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Ex-Sen. Lieberman takes reins of anti-Iran deal group

Ex-Sen. Lieberman takes reins of anti-Iran deal group
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Former Sen. Joe Lieberman (I-Conn.) is taking over as the head of an advocacy group trying to kill the nuclear deal with Iran, after a former executive decided to embrace the agreement.

United Against Nuclear Iran (UANI) — an advocacy group founded in 2008 by former CIA Director Jim Woolsey, late diplomat Richard Holbrooke and others — announced late on Monday that the hawkish ex-Connecticut senator would take the reins as chairman of the group as it heads into a heated month of lobbying on the agreement.

"UANI has led the effort to economically isolate the Iranian regime, and its bipartisan and international expertise makes it a highly respected voice on the merits of the Iran agreement,” said Lieberman — the Democratic Party’s vice presidential nominee in 2000 — in a statement.

The move comes as part of a broader shakeup at the group, which on Monday announced that it would be running commercials to scuttle the nuclear pact.

Former group president Gary Samore — the White House’s former top arms control adviser — is being replaced, it said, since he does not want to have the agreement blocked.

Though he remains “concerned” about some portions, Samore “ultimately supports the agreement and is stepping down to avoid any conflict with UANI work in opposition to the agreement,” CEO and former ambassador Mark Wallace said. 

Samore is being replaced by David Ibsen, the group’s current executive director. Samore will remain on the advocacy organization’s advisory board.

“If the nuclear agreement goes forward — as I believe it should — UANI will continue to play a critical role monitoring implementation and helping to maintain non-nuclear sanctions until Iran changes its behavior in these other areas,” Samore said in a statement.

The shakeup highlights the complicated politics of the Iran deal, which is scheduled to come up before a vote on Capitol Hill next month.  

On Monday, UANI announced that it would be running 30-second national and regional television ads in a multi-million dollar effort to kill the agreement.

“The nuclear deal with Iran left four Americans behind,” a narrator intones in the video clip. “We need a better deal.”