NEW YORK, Aug. 18, 2015 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- AJC enthusiastically welcomes the remarks delivered today by U.S. Senator Robert Menendez (D-NJ) at Seton Hall University announcing his opposition to the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), negotiated by the P5+1 (the U.S., UK, France, Germany, Russia, and China) and Iran.
Sen. Menendez, a senior member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, noted that Iran has employed "deceit, deception and delay" to advance "to the point of being a threshold nuclear state," and therefore cannot be trusted. He recalled that the Obama administration's originally stated goal in the negotiations was the dismantling of Iran's nuclear weapons capability in return for dismantling international sanctions, but instead the deal rolls back sanctions with Iran, "only limiting its capability, but not dismantling it or rolling it back." The senator pointed out that the deal "grants Iran permanent sanctions relief in exchange for only temporary—temporary—limitations on its nuclear program," which lapse after ten years.
The financial windfall Iran will receive from the agreement also concerns Sen. Menendez. Within one year, between $100 and $150 billion in Iranian assets will be unfrozen, and sanctions on oil exports and numerous other economic sectors will be lifted. Annex II of the agreement, the senator noted, prevents those sanctions—which "brought Iran to the table in the first place"—from being reimposed. Indeed, Sen. Menendez called the administration's promise that a "snapback" provision would bring back the sanctions in case Iran is in violation a "fantasy." Iran, he said, "will be flush with money," a portion of it undoubtedly destined to further the regime's "destabilizing, hegemonic goals in the region."
Sen. Menendez took issue as well with the administration's insistence that the only alternative to the agreement is war. "I reject that proposition," he declared, and pointed out that most of the witnesses appearing before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, including several who back the deal, also agreed that war is hardly inevitable if it is rejected. He listed several points that should be renegotiated, noting that, over the years, many such international agreements, including come 80 multilateral accords, had been renegotiated because of congressional insistence.
AJC Executive Director David Harris stressed that Sen. Menendez's objections to the negotiated deal are particularly significant because of his previous record. "We often hear that the deal's opponents are motivated by partisanship, or reflect the same mindset that produced the Iraq war. Yet, as he states at the outset of his remarks, Sen. Menendez is a Democrat who almost without exception supports the administration, and who voted against the Iraq war. His words must be taken with the greatest seriousness as the principled reflections of an experienced political leader who deeply fears the consequences of this deal."
SOURCE American Jewish Committee