U.S. Senator Bernie Sanders, the independent senator from Vermont who is the most progressive Democratic presidential contender, will vote to confirm President Obama’s deal to curtail Iran’s nuclear program.
Sanders spoke to the president and U.S. Senator Chuck Schumer of New York, the most influential Jewish member of Congress, who announced his decision to join Republicans in opposition by voting to kill the deal.
“Chuck is a very smart guy and a very good senator. He and I will probably end up disagreeing on this vote,” Sanders said before his phone rang with Obama calling.
Sanders later said the lengthy conversation he had with the president clinched his support for the administration’s Iran deal.
“I was leaning towards supporting it,” Sanders said. “I had some questions that I addressed to the president, and he responded. The answers that he gave me helped me reach the final conclusion.”
Like Sanders, most Jewish members of Congress say Obama’s agreement will make it certain that Iran does not get a nuclear weapon. U.S. Senator Robert Menendez, who was indicted on corruption charges, will vote against the bargain, while New Jersey’s other U.S. Senator, Cory Booker, has not announced his position on the multinational agreement.
Sanders released this statement supporting the deal:
“The test of a great nation is not how many wars it can engage in, it is how it can resolve international conflicts in a peaceful manner. The war in Iraq, which I opposed, destabilized the entire region, helped create and expand Al Qaeda and the Islamic State and cost the lives of 6,700 brave men and women, and resulted in hundreds of thousands in our armed forces returning home with PTSD and traumatic brain injury. I fear very much that many of my Republican colleagues do not understand that war must be a last resort, not a first resort. The United States must do everything it can to make certain that Iran does not get a nuclear weapon, that Israel is not threatened by a nuclear Iran and that a nuclear arms race in the region is avoided.
“President Obama and Secretary Kerry have worked through an extremely difficult and complicated process with the United Kingdom, France, Germany, China, Russia and of course Iran. This agreement is obviously not what many of us would have liked, but it beats the alternative: a war with Iran that could go on for years.
“If Iran does not live up to the agreement, and that is a real possibility, sanctions can and will be reapplied. I think it is incumbent upon us however to give the negotiated agreement a chance to succeed. That is why I will support the agreement.”
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