Neocon push for 'military option' in Iran hurts US - White House

White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest.(AFP Photo / Brendan Smialowski)
The White House blasted Senate Republicans’ open letter to Iran on Monday, comparing it to “efforts of neocons in the previous administration” to prefer military options over diplomacy, thereby harming America's standing in the world.

President Obama’s spokesman, Josh Earnest, said that regarding negotiations over Iran’s nuclear program, congressional Republicans are “ready to fast-forward to the military approach before the diplomatic approach has been given the opportunity to succeed.” This is consistent with the pattern of foreign policy decisions the Republicans have made over the past two decades, he said.

Forty-seven Republican senators sent an open letter to the Iranian government Monday morning, claiming that any agreement would have to face ratification in Congress, and could be revoked by the next occupant of the White House “with the stroke of a pen.”

READ MORE: US senators warn Tehran nuclear deal can be revoked after Obama leaves office

Earnest’s comments echoed an earlier statement by Senate minority whip Dick Durbin (D-Ill.), who pointed out that the failure of the talks would make a military response to Iran’s nuclear efforts more likely. He also said the Republican senators should “think twice about whether their political stunt is worth the threat of another war in the Middle East.”

The White House spokesman disagreed that an agreement with Iran would have to be subject to ratification in Congress, citing several instances of international “commitments” to prove his point, including treaties with Japan and the Republic of Korea about the stationing of US troops there. However, he explained the administration’s view that Congress would have the final word on lifting the sanctions if and when Iran lived up to the deal.

The Obama administration does not envision substantial sanctions relief until it sees a “demonstrated commitment” from Iran “for years” to accept “intrusive” inspections of nuclear facilities, factories, and uranium mines, Earnest said. If Iran somehow did not live up to the terms of the agreement, the White House would have a “full range of options on the table,” including the military option, he added.

The best way for us to resolve international community’s concerns about Iran’s nuclear program is to get Iran’s own commitment to not develop a nuclear weapon,” Earnest told reporters. “The rush to war, to military option that Republicans are advocating, is not in the best interest of the US.”

Referring to the recent authorization to use military force, which Obama requested from Congress to wage war against the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria, Earnest pointed out that the “common thread” between that and the Iran situation is “a Republican Party that is eager to direct almost unlimited authority to the President of the United States to wage war, but to try to repeatedly tie his hands when he is trying to conduct diplomacy.”