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State Dept. sends Iran deal to Congress

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WASHINGTON — The State Department transmitted to Congress on Sunday the nuclear agreement the United States and five other world powers struck with Iran.

That move means the 60-day clock for lawmakers to review the deal — which Republicans have already criticized — starts on Monday.

Secretary of State John Kerry defended the agreement alongside Energy Secretary Ernest Moniz on Sunday in an interview with CNN’s Jake Tapper for “State of the Union.”

“The fact is that the real fear of that region should be that you don’t have the deal. If Congress doesn’t pass this, if Congress were to kill this, then we have no inspections, we have no sanctions, we have no ability to negotiate,” Kerry said.

“Because I assure you, the ayatollah — if the United States arbitrarily and unilaterally kills this — you’re not going to have another negotiation,” he said. “And they will feel free to go do the very things that this prevents.”

Republican presidential candidates have said they’d undo President Barack Obama’s Iran deal.

Florida Sen. Marco Rubio said Sunday on “State of the Union” that he’d revoke the national security waiver under which Obama is implementing the deal, effectively re-instituting U.S. sanctions against Iran.

“We will not use the national security waiver to hold back U.S. sanctions against Iran — especially not as a result of this flawed deal that he is pursuing,” Rubio said.

Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker told CNN’s Dana Bash that he would rip up the agreement on “Day 1” of his presidency.

The Obama administration got some help lobbying for the agreement Sunday from foreign allies who were involved in the negotiations.

British Prime Minister David Cameron hailed the agreement as a victory in an appearance on NBC’s “Meet the Press.”

“The threat of a nuclear-armed Iran — that is now off the table. I mean, that’s a success,” Cameron said. “What we’ve done is make sure the timeline for them possibly getting a nuclear weapon has gotten longer, not shorter.”

But Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, the deal’s leading critic, questioned whether Iran can be trusted not to build hidden sites that would make its path to a nuclear bomb easier in an interview on ABC’s “This Week.”

He said Iran gets to keep too much of its nuclear infrastructure in the deal.

“The hardliners in Iran are actually going to come out strong because they’re getting everything they want,” Netanyahu said. “They’re getting a pathway down the line, within a decade or so, to the capacity to be a threshold state with practically zero breakout time to many nuclear bombs, and billions of dollars, hundreds of billions of dollars, which they’ll siphon off to their terror and war machine.”

By Eric Bradner