Senator Chuck Schumer on Tuesday said that even if the United States backs away from the deal with Iran and other countries lift their sanctions, Iran still will feel meaningful pressure from the U.S. penalties, reported The Associated Press (AP).
Schumer also said that sanctions aimed at companies that do business with Iran could force U.S. allies and trade partners back to the negotiating table.
"Let's not forget, those secondary sanctions are very powerful," he was quoted as having told reporters in New York as he detailed a decision to reject the agreement that was first announced last week.
Schumer said these sanctions alert corporations, such as the French oil company Total, that if it deals with Iran, it cannot deal with the United States.
"We have that powerful tool, and if used, I think that's a better, better chance in a very difficult world than an agreement that is so totally flawed," Schumer said, according to AP.
Schumer, who is in line to lead Senate Democrats after the 2016 elections, was asked by reporters whether he intended to lobby colleagues to vote with him on the Iran deal.
"Certainly, I'm going to try to persuade my colleagues that my viewpoint is right, but anyone who thinks you can force somebody to vote with you in the Senate doesn't understand the Senate," he said. "This is a vote of conscience. It was a vote of conscience for me. It will be a vote of conscience for my colleagues."
On Monday, Schumer addressed an audience in Wyoming County in his home state of New York, and said the main reason for his decision to oppose the Iran nuclear deal was his belief that Iranian leaders will not moderate their position over the next decade.
Schumer’s announcement on Friday came several days after reports emerged that he would oppose the deal following a strenuous campaign pressuring him to do so.
More than 10,000 phone calls have flooded Schumer's office line the past two weeks, while another group has shelled out a seven figure sum for TV ads in New York City to pressure Schumer and other lawmakers to vote against the plan.
Several other Democratic lawmakers, including Reps. Nita Lowey and Steve Israel, both of New York, and Ted Deutch of Florida have announced their opposition to the Iran deal. A number of Democrats, however, have voiced support for the deal, the latest being Senator Brian Schatz from Hawaii.
Congress continues to review the deal that was reached last month between Iran and six world powers and has until September 17 to accept or reject it. President Barack Obama has threatened to veto any legislation passed by Congress blocking the deal.