According to the petition, the 47 senators “committed a treasonous offense when they decided to violate the Logan Act, a 1799 law which forbids unauthorized citizens from negotiating with foreign governments.”
Tehran has dismissed the GOP move as a publicity stunt that has no legal value.
Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif said it was ironic that members of the US Congress find it appropriate to write to leaders of another country against their own president.
He pointed out that the authors do not understand international law when it comes to presidential powers in the conduct of foreign policy.
“I should bring one important point to the attention of the authors and that is, the world is not the United States, and the conduct of inter-state relations is governed by international law, and not by US domestic law,” the foreign minister stated earlier this week.