Germanys' foreign minister said Thursday in Washington that a letter by signed by 47 GOP senators warning that the next U.S. president could scrap any nuclear deal with Tehran was "not very helpful" as negotiations with Iran enter a "delicate phase."
The comments by Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier followed remarks in Tehran Thursday by Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, Iran's supreme leader, that the letter is a sign of "disintegration" in Washington.
Steinmeier was meeting with U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry less than two weeks before a deadline for an agreement in the talks between Iran and the United States, France, Britain, Russia, China and Germany on .
"It would have been difficult enough without the letter of the 47," Steinmeier said in Washington at the Center for Strategic and International Studies. "Now it has become somewhat more difficult.":
He added that calling the senators' March 9 letter unhelpful was "an understatement."
"Suddenly, Iran can say to us: "Are you actually trustworthy in the proposals you make if 47 senators say that no matter what the government agrees to, we will subsequently take that off the table again?'" Steinmeier told the German media, according to Deutsche Welle. "This is no small matter we're talking about."
Iran’s supreme leader expressed concern Thursday that nuclear talks with the United States could face new hurdles, saying a letter of warning from Republican senators signaled a “collapse of political ethics” in Washington.
Ayatollah Ali Khamenei suggested that internal divisions in Washington make Iranian negotiators question the U.S. ability to follow through with the current talks over ways to monitor and limit Tehran’s nuclear program.
“Isn’t this the ultimate degree of the collapse of political ethics and the U.S. system’s internal disintegration?” Khamenei was quoted by the official IRNA news agency in his first public statements since the GOP letter saying any possible accord could be undone unless it had congressional approval.
Khamenei, who has final say in all key Iranian decisions, also predicted additional complications ahead for the nuclear talks with the United States and other world powers.
“Of course I am worried,” Khamenei was quoted by Iran’s Mehr news agency, “because the other side is known for opacity, deceit and backstabbing.”