WASHINGTON, D.C. –Following a telephone briefing this afternoon by Deputy National Security Advisor Ben Rhodes, U.S. Senator Susan Collins today issued the following statement on the Administration’s extension of nuclear negotiations with Iran:
"An effective, verifiable diplomatic solution would be the best possible outcome for halting the Iranian pursuit of a nuclear weapon. I am, however, concerned that the Administration's decision to extend the negotiations makes this outcome less likely because it harms U.S. credibility by granting Iran additional sanctions relief in exchange for Iran’s agreement simply to keep talking. It extends an interim deal that is neither effective nor verifiable.
"The extension of the status quo exposes the Administration's reluctance to make good on its promises to increase economic pressure if Iran refused to reach a comprehensive agreement. Even though the President promised to be “the first to call for more sanctions” if Iran failed to reach an agreement, the sanctions relief that was originally intended to be temporary and limited has now become the price the Administration is willing to pay simply to maintain the status quo. It strains credulity to believe that doing the same thing for seven more months will change the calculus of the Ayatollahs in Iran after they have refused to reach an agreement during the past year.
"In addition, extending the terms of the interim agreement risks the establishment of a de facto bad deal between the P5+1 and Iran. It fails to require Iran to resolve the specific concerns identified in the multiple United Nations Security Council resolutions regarding Iran’s nuclear program. It fails to require that Iran enforce the International Atomic Energy Agency’s Additional Protocol, the gold standard for verification and inspection that is already in force in more than 100 countries and necessary to confirm Iran is not proceeding with a covert nuclear program. It also fails to permit inspectors access to the Parchin facility or to require Iran to fully explain the extent of the possible military dimensions (PMD) of its nuclear program.
"I stand ready to work with my colleagues in Congress to increase bipartisan sanctions toward the objective of preventing an Iranian nuclear capability.”