Sen. Tom Cotton tells CBS: Iran needed to hear that U.S. won’t back down

U.S. Sen. Tom Cotton, who wrote the open letter to Iran that was signed by 46 fellow Republican senators, appeared Sunday on CBS’ “Face the Nation” to explain their actions to skeptical host Bob Schieffer.

In the letter, the lawmakers stressed to the “leaders of the Islamic Republic of Iran” that any agreement on a nuclear program without legislative approval is a “mere executive agreement,” which the next president can revoke “with the stroke of a pen.”

Schieffer opened the segment by reading aloud criticism from Secretary of State John Kerry, who was on the show earlier, and asked the freshman senator from Arkansas what they were trying to accomplish.

“Bob, I and 46 other senators are focused on stopping Iran from getting a nuclear weapon and we wanted to be crystal clear that Iran’s leaders got the message that in our constitutional system, while the president negotiates deals, Congress has to approve them for them to be lasting and binding,” Cotton explained.

He reminded Schieffer that Kerry testified before the Senate last week to say that any deal would not be legally binding.

“Why did you decide to try to convince the Iranians that they needed to be wary of dealing with the United States?” Schieffer asked. “Why not take your argument to the American people?”

“Iran’s leaders needed to hear the message loud and clear,” Cotton answered. “I can tell you they are not hearing that message from Geneva.”

An almost indignant Schieffer kept the heat on throughout the interview, but Cotton stood his ground and said he had no regrets for writing the letter and stressed that the current deal is a bad deal.

Schieffer asked what the alternative would be if Obama’s deal fell through.

“As Prime Minister Netanyahu said, the alternative to a bad deal is a better deal,” Cotton replied. “The Iranians frequently bluff to walk away from the table; if they walk away this week, call their bluff. Congress stands ready to impose much more severe sanctions.”

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