JERUSALEM (JTA) – U.S. Rep. Kevin McCarthy, the House majority leader, said if Congress vetoes the Iran nuclear deal, it would be possible to renegotiate an agreement that is more favourable to the United States.
McCarthy, R-Calif., was in Israel with a delegation of 36 Republican congressmen. Speaking to reporters in Jerusalem on Thursday, one day after meeting with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, McCarthy said better terms would include a more pervasive inspections regime, as well as stricter limits on Iran’s weaponization program.
Under the international agreement reached last month, Russia, China and European Union countries will lift their sanctions on Iran as Iran accepts curbs and inspections on its nuclear program. But McCarthy said a U.S. veto would keep American sanctions on Iran, giving America’s allies a strong reason to go back to the negotiating table.
“If the agreement did not go through, you’d still have the American sanctions,” he said. “Countries would then be in a position to make a decision. Do they choose to deal with the Iranian economy or the size of the American economy?”
McCarthy said that in the meeting with Netanyahu, who vehemently opposes the deal, the prime minister did not raise any new arguments against it. But McCarthy dismissed claims that Netanyahu is inappropriately meddling in American politics by criticizing the deal.
“He did not tell us how to vote,” McCarthy said. “He’s much like every leader of every other country, [who] conveys what they see.”
Although McCarthy was not sure that congressional Republicans can garner enough votes to muster the two-thirds majority needed to reject the deal, he said there was a “bipartisan consensus” opposing it.
“I don’t know if the Democrats have whipped this vote,” he said, referring to efforts to round up votes supporting the agreement. “We have not whipped the vote either. But I have not heard from anyone on my side of the aisle that says they’re voting for it.”