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True bipartisanship – oppose the deal


Ending Iran’s nuclear threat and bringing it into the international community of law-abiding nations is one of the most pressing U.S. foreign policy objectives.  And so I was relieved and grateful to watch President Obama and Secretary of State Kerry work tirelessly over the past several months to achieve a diplomatic agreement with Iran over its nuclear program.  

This work was made all the more complicated by the need to coordinate the widely disparate interests among the P5+1 countries of Russia, China, France, Germany and the United Kingdom.  Anyone who has been in business negotiations with multiple parties, as I have, knows how difficult it can be to find common ground with so many strong voices in the room.  

{mosads}The challenge in multi-lateral negotiations is not to lose sight of one’s over-arching goal in the midst of the cacophony of opinions at the bargaining table. For the U.S., which Iran has dubbed its No. 1 enemy in the world, our objectives were to reduce the threat to the homeland, to American interests abroad and to our allies in the region. 

Regrettably, the Iran deal fails to meet these goals and raises the prospects for war. I cannot support a deal that reduces all our leverage upfront, giving Iran billions of dollars in sanctions relief, in return for permitting it to maintain its advanced nuclear program and the infrastructure of a threshold nuclear state.  

For decades, Iran has covertly worked to develop a nuclear weapons program and has repeatedly violated its international obligations. The United States cannot afford to give Iran the benefit of the doubt; our national security will depend on it. 

In addition to gaining access to up to $100 billion worth of frozen assets and the lifting of sanctions at the beginning of this agreement, the deal lifts the arms embargo in only five years and critical ballistic missile restrictions after only eight years. This regime has no respect for human rights or international norms and is the world’s most robust supporter of terrorists bent on destroying Western countries.  

A financially bolstered hard-line Iranian regime will result in increased terrorism abroad and even more repression at home.  Given Iran’s atrocious human rights record, we risk compromising our progressive values if we eliminate sanctions and prop up this reactionary regime. 

I am a lifelong Democrat.  Like a rapidly expanding list of Democrats across the country, I oppose this deal. Sen. Chuck Schumer (D–N.Y.) encapsulated our thoughts most eloquently when he recently came out against the agreement: “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.”   

The president and Secretary Kerry disagree with us.  We are all Democrats. Apparently, this is not a partisan issue.   

I have been disappointed to read the president’s remarks tainting the debate by challenging  the motivations of deal opponents like myself.  There is room in our party to have opposing views of the Iran deal.  Democrats on both sides can legitimately reach alternate conclusions based on different interpretations of the facts without questioning their loyalties or their intentions.   

Instead, I question the motives of Iran. Just days after the agreement was announced, Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Seyyed Ali Khamenei announced that his “government’s policies toward the arrogant government of the United States will not be changed at all” as his audience responded with exuberant shouts of “death to America.”

Some will argue that if this agreement works, it will buy us 15 years and prevent the need for military engagement. But they ignore that the agreement allows Iran to continue research and development on advanced centrifuges, and therefore it will be only days away from breaking out to a nuclear weapon after 15 years. Iran will have done this within the confines of the agreement, so the U.S. and the international community will have legitimized Iran becoming a nuclear threshold state, not prevented it.  

This will leave the U.S. with two bad options: accept a nuclear Iran, or take military action. By legitimizing Iran’s nuclear program, removing the pressure of economic sanctions and allowing it to obtain conventional weapons and ballistic missiles, this agreement makes the prospect for war more likely, not less. 

Rejecting this deal will not end the diplomatic process. In fact, accepting this deal would likely cut off the diplomatic process for at least 15 years and would preclude us from negotiating a better deal.  

For the sake of our values and our security, Congress should reject this deal, leave the sanctions in place, and support efforts to negotiate a better agreement.   


Pritzker is co-founder and managing partner of Pritzker Group, a Chicago-based private investment firm, and served as national co-chair of Hillary Clinton for President in 2008. He is also the brother of Secretary of Commerce Penny Pritzker,

Tags Chuck Schumer Hillary Clinton Penny Pritzker

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