ZOA Praises Democrats Lowey, Israel, Rice, Deutch, Sherman, Sires for Opposing Iran Deal
News Press Release
August 5, 2015

The Zionist Organization of America (ZOA) strongly praises Congresspersons Steve Israel (D-NY), Nita Lowey (D-NY), Kathleen Rice (D-NY), Ted Deutsch (D-Fla), Brad Sherman (D-CA) and Albio Sires (D-NJ), and prominent former Democratic Congresspersons for being American patriots and for their clear-thinking, strong, non-partisan announcements publicly opposing the catastrophic Iran deal (formally know as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, or JCPOA).

Congressman Steve Israel(NY)(Defense Subcommittee)one of the highest ranking Democrats in the House of Representatives – and the highest ranking Jewish Democrat was an early skeptic of the deal.   Congressman Israel appeared on MSNBC’ Morning Joe the morning after the Iran deal was announced, after having read the JCPOA’s full text.  He explained that he would continue to carefully study the JCPOA and attend all Congressional briefings, prior to making his decision (which he has now made) – but also immediately expressed the following concerns: “I was skeptical going in.  There was nothing I read last night that alleviates that skepticism. . . .  There are some concerns that actually have escalated as a result of my first reading.  Number one, the issue of the lifting of sanctions and the embargo on conventional arms and missiles.  I don’t know why we are doing that, and I do not want to empower Iran, make it easier for Iran to equip Hamas, Hezbollah and other bad actors.  Number two the verification process.  As I read the agreement, it seems to me that Iran actually has three weeks or more to decide whether they will allow the IAEA inspectors onto specific sites.  That’s a far cry from what I understood to be anywhere, anytime.”

Lifting the arms embargo in five years lets Iran procure the sophisticated missile defense systems they need to guard the nuclear weapons they want.

“Stakes are too high to allow for so many loopholes.  To make a deal with an enemy who then vows to kill you later, means you left something out of the deal.  Don’t you think?”

 Congressman Ted Deutch(FL)(House Foreign Affairs Committee) is a senior member of the House Foreign Affairs Committee and the Ranking Democrat on its Subcommittee on the Middle East and North Africa. Congressman Deutsch wrote: “Too many issues I have long raised as essential to any nuclear deal with Iran are not adequately addressed in this agreement.  I will vote against it when Congress reconvenes in September.”

“No one denies Iran’s support for the world’s most notorious terrorist groups.  No one disputes Iran’s destabilizing influence in the Middle East or role in killing Americans.  And because no one trusts Iran not to cheat in anyway it can, the fact that this deal makes it nearly impossible to reinstate sanctions of today’s intensity is beyond alarming.”

 “The unwarranted giveaways for Iran tucked inside this deal are also concerning.  Lifting the arms embargo in five years lets Iran procure the sophisticated missile defense systems they need to guard the nuclear weapons they want.  And suspending the ballistic weapons ban after eight years allows Iran to develop the technology to deliver a weapon anywhere in the world.”

 “This deal may temporarily slow Iran’s nuclear enrichment, but it speeds up the enrichment of the Revolutionary Guard and the Iranian terror proxies that endanger security and stability in the Middle East.”

“There are different predictions about what will happen if Congress rejects this deal.  But the consequences of approving it aren’t up for debate.  Opening Iran up to foreign investment, increasing its oil exports, and unfreezing over $100 billion in assets means more money for Hamas for building terror tunnels in Gaza, more weapons for Hezbollah in Lebanon, more slaughter in Syria, and more violence worldwide.

 “After a decade in public life working to stop Iran from ever acquiring nuclear weapons, I cannot support a deal giving Iran billions of dollars in sanctions relief – in return for letting it maintain an advanced nuclear program and the infrastructure of a threshold nuclear state.”

Prior to entering the U.S. Congress, Congressman Deutsch served in the Florida State Senate.   Congressman Deutsch wrote that because Iranian proxies and their improvised explosive devises were killing American soldiers in Iraq, and “Iran was evading weapons inspectors, using the Islamic Revolutionary Guard to launch attacks, and funneling money and missiles to Hamas and Hezbollah, . . . I proudly passed the law making Florida first in the nation to prevent taxpayer dollars from financing Iranian nuclear weapons – divesting $1.5 billion as a result.” 

