Jan 21 2015
State Department official admits errors in handling of Cuba policy, claims will not repeat them with Iran
Washington, D.C. – In light of the Obama administration’s failure to keep its promise to consult Congress prior to its efforts to normalize U.S. relations with Cuba, U.S. Senator Marco Rubio (R-FL) today called on the administration to fully consult Congress regarding ongoing nuclear negotiations with Iran. During a Senate Foreign Relations Committee hearing, Rubio highlighted his concerns regarding Iran’s nuclear program in an exchange with Deputy Secretary of State Antony Blinken.
A video of the exchange is available here, and an excerpt of the exchange is below:
Senator Rubio: “Secretary Blinken, much of this debate here today has been about the role of Congress and our need to trust in the ability of the administration to craft a good deal, and in the fact that we are going to be consulted. That was the question that you asked. So I want to take you back to the last time you were before this committee, and I asked you a question at that time, during your nomination, about whether there would be any unilateral changes or changes in Cuba policy.
“And your answer, and I want to quote it for you. It said, quote, ‘Anything that in the future might be done on Cuba would be done in full consultation, with the real meaning of the word consultation that I just alluded to, with this committee.’ You told me that the last time you were before this committee. Who did it consult with on this committee? Or who did the administration consult with on this committee before it announced the changes on the 17th of December?”
Secretary Blinken: “Senator, I regret that I did not live up to the standard I set during that hearing and in the remarks that you just quoted. I think that I could have done a better job in engaging with you and consulting with you in advance. And I regret that.”
Rubio: “We have a right to be concerned. This is not a traditional nation-state undergoing a cost-benefit analysis. This is a cleric-led regime, a clerical government, with a clear intent of ultimately one day unifying the entire world under the flag of their radical version of Islam, led by someone who believes that, that will only happen after a cataclysmic showdown with the West. So we have real reasons to be deeply concerned and skeptical about the ability to reach any arrangement. And real reasons to believe that they are willing to accept short-term suspensions because their long-term view is that at the end of the day they are going to be at that showdown point, and if they have nuclear weapons they are even better off than they would normally be. And that’s why we are so skeptical about this deal.
“We are not dealing with Belgium here. We’re not dealing with Luxembourg. We are dealing with a radical cleric, with a radical view of his obligation and role in the world and he wants nuclear weapons to be able to do it. And I believe that ultimately, I think no one here could dispute that ultimately, even if they agree to a short suspension, that is their goal in the long-term.
“And as the North Koreans have shown, you can agree to all sorts of short-term suspensions and you can always invent the pretext for why now I need the weapon. Because of the hostilities of the West. Because it is time for the hitting Imam to emerge – whatever. And that’s what we’re concerned about. They will retain all the infrastructure that it takes to enrich, they will have the weapons design and they will have the delivery system and the missiles, and at some point – three years, five years, ten years – they build a weapon and now the world is at their mercy. And that’s why we're so skeptical.”
Blinken: “I commit to you – Mr. Chairman, Ranking Member, Senator Rubio, others – that going forward, we will not only continue that, we will expand that and we will be up here any time that you want, any place to talk about where we are. Again, some of that we just have to do in a closed session or in a private group because the negotiations are ongoing. But we want to make sure that you see the full details of what we’re trying to achieve.”