VIENNA—The U.S. Senate is warning the Obama administration that it is poised to veto a final nuclear deal with the Iranians and impose harsher sanctions on Tehran, according to a letter sent late Wednesday to President Obama.
Nearly half of the Senate has signed onto a letter promising to reject a "weak and dangerous deal" with Iran as final negotiations in Vienna approach their Nov. 24 deadline.
Sens. Marco Rubio (R., Fla.) and Mark Kirk (R., Ill.) authored the letter.
The senators warn that the Obama administration is close to inking a deal that will permit Iran to continue the most controversial aspects of its nuclear program and enable Tehran to build a nuclear weapon in the near future, according to a copy of the letter obtained by the Washington Free Beacon and signed by all 43 Republican senators who backed the Mendendez-Kirk sanctions legislation killed earlier this year by the White House.
The letter was sent to the White House on the heels of forceful comments Wednesday by Iranian leaders insisting that the United States must bow to the country's "inalienable nuclear rights."
The senators lash out at Obama for completely ignoring congressional efforts to provide oversight of the deal.
"Your negotiators appear to have disregarded clear expressions from the Senate emphasizing the need for a multi-decade agreements requiring Iran to fully suspend its enrichment and reprocessing activities, to dismantle its illicit nuclear infrastructure, and completely disclose its past work on nuclear weaponization," the senators wrote to Obama.
"We see no indication your negotiators are pressing Iran to abandon efforts to develop an intercontinental ballistic missile that could reach American soil," the senators warn.
The senators vow to impose new economic sanctions on Iran unless it fully stops all nuclear activities, a call that differs drastically from the Obama administration's position of allowing Iran to continue enriching uranium.
"We will continue to seek to impose additional pressure on Iran in the months ahead unless Tehran abandons its nuclear ambitions and pursues a genuinely constructive path in its relations with the world," the letter states.
The letter also draws a clear line in the sand on the issue of sanctions, promising to prevent the White House from skirting Congress to unilaterally lift sanctions on Tehran. The new Republican-controlled Senate will block Obama's proposed executive action on this front, according to the letter.
"We are alarmed by recent developments in your administration's policy towards Iran, including reports that your administration plans to circumvent Congress and unilaterally provide significant sanctions relief under a comprehensive nuclear agreement with Iran," they write.
"We urge your administration to cease efforts to circumvent Congress and work with us on a smarter approach that will decisively end Iran's nuclear threat," according to the letter. "Unless the White House genuinely engages with Congress, we see no way that any agreement consisting of your administration's current proposals to Iran will endure in the 114th Congress and after your presidential term ends."
All signs indicate that the Obama administration is inching closer to inking "a weak and dangerous deal which will prove unacceptable to the American people," the senators write. "Such a course would ensure the ultimate failure of any agreement, and runs directly counter to Secretary of State John Kerry's April 2014 statement to the Senate that your administration was absolutely obligated by law to come back to Congress in order to lift sanctions as part of a final deal with Iran."
The administration is ignoring Iran's status as the "world's leading state sponsor of terrorism," as well as the Islamic Republic's goal of "perpetuating slaughter in Syria and sowing extremism and instability throughout the region," the letter states.
The senators also express great concern about Obama's secret efforts to partner with Iran in the fight against the Islamic State (IS).
"The negative consequences of a bad deal to the United States are immense, and will impact the security and safety of Americans and send a message of U.S. weakness to our allies and partners in the Middle East and beyond, including Israel," they write.
As negotiations got underway early Thursday, Iranian officials issued forceful demands, telling the United States that it will "never bow" to its demands.
Iran maintains "inalienable nuclear rights," Iran's Judiciary Chief Sadeq Amoli Larijani told the country's state-run media on Wednesday.
"If the opposite side intends to raise excessive demands to make us withdraw from our rights, they should know that our nation will never bow to such demands," Larijani was quoted as saying.
The United States must additionally promise to not impose any new sanctions on Iran in the future, according to Larijani.
The Iranian Foreign Ministry also announced on Wednesday that it would not agree to any extension in talks if a final agreement is not reached by the deadline.