Senator Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., threatened on Thursday to cut U.S. funding to the United Nations if President Barack Obama uses the U.N. to bypass Congress and lift its sanctions on Iran as part of a nuclear deal.
"Here's what the president needs to understand. If you go to the UN Security Council and you try to bypass the Congress to get this deal approved by the UN Security Council, but not come to your own Congress, then you're going to risk Congress cutting off money to the United Nations," Graham said on Fox News' "On the Record," reported Breitbart.
"If they try to go to the UN Security Council, and bypass us, and leave us as the last guy standing, then they'll be a violent reaction against the United Nations. Twenty-two percent of the funding for the United Nations comes from the American taxpayer, and I'm in charge of that account," Graham continued. "I'm not going to allow the United Nations to be used as a way to get around the United States Congress for a deal that effects the very existence of Israel and our own national security."
Graham is the outspoken chairman of the Senate Appropriations Committee's Subcommittee on State Foreign Operations and Related Programs. In 2015, the U.S. sent the U.N. $652 million.
The U.S. and other P5+1 nations have told Iran they will remove some economic sanctions in exchange for Tehran verifiably agreeing to not pursue the development of a nuclear weapon. But when exactly those sanctions would be lifted is one of the largest remaining obstacles to an agreement. A deadline for a preliminary accord has been set for March 31 with a final deadline set for the end of June. Iran wants the U.N. sanctions removed immediately, while U.S. and Europeans favor a more incremental approach, according to The Wall Street Journal.
Graham concluded: "If the UN did something that provocative, lifted sanctions before we ever got a chance to look at it in Congress, if they go directly to the UN Security Council, and the UN Security Council lifts all sanctions before we ever get a chance to look at this deal, absolutely, I would suspend funding the United Nations, because I don't think your money should go to an organization that irresponsible."
Graham, along with 46 other senators, sent a letter to Iran on March 9 explaining how Congress needed to have a role in approving the nuclear deal or else it could overturn it "with the stroke of a pen."
A new letter was sent to Obama on Monday, signed by 367 members of Congress, warning that lawmakers must sign off on any Iranian nuclear agreement before sanctions are lifted.
"Permanent sanctions relief from congressionally-mandated sanctions would require new legislation" from Congress, the letter said, according to The Hill. "Congress must be convinced that its terms foreclose any pathway to a bomb, and only then will Congress be able to consider permanent sanctions relief."