Senate Foreign Relations Chair: Iran’s Smiling Across Table, ‘Plotting in Back Room’

By Patrick Goodenough | April 7, 2014 | 1:54 AM EDT

Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammed Javad Zarif prepares for closed-door nuclear talks at the U.N. in Geneva Switzerland on Nov. 7, 2013. (AP Photo/ Keystone, Martial Trezzini)

( –  Senate Foreign Relations Committee Chairman Robert Menendez (D-N.J.) on Sunday lashed out at Iran, saying while it continues to “charm” during the talks over its nuclear program, its other actions “suggest that it’s the same old game.”

“Make no mistake,” he told a conference in New York, “while they are smiling at our negotiators across the table, they are plotting in the back room.”

Speaking shortly before the U.S. and five other powers hold a new round of nuclear talks with Iran in Vienna this week, Menendez  (D-N.J.) said he was skeptical that Iran would keep its promises, and he voiced concern that the international community wanted any deal “more than a good deal.”

“Based on the parameters described in the Joint Plan of Action [the interim deal reached last November], all I have heard in briefings, and recent Iranian actions, I am very concerned,” the Jerusalem Post quoted him as telling its annual conference.

Menendez went on to list some Iranian policies and actions, including its ongoing support for Hezbollah, the Lebanese terrorist group responsible for the deaths of hundreds of Americans in bombings in Lebanon and Saudi Arabia

“In recent years we’ve traced responsibility for lethal actions against American troops in Iraq and Afghanistan, as well as the planned attack on the Saudi ambassador at a Washington restaurant in 2011, to Iran,” he said.

Menendez cited Iranian support for the Assad regime in Syria, accused it of promoting sectarian conflict, sending missiles to Hamas-ruled Gaza, developing and testing missiles at home, and cultivating terror networks in Iraq, Yemen, Bahrain “as an insurance policy against any country that may challenge it.

“And now they’re sending an ambassador to the United Nations who was part of a student group that held Americans hostage in Tehran in 1979,” he said.

“Make no mistake: While they are smiling at our negotiators across the table, they are plotting in the back room – and we must keep that in mind.”

Patrick Goodenough
Patrick Goodenough
Spencer Journalism Fellow