Franken backs Iran deal

Franken backs Iran deal

Sen. Al FrankenAlan (Al) Stuart FrankenThe job no GOP senator wants: 'I'd rather have a root canal' Take Trump literally and seriously in Minnesota Ninth woman accuses Al Franken of inappropriate contact MORE (D-Minn.) announced on Thursday his support for the Iran nuclear deal, bringing the president closer to the number of supporters he needs to help the deal survive Congress. 

"After careful review, I have decided that I will vote in support of the agreement the United States and our international partners reached with Iran last month," said Franken in a CNN op-ed.

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Republicans are planning to vote down the deal in September, and President Obama needs the support of at least 34 senators to sustain a veto of that vote. Franken's support brings him to 19. 

"It's not a conclusion I came to lightly," he said, adding that he has consulted with nuclear and sanctions experts, government officials, ambassadors from other countries, advocates for Israel "on both sides of the issue," his constituents and Senate colleagues.  

"Many have expressed reservations about the deal, and I share some of those reservations. It isn't a perfect agreement," he said. 

"But it is a strong one. This agreement is, in my opinion, the most effective, realistic way to prevent Iran from getting a nuclear weapon anytime in the next 15 years," he said. 

It was not clear, after Sen. Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.) came out against the deal last week, on what side other Jewish Democratic senators would fall in regards to the agreement.

Schumer's opposition was seen as especially significant, since he is slated to become the top Democrat in 2016 when Sen. Harry Reid (D-Nev.) retires. Schumer is also a staunch supporter of Israel, with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu viewing Iran as an existential threat. 

In his lengthy op-ed, Franken echoed several arguments put forward by the administration in its effort to sell the deal. 

While he said the U.S. would have to guard against short-term threats from Iran, he added, "It's possible that, by 2031, Iran may no longer be controlled by hard-liners determined to harm our interests. 

"More than 60% of Iran's population is under the age of 30. These young Iranians are increasingly well-educated and pro-American," he said.  

"We don't know how this tension within Iran will work out. But we do know that backing out of a deal we've agreed to will only embolden the hard-liners who insist that America cannot be trusted." 

He also argued that critics have not presented better alternatives, and that they run the gamut from "unrealistic to horrifying."

He also criticized the 47 Republicans who sent a letter to Iranian leaders warning them that the deal would not last past President Obama. 

"To take the extraordinary step of rejecting it — because of clearly unrealistic expectations, because of a hunger to send Americans into another war, or, worst of all, because of petty partisanship — would be a terrible mistake," he said.