Gates Rebukes White House, Backs Kirk-Menendez Sanctions Bill

'Maybe the Iranians ought to worry about the potential consequences of strengthening the hawks in the United States'

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Former Defense Secretary Bob Gates rebuked the White House for resisting new time released Iranian sanctions Tuesday in an interview on PBS News Hour.

The former Secretary of Defense said the six month deadline for implementation of the nuclear deal needs to be firm. "The Iranians are world class experts in slow rolling their negotiating partners or adversaries. […] There's a risk of this negotiation dragging out as the Iranians continue certain parts of their nuclear program," Gates warned.

Additionally, Gates argued the deal needs to have enough teeth such that Iran does not arrive at the threshold of becoming a nuclear weapons state.

Although new sanctions right now would be a strategic mistake, Gates said, passing sanctions that would only take effect if Iran failed to comply with the nuclear agreement would "strengthen the president's negotiating hand":

HOST: What do you think of the Senate's efforts to impose new sanctions to increase the pressure on Iran right now?

GATES: I think that the idea of imposing new sanctions right now is a terrible mistake and would be a strategic error. On the other hand, I do disagree with the administration in this respect. I think that the Senate or the Congress voting severe new sanctions, but sanctions that would be triggered only by failure of the negotiations would strengthen the president's negotiating hand. I hear the argument that would strengthen the hand of hawks in Iran and the opponents of the negotiation. Well maybe the Iranians ought to worry about the potential consequences of strengthening the hawks in the United States. But I think any new sanctions need to be conditioned and triggered by the failure of the negotiations.

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