US President Barack Obama does not have the authority to use his “veto pen” on legislation tightening sanctions on Iran, as there is a “supermajority” in Congress in favor of additional bans, says Sen. Marco Rubio.
Rubio, a Republican from Florida and potential contender for 2016 presidential election, says it is within Obama’s powers to obstruct the movement of legislation in Congress but not when it comes to Iran.
“There are some bills where I think he won’t be able to do that on — for example, sanctions on Iran. I think we’ll have a supermajority, a veto-proof majority to impose additional sanctions on Iran and to require the administration to come before Congress for approval of any deal that he has with Iran,” the senator said in an interview with NPR News.
Asked whether he would impose additional sanctions on Tehran in the midst of nuclear talks even if the move would destroy the prospect of a deal, Rubio said, “yes, because I don’t believe there is a prospect for a deal with Iran.”
Sen. Rubio said that the United States has made “a number of concessions” to Iran including the right to “enrich and reprocess” uranium, raising concern that “that infrastructure could very easily be ramped up in the future to produce a nuclear-grade uranium or plutonium.”
Rubio’s comments came days after President Obama told NPR that Iran should seize the chance of a long-term deal that could lift the sanctions.
More than a year ago, Iran agreed to an interim deal to suspend 20-percent uranium enrichment in exchange for the lifting of economic sanctions pending on a long-term deal.
Despite progress in the talks, Iran and the five permanent members of the United Nations Security Council — China, Russia, Britain, France, and the United States — plus Germany failed to clinch a final deal by a Nov. 24 deadline. The talks have now been extended until July 1, 2015.
Republican Senator Lindsey Graham announced last week that the US Senate would vote on Iran sanctions legislation next month.
“In January of next year, there will be a vote on the Kirk-Menendez bill, bipartisan sanction legislation,” he said in a press conference with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Saturday, referring to sanctions legislation drafted by Sens. Bob Menendez and Mark Kirk.