Manchin to oppose Iran deal

Manchin to oppose Iran deal
© Greg Nash

Sen. Joe ManchinJoe ManchinLawmaker arrested amid voting rights protest says he'd 'do it again' No Hillary — the 'Third Way' is the wrong way WATCH: The Hill recaps the top stories of the week MORE (D-W.V.) announced on Tuesday he will vote against the Iran nuclear deal, becoming the fourth Senate Democrat to oppose it.

Manchin's opposition means opponents need two more Democratic votes to overcome a filibuster and send a resolution disapproving the nuclear deal to the White House.

ADVERTISEMENT

Four Senate Democrats, Richard Blumenthal (Conn.), Maria CantwellMaria Elaine CantwellUS lawmakers weigh new COVID-19 stimulus funding for businesses Senate whistleblower report alleges oversight problems with aerospace industry safety On The Money — Senate risks Trump's ire with debt ceiling deal MORE (Wash.), Gary Peters (Mich.), and Ron WydenRonald (Ron) Lee WydenThese Senate seats are up for election in 2022 Democrats call on Biden administration to ease entry to US for at-risk Afghans Schumer opted for modest rules reform after pushback from moderates MORE (Ore.),remain undecided.

Manchin said his opposiiton stemmed from concerns the deal would allow Iran to gain nuclear weapons.

"I do not believe that supporting this deal will prevent Iran from eventually acquiring a nuclear weapon or continuing to be a leading sponsor of terrorism against American and our allies around the world," Manchin said in a statement.  

Three other senior Senate Democrats have announced their opposition to the deal: Sens. Chuck SchumerChuck SchumerDemocrats call on Biden administration to ease entry to US for at-risk Afghans Predictions of disaster for Democrats aren't guarantees of midterm failure Voting rights and Senate wrongs MORE (N.Y.), Robert MenendezRobert (Bob) MenendezDems block Cruz's Nord Stream 2 sanctions bill Overnight Defense & National Security — Differences remain between NATO, Russia Senate Democrats unveil bill sanctioning Russia over Ukraine MORE (N.J.) and Ben CardinBenjamin (Ben) Louis CardinDemocrats hope to salvage Biden's agenda on Manchin's terms  Senators introduce bill aimed at protecting Ukrainian civilians Biden to huddle with Senate Democrats as voting bill on brink of defeat MORE (Md.), according to The Hill's whip list

Both sides plan to hold press conferences on Capitol Hill this week. On Wednesday, conservative activists are planning a major rally, featuring 2016 presidential candidates Sen. Ted CruzRafael (Ted) Edward CruzHillicon Valley — Senate panel advances major antitrust bill Senate panel advances bill blocking tech giants from favoring own products Lawmakers press Biden admin to send more military aid to Ukraine MORE (Texas) and businessman Donald TrumpDonald TrumpJudge rules Alaska governor unlawfully fired lawyer who criticized Trump Giuliani led fake electors plot: CNN Giuliani associate sentenced to a year in prison in campaign finance case MORE, and radio show host Glenn Beck.

Democrats who have opposed the deal have come under harsh criticism by progressive groups such as MoveOn.org and CREDO.

Manchin, who represents a state with one of the highest rates of military service in the nation, seemed to have one major contention with the deal — that it would not address Iran's support for terrorist activities throughout the Middle East. 

During the 2003 Iraq war, Iran also provided Iraqi Shia militants with advanced weapons that killed and maimed hundreds of U.S. troops serving in the war.  

“I also cannot in good conscience agree to Iran receiving up to $100 billion in funds that everyone knows will be used, at least in some part, to continue funding terrorism and further destabilize the Middle East," he said. 

"Lifting sanctions without ensuring that Iran’s sponsorship of terrorism is neutralized is dangerous to regional and American security," he said. 

"The Administration has accepted — what I consider to be a false choice — that this is only about nuclear weapons and not terrorism. However, the fact of the matter is that we are concerned about Iran having a bomb because, in large part, it is the world’s largest state sponsor of terror. Asking us to set aside the terrorist question is irresponsible and misses the point," he said. 

Manchin also cited Iran's continued holding of four Americans hostage during the negotiations on the deal. 

He also said if Iran were caught cheating, he had "grave doubts" that the U.S. would have unified, committed partners willing to take action to prevent Iran from obtaining a nuclear weapon. 

He said the deal would constrain Iran for 10-15 years, but after that, Iran would be able to produce enough enriched uranium for a nuclear weapon in a very short period of time. 

"While I hope that its behavior will change in that span, I cannot gamble our security, and that of our allies, on the hope that Iran will conduct themselves differently than it has for the last 36 years," he said. 

But "on top of it all," he said, "Iran is directly responsible for the deaths of hundreds of U.S. soldiers. This regime has shown no signs that its deplorable behavior will change, and this deal does nothing to guarantee that behavior changes." 

Manchin also addressed those who are expected to level criticism at him over his decision. 

“To those who were upset by my deliberations, I would simply say that the decision to pursue diplomacy is every bit as consequential as the decision to pursue war. In many cases, possibly even this one, the choice to abandon the first path leads inevitably to the second," Manchin said. 

"And I, like most Americans and West Virginians, have already seen too much American sacrifice in the Middle East to push us down the path toward war," he said. 

"However, I don’t believe a vote against this deal forces us to abandon the diplomatic path. We must continue to pursue peace, but on terms that promise a lasting peace for the United States and our allies," he said.