New Jersey Sen. Bob Menendez became the second Democratic senator to voice his opposition to the Iran nuclear deal yesterday, arguing that the agreement doesn’t require Iran to dismantle its nuclear infrastructure.
Menendez, the former Union City mayor and a senior member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, joins Sen. Chuck Schumer of New York in rejecting the deal.
Under the agreement, which the U.S. and other world powers struck with the Iranian government, Tehran would curb its nuclear program in exchange for billions of dollars in relief from economic sanctions, which have been crippling its economy.
While President Barack Obama has pledged to veto a congressional resolution of disapproval, Menendez said his opposition is not a referendum on the president. Instead, Menendez pointed Iran’s violations of various U.N. Security Council resolutions while advancing its nuclear program. He added that the agreement doesn’t require Iran to dismantle its nuclear infrastructure.
“Let’s remind ourselves of the stated purpose of our negotiations with Iran: Simply put, it was to dismantle all — or significant parts — of Iran’s illicit nuclear infrastructure to ensure that it would not have nuclear weapons capability at any time. Not shrink its infrastructure,” Menendez said.
Menendez urged the Obama administration to authorize the continuation of negotiations and recommended requiring Iran to allow permanent access to suspect sites; a ban on centrifuge research and development for the duration of the agreement; as well as an extension of the agreement to at least 20 years. He also recommended authorizing Israel to “address the Iranian threat on their own” if Iran accelerates its nuclear program.
What do you think? Is Menendez taking the right stance on the nuclear deal?