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Senior Democratic Whip Announces Opposition To Iran Nuclear Deal

Rep. Alcee Hastings (D – Fla.) is the latest senior Democratic member of Congress to announce his opposition to the nuclear deal with Iran, the Palm Beach Post reported today.

Hastings, a liberal Democrat who usually supports Obama, joins another Palm Beach County delegation member who’s normally a pro-Obama vote — Rep. Ted Deutch, D-Boca Raton — in opposing the agreement. …

Both Hastings and Deutch say the deal allows Iran to remain a “threshold nuclear state.”

Their opposition stands in contrast to Obama’s efforts in a speech last week to cast the deal’s critics as partisan Republicans who are making “common cause” with Iranian hardliners.

Hastings, a Senior Democratic Whip in the House, made his announcement in an op-ed published in the paper [non-paywalled version here]. Hastings observed that the deal “allows Iran to remain a nuclear a nuclear threshold state,” and that the billions of dollars Iran will gain in sanctions relief will allow it to increase its funding of terror groups such as Hamas, Hezbollah, and the Houthi rebels in Yemen.

Hastings also questioned whether sanctions could really “snap back” in the event of Iran violating the deal, given the increased commerce between Iran and the rest of the world that the deal will spur.

We must maintain a strong sanctions regime — to do otherwise is to give up our leverage. Sanctions are what brought Iran to the table, and they depend on large-scale international cooperation and compliance.

Companies from around the world have started lining up to invest in Iran. Should sanctions need to be re-imposed, it is not clear whether investment contracts implemented in the meantime would be voided. Indeed, many nations may no longer feel bound to U.S. sanctions once U.N. and EU-based sanctions are eased.

The provisions of the agreement that allow sanctions to “snap back” are of particular concern. This process could take well over two months and is limited to “significant” violations of the deal (the [deal] fails to define what qualifies as significant). Iran could undermine the agreement in ways that would be nearly impossible to stop.

Hastings also announced his intention to introduce legislation authorizing the “sitting president or his successors” to use military force in case Iran is about to develop nuclear weapons.

House Democrats Juan Vargas (D – Calif.), Grace Meng (D – N.Y.), Albio Sires (D – N.J.), and Kathleen Rice (D – N.Y.) were the first group to announce their opposition to the deal. Later, three high-ranking Jewish Democrats in the House—Representatives Steve Israel (D – N.Y.), Nita Lowey (D – N.Y.), and Ted Deutch (D – Fla.)—joined them in opposition. Representatives Eliot Engel (D – N.Y) and Brad Sherman (D – Calif.) also announced their opposition to the deal last Friday. Engel is the Ranking Member of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, of which Sherman, Sires, Meng, and Deutch are members.

[Photo: Cliff / Flickr ]