Iran's highest leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei on Thursday sharply rebuked an open letter released by GOP senators last week, charging that the missive demonstrates "the collapse of political ethics in the United States."
The letter, organized by Sen. Tom Cotton (R-Ark.) and signed by 47 Republican senators, directly threatened Iranian leaders that, if a nuclear deal were reached, it would not last after President Barack Obama leaves the presidency. It was widely criticized within the United States by grassroots groups—as well as by the Obama administration—as a measure aimed at provoking war.
"The letter by American senators indicates the collapse of political ethics in the United States," declared Khamenei during a Tehren meeting with Iran's highest clerical body, the Council of Experts.
"Governments are bound to their commitments by international laws and would not violate their obligations with a change of government," he said. "[The Republican senators] said they want to teach us their own laws but we don’t need their lessons, our officials know how to make agreements binding if there's a deal."
"The negotiating team that President [Rouhani] has chosen for the talks are good, trustworthy and act based on the interests of the country," Khamenei added. "But I'm worried because the other side is cunning, deceitful and back-stabbing."
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The comments follow statements made by Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif on Monday, in which he declared: "In our view this letter has no legal validity and is just a propaganda scheme."
Furthermore, Khamenei's rebuke comes the same day that 50 pro-diplomacy organizations, including the National Iranian American Council, U.S. Labor Against the War, and Jewish Voice for Peace, sounded the alarm over recently proposed legislation—the Iran Nuclear Agreement Review Act—that would give Congress even more power to sabotage talks.
"By threatening to reject a prospective nuclear deal, inserting conditions outside the scope of negotiations, and delaying the implementation of any agreement for months, this bill risks derailing the best chance to both prevent an Iranian nuclear weapon and avert a disastrous war," wrote the organizations in a letter urging members of the U.S. Senate to reject the bill.
"The outrageous political stunts in the Senate have made it clear that some in Congress will stop at nothing to kill nuclear talks with Iran, regardless of the consequences," said National Iranian-American Council policy director Jamal Abdi in a press statement. "Tom Cotton and his colleagues should not be rewarded with additional powers to sabotage a deal and drag the U.S. into war."