Sen. Cotton explains opposition to nuclear deal with Iran

Republican lawmaker says war is not the alternative to the agreement


This is a rush transcript from "Your World," August 3, 2015. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.

NEIL CAVUTO, HOST: All right, you know the deal with this deal on Iran. It takes more than a majority to make it a done deal and a finished deal and a rejected deal.

It's almost a given now that the House and the United States Senate are going to reject that Iranian deal that the administration says is so important. So, that alone would send a bad signal, the president says, to the world. But -- but you need two-thirds to override a likely presidential veto. So, we could find ourselves short of that two-thirds.  It would be rejected in the United States Congress, but not by the margin necessary to override a veto. The deal goes through.

And that is something that does not sit well with Arkansas Republican Senator Tom Cotton.

Although not on the Foreign Relations Committee that will be meeting in about 25 minutes, your message to those members is what, Senator, stand strong, reject this thing? What?

SEN. TOM COTTON, R-ARK.: Neil, my message to all senators and congressmen is that this deal with Iran is very dangerous. It's dangerous for the United States, to our allies like Israel and to the world.

Also, we don't yet have all of the details of the agreement. We now know that there are two secret side deals between Iran and the IAEA, the United Nations' nuclear watchdog. And these are not mere procedural or administrative details. They go to heart of their disagreement with Iran, their past weaponization work, even access to the military base where they're believed to have tested detonator devices for nuclear weapons.


CAVUTO: Do you know when these side deals were added? Because Secretary Kerry didn't really answer for them. I thought either he was feigning ignorance or he was really ignorant. Neither is an attractive option here.

But many have argued in your party and elsewhere, saying, well, then the clock should start at 60 days all over again when you get the details of those side deals. Right?

COTTON: Neil, it would appear that the side deals between the IAEA and Iran were negotiated in the final days before the overall deal was announced, because the director general, Mr. Amano, of the IAEA traveled to Tehran.

But, under U.S. law, that clock should not start ticking until the Congress has all agreements, to include agreements without involving the United States. Regardless, though, when the clocks starts ticking, it's just hard for me to imagine any senator or any congressman, whatever their views of the overall deal, would be willing to cast a vote to support this deal without knowing the actual details of it.

CAVUTO: One of the things they have argued in defense of doing just that, Senator, is that the alternative is war. Senator Kerry says the alternative that any of you guys come up is a like a unicorn-type deal.  You have heard these arguments. What do you say to them?

COTTON: Well, that's a pretty weak argument for this agreement.

And in fact it's now been disproven by many other officials. Martin Dempsey, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of staff, the principal military adviser to the president, has said that's not the case. There are a whole range of options. Senior French diplomats who were involved in these negotiations have told congressmen that, in fact, if the Congress were to kill the deal, as we should, there would be other alternatives, like, for instance, simply not giving Iran tens of billions of dollars in immediate sanctions relief that they can use to commit more acts of terror throughout the Middle East.

So there are plenty of alternatives to an outright war against Iran.

CAVUTO: All right, Senator Cotton, always good seeing you. Thank you very, very much.

COTTON: Thank you, Neil.

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