Clinton, Trump clash over Iran nuclear deal

Washington, Sep 10 (IANS) Hillary Clinton backed the Iran nuclear deal saying she would not hesitate to use force to keep Tehran from getting the bomb, but Donald Trump called both the deal and the Americans who negotiated it “incompetent.”

As the Democratic and Republican presidential frontrunners clashed over President Barack Obama’s legacy making deal to curb Iran’s nuclear programme in return for lifting sanctions, opposition from conservatives delayed the start of a debate in the Republican controlled Congress.

“Here’s my message to Iran’s leaders: The United States will not allow you to acquire a nuclear weapon,” Clinton said Wednesday at the Brookings Institution, a Washington think tank.

If elected as president “I will not hesitate to use military force if Iran attempts to obtain a nuclear weapon,” she said striking a tough tone.

“My approach will be distrust and verify,” Clinton said. “We should anticipate that Iran will test the next president.”

“That won’t work if I am in the White House,” Clinton added.

As Clinton spoke at the think tank, Opponents of the deal rallied outside the US capitol with Trump and fellow Republican presidential hopeful Ted Cruz headlining the event.

Even as he opposed the deal, Trump would not say what more he’ll demand in the deal. “You’re going to have to watch,” he said. “I don’t want to say things that the other side is going to learn everything about me.”

“They (Iran) have suckered us,” Trump said. “They have taken advantage of stupid people, stupid representatives, people that are incompetent, whether it’s (secretary of state John) Kerry or our president.”

Cruz said even though Republicans do not have sufficient support to block the agreement, they should postpone a vote because Congress has not seen all of the fine print.

“The president lacks the legal authority to lift sanctions until the expiration of the congressional review period because he refused to hand over the side agreements,” he said “The congressional review period hasn’t started yet.”

Meanwhile, conservative opposition forced House Republican leaders to delay the start of debate on a resolution that would block the nuclear accord.

Under the Republican plan, the House will now vote on a measure that says Obama violated the law by not turning over all the details of the historic deal.

The Congress has 60 days from the day it received the completed agreement to review the deal.

That period ends Sep 17, but conservatives are arguing that that deadline doesn’t apply because the administration didn’t pass along all the details of the so-called side deals with the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA).

Meanwhile, the New York Times called the Republican delaying tactics pointless.

“The bruising battle over the Iran nuclear agreement should be over, now that 42 Democratic senators declared their support for the deal and made it clearer than ever that efforts to kill it will fail,” it said in an editorial.

“But the Republican-led Congress seems determined to drag out the fight, even if it means neglecting other business, including legislation to fund the government,” the Times said.

Some of the Republican presidential contenders rallying outside the Capitol had offered “bogus denunciations” of the deal, the influential US daily said.

Clinton, on the other hand, had outlined her “distrust and verify” approach for implementing the deal and called for a broader strategy to contain Iran’s military activity and increased military support for Israel. “That is the responsible way forward,” it said.

(Arun Kumar can be contacted at

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