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The Iran Nuclear Deal: In Brief

Sen. Chris Murphy’s statement of support for the Iran nuclear deal

Late last week Connecticut’s senior senator, Christopher Murphy, released the following statement announcing his intention to vote in favor of the Iran nuclear deal:

“America is strongest when it works through international organizations and broad multilateral coalitions, and this agreement is an important opportunity to make a case for diplomatic engagement with the rest of the world. And because of the thoughtful, cooperative approach we took to achieve the accord, we will have even more partners in our response should Iran cheat in the face of the deal,” the statement said.

He added, “Americans want to know how we keep ourselves safe without engaging in endless war after endless war. And as we debate this deal, those who are critical have the responsibility to articulate a credible alternative that gets us to our ultimate goal – my North Star – a nuclear free Iran that keeps our allies safe and doesn’t require another war in the Middle East.”


Rep. John Larson introduces resolution to use military force

At a community forum hosted by Congressman John Larson in mid-July, for the purpose of discussing the Iran nuclear deal with his constituents, Larson vowed to introduce a joint congressional resolution authorizing the use of military force should Iran commit a serious violation of the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (aka the ‘Iran deal’). The resolution begins by commending the President for his “unwavering commitment to ensure that Iran never acquires a nuclear weapon,” and goes on to authorize the use of the Armed Forces of the United States against Iran “if, at any time, the President determines that Iran’s nuclear program becomes noncompliant under the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action agreement and poses a threat to the national security of the United States,” in which case “the President should work with Congress to utilize appropriate measures, not limited to military intervention, to eliminate such threat.”


Obama: Netanyahu interference in Iran debate unprecedented

(JTA) – President Barack Obama said he does not remember a time when a foreign leader interfered in a U.S. foreign policy debate the way Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has over the Iran nuclear deal. “On the substance, the prime minister is wrong on this,” Obama told CNN’s Fareed Zakaria in an interview that aired Sunday. “I think that I can show that the basic assumptions that he’s made are incorrect. “If in fact my argument is right, that this is the best way for Iran not to get a nuclear weapon, then that’s not just good for the United States. That is very good for Israel,” he said. Obama said that if Israel were attacked by Iran, “We would do everything we needed to do to ensure Israel is protected. I’ve acted on the basic notion that our commitment to Israel’s security is sacrosanct.” Obama said of the current fight in Congress over the deal that “I don’t intend to lose on this.” He also asserted that a successful deal could open discussions on other issues with Iran.


Bernie Sanders will support Iran deal

(JTA) – Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders announced his support for the Iran nuclear deal. Sanders, an independent senator from Vermont, offered his backing in a statement Friday, August 7, following a telephone conversation with President Barack Obama. He talked about his decision during an interview aired Sunday morning on the CBS News program “Face the Nation.”

“But the United States has to negotiate with, you know, other countries. We have to negotiate with Iran. And the alternative of not reaching an agreement, you know what it is? It’s war. Do we really want another war, a war with Iran?” Sanders, who is Jewish, said during the interview with host John Dickerson.

“The United States must do everything it can to make certain that Iran does not get a nuclear weapon, that Israel is not threatened by a nuclear Iran and that a nuclear arms race in the region is avoided,” he said. “President Obama and Secretary Kerry have worked through a very difficult process with the United Kingdom, France, Germany, China, Russia and Iran. This agreement is obviously not all that many of us would have liked but it beats the alternative – a war with Iran that could go on for years.”

Hillary Rodham Clinton, the Democratic front-runner in the 2016 race, also has endorsed the Iran agreement.


Brad Sherman 6th Jewish Democrat to oppose Iran deal

WASHINGTON (JTA) – Rep. Brad Sherman, D-Calif., said he will oppose the Iran deal, the sixth Jewish Democrat in Congress to come out against the nuclear agreement. Sherman, a senior member of the U.S. House of Representatives Foreign Affairs Committee, joins Reps. Eliot Engel, D-N.Y., the committee’s senior Democrat, Ted Deutch, D-Fla., the senior Democrat on its Middle East subcommittee, Nita Lowey, D-N.Y., the senior Democrat on the House Appropriations Committee, Steve Israel, D-N.Y., who until last year chaired the House Democrats reelection campaign, and Sen. Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y, in line for his party’s Senate leadership, in opposing the deal (see next brief). There are at least nine Jewish Democrats among the 27 Congress members who so far back the deal – chief among them Reps. Sander Levin, D-Mich., the senior Democrat on the Ways and Means Committee, Adam Schiff, D-Calif., the top Democrat on the Intelligence Committee, Jan Schakowsky, D-Ill., the chief deputy whip, and Sens. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., the top Democrat on the Senate Intelligence Committee, and Barbara Boxer, D-Calif., a long-serving member of the Senate.

“My efforts have one purpose: Make it clear that future presidents and Congresses are not bound by this agreement – not legally, not morally, not diplomatically,” Sherman said in a statement. “In future years, many would argue as long as Iran appears to be complying with the agreement, America cannot insist on modifications or extensions of nuclear restrictions,” he said. “A strong congressional vote against the Agreement is the best way to make it clear that the agreement is not binding on Congress, the American people or future administrations.”


Democrats Schumer, Engel to vote against Iran deal

( U.S. Sen. Chuck Schumer and U.S. Rep. Eliot Engel, two leading Jewish Democrats in Congress from the state of New York, will vote against the Iran nuclear deal. In particular, Schumer’s impending decision on the deal had been the source of intense public lobbying efforts, with Politico reporting that his office received more than 10,000 phone calls from opponents of the deal.

