Manchin to oppose Iran deal

Greg Nash

Sen. Joe Manchin (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.

{mosads}Four Senate Democrats, Richard Blumenthal (Conn.), Maria Cantwell (Wash.), Gary Peters (Mich.), and Ron Wyden (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 Schumer (N.Y.), Robert Menendez (N.J.) and Ben Cardin (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 Cruz (Texas) and businessman Donald Trump, and radio show host Glenn Beck.

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

Tags Ben Cardin Chuck Schumer Donald Trump Joe Manchin Maria Cantwell Richard Blumenthal Robert Menendez Ron Wyden Ted Cruz

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