As Iran deal nears, Lieberman prepares to help its GOP critics

Former Connecticut U.S. Sen. Joseph Lieberman

CTMirror File Photo

Former Connecticut U.S. Sen. Joseph Lieberman

Washington – Former Connecticut U.S. Sen. Joseph Lieberman, whose hawkish views hurt him politically in his home state, will be a star witness Tuesday at a hearing organized by House Republicans, who are critical of President Obama’s attempt to reach an agreement with Iran over nuclear weapons.

Lieberman has also been a critic of Obama’s efforts. Last month, he was one of the organizers of a $1.4 million ad blitz aimed at a bipartisan group of eight senators that urged them to oppose any nuclear deal that does not allow “unconditional inspections” of Iran’s nuclear facilities.

The United States and the other four members of the United Nations Security Council, plus Germany, have been negotiating for months with Iran over a deal that would limit Tehran’s nuclear ability for more than a decade in return for sanctions relief.

Republicans critical

But Republicans have been critical of the diplomatic initiative, expecting a bad deal and saying no deal is better than a bad one.

Lieberman said it would result in “only a temporary turning down of Iran’s nuclear program.”

He declined an interview request for this story, but has said the framework for negotiations would leave much of Iran’s nuclear infrastructure in place while providing the country with total sanctions relief.

Lieberman will weigh in on the diplomatic initiative as a witness at a House Foreign Affairs Committee hearing Tuesday that has been scheduled in anticipation of Congressional review of an Iran deal.

He has been identified by the committee as co-chair of the Iran Task Force of the Foundation for Defense of Democracies. A spokesman for the foundation said Lieberman was named to the position last month.

The foundation was created after the 9/11 attacks and says its mission is “fighting terrorism and promoting freedom.” Many who support neoconservative foreign policy principles are associated with the organization, including Clifford May, the group’s president, and former CIA director James Woolsey.

Lieberman, a lifelong Democrat, lost Democratic support in Connecticut because of his hawkish views on Iraq and was forced to run as an independent in 2006 to retain his seat. He retired in January of 2013.

Congress will have 60 days to review any final deal and vote on easing sanctions.

“The basic problem is that most Republicans are not going to give this a fair assessment,” said Sen. Chris Murphy, D-Conn., who won Lieberman’s seat but has widely divergent views on foreign policy.

To Murphy, “most Republicans will oppose a final plan just because Obama signed it.”

But as the world awaits news of a deal, even Democrats like Murphy who supported the Obama administration’s efforts, are expressing some skepticism.

“I’m taking everything I’m hearing…with a grain of salt,” he said. “But it certainly seems like the momentum is heading in the right direction.”

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