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Iran Leader Says GOP Senators’ Letter Implies U.S. ‘Not Trustworthy’

By Ramin Mostaghim and Alexandra Zavis, Los Angeles Times (TNS)

TEHRAN — Iran’s foreign minister on Tuesday said that a letter from 47 Republican senators warning that any agreement on the Islamic Republic’s nuclear program must receive congressional approval suggests that the U.S. is “not trustworthy.”

The open letter released Monday also warned Iran’s leaders that the next U.S. president could revoke a deal reached with President Barack Obama.

“This kind of communication is unprecedented and undiplomatic,” Iranian Foreign Minister Javad Zarif said, according to a state-run television website. “In fact it implies that the United States is not trustworthy.”

Zarif described the letter as part of a “propaganda campaign” that began with an address last week by Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to Congress, in which he challenged the still-developing deal as unwise and dangerous.

He also suggested that some members of Congress were not fully abreast of international law or their own Constitution when it comes to the authority of the president to conduct foreign policy.

“The authors may not fully understand that in international law, governments represent the entirety of their respective states, are responsible for the conduct of foreign affairs, are required to fulfill the obligations they undertake with other states and may not invoke their internal laws as justification for a failure to perform their international obligations,” Zarif was quoted as saying. “We insist that a possible deal should be one where our people’s rights are observed and we are certain that there are measures to achieve such a deal.”

Obama and Democrats in Congress have also denounced the letter, accusing Senate Republicans of trying to scupper the negotiations.

“It’s somewhat ironic to see some members of Congress wanting to make common cause with the hardliners in Iran,” Obama said. “It’s an unusual coalition.”

The letter was drafted by Senator Tom Cotton of Arkansas and signed by 46 of his Republican colleagues.

The U.S. and five world powers have struggled since 2013 to negotiate a deal that would impose limits and oversight on Iran’s nuclear program in exchange for sanctions relief. Negotiators hope to reach a framework agreement this month and a final accord later this year.

Western nations have long suspected that Iran is trying to develop the ability to build a nuclear bomb, charges denied by Tehran, which insists its program is restricted to civilian uses such as power generation.

Photo: Secretary of State John Kerry meets with Iranian Foreign Minister Javad Zarif in Geneva on January 14 for a bilateral meeting to provide guidance to their negotiating teams before their next round of discussions, which begin on January 15. (U.S. Mission/Eric Bridiers via Flickr)