Senator Al Franken (D-MN) on Thursday announced that he would support the nuclear agreement between six world powers and Iran.
Franken, who wrote an editorial on the matter for CNN’s website, admitted that the agreement “isn't a perfect agreement” but added that he believes it “is a strong one.”
“This agreement is, in my opinion, the most effective, realistic way to prevent Iran from getting a nuclear weapon anytime in the next 15 years. It does so by imposing a series of physical limits on Iran's nuclear program, especially its production of the fissile material it would require to make a bomb. The agreement's verification provisions are extremely strong: 24/7 monitoring of, and unfettered access to, Iran's nuclear sites and ongoing surveillance of Iran's nuclear supply chain,” wrote Franken.
“That means: In order to make a nuclear weapon in the next 15 years, Iran would have to reconstruct every individual piece of the chain — the mining, the milling, the production of centrifuges, and more — separately and in secret. The regime would have to run the risk of any of these steps being detected by international inspectors or our own comprehensive intelligence efforts. It would risk losing everything it gained from the deal, and the re-imposition of sanctions,” he continued.
While many of the restrictions in the deal expire after 15 years, Franken noted, “There will still be major checks on Iran's nuclear program after that date, including continued heightened monitoring and permanent, specific prohibitions on several of the steps necessary to build a bomb. Iran must never, ever have a nuclear weapon — and we will still have every option we currently have, up to and including the use of military force, to prevent that from happening.”
The Jewish senator also noted that despite the flaws pointed out by the deals critics, “I have heard no persuasive arguments that there is a better alternative. All the alternatives I have heard about run the gamut from unrealistic to horrifying.”
“For a long time, it has looked like our only options when it came to Iran would be allowing it to have a nuclear bomb or having to bomb the country ourselves. This agreement represents a chance to break out of that no-win scenario,” wrote Franken.
“And to take the extraordinary step of rejecting it — because of clearly unrealistic expectations, because of a hunger to send Americans into another war, or, worst of all, because of petty partisanship — would be a terrible mistake,” he added.
Congress is currently in the process of reviewing the deal with Iran, and has until September 17 to accept or reject it.
Republicans have objected to the deal as not tough enough to prevent Iran obtaining a nuclear weapon in the long run, while several Democrats have expressed support.
President Barack Obama, for his part, has threatened to veto any legislation passed by Congress blocking the deal.
Earlier on Thursday, meanwhile, House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-CA), expressed his confidence that the nuclear deal with Iran will not be approved by Congress.
“Knowing what I know about the agreement,” he said, “at the end of the day, it'll be disapproved.”
McCarthy rejected the argument that the lifting of sanctions on Iran is already a done deal because of the other countries involved. “If the agreement did not go through,” he argued, “you still have the American sanctions. Countries would be in a position then to have to make a decision, do they choose to deal with the Iranian economy or the size of the American economy? I would assume more would side on the American side of the economy.”