Republican senators appear to have formed an "unusual coalition" with hardliners in Iran, President Obama said yesterday after 47 senators released an open letter to Iran's leaders about nuclear negotiations. The letter warned that any nuclear deal not approved by Congress would be considered merely an executive agreement between Obama and Ayatollah Khamenei that could be revoked by the next president "with the stroke of a pen," the BBC reports. "I think it's somewhat ironic to see some members of Congress wanting to make common cause with the hardliners in Iran," Obama said, accusing the 47 Republicans led by Sen. Tom Cotton of Arkansas of "interfering" in the controversial talks.
Other leading Democrats fired back at the letter, with Joe Biden saying it was "beneath the dignity" of the Senate, and Harry Reid accusing the GOP of "undermining our commander in chief while empowering the ayatollahs," CNN reports. Cotton defended the letter, telling CNN that there are "nothing but hardliners in Iran, nothing but hardline Islamic extremists" and he wants a deal that will permanently prevent Iran from building a nuclear weapon. Iran's foreign minister, who will meet John Kerry for talks in Switzerland on Sunday with a deadline for a deal just weeks away, rejected the GOP letter as a "propaganda ploy" that is "unprecedented in diplomatic history," reports the New York Times.