Sen. Marco Rubio (R., Fla.) blasted U.S. nuclear negotiations with Iran Tuesday, saying the rolling back of sanctions and allowance of the world's largest sponsor of terrorism to enrich uranium constituted a "dangerous national security failure."
"This entire thing is a disaster," Rubio said. "It's not just an embarrassing diplomatic failure. This is a dangerous national security failure, in my opinion."
News broke earlier this month that nuclear talks were extended until November as the sides sought a more comprehensive deal. During that time, however, the United States will give Iran access to another $2.8 billion and have effectively conceded to Iran's demand to domestically enrich uranium. The Washington Free Beacon reported:
In exchange for agreeing over the weekend to extend nuclear talks until late November, Iran will be given another $2.8 billion in unfrozen assets, the White House told reporters over the weekend, after President Barack Obama decided to extend the talks past their July 20 deadline.
The United States already returned to Iran $4.2 billion in unfrozen oil assetsduring the past six months of the interim nuclear deal and has now agreed to provide another $2.8 billion in exchange for an extension in the negotiations.
White House officials also appeared to admit that U.S. negotiators have told Tehran that they will allow it to preserve some of its domestic enrichment capabilities, something that Congress has opposed.
"As part of the JPOA [Joint Plan of Action] extension, Iran will be allowed access in tranches over the next four months to $2.8 billion from its restricted overseas assets," a senior administration official told reporters on a conference call over the weekend. "Those assets, which are largely unavailable to Iran, are more than $100 billion."
"They wanted to achieve the maximum amount of sanctions relief that they could get without having to agree to any irreversible concessions on their nuclear program," Rubio said.
He then laid out what the United States had given up for a joint plan of action, notably the right to enrich the key component of a nuclear weapon, and how that would become a baseline for any negotiations going forward. Rubio also decried the halt to international momentum on sanctions and how it would be harder to impose them in the future, as well as the fact that Iran is currently developing a long-range rocket.
"There's only one reason you develop a rocket like that, and that's to put a nuclear warhead on it," Rubio said. "Let's not mention they're a state sponsor of terrorism. There's no nation on earth that uses terrorism more than they do as an element of statecraft."
Rubio reminded the Senate Foreign Relations Committee the rockets the terrorist group Hamas has fired at civilians in Israel come from Iran. He also expressed frustration that anyone who opposes an Iran nuclear deal is often characterized by the opposing side as a warmonger.
"The only thing worse than a war is crazy people with a nuclear weapon that can reach the United States of America on a rocket," Rubio said. "That's the only thing that's worse than a war with regard to this situation."