Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., on Monday said the Obama administration's clear preference for a nuclear deal with Iran put it in a weak negotiation position, and let Iran negotiate a favorable deal that will even see the end of the United Nations' conventional weapons embargo.
"The president made clear to the world, contrary to his rhetoric, that all options were not on the table. All options were simply not on the table," McConnell said on the Senate floor. "Knowing this, the Iranians never feared for their survival."
"What's already clear about this agreement is that it will not achieve, or even come close to achieving that original purpose," McConnell said. "Instead, the Iranians appear to have prevailed in this negotiation, maintaining thousands of centrifuges, enriching their threshold nuclear capability instead of ending it, reaping a multi-billion dollar windfall to spend freely on terrorism, dividing our western allies and negotiating partners, some of whom will now undoubtedly sell arms to Iran, and gaining legitimacy before the world."
In a formal statement, McConnell said the final deal as reported reflects Obama's desire to reach a deal with Iran at any cost.
"The comprehensive nuclear agreement announced today appears to further the flawed elements of April's interim agreement because the Obama Administration approached these talks from a flawed perspective: reaching the best deal acceptable to Iran, rather than actually advancing our national goal of ending Iran's nuclear program," McConnell said in a statement.
House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, reached a similar conclusion.
"At the outset of these talks, the Obama administration said it would secure an agreement that affirmed Iran does not have a right to enrich and permanently dismantles the infrastructure of its nuclear programs," he said. "It said that sanctions would not be lifted until Iran met concrete, verifiable standards. And if these terms were not met, the president promised he would walk away."
"The American people and our allies were counting on President Obama to keep his word," he added. "Instead, the president has abandoned his own goals. His 'deal' will hand Iran billions in sanctions relief while giving it time and space to reach a break-out threshold to produce a nuclear bomb — all without cheating."
"The House of Representatives will review every detail of this agreement very closely, but I won't support any agreement that jeopardizes the safety of the American people and all who value freedom and security," Boehner said. "This isn't about Republicans versus Democrats. It's about right and wrong. And we will fight a bad deal that is wrong for our national security and wrong for our country."
House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., mirrored the comments of others who said it's now up to lawmakers to scrutinize the details.
"No deal that allows Iran to get nuclear weapons is acceptable," McCarthy said. "A nuclear Iran would put America and our allies at grave risk."
Obama's Democratic allies in Congress appeared supportive of the agreement, but there could be difficulties winning over a faction of members who have already expressed doubts about the deal.
"The historic nuclear agreement announced today is the product of years of tough, bold and clear-eyed leadership from President Obama," House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., said. "I commend the president for his strength throughout the historic negotiations that have led to this point."