Tom Cotton just took the Iran debate to an insane new low

Way to keep thigns in perspective, senator

Published July 23, 2015 2:08PM (EDT)

Tom Cotton (AP/Carolyn Kaster)
Tom Cotton (AP/Carolyn Kaster)

Republican Senator Tom Cotton blasted the Iranian nuclear deal after news broke that Iran negotiated a separate inspections deal with the International Atomic Energy Agency. The freshman senator blamed Secretary of State John Kerry, whom he compared to Pontius Pilate.

After Sen. Cotton and Rep. Mike Pompeo (R-KS) said that IAEA officials told them that the group had reached two “side-deals” on how to evaluate Iran’s military site at Parchin, where Iran has been accused of testing nuclear detonators, the State Department confirmed that Iran worked with the UN nuclear commission to arrange inspections. National Security Advisor Susan Rice claimed the administration planned to "share the contents of those briefings in full in a classified session with the Congress.”

“We have provided Congress with all of the documents that we drafted or were part of drafting, and all documents that have been shared with us by the IAEA,” Rice explained during a press briefing yesterday. “So there is nothing that we are holding in our possession that we had either any role in crafting or were given to us that has not been given to Congress.”

But Sen. Cotton is not impressed by the administration's revelation and reassurances. "That we are only now discovering that parts of this dangerous agreement are being kept secret begs the question of what other elements may also be secret and entirely free from public scrutiny," Cotton said in a statement.

Appearing on MSNBC's "Morning Joe" today, Sen. Cotton specifically targeted Secretary of State John Kerry, comparing him to the Roman judge said to have condemned Jesus Christ to crucifixion.

“John Kerry acted like Pontius Pilate, he washed his hands, kicked it to the IAEA, knowing that Congress would not get this information unless someone went out to find it.”

“So the State Department has confirmed now, finally, that those agreements do, in fact, exist, but they have not told us the contents of those agreements. So unless Congress gets the contents of these agreements and knows, for example, how the IAEA plans to inspect the Parchin military site, I don’t see how any member of Congress could vote for this deal, because it’s based on verification and inspection,” Cotton said. “And without that information, I don’t see how we can trust the government of Iran.”

Sec. Kerry is expected to testify before a Senate panel on the nuclear deal today.

By Sophia Tesfaye

Sophia Tesfaye is Salon's senior editor for news and politics, and resides in Washington, D.C. You can find her on Twitter at @SophiaTesfaye.

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Iran Nuclear Deal Iranian Nuclear Program Secretary Of State John Kerry Tom Cotton Video