Though U.S. officials say they are making progress in reaching a nuclear deal with Iran, CIA Director John Brennan had a stern warning for the country if the deal falls apart. During an interview on “Fox News Sunday,” Brennan said there will be “tremendous costs and consequences” for Iran if it pursues development of a nuclear weapon.
“If they decide to go down that route, they know they will do so at their peril,” Brennan said.
The CIA director’s comments come one day after Secretary of State John Kerry said that significant progress was being made in negotiations with Iran—though he said “important gaps remain.” Separately, Iranian President Hassan Rouhani told reporters that a nuclear deal was “within reach and achievable.”
The Obama administration, along with a coalition of other countries, has been in negotiations for months over Iran’s nuclear program to prevent the country from developing nuclear weapons in exchange for easing sanctions against Iran. They have until the end of the month to reach a deal.
Brennan and others are seemingly optimistic about a pending deal. Brennan told Fox News Sunday that the current negotiations are better-positioned than they’ve ever been in the past. "I think we've gone to school on some of those developments over the last decade or so, so that we can now have a better plan and an opportunity to verify some of the things that they are saying that they're going to do and not do," he said.
If they can’t cut a deal with Iran by the March 31 deadline, however, the administration has signaled that it will press Congress to impose new sanctions on the country. The reported progress in negotiations comes weeks after 47 Republican senators sent a letter to Iran’s leaders warning that any deal needed congressional approval if the deal was going to last beyond President Obama’s presidency. The current deal does not require congressional approval, and the letter was not received well by the administration and the other countries working the negotiations—including Britain, France and Germany, as well as Russia and China.
“Suddenly, Iran can say to us, ‘Are your proposals actually trustworthy if 47 senators say that no matter what the government agrees to, we can subsequently take it off the table?’” German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier said during a visit to Washington, according to The Washington Post.
The letter was also not received warmly by Iran, which quickly issued a statement demonstrating its dissatisfaction with the Republican senators’ sentiment.
[T]heir letter in fact undermines the credibility of thousands of such ‘mere executive agreements’ that have been or will be entered into by the US with various other governments,” Iranian Foreign Minister Javad Zarif wrote in response.
The letter was largely seen as an embarrassment for the United States, which many worried would slow down negotiations with Iran.
Separately, Brennan was asked about Iran’s role in the United State’s fight against ISIS, to which he said, the country isn’t “an ally right now.” Though he added that Iran has its own interests in combating ISIS.
“What I’m saying is, the Iranians are pursuing their interests inside of Iraq, some of which include efforts against Daesh [ISIL] and preventing that phenomenon from growing,” he said.
Brennan also suggested that U.S. efforts have slowed ISIS’s momentum, despite the group’s latest attack at a museum in Tunisia last week, which killed 23 people.
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