Congressman Deutsch also warned against partisanship:  “Many of my colleagues are trying to turn this vote into a partisan fight.  They should stop.”

 Congresswoman Nita Lowey(NY)(Homeland Security Subcommittee)also described the cogent reasons why she has decided to oppose the deal, as follows: “In my judgment, sufficient safeguards are not in place to address the risks associated with the agreement.   Relieving UN sanctions on conventional arms and ballistic missiles and releasing billions of dollars to the Iranian regime could lead to a dangerous regional weapons race and enable Iran to bolster its funding of terrorists.   The deal does not explicitly require Iran to fully disclose its previous military work to the IAEA’s satisfaction before sanctions relief is provided, and inspectors will not have immediate access to the most suspicious facilities. There are no clear accountability measures regarding punishment for minor violations, which could encourage Iran to cheat.”  

“This agreement will leave the international community with limited options in 15 years to prevent nuclear breakout in Iran, which will be an internationally-recognized nuclear threshold state, capable of producing highly enriched uranium.  I am greatly concerned that the agreement lacks a crystal clear statement that the international community reserves the right to take all military, economic, and diplomatic measures necessary during the course of the deal and beyond to deter Iran from ever developing a nuclear weapon.”

“Since the U.S. and Iran severed relations in 1980, the Iranian regime has become increasingly aggressive, openly anti-America and anti-Israel, extremely anti-Semitic, and the largest sponsor of terrorism in the world.  Even today, the regime has made no good-faith demonstration toward bringing home four Americans who are held prisoner or missing in Iran.   Given these realities, the negotiating process alone was a diplomatic feat of tremendous proportion. . . . I remain hopeful that the Administration and Congress, in concert with our P5+1 and regional allies, can prevent Iran from obtaining a nuclear weapon. However, I cannot support this agreement before Congress.”

Congressman Brad Sherman(CA)(House Foreign Affairs Committee)persuasively stated: “in the long run, the deal could wind up having a devastating effect on both the United States and Israel.”   Rep. Sherman also stated that he favors economic sanctions against Iran ““until they change their non-nuclear behavior,” including their rampant human rights abuses and their explicit support for the Houthis in Yemen, Hamas in Gaza and Hezbollah in Lebanon. “And those are just the [terrorist] groups beginning with ‘h’.  Plus, their support of the brutal murderer [Bashar al-] Assad [of Syria], who is killing 5,000 people a month.”  Rep. Sherman also noted that “there’s nothing in the deal” calling for monitoring of the billions that Iran will receive in sanctions relief to prevent Iran from buying nukes from North Korea, and further stated: “With nuclear Iran you get terrorism with impunity.”

Congresswoman Kathleen Rice(NY)(Homeland Security Committee)concluded in an article in the 5 Town Jewish Times, that the “Iran deal is a risk I can’t support.” 

Congresswoman Rice explained that “this deal’s search for peace seems too willing to gamble on social progress in Iran, especially when Iranian leaders show little interest in helping to foster it – and even less in becoming anything near a responsible ally in the region.”

Congresswoman Rice also eloquently wrote:  “The fact that sanctions can snap back into place if Iran cheats doesn’t give me enough confidence to counter that risk.  The sanctions we imposed on Iran that proved successful were only successful over time.  No matter how quickly we can re-impose these measures in the event we catch Iran cheating, it will take years to recreate the economic pressure that we know influences their decision making.   One of the biggest questions throughout this process has been whether outside inspectors will have the ability to tell if Iran is abiding by this deal. I’m skeptical that they will. The fact that Iran would not agree to “anywhere, anytime” access is troubling – and an apparent continuation of Iran’s history of deception.   And what if they do cheat?  How will Iran be punished if they commit minor violations, if they operate even one centrifuge more than the allowable limit?  How far will Iran have to cross the line to warrant sanctions snapping back? Who will decide what sanctions are re-imposed and how quickly we will have them in place?  This ambiguity gives me little confidence that Iran will be sufficiently deterred from bending – if not breaking – the rules of the pact, and all the while they will continue to reap the financial rewards of our concessions.   Iranian nuclear ambition isn’t the nation’s only irresponsible agenda. Iran wants international legitimacy.  I’m bothered that we seem poised to grant such legitimacy without requiring Iranian concessions on its sponsorship of terror.   I’m unwilling to help economically empower an Iranian regime that could use the cash influx to make more muscular its support of terror and more aggressive its antagonism of Israel and our other allies in the region.  And I’m unwilling to grant such economic and political legitimacy to a regime that prides itself on its persecution of women, children, journalists, religious minorities and political dissidents.”  

