Donnelly backs Iran deal
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Sen. Joe DonnellyJoseph (Joe) Simon DonnellyK Street giants scoop up coveted ex-lawmakers Obama honors 'American statesman' Richard Lugar Former GOP senator Richard Lugar dies at 87 MORE (D-Ind.) threw his support behind the Iran nuclear deal on Wednesday, saying that the United States must exhaust every option before going to war with Iran. 

"Despite having questions about Iran’s intentions, I am willing to give this agreement the opportunity to succeed," he said in a statement. "While I share the concerns expressed by the agreement’s critics about what may happen 10, 15, or 20 years from now, I cannot in good conscience take action that would shift the potential risks of 2026 and 2031 to 2016."
 
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Donnelly added that while "the day may come when we are left with no alternative but to take military action to prevent Iran from crossing the nuclear threshold. Taking that path would be a difficult and costly choice. ... I owe it to the men and women of our Armed Forces and to the people of Indiana to have exhausted every other option to stop Iran before we would consider putting any of our servicemembers in harm’s way." 
 
The Indiana lawmaker is the latest Senate Democrat to publicly support of the Iran nuclear deal since Congress left Washington for a five-week recess
 
Donnelly was one of roughly a dozen on-the-fence Democrats who opponents of the deal had hoped to pressure into bucking President Obama before the September vote on a resolution dissaproving the deal.
 
The National Iranian American Council, which supports the agreement, quickly praised Donnelly's decision, calling him a "true swing vote" and "Iran hawk."
 
"Sen. Donnelly's announcement is a very big deal,” said executive director Jamal Abdi. "This was clearly not a political decision or a partisan decision, but a decision based on the premise that rejecting this deal would violate the principle that war must only be a last resort."
 
 
But Donnelly, one of the chamber's most conservative Democrats, also criticized the Obama administration, suggesting that the United States has "done too little for too long" to combat Iran's support for terrorist organizations. 
 
"It is time for the U.S. to lead our allies in a clear and decisive strategy to push back against Iran’s actions," he added. "I have raised this issue repeatedly as a member of the Senate Armed Services Committee, and I will continue to do so until we see action.”
 
Donnelly's announcement follows an Associated Press report that a deal between Iran and the International Atomic Energy Agency will allow the country to use its own experts to investigate any past nuclear weapons work at its Parchin military facility. 
 
The report is likely to compound congressional criticism of such "side deals" between the IAEA and Iran, which have been a focal point for Republican opposition and Democratic skepticism of the agreement.