Saturday, September 5, 2015
Despite its significant shortcomings, we have passed a point of no return. Accepting this deal and moving forward with vigilance and continued commitment to keeping Iran from obtaining a nuclear weapon is preferable to a world in which a debilitated sanctions regime and fractured community of nations allows Iran to acquire many of the benefits of this deal without accepting its meaningful constraints.
Over the past several weeks I have studied the Joint Comprehensive Plan Of Action and exhaustively explored the possible ramifications of this agreement and its alternatives. I've consulted with an array of experts on both sides of the debate, sat in classified briefings, discussed it with former and current White House leadership, and benefited from the wise insights of both Republican and Democratic colleagues in the Senate. I also studied Iran and its history, its decades-long efforts to illicitly obtain a nuclear weapon and the evil nature and horrific extent of its support and sponsorship of terrorism, its destabilizing involvement in ongoing regional conflicts, and its destructive hatred and determination to destroy the United States and our ally Israel.
I have come to recognize that on both sides of this debate there are people who want peace and share my fervent determination to prevent Iran from obtaining a nuclear weapon. Both those who support this deal and those who oppose it have reasonable arguments as to why their chosen path is the right one or the better option for preventing a nuclear-armed Iran without the necessity for military conflict.
After hours and hours of study, research, deliberation and consultation, I am more convinced than ever that eliminating the threat of a nuclear-armed Iran is among the most important global security challenges of our time. Allowing Iran to obtain a nuclear weapon would pose an unacceptable and grave threat to the safety of our allies, to Middle East stability, and to American security.
We began negotiations with Iran at a time when our sanctions regime was having its most significant impact on the Iranians. We were gaining maximum leverage on Iran through coordinated economic sanctions with our international partners. We joined with our partner nations at the outset of negotiations with the stated intention of preventing Iran from having the capability to get a nuclear weapon.
Unfortunately, it's clear we didn't achieve that objective and have only delayed – not blocked – Iran's potential nuclear breakout.
But, with the JCPOA, we have now passed a point of no return that we should have never reached, leaving our nation to choose between two imperfect, dangerous and uncertain options. Left with these two choices, I nonetheless believe it is better to support a deeply flawed deal, for the alternative is worse. Thus, I will vote in support of the deal. But the United States must recognize that to make this deal work, we must be more vigilant than ever in fighting Iranian aggression.
Make no mistake, this deal, while falling short of permanently eliminating Iran's pathways to a nuclear weapon, succeeds in either delaying it or giving us the credible ability to detect significant cheating on their part and respond accordingly. It establishes historically unprecedented mechanisms to block Iran's near-term pathway to a nuclear weapon. This deal will remove 98 percent of Iran's enriched uranium stockpile—taking the amount of fissile material from 12,000kg – enough to make multiple bombs – to 300kg, which isn't close to enough material for even one. None of their enrichment will be underground at the Fordow facility. The agreement will remove and fill with concrete the core of Iran's heavy water reactor at Arak. The deal will establish the most robust monitoring and inspections regime ever negotiated, covering Iran's entire nuclear supply chain for 15 years. Some of the most intrusive monitoring, including of its uranium mines and mills and centrifuge production facilities, will last well beyond that period. The agreement will also establish strict limits on Iran's research and development for the next 10 years.
Saturday, August 15, 2015
Friday, July 31, 2015
House Democrats will provide the necessary support to finalize President Obama's nuclear deal with Iran, House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) predicted Thursday.
Asked if the Democrats could sustain a promised veto of the Republicans' expected disapproval measure, Pelosi didn't hesitate.
"Yes," she replied.
Pressed about the reason she's so confident, she said: "Because of the nature of the agreement."
GOP leaders in both chambers, who have hammered the agreement as essentially an endorsement of Iran's nuclear weapons program, are expected to vote in September on legislation disapproving it — resolutions Obama has vowed to veto.
That scenario sets the stage for Republican attempts to override the veto — votes that would require Democratic support to reach the two-thirds majority needed for passage.
A number of liberal Democrats, such as Pelosi, have come out in strong support of the agreement, saying it presents the best opportunity for the U.S. and its allies to prevent Iran from building nuclear arms.
"There is simply no acceptable alternative to this deal," Reps. Luis Gutierrez (D-Ill.) and John Yarmuth (D-Ky.) wrote this week in an op-ed in The Hill.
A handful of others have already announced their opposition, warning that the deal simply doesn't go far enough to ensure that Iran doesn't build weapons or use the influx of cash from sanctions relief to fund terrorism abroad.
"[T]he deal before us now is simply too dangerous for the American people," Rep. Grace Meng (D-N.Y.) said Wednesday in a statement. "I have every confidence a better deal can be realized."
Most House Democrats have not played their hand, saying they want to use the 60-day window to talk to experts and constituents about the agreement.
Pelosi on Thursday hailed Obama for keeping the global negotiators at the table, characterizing the deal as "a diplomatic masterpiece." She said House Democrats are lining up behind the deal in numbers sufficient to uphold a veto of the expected Republican effort to sink the deal.
"So where does my confidence spring from? First of all, from the quality of the agreement. Second of all, to the seriousness and thoughtfulness with which my colleagues have approached this," Pelosi said.
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