Former Sen. Jim Webb (D-Va.), a 2016 presidential contender, says he is skeptical of a landmark nuclear deal with Iran.
“I have to say I have a lot of concern about this deal,” Webb said Wednesday on NPR’s “The Diane Rehm Show.”
“I’m concerned principally that this might actually increase the imbalance in the balance of power in the region, and I’m doing the best I can to read through the documents,” he said.
The Obama administration on Tuesday announced a historic agreement with Iran that places limits on its nuclear program in exchange for sanctions relief. Lawmakers have 60 days to vote to approve or disapprove the deal.
But Webb said the White House had already bypassed Congress during the 20 months of negotiations.
“This should have been debated openly in front of Congress,” he said. “The seriousness of this agreement can’t be underestimated in terms of our long-term policies in the region.”
Webb said he is concerned the deal weighs in Iran's favor.
“They get a lot out of this,” he said.
“They get immediate lifting of sanctions and over a period of about ten years they are going to be able to say they can move forward with a nuclear weapons policy with the acceptance of the United States and these other countries,” he continued. “We are kind of moving the cart before the horse here in terms of improving relations.
Webb also raised concerns about the effect on U.S. allies in the region.
“We have to be very careful about the signals we are sending into the region about to what level we are accepting this change of the balance of power between Israel, Saudi Arabia and Iran,” he said.
Asked by host Diane Rehm what the U.S. gained from the deal, Webb responded: “That’s what I’ve been trying to figure out."
“The idea that some of these programs will be postponed with the kind of vague guarantees of how we can conduct examinations and these sorts of things are pretty vague, so that’s where my concern is,” he said.
“I’m not so sure that we’re going to get the kind of harmonious relationship with Iran that we could have in other ways and still can in other ways.”
Two of Webb's contenders for the Democratic nomination have expressed support for the Iran deal.
Former Secretary of State Hillary ClintonHillary Diane Rodham ClintonTrump to attend World Series Game 4 in Atlanta Pavlich: Democrats' weaponization of the DOJ is back Mellman: The trout in the milk MORE said Tuesday that the agreement "can help us prevent Iran from getting a nuclear weapon."
Sen. Bernie SandersBernie SandersDemocrats hope to hold Big Oil 'accountable' On The Money — Will the billionaire tax survive Joe Manchin? Democrats cutting paid leave from spending deal amid Manchin opposition MORE (I-Vt.) also hailed it as a "victory for diplomacy."