Texas Sen. Ted Cruz said Thursday that potential cooperation between the U.S. and Iran to quell the violence in Iraq would further embolden Iran to develop a nuclear weapon and pose a grave threat to America’s national security.
The proposed negotiation “is only increasing the likelihood of Iran developing nuclear capabilities that will gravely threaten the national security of both Israel and the United States,” Cruz said during a speech at the Faith and Freedom Coalition Conference.
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In a statement released ahead of the speech, Cruz warned that the U.S. should protect its national security interests and “not to try to resolve an intractable religious divide some 1,500 years in the making.”
The White House has signaled it is open to engaging with Iran to help combat the al Qaeda-affiliated insurgents who have taken territory north of Baghdad.
Opinion on Capitol Hill has varied, with House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, and Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, D-Cali., against any coordination with Iran, while Republican Sen. Lindsey Graham has been open to the possibility.
Republican Sens. Mike Lee and Marco Rubio also spoke during the afternoon session of the annual conservative gathering but only hinted at the current situation in Iraq. Each enjoyed tea party support during their senate elections and focused their remarks on Washington’s upside-down values.
John Bolton, the UN ambassador under President George W. Bush, did use his speech to echo some of his former administration colleagues in blasting Obama for a failed foreign policy.
“Virtually everything he has said about foreign and defense policy has proven wrong,” Bolton said.