Paul Steinhauser: Graham - in NH - warns of nuclear 'armageddon'
NASHUA - Sen. Lindsey Graham of South Carolina was in a joking mood as he jabbed at himself and potential GOP presidential nomination rivals as he spoke Tuesday morning at a Saint Patrick's Day breakfast and roast.
But he was serious after the Wild Irish Breakfast, as he spoke to reporters about the potential deal the U.S. and western powers are negotiating with Iran to put major limits on Tehran's nuclear program.
"A diplomatic solution to the Iranian nuclear ambition would be a godsend. A bad deal would be a nightmare," said Graham, considered a leading GOP Senate foreign policy expert and a longtime member of the Senate Armed Services Committee.
Graham's comments came as talks in Switzerland between Secretary of State John Kerry and Iranian officials continue, ahead of an end of the month deadline to secure a deal with Iran. Graham was one of 47 Republican senators who recently sent a letter to Tehran warning Iranian leaders that Congress could undo any deal President Barack Obama makes with them.
"The one thing I will not compromise on is that the President of the United States does not have the authority to negotiate away congressional sanctions without congressional review. So when he threatens to veto legislation that's bipartisan in nature requiring a deal to come to Congress, before we lift congressional sanctions, he is wrong on the law and he's wrong substantively," Graham said.
"There will be by the end of this month, I think, bipartisan legislation passed requiring any deal with the Iranians to come before the Congress before we lift congressional sanctions," Graham added.
And Graham warned that "the most important decision President Obama will make is how to handle the nuclear ambitions of Iran. When they say they're building a power plant, they're liars. If we get this wrong, every Sunni Arab state in the region will want a nuclear weapon to counter the Iranians and you're on the road to Armageddon."