Obama Shy One Vote Needed for Iran Deal

President Barack Obama
Photo Courtesy: UPI

WASHINGTON, Sept. 2 (UPI) — President Barack Obama is one vote shy of locking enough support to protect his Iran nuclear deal after two Democratic senators threw their support behind the historic accord Tuesday.

Sens. Chris Coons, D-Del. and Bob Casey, D-Pa., bring Obama ever-so-close to the 34 Senate votes he needs to sustain his veto of a resolution of disapproval Republicans are planning later this month. The steady stream of Democratic supporters comes in sharp contrast to the nearly unified opposition by Republicans who fear Tehran will eventually build nuclear arms. Two Democracts — Sens. Charles Schumer of New York and Bob Menendez of New Jersey — have also come out publicly against the deal.

Coons said he reached his decision after weeks of deliberation that included attending a dozen classified briefings and hearings regarding the deal.

“I am voting to support this agreement not because I think it is perfect, or because I believe it is the mechanism to end nuclear proliferation in the region,” Coons, a member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, said in an address at the University of Delaware. “I am voting for this agreement because it is our most credible opportunity now to lead a global community in containing an existential threat while preserving America’s ability to use economic power and military might to successfully dismantle a nuclear program should diplomacy fail.”

Casey’s point-by-point review of the assessment culminated with him determining “it is the best option available to prevent Iran from acquiring a nuclear weapon.

“It places strict limitations on Iran’s nuclear program, requires robust monitoring and verification measures, and grants relief only from nuclear sanctions in exchange for verified actions on Iran’s part,” he said.

Ben Cardin of Maryland, the ranking Democrat on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, predicted by the end of the week Obama will have that final crucial vote that seals the deal ahead of Congress returning from recess Tuesday. He has been deliberating his decision in the public eye, with his next appearance at the University of Maryland on Wednesday to seek input. He has not said how he will vote.

An affirmative vote from Cardin — a prominent member of Baltimore’s Jewish community and staunch supporter of Israel — would be a coup for Obama as he fends off Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu‘s vocal opposition.

“I think it’s a tough call,” Cardin said. “I think there are high risks either way.”

Secretary of State John Kerry is expected to give a speech Wednesday in Philadelphia expressing his support for the deal.


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