Sen. Tom Cotton: Military Action Against Iran Must Remain an Option

Sen. Tom Cotton of Arkansas and Foreign Relations Committee ranking member Sen. Ben Cardin discuss the Iran nuclear negotiations.
6:50 | 07/05/15

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Transcript for Sen. Tom Cotton: Military Action Against Iran Must Remain an Option
At this 11th hour, despite some differences that remain, we have never been closer to a lasting outcome. But there is no guarantee. Getting to yes requires the courage to compromise, the self-confidence to be flexible. The maturity to be reasonable. The wisdom to set aside illusions and the audacity to break old habits. That's the Iranian foreign minister echoing president Obama's awe daisty of hope. Just days ahead of the latest deadline, the optimism from the Iranian side unwelcome news to our next guest, Tom cotton of Arkansas. Senator cotton, welcome. This morning, what do you make of that optimism from the foreign minister of Iran? George, it's good to be on with you. Iran is an anti-america regime that's killed thousands of Americas from Iraq to Beirut. That video that zarif posted over the weekend, with his smug tone shows just far down the path we have gone to Iran's position. Iran had been negotiating from a position of weakness. This is not like Russell Wilson and cement seahawks trying to reach a contract that makes everybody happy. Iran should have faced a simple choice, they dismantled their nuclear program entirely or face economic devastation and military destruction of their nuclear facilities. As this video shows, they think they're negotiating from a position of strength. He goes on to say that those like you who believe that will Iran will submit to military coercion are delusional. If that's the case, they wouldn't have come to the negotiating table to begin with in November. It was the fact of sanctions in 2013 and the threat of even tighter sanctions that drove them to the negotiating table. That's why we shouldn't have let up those sanctions. We should have insisted on the simple terms that president Obama himself imposed at the outset of this. Iran dismantle their nuclear program entirely, then they'll get sanction relief. You know, some of president Obama's former advisers have echoed some of their concerns, but they say that if you get a deal that provides for inspections of Iran's military sites, until it proves that Iran is meeting the terms of the deal that it would be a good deal and it will give the United States and the world 10, 15 years of breathing space, why isn't that good enough? George, it's notable that some of president Obama's own former advisers have begun to walk away from the proposal that he's made. If there's no sanctions relief until there's a long-term performance on Iran's part, if they fully answered all the past work to weaponize their nuclear program, that might be a better deal. It doesn't address the concessions that have already been made, by letting them keep the centrifuges and their ballistic missile programs. And destabilize the middle east. Finally, senator, you said the U.S. Military strike against Iran could succeed in short order. Isn't Iran in a better position to retaliate than saddam hussein in 1998? Aren't you worried about striking out Iran might strengthen our other threat, Isis? No, George. It's not the first choice, but military force does have Tory -- to remain an option if our diplomacy is going to be important. President Obama said that we spend $600 billion on our military. The clear implication is that the fact of the matter that we have unique capabilities and we can destroy Iran's nuclear facilities and their command and control facilities, and all of our allies in the region wish we could take a more forceful position by keeping that military option on the table. Because it will result if a better deal. Thank you for your time. Turning to Ben cardin. You just heard senator cotton saying that he doesn't believe that the administration could reach a deal. Have you given up hope? If they reach an agreement, it will be pretty close. It will be judged by the terms of the agreement. The best option is a strong agreement, we'll have a chance I hope soon to see that agreement. So, what is your bottom line on what that agreement has to contain? Well, enough time that we can through inspections determine whether Iran is complying with the terms of the agreement. It's got to be comprehensive. Prevent Iran from any steps towards producing a nuclear weapon, which means that you have to have full inspections and inspections of the military sites and to determine if they use covert activities in order to develop a nuclear weapon, you have to be able to leverage the sanction relief to the actual progress they're making. You need to know the history of their nuclear program so that we have a baseline moving forward. These are all critical terms that must be in an acceptable agreement. But as you know, secretary Kerry has indicated for example, it may not to be necessary to have a full look back at the Iran nuclear program. I think you have to have a lookback. Whether they have to acknowledge in the past I think that was what secretary Kerry was talking about. But the inspectors need to know what has taken in the past so ey have a baseline moving forward. We need to know their military dimensions. That's necessary in order to have effective oversight on Iran's programs. Depending on when and if this deal gets done, review the terms of this deal, are you confident that the administration will be able to pass a deal? It depends on what's in that agreement, the best option is a strong agreement. Congress will do an independent oversight. I was very proud working with senator corker, we got unanimous support in our community and near-unanimous support in congress for congressional oversight. We'll have a chance to review this agreement and we'll be able to see whether in fact we have open inspections. Whether the sanction relief is commiserate, what type of reer is as much allowed to go forward. We can properly evaluate and decide which actions would be appropriate for us to take. Senator, thank you for your time this morning.

This transcript has been automatically generated and may not be 100% accurate.

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