USA TODAY International Edition

Ad dollars stack up against Iran deal

As Congress starts review Thursday, lobbying lets loose

- Oren Dorell

As the Senate opens a twomonth congressio­nal review of the nuclear agreement with Iran on Thursday, opponents of the deal are spending tens of millions of dollars to rally the public and U. S. lawmakers against it.

The American Israel Public Affairs Committee ( AIPAC), Citizens for a Nuclear Free Iran, United Against a Nuclear Iran and the Republican Jewish Coali- tion are among groups spending between $ 20 million and $ 40 million to blast the deal with TV ads that began airing Friday, social media ads and new websites that pinpoint alleged flaws in the agreement and provide lawmakers’ contact informatio­n.

The opponents’ effort dwarfs that of supporters. The liberal Jewish group J Street has raised $ 2 million to promote the deal, said spokesman Alan Elsner. Other liberal groups, such as MoveOn. org, are mobilizing supporters, though it’s unclear how much money they’ve raised.

President Obama is using the White House bully pulpit to make his pitch to Americans in support of the accord, which limits Iran’s nuclear program for 15 years in return for lifting sanctions.

Obama is sending three members of his Cabinet — Secretary of State John Kerry, Energy Secretary Ernest Moniz and Treasury Secretary Jack Lew — to defend the deal at Thursday’s hearing. Republican­s, who hold a majority in the Senate, have been vocal critics of the accord, saying it doesn’t provide ironclad guaran- tees that Iran won’t build a nuclear weapon secretly.

Obama has said he will veto any measure to derail the accord, meaning opponents would need two- thirds majorities in the Senate and House to prevail. He sent Defense Secretary Ashton Carter to Jerusalem this week to pledge U. S. security assistance to Israeli leaders, who are strident opponents of the deal.

On Monday, the U. N. Security Council passed a resolution approving the agreement, which was reached July 14 between Iran and the five permanent members of the Security Council — the U. S., Britain, China, France and Russia — plus Germany.

Security Council approval does not pre- empt a congressio­nal re- buke, said Patrick Dorton, a spokesman for Citizens for a Nuclear Free Iran.

“There’s no question that past U. S.- led ( economic) pressure is what brought that country to the negotiatin­g table,” he said. “And in our view, there’s no question that increasing that pressure could potentiall­y improve any agreement with Iran.”

The deal has serious flaws, Dorton said. He cited the 24- day delay Iran can employ if internatio­nal inspectors want to visit a site where they suspect nuclear activity, access to more than $ 100 billion in soon- to- be released frozen cash that Iran may direct to terrorist groups it supports, and greater power it will give Iran’s regime to repress its people.

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