Top Dems voice ‘great skepticism’ over Iran nuclear deal

Several top Democrats are voicing grave reservations over the Obama administration’s emerging deal governing the future of Iran’s nuclear program. 
Reps. Nita Lowey (D-N.Y.) and Ted Deutch (D-Fla.) said they welcome a discussion on the framework agreement unveiled Thursday, but harbor deep doubts that the Iranians can be trusted to make good on their commitments.
“I greet any deal with Iran with great skepticism given its deceptive history and ongoing destabilizing and dangerous activities,” Deutch, the ranking member of the House Foreign Affairs subpanel on the Middle East, said in a statement. “I remain deeply concerned as to how a number of issues have been addressed in the framework and may be addressed in a final agreement.”
{mosads}Deutch singled out provisions of the agreement that would allow a nuclear facility at Arak to continue processing and another in Fordo to remain open so long as it’s no longer used for uranium enrichment purposes. 
Lowey, senior Democrat on the House Appropriations Committee and its Subcommittee on State and Foreign Operations, delivered a similar message. While praising the efforts of Secretary of State John Kerry, who led the negotiations on behalf of Obama, she also warned that administration officials will have a tough time convincing Congress to endorse the deal. 
“While the framework laid out by President Obama and Secretary Kerry has positive aspects, far too many details remain undetermined to ensure Congress and the American people that we are on track to permanently and verifiably prevent Iran from obtaining a nuclear weapon,” she said in a statement.
“The administration will have a high bar to convince Congress and the American people that this deal is good for our long-term national security and that of our allies, and that it will verifiably prevent Iran from possessing a nuclear weapon.”
The issue is splitting Democrats, with a number of liberals praising the deal as a milestone achievement that will prevent the Iranians from developing nuclear weapons. 
“This agreement provides a sound framework to make our families safer. It is not based on ‘trust;’ it is based on ‘verify,’ ” Rep. Lloyd Doggett (D-Texas) said in a statement. “[The plan] has already given us more insight and given the Iranians less capability to go nuclear.”   
Rep. John Yarmuth (D-Ky.) is also voicing optimism the deal will preclude a nuclear Iran.  
“I believe this is a deal worth supporting, but we must wait to ensure there is no backsliding on any parameters before a final agreement is signed. I commend President Obama and Secretary Kerry, as well as our global partners, for this breakthrough that holds the promise of a safer world and more stable Middle East.”
Across the aisle, Republicans are hammering the agreement, saying it doesn’t go far enough to stop Iran’s enrichment programs.
“After visiting with our partners on the ground in the Middle East this week, my concerns about Iran’s efforts to foment unrest, brutal violence and terror have only grown,” Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) said in a statement after leading a GOP delegation through Israel, Iraq, Jordan and Saudi Arabia. 
“It would be naïve to suggest the Iranian regime will not continue to use its nuclear program, and any economic relief, to further destabilize the region.”
But Democratic supporters of the framework are rejecting such criticisms, saying the Republicans are reflexively opposing the deal for partisan reasons.
“Members of Congress will need to scrutinize this agreement carefully,” Rep. David Price (D-N.C) said in a statement. “Unfortunately, some seem to have prejudged it, undermining the President’s efforts and proposing unilateral congressional action that could undo the progress made by our negotiators and risk grave consequences.”
Doggett piled on.
“The same voices that condemned that interim agreement before they knew what was in it are condemning this agreement,” Doggett said. “These ‘bomb Iran’ rejectionists are wrong again.” 
Tags Boehner John Boehner John Kerry John Yarmuth

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