|U.S. senator happy in ‘bad cop’ role on Iran||
TEHRAN – U.S. Senator Robert Menendez is happy to play the role of a “bad cop” on Iran, he said in an interview with Reuters on Wednesday.
The Democratic chairman of the influential Senate Foreign Relations Committee upset the White House by leading the push for a bill that would tighten sanctions even further on Tehran, potentially putting at risk nuclear talks between world powers and the Islamic Republic.
Still, his hard line on Iran has its uses in the negotiations.
Congressional hawks like Menendez have allowed “good cop” Obama administration negotiators to remind Iran that Congress is ready to impose more sanctions if talks do not go well.
“I think that we have been a positive force on getting Iran to this moment, and I think the administration actually has worked away with the best of all worlds,” Menendez told Reuters in a telephone interview.
“We have the same end goal. We have at the moment a difference in tactics,” the New Jersey Democrat said.
President Barack Obama threatened to veto the sanctions bill if it passed, and it has now stalled in the Senate. The administration will still need allies in Congress, including Menendez, as diplomats hammer out a final nuclear agreement.
While they have no problem playing Obama’s foil on Iran, Menendez and other senators bristled when a White House aide publicly accused them last month of warmongering.
“If certain members of Congress want the United States to take military action, they should be upfront with the American public and say so,” Bernadette Meehan, a spokeswoman for the National Security Council, said in a statement.
Her comment was an unusually strong denunciation of members of the same party as the president. It landed with a thud on Capitol Hill.
“It was unfortunate to have spokespeople for the administration suggest that,” said Menendez. “It did not serve the administration well. It did not serve our ultimate goal.”
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