Democrats Raise Tough Questions on Iran Nuclear Deal

President Obama “vigorously’” defended his nuclear agreement with Iran this week, the Associated Press reports, but “in Congress, resistance comes not only from Republicans, but also Obama’s own Democratic Party.”  Indeed, numerous Democrats are raising tough questions for the Obama administration on its Iran deal, from lifting the arms embargo to providing a cash infusion that will allow Iran to continue fomenting terrorism in the region.  Here’s a look:

·         House Democratic Whip Steny Hoyer (D-MD): “Without Verification, This Is a Useless Agreement” “‘Verification is going to be very critical,’ House Minority Whip Steny Hoyer said. ‘Without verification, this is a useless agreement. Without verification that’s meaningful and effective, it’s not an agreement that I can support.” (National Journal, 7/14/15)

Hoyer: “[I]t is now up to Members of Congress to work carefully through every detail, particularly given Iran’s likelihood to exploit any ambiguity or loophole to its benefit and to the detriment of the security of America, Israel, and our allies in Europe and the Gulf.’” (Press Release, 7/14/15)

·         House Intelligence Committee Ranking Member Adam Schiff (D-CA): “Great Concern that that Is Going to Just Continue to Fuel this Conflict, as Well as Destabilize Other Parts of the Region” “[F]irst they will be armed with all these resources to support all these bad actors in the region. … So that’s a great concern that that is going to just continue to fuel this conflict, as well as destabilize other parts of the region. The other major downside is they remain a threshold nuclear state when this is all said and done. And when that short period -- and 10 to 15 years isn’t very long -- expires, then they can really gin up their enrichment program.” (CNN’s “The Situation Room,” 7/14/15)

·         Rep. Steve Israel (D-NY): “You Can Continue to Count Me in the ‘Skeptical’ Column” “Rep. Steve Israel, the highest-ranking Jewish Democrat in the House and a member of the Appropriations Subcommittee on Defense, doubled down on earlier comments he made before the deal that he remained skeptical of the Iranians.  ‘In the fall, there will be a vote on this deal, and my obligation is to review every word, sentence, and paragraph of the deal to ensure it satisfies my continued concerns,’ Israel said in a statement. ‘Until then, you can continue to count me in the ‘skeptical’ column.’” (CNN, 7/15/15)

·         Rep. Nita Lowey (D-NY): “I Continue to Have Long-Standing Concerns About the Enforcement & Verifiability of Any Agreement with Iran” “[I] continue to have long-standing concerns about the enforcement and verifiability of any agreement with Iran, given their long history of deception and well-documented illicit activity in the region. … Most importantly, I do not support providing any economic relief until Iran has indisputably met their obligations and demonstrated their sincerity.” (Press Release, 7/14/15)

·         Rep. Dan Lipinski (D-IL): “Great Concern that this Cash Infusion Will Embolden Them in Their Support for Terrorism” “[I] remain highly skeptical of Iran’s intent, and fear that there is little basis for us to trust their adherence to the agreement’s inspections, restrictions, and transparency.  Furthermore, the significant resources that Iran would receive once sanctions are removed, upwards of $100-150 billion, gives me great concern that this cash infusion will embolden them in their support for terrorism, Syria’s regime, and threats against Israel.  Iran’s contributions to war and unrest in the region cannot be overstated.” (Press Release, 7/14/15)

·         Rep. Eliot Engel (D-NY): “‘Deep Concerns’ About a Late Concession … To Lift an Embargo on Shipping Arms to Iran” “Engel said he had ‘deep concerns’ about a late concession that will allow the UN Security Council to lift an embargo on shipping arms to Iran in five years and a ban on sending it ballistic missile parts after eight years.” (New York Daily News, 7/14/15)

·         Rep. Loretta Sanchez (D-CA): “I Continue to Have Skepticism About Iran’s Intentions” “[I] continue to have skepticism about Iran’s intentions. … I remain extremely concerned that inspectors will not have ‘anytime, anywhere’ access to Iran’s nuclear programs. We must avoid, at all costs, agreeing to a deal we find partly acceptable and instead carefully decide whether this deal will help or hinder our ultimate objective of eliminating Iran’s nuclear capabilities.’” (Press Release, 7/14/15)

