Schumer, se­nior US Se­nate Demo­crat, op­poses Iran deal

The China Post - - FRONT PAGE - BY DONNA CAS­SATA AND MATTHEW LEE

Sen. Chuck Schumer, a se­nior mem­ber of U.S. Pres­i­dent Barack Obama’s rul­ing Demo­cratic Party, who is widely ex­pected to be the party’s next leader in the U.S. Se­nate, has said he will op­pose the Iran nu­clear deal in spite of Obama’s in­tense lob­by­ing in fa­vor of the ac­cord.

The deal, struck last month with Tehran and Western pow­ers, would curb Iran’s nu­clear pro­gram in ex­change for bil­lions of U.S. dol­lars in re­lief from crip­pling sanc­tions.

“The very real risk that Iran will not mod­er­ate and will, in­stead, use the agree­ment to pur­sue its ne­far­i­ous goals is too great,” Schumer said in op­pos­ing the pact. He said he based his de­ci­sion on the nu­clear and non­nu­clear el­e­ments of the ac­cord and on the ques­tion, “Are we bet­ter off with the agree­ment or with­out it?”

A lead­ing Jewish Demo­crat, Schumer was the first sen­a­tor of Obama’s party to step for­ward to op­pose the deal. His an­nounce­ment Thurs­day night came just hours af­ter two other Se­nate Democrats — Kirsten Gil- li­brand and Jeanne Sha­heen — an­nounced their sup­port for the in­ter­na­tional ac­cord.

“Af­ter deep study, care­ful thought and con­sid­er­able soulsearch­ing, I have de­cided I must op­pose the agree­ment and will vote yes on a mo­tion of dis­ap­proval,” he said in a state­ment is­sued weeks be­fore he will cast a vote.

The ad­min­is­tra­tion, which has lob­bied in­tensely for the pact, has se­cured the back­ing of more than a dozen Democrats in the up­per house Se­nate and more than twodozen Democrats in the lower house, in­clud­ing Mi­nor­ity Leader Nancy Pelosi. Mem­bers of the op­po­si­tion Repub­li­can Party, which con­trols the House and Se­nate, have been uni­formly op­posed to the deal.

The House of Rep­re­sen­ta­tives and Se­nate will be­gin de­bate on a res­o­lu­tion of dis­ap­proval when law­mak­ers re­turn to the U.S. cap­i­tal, Washington, D.C. on Sept. 8 af­ter their Au­gust re­cess. The ad­min­is­tra­tion needs Demo­cratic sup­port to sus­tain a widely ex­pected veto by Obama of any res­o­lu­tion of dis­ap­proval.

Schumer’s de­ci­sion was a blow to the ad­min­is­tra­tion, though it re­mained to be seen how many other Demo­cratic law­mak­ers would fol­low the long-serv­ing sen­a­tor. He in­formed the White House of his de­ci­sion Thurs­day af­ter­noon. New York Rep. Eliot En­gel, who is Jewish and the top Demo­crat on the House For­eign Af­fairs Com­mit­tee, said in a state­ment that he too would op­pose the deal.

John Kerry Pro­foundly

Dis­agrees

U.S. Sec­re­tary of State John Kerry said Fri­day he “pro­foundly dis­agrees” with the rea­son­ing be- hind de­ci­sions by two prom­i­nent Demo­cratic law­mak­ers to vote against the nu­clear deal he ne­go­ti­ated with Iran.

Speak­ing in the Viet­namese cap­i­tal, Kerry said the facts do not bear out the ar­gu­ments made by Schumer, and the rank­ing mem­ber of the House For­eign Af­fairs Com­mit­tee, Eliot En­gel. He said he re­spects the right of law­mak­ers to make their own de­ci­sions about the mer­its of the deal, but said rejection does not of­fer any al­ter­na­tive than a drum­beat to con­flict.

Kerry said he has great re­spect for both En­gel and Schumer, and called Schumer a friend, not­ing he served with him in the Se­nate.

“I ob­vi­ously pro­foundly dis­agree with the judg­ments made,” Kerry said. He said that with 25 years of ura­nium track­ing, “it is phys­i­cally im­pos­si­ble to build a bomb.”

“It’s a ques­tion of elim­i­nat­ing op­tions in a re­al­is­tic way,” he added. “I would re­spect­fully sug­gest that rejection is not a pol­icy for the fu­ture, it does not of­fer any al­ter­na­tive.”

Kerry said that if the deal is re­jected, “there will be a hue and cry about Iran’s con­tin­ued ac­tiv­ity and that will lead peo­ple to put pres­sure on mil­i­tary ac­tion since the United States would have walked away from the diplo­matic so­lu­tion.”

The pow­er­ful pro- Is­rael lobby Amer­i­can Is­rael Public Af­fairs Com­mit­tee is ve­he­mently op­posed to the deal, which Is­raeli Prime Min­is­ter Ben­jamin Ne­tanyahu has de­nounced as un­der­min­ing the se­cu­rity of Is­rael and the re­gion. Op­po­nents of the pact have tar­geted Schumer in cam­paign- style ads.

AP

In this July 22 file photo, Sens. Charles Schumer, of the rul­ing Demo­cratic Party, left, and Or­rin Hatch, of the op­po­si­tion Repub­li­can Party, ar­rive for a clas­si­fied brief­ing by U.S. Sec­re­tary of State John Kerry on Iran, on Capi­tol Hill in Washington, D.C.

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