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 / Updated  / Source: NBC News

A key Democrat who sits on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee countered criticisms made by Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu Sunday about the Iran nuclear deal.

Sen. Chris Murphy, D-Conn., said Netanyahu pushing for a "better deal" that ratchets up sanctions ignores the reality of the situation.

"The idea that we should just go back to the negotiating table and put back sanctions into place, I think, doesn't understand the reality," Murphy said. "With this deal on the table, it would've been hard to get our partners, especially Russia and China, to go back to sanctions when most of our objectives had been met at the negotiating table."

Murphy also called the framework for an Iranian nuclear deal reached last week “pretty remarkable.”

"We’ve increased breakout time to a year, we've significantly rolled back their enrichment capability, we’re dismantling the potential plutonium path at [Iran’s] Arak [facility] and we have an inspections regime that is absolutely unprecedented. That is going to allow us to find a covert program if it exists outside of the known research facilities," Sen. Chris Murphy, D-Conn., said in an interview Sunday.

Murphy argued that the negotiations were not intended to discuss Iran’s expanding sphere of influence in the Middle East. “These negotiations were about ending their nuclear program such that we can start to lift up the moderate elements within Iran, the internationalists who want them to be sitting as a member of the world community so that we can talk about all of these other issues," he said.

The junior senator from Connecticut noted that sanctions against Iran for other transgressions stay in place, regardless of those lifted as a result of the framework deal

"I think Congress always reserves the right other change our policy vis-à-vis Iran if they continue to act in the way that they are in the rest of the region," Murphy said. "We reserve our right to continue to try to use whatever leverage that we have at our disposal to try to make them a less of an evil within that region."


— Daniel Cooney