Rhode Island Senate Dems announce support for Iran deal

Rhode Island Senate Dems announce support for Iran deal

Sens. Jack ReedJohn (Jack) Francis ReedTrump urged to quickly fill Pentagon post amid Iran tensions Overnight Defense: Shanahan exit shocks Washington | Pentagon left rudderless | Lawmakers want answers on Mideast troop deployment | Senate could vote on Saudi arms deal this week | Pompeo says Trump doesn't want war with Iran Shanahan drama shocks Capitol Hill, leaving Pentagon rudderless MORE (D-R.I.) and Sheldon WhitehouseSheldon WhitehouseSize of 2020 field too big even for Democratic enthusiasts, poll finds Overnight Defense: House passes T spending package with defense funds | Senate set to vote on blocking Saudi arms sales | UN nominee defends climate change record Trump's UN pick faces Senate grilling MORE (D-R.I.) announced their support for the Iran nuclear deal Tuesday, bringing President Obama closer to the support he'll need to implement the agreement. 

"If Iran cheats, they will be isolated, international sanctions snap back, and we will have better intelligence, a broader coalition, and a stronger case for swift, forceful action," said Reed, ranking member of the Armed Services Committee. 

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"But if Congress derails the Iran nuclear agreement, it could be a costly, strategic mistake that would likely end strong international sanctions and leave Iran’s nuclear ambitions unchecked,” he said. 

Whitehouse added: "Short of war, with all its dramatic uncertainties and terrible costs, I do not see another pathway to impose a nuclear weapons-free Iran." 

The senators announced their support after Sen. Bob Menendez (D-N.J.) detailed his opposition to the deal in a lengthy speech in New Jersey. 

His opposition was widely expected but not entirely certain. Menendez had said he would keep an open mind as he reviewed the deal. 

His opposition also brought Republicans closer to the 60 votes needed to pass a resolution of disapproval in the Senate. 

But Obama has promised to veto such a resolution, and it would take 67 votes to override the veto, a much tougher threshold for opponents of the deal to reach. 

Reed's and Whitehouse's support brings the number of senators supporting the deal to 23 out of the 34 the administration would need to sustain a veto, according to The Hill's Whip List. 

Reed said he supports the deal because it would cut off Iran's pathways to a nuclear weapon, give international inspectors unprecedented access in Iran and establish strong mechanisms to detect cheating.   

"No one assumes Iran will change its stripes, which is why the agreement is built on a foundation of intrusive inspections and constant verification," he said.

Whitehouse, however, said the deal "could open a new doorway in the precarious Middle East."  

“If, within Iran, a freer and more liberal society can emerge from the grip of the ayatollahs, and if strong international pressure can be brought to bear to contain Iran’s continuing mischief in the surrounding Middle East, there is at least the prospect of this becoming an historic turning point," he said.

National Iranian American Council, a pro-deal group, commended the support of both senators.  

“We are hopeful that the remaining twenty-one Democratic Senators who have not announced their position will come out in support soon so that efforts to kill the deal can be put to rest,” NIAC Action Executive Director Jamal Abdi said in a statement.