Senator Robert Menendez lambasted U.S. President Barack Obama on Wednesday for urging congress not to push new sanctions on Iran, calling the White House's approach "fear-mongering" and "over the top," Politico reported.
The Democrat from New Jersey is also chair of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee said he appreciates Obama's effort to go the diplomatic route with Iran, but will continue pressing for new sanctions if Iran doesn't make good on understandings made in agreement.
“What I don’t appreciate is when I hear remarks out of the White House spokesman that say … if we’re pursuing sanctions we’re marching the country off to war. I think that’s way over the top, I think that’s fear-mongering,” Menendez said.
He suggested "dual-track diplomacy" whereby the White House tells Iran exactly what awaits it if it doesn't strike a deal.
Menendez is not the only Democrat to have criticized the interim deal brokered by Secretary of State John Kerry in Geneva. Other powerful Democrats like Senator Chuck Schumer (N.Y.) said they will work with Republicans on a new series of sanctions for the next Senate session December 9.
Responding to critics on Monday, Obama said tough talk on Iran was good for politics but not good for U.S. security. "Tough talk and bluster may be the easy thing to do politically, but it is not the right thing for our security," he said.
Obama phoned Prime Minister Netanyahu - who sharply criticized the interim deal - to tell him he wants Israel and the U.S. to begin consultations with regard to a permanent agreement with Iran. The two leaders affirmed their shared goal of preventing a nuclear Iran.
According to the Reuters/Ipsos survey, 44 percent of Americans support the interim deal reached between Iran and six world powers in Geneva last weekend, and 22 percent oppose it.