Sen. Robert Menendez (D-N.J.), chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, accused the White House late Wednesday of “fear-mongering” tactics to prevent the U.S. from laying additional sanctions on Iran after the interim deal on Tehran's nuclear program.
Menendez, speaking on NPR's “All Things Considered,” remarked that “what I don't appreciate is when I hear remarks out of the White House spokesman that...if we're pursuing sanctions, we're marching the country off to war. I think that's way over the top, I think it's fear-mongering.”
Menedez was among a group of 15 top senators who vowed Sunday to impose more sanctions on Iran, one day after the US and other P5+1 countries agreed to ease sanctions on the country in exchange for Iran's curbing its nuclear-enrichment program.
“A nuclear weapons-capable Iran presents a grave threat to the national security of the United States and its allies and we are committed to preventing Iran from acquiring this capability," the group said. “We will work together to reconcile Democratic and Republican proposals over the coming weeks and to pass bipartisan Iran sanctions legislation as soon as possible.”
Menendez seems to have backtracked on the idea of passing sanctions before the end of six-month interim period agreed with Iran. According to The Hill, he said he would support passing additional sanctions, set to take effect six months from now, if Iran does not continue cooperation with the U.S.
Menendez has joined with many Republicans in criticizing the interim agreement with Iran, for not including the dismantling of Iran's nuclear infrastructure, such as its centrifuges for enriching uranium.
“If I could liken it to a metaphor, we basically have the Iranians running in place, but they're running,” Menendez said.
Still, Menendez refused to say he was disappointed with the State Department for its diplomatic efforts, and said he was hopeful that the deal would be successful despite its shortcomings.