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Obama cements Iran victory

The Hill

By Alexander Bolton – 09/08/15 11:22 AM EDT

President Obama has clinched the 41 votes he needs to block a resolution disapproving of the Iran nuclear deal, sealing an important political victory over Republicans.

Three of the four undecided Democrats — Sens. Ron Wyden of Oregon, Richard Blumenthal of Connecticut and Gary Peters of Michigan — came out in favor of the deal Tuesday, giving the president enough votes to keep the resolution bottled up in the Senate.

“I will vote to support the proposed agreement concerning Iran’s nuclear program and against the resolution of disapproval before the Senate,” Blumenthal said in a statement. “My two paramount goals have been to prevent a nuclear-armed Iran and to do so by peaceful means.”

He said the proposed agreement “is the best path now available to prevent a nuclear-armed Iran” by using diplomacy instead of military force.

Rejecting the pact, Blumenthal said, would only damage the U.S.’s leverage around the world.

However, by endorsing the deal, the U.S. could then demand additional actions to beef up regional security and crack down on other types of inflammatory behavior from Iran.

“While this is not the agreement I would have accepted at the negotiating table, it is better than no deal at all,” he added. “And it can be made even better through unilateral American action and collaboration with our European allies.”

Wyden, a senior member of the Senate Intelligence Committee, said in a statement Tuesday that he would vote to uphold the accord and urged his colleagues to “ensure that this and future administrations implement the agreement fully and enforce it vigorously.”

He argued it would reduce Iran’s uranium stockpile by 98 percent, restrict its enrichment program for 15 years and remove two-thirds of Iran’s 19,000 centrifuges.

“Many of the overlapping provisions will make it exceedingly difficult for the Iranians to build a nuclear weapon in the short term and will lengthen the time required should they choose to break their commitments,” he said.

Peters, a freshman, voiced reluctance over the deal but acknowledged the likelihood of negotiating a tougher inspections framework is slim.

“Despite my serious concerns with this agreement, I have unfortunately become convinced that we are faced with no viable alternative,” he said in a statement. “I have met with representatives for each of our negotiating partners, whom have all stated that they will not return to the negotiating table if Congress rejects this deal.”

He warned the credibility of the United States would be damaged if Congress voted down the agreement and that attempting to keep sanctions in place unilaterally “will only weaken our standing.”

The entire Republican conference is expected to vote for the resolution of disapproval, which means Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) needs six Democrats to defect.

So far only four have said they oppose the agreement: Sens. Charles Schumer (N.Y.), Bob Menendez (N.J.), Ben Cardin (Md.) and Joe Manchin (W.Va.).

McConnell had hoped to send the resolution of disapproval to the House in a show of bipartisan opposition to the deal.

Even though President Obama had pledged to veto it and Democrats last week secured the 34 votes in the Senate they need to sustain it, getting the resolution to his desk would have been a political win for the GOP.

Manchin came out against it Tuesday morning.

He expressed doubt that Russia, one of the parties to the deal, would enforce it in the event fails to comply. He also said was worried about Iran using an expected cash windfall from the lifting of sanctions to finance terrorism.

“The continued actions by Iran and its recent activities with Russia have proven to me that when we catch Iran violating the agreement, and I believe we will, I have grave doubts that we will have unified, committed partners willing to prevent Iran from obtaining a nuclear weapon,” he said.

“Lifting sanctions without ensuring that Iran’s sponsorship of terrorism is neutralized is dangerous to regional and American security,” he added.

Source: The Hill

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