Menendez: Iran letter undermines Obama's argument on sanctions

A leading Democratic critic of the Iran nuclear deal warned Wednesday that the Obama administration will never want to reimpose sanctions against Iran, since Iran has said in a letter to the United Nations that any new sanctions would free it from following the terms of the agreement.

Sen. Bob Menendez, D-N.J., used Wednesday's Senate Foreign Relations Committee hearing to read from a July 20 letter from Iran, which is on the U.N.'s website. In the letter, the Iranians assert that any reintroduction of sanctions lifted under the agreement would amount to "significant nonperformance, which would relieve Iran from its commitments in part of in whole."

A clearly frustrated Menendez first said he was angry that Iran's letter seems to spell out an aspect of the deal that the Obama administration refused to explain to him when he first asked Treasury Secretary Jack Lew how the sanctions' snap-back provision would work.

"So basically, what I tried to get from Secretary Lew, and I can't get from my own government, I have to read it from the government of Iran to understand what the agreement … was about," he said.