Eli Clifton and Ali Gharib report: During an invitation-only phone briefing for supporters, one of the Senate’s top Iran hawks relished his battle with the Obama administration over the imposition of more sanctions against Iran amid the latest round of diplomatic negotiations underway in Geneva. During the call, Sen. Mark Kirk, R-Ill., reserved special attacks for Secretary of State John Kerry and lead U.S. negotiator Under Secretary of State Wendy Sherman.
“It’s the reason why I ran for the Senate, [it] is all wrapped up in this battle. I am totally dedicated to the survival of the state of Israel in the 21st century,” said Kirk, whose office framed the call as an update on Iran’s nuclear program and Kirk’s efforts to pass additional sanctions. “This has been very much a one-senator show, unfortunately,” he said of his confrontational, public approach.
Kirk is leading the Republican effort to introduce new sanctions in the Senate. Along with six co-sponsors, Kirk on Tuesday announced his intention to introduce amendments to the National Defense Authorization Act, the annual bill that budgets for the military, that would increase sanctions on Iran and impose restrictions on any possible interim nuclear deal with Iran. The effort is currently being held up by the upper chamber’s Democratic leadership.
The 28-minute phone call with Kirk, which occurred on Monday afternoon, was by invitation only, but Salon reporters obtained an invitation and RSVPed by name to Kirk for Senate finance director Barret Kedzior. [Continue reading…]