Washington – Rep. Jim Himes, D-4th District, on Thursday became the latest Connecticut lawmaker to voice support for the Iran nuclear pact.
“I have concluded the risks of not doing the deal greatly outweigh the risks of doing the deal,” Himes said.
He said he had consulted with both former and current diplomats, including Israeli Ambassador Ron Dermer, and with intelligence sources before making up his mind.
Under the deal, Iran would put its nuclear program on hold in return for the easing of economic sanctions.
Himes said a rejection of the pact “would put the U.S. in isolation” and result in Iran “firing up their centrifuges.”
“Despite weeks of consideration, I do not agree that walking away from our own painstakingly negotiated deal would lead to anything other than the crumbling of hard-won international unity, the lifting of sanctions, an uncertain Iranian response, and an increased probability of an imminently nuclear Iran,” he said.
The United States and the other four permanent members of the United Nations Security Council plus Germany, struck a deal with Tehran on Iran’s nuclear program on July 14 in Vienna. On July 20 the UN Security Council adopted a resolution endorsing the deal.
But opponents say Iran cannot be trusted to stop development of its nuclear program. They also say an end of sanctions will boost Iran’s oil money, funds that would be used to purchase conventional weapons.
Lobbying over the Iran deal in Washington is intense, with former Connecticut Sen. Joseph Lieberman a high-profile opponent of the deal as the new head of United Against Nuclear Iran. Lieberman was offered the job after its former chairman, Gary Samore, decided to support the agreement because it would buy time for the U.S. to keep pressing for change in Iran.
Sen. Chris Murphy, D-Conn., and Reps. John Larson, D-1st District, and Joe Courtney, D-2nd District, also say they support the Iran pact. Sen. Richard Blumenthal, D-Conn., Reps. Rosa DeLauro, D-3rd District, and Elizabeth Esty, D-5th District, are still undecided.
After her return this week from a trip to Israel funded by the American Israel Political Action Committee (AIPAC) political action arm, Esty told Bloomberg, “The president doesn’t own my vote; nobody owns my vote on this.”
But all lawmakers will be forced to weigh in on the pact soon.
Congress has passed legislation that would allow lawmakers to block U.S. implementation of the agreement. That vote will occur when Congress returns from its summer break in September.
Because nearly every Republican opposes the agreement, there are enough opponents of the Iran deal to pass a resolution of disapproval in the GOP-controlled U.S. House of Representatives. The fate of that resolution is unclear in the Senate, but President Obama is expected to veto the measure if it is approved by that chamber.