“Advocates on both sides have strong cases for their point of view that cannot simply be dismissed. This has made evaluating the agreement a difficult and deliberate endeavor, and after deep study, careful thought and considerable soul-searching, I have decided I must oppose the agreement and will vote yes on a motion of disapproval,” Schumer said in a statement released Thursday, August 6. “It is true that Iran has a large number of people who want their government to decrease its isolation from the world and focus on economic advancement at home. But it is also true that this desire has been evident in Iran for 35 years, yet the Iranian leaders have held a tight and undiminished grip on Iran, successfully maintaining their brutal, theocratic dictatorship with little threat. Who’s to say this dictatorship will not prevail for another 10, 20, or 30 years?” he said, adding, “Therefore, I will vote to disapprove the agreement, not because I believe war is a viable or desirable option, nor to challenge the path of diplomacy. It is because I believe Iran will not change, and under this agreement it will be able to achieve its dual goals of eliminating sanctions while ultimately retaining its nuclear and non-nuclear power. Better to keep U.S. sanctions in place, strengthen them, enforce secondary sanctions on other nations, and pursue the hard-trodden path of diplomacy once more, difficult as it may be.”

In a statement, Engel said, “The answers I’ve received simply don’t convince me that this deal will keep a nuclear weapon out of Iran’s hands, and may in fact strengthen Iran’s position as a destabilizing and destructive influence across the Middle East.”


Report: Iran my be sanitizing nuclear site before inspection

( Iran may be sanitizing the Parchin nuclear facility, which is purportedly used to enrich uranium for military purposes, in the wake of its nuclear deal with world powers. “Satellite imagery picked up by U.S. government assets in mid- and late July showed that Iran had moved bulldozers and other heavy machinery to the Parchin site and that the U.S. intelligence community concluded with high confidence that the Iranian government was working to clean up the site ahead of planned inspections by the IAEA (International Atomic Energy Agency),” Bloomberg View reported Wednesday, August 6, citing U.S. intelligence community sources.

The president of the Institute for Science and International Security, David Albright, obtained and examined a commercially available satellite image of the Parchin site, reporting that he saw two new large vehicles and ongoing alterations. “You have to worry that this could be an attempt by Iran to defeat the sampling, that it’s Iran’s last-ditch effort to eradicate evidence there. The day is coming when they are going to have to let the IAEA into Parchin, so they may be desperate to finish sanitizing the site,” Albright said.

Concern over this issue is not limited to Republican lawmakers, who are overwhelmingly opposing the Iran nuclear deal. U.S. Sen. Chris Coons (D-Del.), also a member of the Foreign Relations Committee, expressed concern “about the vigorous efforts by Iran to sanitize Parchin.” “I’ve gotten some reassurance about how difficult it is for them to effectively conceal what we know to have been their illicit nuclear weapons developments there,” he said.


AJC ‘overwhelmingly’ opposes Iran deal

WASHINGTON (JTA) – The American Jewish Committee has come out against the Iran nuclear deal. Among mainstream national organizations, AJC joins the American Israel Public Affairs Committee and the Orthodox Union in opposing the deal. A broad range of mainstream groups, including the Anti-Defamation League and the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations, have yet to offer an opinion. AJC’s statement comes after President Barack Obama met with 22 Jewish groups at the White House to discuss the deal. “By abandoning the earlier negotiating posture of dismantling sanctions in exchange for Iranian dismantlement of its nuclear infrastructure, and instead replacing it with what is essentially a temporary freeze on its program, the P5+1 has indeed validated Iran’s future status as a nuclear threshold state, a point that President Obama himself acknowledged in a media interview,” the AJC said in a statement. “Given the nature of the Iranian regime and its defining ideology, AJC cannot accept this prospect.”

So far, 14 regional Jewish umbrella bodies have come out against the deal, most recently the Jewish Community Relations Council of Greater Washington, which, according to its statement, “remains vehemently opposed to a nuclear Iran” and “shares the goal of achieving a negotiated, peaceful solution, and emphatically rejects the notion that objecting to this proposed deal is a call for war.”

Meanwhile, a former president of the Jewish Federation of Greater Washington, Susie Gelman, joined two other Jewish leaders in calling on U.S. Jews to abandon their active opposition to the plan. “The international community has reached an agreement on Iran’s nuclear program. Let us now work together to shape a post-deal environment that advances important U.S. national interests, especially the security of Israel and our other regional allies,” said the op-ed signed by Gelman, Peter Joseph and Charles Bronfman, all officers the Israel Policy Forum.


Ya’alon hints at assassination of Iran’s nuclear scientists

( Israeli Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon hinted that Israel might be involved in the assassination of Iranian nuclear scientists. “Ultimately it is very clear, one way or another, Iran’s military nuclear program must be stopped,” Ya’alon said in an interview with the German newspaper Der Spiegel. “We will act in any way and are not willing to tolerate a nuclear-armed Iran. We prefer that this be done by means of sanctions, but in the end, Israel should be able to defend itself.” Ya’alon added that he was “not responsible for the lives of Iranian scientists,” and that Israel is considering carrying out airstrikes on Iranian military facilities. At least five Iranian nuclear scientists have been assassinated over the past several years, most of them through car bombs. While Iran has blamed Israel for the assassinations, the Jewish state has never admitted to being involved.

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