WASHINGTON (CBS DC/AP) — House Majority Leader Eric Cantor is assailing the new nuclear deal with Iran, saying he believes it “bodes very, very ominously for the region and U.S. security.”
The Virginia Republican calls the arrangement “dangerous” and says it brings Iran “closer to becoming a nuclear power.”
“We have now let the door open to sanctions going away. We have said that we will ease up on sanctions which have taken years and years of progress for them to build and to be able to apply the kind of pressure that it did,” Cantor told CBS News.
The accommodation announced Sunday gives Tehran six months to increase access to its nuclear sites in exchange for keeping the central elements of its uranium program. Cantor told “CBS This Morning” Monday that the terms are softer than those already in several U.N. resolutions. In a twist on a famous Ronald Reagan statement about arms control, Cantor says the attitude toward Iran should be “mistrust and verify.” Reagan famously said he favored arms pacts with the Soviet Union if there was a “trust-but-verify” standard.
“What this agreement does is it just allows Iran to continue with all that it has in terms of centrifuges, it doesn’t require any dismantling,” Cantor noted. “It allows for the enrichment up to 5 percent which used to be something that we wouldn’t stand for. Iran could once again turn around tomorrow and throw away this.”
Cantor said the White House should listen to the U.S.’s Middle East allies and continue to ratchet up the sanctions on Iran.
“I think that we could — with our influence diplomatically, economically — continue to build the pressure so we can protect our interests and our allies’ interests. All we have to do is listen to our allies who are most proximate to the threat in the region … who have been saying all along that any kind of deal with this regime in Iran is not worth the paper it’s written on,” Cantor stated, adding that Iran “cannot be trusted.”
In an interview with “Face the Nation” Sunday, Secretary of State John Kerry said that the current deal opens a door to a “larger, more comprehensive agreement.”
Kerry said that even though a short-term agreement was reached, there is still a lack of trust with Iran.
“It’s not based on trust, it’s based on verification,” Kerry told CBS News, adding that the U.S. will now begin to get into Iran’s nuclear facilities to see what is going on.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu panned the agreement, calling it “an historic mistake.”
“Iran is taking only cosmetic steps that could easily reversed, and in return, sanctions that took years to put in place will be eased,” Netanyahu said. “Without continued pressure, what incentive does Iran have to take serious steps that actually dismantle its nuclear weapons capability?”
Kerry stated that Israel and the region are now safer because the agreement forces Iran “to destroy the higher enriched uranium they have, which is critical to being able to build a bomb.” Kerry also said that military force is not off the table.
President Barack Obama said Saturday night that the agreement “cut off Iran’s most likely paths to a bomb.”
“These are substantial limitations which will help prevent Iran from building a nuclear weapon,” Obama said at the White House.
Obama also warned Iran that if it doesn’t reach its commitments, “we will turn off the relief and ratchet up the pressure.”
Kerry joined foreign ministers of Russia, China, France, Britain and Germany in Geneva for the deal’s final negotiations.
The Geneva negotiations followed secret face-to-face talks between the U.S. and Iran over the past year, The Associated Press has learned. The discussions, held in the Persian Gulf nation of Oman and elsewhere, were kept hidden even from America’s closest allies, including its negotiating partners and Israel, until two months ago.
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