Republican White House Hopefuls Condemn Iran Nuclear Deal

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from The Wall Street Journal,

Say pact will do little to prevent Iran from developing nuclear weapons.

Republican White House hopefuls were quick to condemn the emerging nuclear deal with Iran almost as soon as it was announced, arguing the pact will do little to prevent the Iranian regime from developing nuclear weapons.

Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker even vowed to dismantle it, should he run—and win.

The reality, though, is that the next president will have a hard time scrapping the accord if it is adopted in June as a final agreement, analysts say, because it would take years to reimpose whatever sanctions are waived as the result of these negotiations.

The politics of the deal look straightforward for Republicans at this point—most have opposed the talks that led to the breakthrough for months, and even some Democrats were cool to it Thursday. But the episode represents an early test for the emerging GOP presidential field’s ability to talk tough about a longtime adversary without making promises that would be hard to keep in office.

Jon Alterman, a former State Department official and Middle East analyst at the Center for Strategic and International Studies, likens Republican promises to unwind an accord to President Barack Obama’s own campaign promises to close the detention facility at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, and to swiftly withdraw U.S. troops from Afghanistan. Both goals proved harder to achieve once he was in the Oval Office.

“The political imperative is to oppose the deal in theory; after Inauguration Day, one is left with reality,” Mr. Alterman said. “The real challenge for many of these candidates is how to look strong on this issue without boxing yourself in.”

“Nothing in the deal described by the administration this afternoon would justify lifting U.S. and international sanctions, which were the product of many years of bipartisan effort,” said former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush, one of the leading contenders for the Republican presidential nomination, whose brother lobbied foreign allies to put many of those sanctions in place. “I cannot stand behind such a flawed agreement.”

Florida Sen. Marco Rubio, one of the fiercest critics of the agreement and also expected to announce a White House bid, vowed to work with his colleagues on Capitol Hill to review the accord and perhaps seek additional sanctions to ensure Iran doesn’t obtain a nuclear weapon.

“The initial details appear to be very troubling,” Mr. Rubio said after the deal was announced. “Tehran is gaining international acceptance of its nuclear ambitions and will receive significant sanctions relief without making serious concessions.”

Texas Sen. Ted Cruz, the lone Republican to have formally launched a presidential campaign, said Friday that the deal Mr. Obama struck would put Iran “on the path to the bomb.” He called the likelihood that a nuclear Iran would attack Israel “unacceptably high.” “Under no circumstance should a U.S. president lift sanctions and grant nuclear capability to a nation that proudly chants ‘Death to America,’” Mr. Cruz said in a statement released by his campaign.

Public-opinion surveys suggest most Americans are reluctant to engage in overseas conflicts. A plurality of 49% of Americans approved of the U.S. holding diplomatic negotiations with Iran, compared with the 40% who opposed the talks, according a late-March poll by the Pew Research Center.

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