Dems who op­posed Iran nuke deal urge Trump to keep pact

The Reporter (Lansdale, PA) - - LOCAL NEWS - By Richard Lard­ner

WASHINGTON » Sev­eral con­gres­sional Democrats who split with Pres­i­dent Barack Obama to op­pose the nu­clear agree­ment with Iran are now urg­ing Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump to up­hold the in­ter­na­tional ac­cord, ar­gu­ing that ro­bust en­force­ment is the best way to counter Tehran’s malign be­hav­ior in the Mid­dle East.

The re­ver­sal un­der­scores deep con­cerns among law­mak­ers that Trump will in­form Con­gress in the com­ing days that the land­mark 2015 agree­ment with Iran is con­trary to Amer­ica’s national se­cu­rity in­ter­ests. That dec­la­ra­tion could lead to an un­rav­el­ing of the seven-na­tion pact and leave the United States, not Iran, as the coun­try that balked at hon­or­ing its com­mit­ments.

Rep. Eliot En­gel, D-N.Y., who voted against the agree­ment two years ago, said at a hear­ing Wednesday U.S. in­ter­ests are best served by keep­ing the deal and ag­gres­sively polic­ing the agree­ment to en­sure Iran doesn’t vi­o­late the terms. En­gel, the top Democrat on the For­eign Af­fairs Com­mit­tee, said un­wind­ing the agree­ment would send a dan­ger­ous sig­nal to al­lies and ad­ver­saries alike.

The U.S. will need to work with France, Ger­many and the United King­dom — all par­ties of Iran nu­clear pact — to fix its flaws and those coun­tries need to know that the U.S. is a re­li­able part­ner, ac­cord­ing to En­gel. North Korea’s lead­ers, mean­while, would have lit­tle in­cen­tive to ne­go­ti­ate a nu­clear dis­ar­ma­ment if they see the Iran deal col­lapse, he said.

“We need to work with al­lies and part­ners on a shared agenda that holds the regime in Iran ac­count­able, not di­vid­ing Amer­ica from our clos­est friends across the globe,” En­gel said.

For­mer Obama ad­min­is­tra­tion of­fi­cials who played cen­tral roles in bro­ker­ing the Iran nu­clear agree­ment are sched­uled to brief con­gres­sional Democrats later Wednesday on the mer­its of the in­ter­na­tional ac­cord. A brief de­scrip­tion of the closed-door briefing slated for Wednesday af­ter­noon says for­mer Sec­re­tary of State John Kerry, for­mer En­ergy Sec­re­tary Ernest Moniz, and Wendy Sher­man, the for­mer un­der­sec­re­tary of state for po­lit­i­cal af­fairs, are speak­ing.

Un­der the 2015 deal, Tehran agreed to roll back its nu­clear pro­gram in ex­change for re­lief from wide-rang­ing oil, trade and fi­nan­cial sanc­tions that had choked the Ira­nian econ­omy.

Trump faces an Oct. 15 dead­line man­dated by law to tell Con­gress if he be­lieves Iran is com­ply­ing with the nu­clear ac­cord and if it ad­vances U.S. in­ter­ests. If the pres­i­dent doesn’t cer­tify com­pli­ance with the re­quire­ments, Con­gress has 60 days to de­cide whether to re-im­pose or “snap back” sanc­tions lifted un­der the agree­ment.

Trump has called the deal forged dur­ing the Obama ad­min­is­tra­tion one of the na­tion’s “worst and most one-sided trans­ac­tions” ever and threat­ened dur­ing the pres­i­den­tial cam­paign to tear the pact up. But many of his top national se­cu­rity aides don’t want to dis­man­tle the agree­ment, and Amer­ica’s Euro­pean al­lies have lob­bied the Trump ad­min­is­tra­tion and Con­gress to pre­serve the ac­cord.

Gen. Joseph Dun­ford, the chair­man of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, told the Se­nate Armed Ser­vices Com­mit­tee last week that Iran “is not in ma­te­rial breach of the agree­ment.” De­fense Sec­re­tary Jim Mat­tis said at the same hear­ing that the deal is still in the U.S. national se­cu­rity in­ter­est.

More than 180 House Democrats sent a let­ter to Trump last week call­ing on him to cer­tify com­pli­ance un­less he could pro­duce “cred­i­ble ev­i­dence of a ma­te­rial breach by Iran.”

ALEX BRAN­DON — THE AS­SO­CI­ATED PRESS

Then-Sec­re­tary of State John Kerry, left, speaks with Sec­re­tary of En­ergy Ernest Moniz at the State Depart­ment in Washington. For­mer Obama ad­min­is­tra­tion of­fi­cials who played cen­tral roles in bro­ker­ing the Iran nu­clear agree­ment are sched­uled to brief con­gres­sional Democrats on the mer­its of the in­ter­na­tional ac­cord as Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump pre­pares to an­nounce a de­ci­sion that could lead to an un­rav­el­ing of the pact.

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