·         Rep. Brad Sherman (D-CA): “Doesn’t Do Enough to Prevent Iran from Building a Weapon a Decade from Now” “Rep. Brad Sherman (D-Calif.) is one vocal critic of the deal, saying it doesn’t do enough to prevent Iran from building a weapon a decade from now.  ‘In 10 years — some would argue 12 — Iran will be able to have an industrial sized facility,’ Sherman said. ‘The amount of enriched uranium needed to make a bomb is a tiny portion of what is generated in a peaceful, or an allegedly peaceful, plant that generates enough fuel to illuminate a city.’” (The Hill, 7/15/15)

·         Rep. Donald Norcross (D-NJ): “I Am Deeply Skeptical that the Iranian Regime Shares America’s Values & Desire for Peace” “Any agreement reached by negotiators must be transparent and verifiable, and while I fully support the administration’s goals, I am deeply skeptical that the Iranian regime shares America’s values and desire for peace.” (Press Release, 7/14/15)

·         Rep. Grace Meng (D-NY): “I’m Deeply Concerned & Disappointed” “I’ll say at the outset that while I reserve final judgment on the deal until I am able to read it through completely, I’m deeply concerned and disappointed by what appears to be in its terms.” (House Foreign Affairs Committee Hearing, 7/14/15)

·         Sen. Bob Menendez (D-NJ): “The Deal Ultimately Legitimizes Iran as a Threshold-Nuclear State” “[I]’m concerned that the deal ultimately legitimizes Iran as a threshold-nuclear state. I’m concerned the redlines we drew have turned into green-lights; that Iran will be required only to limit rather than eliminate its nuclear program, while the international community will be required to lift the sanctions, and that it doesn’t provide for anytime-any-place inspections of suspected sites. The bottom line is: The deal doesn’t end Iran’s nuclear program – it preserves it.” (Press Release, 7/14/15)

·         Sen. Jon Tester (D-MT): “Could He Vote Against The Deal…? ‘Oh Sure,’ Tester Said” “‘Verification, verification, verification, verification,’ said Tester (D-Mont.). ‘That’s the big thing. Look, I don’t trust these guys, I want to make sure that whatever we’ve agreed to, we’ve got verification that’s going to happen.’ Could he vote against the deal if those concerns aren’t satisfied? ‘Oh sure,’ Tester said.” (Politico, 7/14/15)

·         Sen. Chris Coons (D-DE): “Iran Has Seriously Earned Our Distrust” “‘Iran has seriously earned our distrust,’ Coons said in the Capitol on Tuesday. … Coons, the Delaware Democrat who occupies Biden’s old Senate seat, said that given Iran’s past record of ‘supporting terrorism globally,’ he enters the review process ‘with a position of suspicion and distrust of Iran.’ He added that he must be convinced that the inspections regime and the way the sanctions relief is structured won’t enable Iran’s long-term ability to build a bomb.” (Politico, 7/14/15)

·         Sen. Joe Manchin (D-WV) on Lifting the Arms Embargo: “What Did We Get for That?” “[M]any want an explanation of how relaxing an international arms embargo on Iran become part of the deal after the April interim agreement appeared to be silent on that matter. ‘I want to find out why it came back in. It was not part of the original talks,’ said Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.). ‘What did we get for that?’” (Politico, 7/14/15)

·         Sen. Ron Wyden (D-OR) on Dismantling Iran’s Nuclear Weapons Program: “I Have Questions About Whether this Agreement Accomplishes That” “I said all along I was skeptical that Iran’s leaders would agree to dismantle their nuclear weapons program and I have questions about whether this agreement accomplishes that, particularly in light of Iran’s history on this issue.” (Press Release, 7/14/15)

“On Iran, given everything I’ve seen so far, this is a bad deal.  It paves the way for a nuclear Iran.  And yesterday the president admitted that it will likely further Iran’s support for terror activities throughout the region,” Speaker Boehner said today. “We’re going to continue to review this, but we’re going to fight a bad deal that’s wrong for our national security and wrong for our country.” 


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