I find the main argument for this deal – that the only alternative is war – to be a false choice.  As President Obama has stated, his actions and economic sanctions brought Iran to the table.  If that is true, and I believe it is, then why wouldn’t continued political and economic pressure improve our leverage in forcing Iran to agree to a better dealThe tipping point in such leverage must be Iran giving up its nuclear arms ambition, and renouncing and defunding its terror tentacles in the region and abroad.   Diplomacy was working, and we shouldn’t pull the plug on it.  Instead, we need to convince our P5+1 partners that a better deal can be had by keeping the sanctions in place.  With China and Russia eager to trade with Iran, that won’t be easy. But imagine how difficult it will be to rally this group to force Iran’s hand after they begin reaping the benefits of Iranian trade.”

Congressman Albio Sires(NJ)(House Foreign Affairs Committee)stated:  “I do not feel the agreement will prevent [Iran] from acquiring a nuclear weapon. . . . Iran has spent decades evading international sanctions, promoting terror in the region, and violently oppressing its own people.  I am concerned that if the proposed agreement is made official, hardliners within the Iranian regime may hinder its implementation.  Most importantly, the time frame of the deal is too short and it is unclear what will happen to Iran’s nuclear program after the initial pressure to comply dissipates and Iran is allowed to enhance its nuclear and weapons capabilities.  In the coming months, I will continue to meet with constituents, experts, and our allies in the region, but I am not convinced that this is in the best interest of our national security.” 

Democratic Congresspersons Israel, Lowey, Rice, Deutsch, Sherman, Sires have joined Democratic Congresspersons Grace Meng (D-NY)(House foreign affairs committee) and Juan Vargas (D-CA), who recently publicly and eloquently opposed the Iran deal (see ZOA’s praise of Congresswoman Meng’s and Congressman Vargas’s statements here). 

The leaders and members of the ZOA Chapters served by these Congresspersons – the ZOA-Long Island-Queens Chapter; the ZOA-Northern New Jersey Chapter; the ZOA-Florida Chapter; and the ZOA-California-Western Region – would also like to specially praise these Congresspersons.

ZOA President Morton Klein stated:

 “All of these Congresspersons are demonstrating that principle and assuring the security of America, Israel and our other allies is more important than partisanship.  They are true American patriots.  We at ZOA are very proud of them.”

In addition, ZOA praises former Democratic Senators Joseph Lieberman(CT), Mary Landrieu(LA), Evan Bayh(IN), and Mark Begich(AK), and former Democratic Congresspersons Gary Ackerman(NY) (former Chair of the House Foreign Affairs Subcommittee on the Middle East and South Asia) and Shelley Berkley(NV) – all of whom are on the Advisory Board of Citizens for a Nuclear Free Iran, for opposing the dangerous Iran deal. 

Former Senator Lieberman stated:  This Iran deal is dangerous for America, for Israel and for the world.  Iran has violated over 20 international agreements, is the number one sponsor of terrorism in the world, and has been working to acquire nuclear weapons for years. Unfortunately this agreement won’t stop them.  We need to reject this deal and demand a better one-an agreement that dismantles Iran’s nuclear infrastructure.

Former Congressman Gary Ackerman stated:  “Stakes are too high to allow for so many loopholes.  To make a deal with an enemy who then vows to kill you later, means you left something out of the deal.  Don’t you think?”

This article was published by ZOA and may be found here

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