WASHINGTON — Senior US senators are pressing the White House to let Congress vote on a potential deal over Iran's nuclear weapons program — and a key Democrat says the Obama administration is spewing lines "straight out of Tehran."

Senate Foreign Relations Committee Ranking Member Sen. Robert Menendez, D-N.J., joined the panel's chairman, Tennessee Republican Bob Corker, in urging Obama administration witnesses to make a deal with Iranian leaders contingent on congressional approval.

Deputy Secretary of State Tony Antony Blinken, who once worked for the panel for six years, said within the administration "there is a fear of setting a precedent" under which Congress would demand to approve other such international pacts.

The Senate must ratify treaties, but Blinken told Corker an Iranian nuclear deal "won't be a treaty; it won't be like an arms-control agreement" that imposes expectations on the United States.

"Rather, the international community would be putting limitations on Iran and Iran would be agreeing to those," Blinken said.

After Blinken and Undersecretary of State David Cohen said several times that sending a possible pact to Capitol Hill could set back ongoing talks with Iran, Menendez exploded.

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He accused the two officials — and their White House colleagues — with explaining away developments that appear to support reports Iran has, at times, violated a tentative agreement with the West.

Menendez charged the Obama administration with using "talking points straight out of Tehran" that casts Iran as a victim.

The Iranian Parliament could be required to approve a final deal, and Menendez pressed the officials on how lawmakers in a non-democratic country could get a chance to weigh in, but not here.

"Why is it possible that Iran will treat its Parliament better than … in the greatest democracy in the world?" Menendez asked rhetorically. "It boggles my mind."

Though most Senate Democrats are standing by the White House in its insistence against new sanctions on Iran, Menendez has broken with the president.

The panel's top Democrat said President Barack Obama last summer asked Congress to "just give me more time."

"I've seen this movie before," Menendez said dismissively.

Corker said he has talked with several negotiators from European nations involved in the so-called "P5+1 Talks." "None whatsoever," he said, is opposed to the US Congress voting on a potential pact.

Sen. Tim Kaine, D-Va., joined Menendez and Corker.

"I think we have to weigh in," he said.

Kaine said votes in the House and Senate are necessary because a deal would undo the existing sanctions regime, which both chambers approved.

Email: jbennett@defensenews.com

Twitter: @bennettjohnt

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