Republican Letter Becomes an Issue in Iran Nuclear Negotiations

For all the criticism, all the mockery, they've faced and all the hedging they've done, it's mission at least partially accomplished for the 47 Republican senators who signed Tom Cotton's open letter to Iran: They've made themselves an issue in negotiations with Iran and could be making it more difficult to reach an agreement limiting Iran's nuclear program.

“The Iranians raised it,” a senior American official told reporters on Monday, after Mr. Kerry opened a critical round of talks here with his Iranian counterpart. “It was of concern.”

Mohammad Javad Zarif, Iran’s foreign minister, also said that his side had pressed the issue.

“We see the letter as a political move, but we need to know the U.S. government’s stance on this issue,” Mr. Zarif was quoted as saying by Iran’s state television. The American official declined to say how Mr. Kerry had responded in the closed-door meetings, which lasted nearly five hours.

One hopes that Kerry's response was unvarnished and satisfying, but then, that's probably why he's the diplomat. In any case, the whole Republican plan here—well, aside from making themselves look like big and important forces standing against Obama for the benefit of base Republican voters—was making the Iranians worried enough to back away from a potential deal. A deal which, again, is all about slowing Iran's path to nuclear weapons.


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