Democrat Senator Menendez Issues Withering Criticism in Announcing Opposition to Iran Nuclear Deal
Senator Robert Menendez of New Jersey became the second Democratic senator to announce his opposition to the Obama administration’s Iran nuclear deal, telling an audience at Seton Hall University on Tuesday that the “temporary” restrictions of the agreement would pave the way for Iran to become a nuclear threshold state.
“I came to my decision after countless hours of briefings, discussion and analysis,” he said.
“We have now abandoned our long-held policy pf preventing nuclear proliferation,” and now the U.S. has moved to simply “managing or containing it,” marking a “significant shift” in U.S. non-proliferation policy.
He said the deal only “mothballs” Iran’s nuclear infrastructure for the next ten years. He warned that the deal would not require Iran to dismantle a “single one” of its uranium enriching centrifuges, but rather allow them to be moved around from facility to facility.
“We lift sanctions, but even during the first ten years of the agreement, Iran will be allowed to continue research on a range of centrifuges, allowing them” to boost nuclear research and development even within the restrictions of the JCPoA.
“At year 15 Iran will have no limits, no limits on its uranium stockpile,” he declared.
Menendez questioned Iran’s hisotrical credibility regarding its nuclear program, which the country claims was never meant to develop nuclear weapons, and noted that Iran had only provisionally agreed to comply with the International Atomic Energy Agency over suspicious nuclear sites.
He also warned that sanctions would be difficult to “snap back” specifically because of provisions within the JCPoA itself.
Menendez rejected President Barack Obama’s claim that those opposing the nuclear deal today were the same lawmakers who supported the war in Iraq, reminding his audience that he did not vote for war in Iraq, “unlike the vice president, [Joe Biden] and the secretary of state,” John Kerry.
He said he based his judgement according to U.S. interests, as well as what the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action “means for our great ally, the state of Israel and our other partners in the Gulf.”
Menendez said the point of negotiations was to dismantle “all or significant part” of Iran’s nuclear infrastructure, and “fully dismantle” its capability to obtain nuclear weapons.
Menendez was crucial in setting the legislation that allowed Congress to review and vote on the Iran nuclear deal, called the Iran Nuclear Agreement Review Act.
He called the “grave” Iran deal presented “one of the most serious non-proliferation issues of our time,” and rebuffed claims that the issue boiled down to support for Obama.